As Christina and Newark Charter School head into a showdown of sorts, new information about Chartergate 2016 is coming to light. But first, a week in review with all the news from the first week of school in Delaware. And what a week it was!
It has been one hell of a week. Make that ten days! Hogging up the headlines was the (still) ongoing district-charter funding issue. Things got ugly with Newark Charter School parents and the News Journal articles. Sometimes you have to look to the past to figure out why this happened to begin with. Christina made an official announcement that became not so official hours later. I believe I figured it out in the end but new information will be revealed below.
But to me, the most important post I put up was the one about the Smarter Balanced Assessment and some schools not letting kids take AP classes over SBAC scores or if their parents opted their child out of the test. I should have added honors classes because that came up a bit too.
The Indian River financial mess (meltdown?) is going to get bigger. I felt it was important to let folks know there are some serious problems going on there. This won’t be good for the state for several reasons.
Doing the education interviews with three out of the four Governor candidates was awesome. I liked hearing their different views on education. I endorsed Scott Gesty for Congress. I’m still bummed Carney didn’t want to play. Milford School District is having tuition tax woes. Senator Sokola
plagiarized wrote a letter to the editor in the News Journal.
Governor Jack Markell had a busy week when he wasn’t riding around with Batman. He had an interesting weekly message (this was not an audition for U.S. Secretary of Education…that was the joke) and he got an honor. Jack signed an Executive Order for ESSA collaboration with stakeholders. An afterschool task force had a meeting in the morning. The Delaware DOE was called out for ignoring allegations of fraud at the College Board over the revamped SAT.
On Wednesday, at 7:30am, there will be a Legislative Briefing at the Eden Hill Center. This is open to the public, but not for public comment. In attendance will be Acting Christina Superintendent Bob Andrzejewski, CFO Bob Silber, State Reps. John Kowalko, Kim Williams, Paul Baumbach and Earl Jaques that I know of so far. Christina will present their side of the story to the legislators. This is NOT a done deal. Despite what you may have heard, that the local cost per pupil won’t change this year, that statement in and of itself is the misnomer not too many people have caught.
The Delaware DOE saying that means they were going to change the formula. This isn’t just about the exceptions that charter kids don’t get choice money for from the districts. The DOE was actually going to change the formula, without any input from anyone. The charters already sent out their bills to the districts. When Secretary Godowsky said he wasn’t going through with that, I assume that means those payments are on hold or they will revert back to what it always was. But from what I’m hearing, they aren’t budging with Christina and their exceptions. As I wrote on Friday, those exceptions were approved by the Delaware DOE. They can’t go back now and say they weren’t. That will be Christina’s case in all this, and I have to say I agree with them.
I also wrote that I wanted to know how Greg Meece all of a sudden came up with this brilliant idea of going after Christina for this. I have a few suspects with this. I will reserve names until I know for sure who did it. But rest assured, I will find out. They can ‘fess up to me now if they like, or I can write when I know for sure. Your choice (see, I do support choice).
One thing that did bother me over the weekend was a State Representative’s Facebook page. This rep wanted to call me out for saying I will have to apologize to Newark Charter School if it turns out they were in the right. It’s called sarcasm, but the state rep obviously didn’t get that. This rep went a step further to admonish blogs and not to believe everything you read. Sorry, what did I get wrong so far? I clearly stated in the original article I didn’t have specifics or that I knew what the exact items were that will be taken away from the district’s restricted funding part of their local funds. Perhaps that part didn’t dawn on the State Rep. But I gave enough information for that rep and several others to make frantic calls and emails to Secretary Godowsky. And it changed the course of their original intention, which was to change the formula. So while this state rep wants to call me out as a blogger, I feel it is necessary to remind this state rep they had no clue about any of this until I wrote about it. By telling people on one hand the DOE isn’t going to take any action only to find out a few days later they will take some sort of action against Christina, who isn’t really sure about their information?
What concerned me even more was a post about the legislative briefing on Wednesday. This same state rep told people it was a legislative briefing and wouldn’t be open to the public. Even though the Christina School District wrote a letter publicly announcing this meeting. The President of the Christina Board, Elizabeth Paige, pointed out that the district was making it open to the public. I commented that closed-door meetings were what started this mess to begin with. The state rep never responded to this. I find it ironic that this state rep would want this meeting to be a closed-door meeting. In other posts the rep put up they mention working with the DOE and getting it all sorted out. If I have learned one thing in Delaware, the DOE does what the DOE wants. There isn’t any compromise unless those are things the DOE throw out as bait to get what they want all along. We all know who runs the DOE, and it is NOT Secretary Godowsky. Remember, he serves at the pleasure of the Governor.
There was one final thing the state rep did that ticked me off. The rep wrote about my articles a few times over the week. The rep kept referring to me as “the blogger” as if we had never met before. I’ve talked to this state rep several times. We are on a first-name basis when we see each other. But somewhere along the way I must have become “toxic” to this state rep if he can’t address me in a public post by my name. I suppose the state rep is upset with me about a few things lately. The rep is more than welcome to engage in an actual conversation with me without resorting to passive-aggressive potshots at me on social media. But I can promise the rep one thing: I will blog as I please and you can either deal with it or not. I truly don’t care. I’m sure I could write the “correct way” about a few things pertaining to this state rep, but I’m taking the high road here.
Speaking of closed-door meetings, what many of you may not know is that district Superintendents attended a meeting at the DOE last week. And there was a swap-out so to speak of different exclusions. It worked out so that it would basically be a draw for the districts. Well, almost all of them. Not so for Christina. By the DOE doing this, they have effectively targeted Christina with all this and pitted the other fifteen districts against them. And the charters? I hear there was a meeting with Secretary Godowsky as well at Newark Charter School (such an impartial place to have this kind of meeting). The charter leaders were told the formula change wasn’t going to happen this year.
So this boils down to Newark Charter School (and other charters Christina gives local funding to) versus Christina School District in the immediate future. They are going after Christina money in what I suspect will wind up being an illegal move. I also predict Christina will take legal action if they push this. This is not an area for compromise. It is petty. What remains to be seen is what the original plan looked like. Remember, Godowsky found out about this after the charter bills went out to the districts. So how can the DOE do anything like this without the Secretary’s approval? That is the burning question every one should be asking. Whoever our new Governor is, he or she is going to have one royal mess on their hands!