Led by Delaware State Rep. Kim Williams, a total of thirteen Delaware legislators wrote a letter to Delaware Secretary of Education about the recently announced match tax giveaway to Delaware charter schools. I wholeheartedly agree. FY2018 budgets have already been approved by local school boards, tax warrants have gone out to the three counties, and districts are still hurting from the budget cuts when Governor Carney signed the budget on July 3rd. I hope Secretary Bunting ends this ridiculous farce. Watch the charters try to sue the state if Bunting decides to drop it because THEY based their budgets on it. Sometimes I just want to scream at the money grabs going on in Delaware…
In Part 3, we heard the testimony of the alleged victim, P, and the School Resource Officer. Now let’s dive right into the testimony of the administrators. First up, Smyrna Middle School Associate Principal John Camponelli: Continue reading
This article is for ALL Delaware public education students. This is what you need to do NOW to make a difference for YOUR school.
Last night, I attended an Education Forum at Newark High School. As members of the audience stated they didn’t know who their legislators even are, State Rep. Paul Baumbach asked me to put up a post on my blog about this in front of the whole audience. It is my pleasure to do so Paul!
Even though students (unless you are 18 or over) are not registered voters, your voice is important. I will go so far as to say it is the most important voice in the state. You can get involved, and I would ask your parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters, friends, and neighbors to get involved in this year’s budget, especially when it comes to public education. But first, you have to know who to contact!
The first thing to do is go to the General Assembly website, found here: http://legis.delaware.gov/
The easiest way to find out “Who is My Legislator” is to go that section of their website and put in your address or go on the “Find by Map” option. I did that using my address, and it came up with this:
Another way to find out what Senator or State Rep covers your district, go to the tabs that say “Senate” or “House”.
I will use the House as an example. Go to the tab that says “Members & Districts” and click that. Now I have to sacrifice one of our State Reps as an example, so I chose my own State Rep, Trey Paradee of the 29th Rep. District.
What a big smile for your constituents Trey! It has other information on the page, but if you want to contact them, it provides their phone number at Legislative Hall or their email address. You will get a legislative aide or an answering machine when you call them. An email might shoot you an automatic reply if they aren’t there that day. Some legislators are brave enough to put their home or cell phone numbers on their contact information. I would ALWAYS call that phone number first since the likelihood of them getting back to you SHOULD improve. Another way is to look for them on social media. Send them a friend request if they offer that option. I would shoot them a message stating who you are and possibly an issue or topic you would like to discuss with them.
Once you know what they look like, and if you have the time, go down to Legislative Hall and introduce yourself. Don’t do it while they are in session in their respective chamber though because they can’t really stop that time to talk to you. Be respectful and courteous. Ask for THEIR cell number if you don’t have it already.
If you find your legislator isn’t getting back to you, keep at it! I’m not saying to stalk them, but keep calling, emailing, or texting. As a professional courtesy, I would give them at least three days to get back to you.
As the General Assembly prepares their version of the Fiscal Year 2018 budget, they need to hear from their constituents NOW. Not later. Not on June 30th. NOW!!!!
Here is how it goes for the next five weeks down in Dover. The General Assembly is on a two-week recess right now and will return on June 6th. In the meantime, the Joint Finance Committee, which is a group of legislators, are doing what is known as the “budget mark-up”. They go through Governor Carney’s proposed budget and make changes. This group needs to hear from you NOW!
I would email ALL of them in one email and tell them what you are looking for. For those who are against all these cuts in education, some suggested wording could consist of this:
Please remove the cuts to education from the state budget. It is unfair to balance the state’s budget on the backs of our students. Schools are already under-resourced and our children need our commitment to their future. Thank you.
The public can attend the Joint Finance Committee meetings, but seating is limited. And considering most of you students will be in school, DON’T CUT SCHOOL to come to Dover to go to a JFC meeting. There will be plenty of time for that when school gets out because the General Assembly continues to meet until June 30th. If you want to see some real craziness going on, come down (or up) to Dover on June 30th. The fun usually starts around 6 or 7pm in the evening. Bills pass on the fly, left and right and they suspend a ton of rules to get bills passed. You see bodies passing by you like the Flash. I’ve gone the past two years and didn’t get home until the sun was coming up. That’s right. They MUST pass the budget or they don’t get to go home until they do. They can go home, but their legislative session isn’t over until the State Budget passes. By State Law, the Governor must either sign or veto (not sign it) the budget once the General Assembly passes it. If the Governor passes it, the General Assembly has to keep meeting until it passes or they can attempt to override the Governor’s veto. This year, June 30th falls on a Friday so I have no doubt they will want to get in and get out so they can have their 4th of July weekend last as long as possible.
If students truly want to make a huge difference with this budget, if you don’t want teachers cut and you don’t want your school board to be put in a position where they are forced to raise more taxes without a referendum, your State Rep, Senator and the Joint Finance Committee need to hear from you TODAY! They may give you a reason why they support this or don’t support that, but make sure YOUR feelings are heard.
If you want to make a HUGE impact, organize a group of your friends and classmates and come down to Legislative Hall in Dover (but don’t cut school to do it). You are NOT allowed to carry signs into the building, but you can wear t-shirts as long as they don’t have curse words or are inappropriate. It could say something as simple as “No Education Cuts” or have fun with it and write “Forced Match Tax Without A Referendum Is Horrible” . I would NOT recommend t-shirts like “John Carney is bad” or “Mike Ramone loves Donald Trump….Eeeew!” (neither of them do, just making a point here). You can even write legislator letters but make sure you go to their office in Legislative Hall and give it to the receptionist or legislative aide to give to the legislator. Don’t try to put letters or correspondence on their desk in the House or Senate chamber. I did that once and it is NOT allowed. Don’t yell at anyone or interrupt anyone either. And whatever you do, when the House or Senate is in session, just sit and listen. You do NOT want that gavel coming down on you by Lt. Governor Bethany Hall-Long or Speaker of the House Pete Schwartzkopf!
You CAN make a difference this year. If you want to preserve what you have and not lose out next year, there is nothing wrong with a peaceful protest. Make sure you get Mom, Dad, or your Guardian’s permission first, but make it something you can tell your grandchildren about one day. How you told our legislators what your schools need and you helped to make a difference. Let’s call it “Swarm The Hall”. Share hashtag #swarmthehall on Twitter and Facebook and let’s make it a thing Delaware students!
As an education blogger, I’ve met most of our State Reps and State Senators. I want to believe they want to do the right thing for everyone in the state, but sometimes political issues happen. If you are a dye-in-the-wool Democrat and your State Rep or Senator is a Republican, or vice-versa, don’t get into the whole “us vs. them” mentality. They will listen to you, but it could cause them to tune out whatever you are saying. Make it about the issues, not about the politics. No one wants to hear about the whole Trump/Hillary thing or “Dems Stink” or “Republicans Lie” kind of stuff. This is about YOU, and YOUR education. And this isn’t just about school districts, it’s also about charters. Because if districts have to make cuts and force a match tax on their residents, they will have a hard time getting referenda passed in the future. Which means less money for charter schools as well.
Below is a list of ALL the Delaware State Reps and Senators. The Senate has 21 members and the House has 41 members. Don’t get confused by the district numbers. I live in State Rep District 29 but State Senate District 15.
If you are a Delaware public school teacher, please share this article with your students and their parents. It can also be a valuable lesson for current events or helping children become more aware of how the political process in Delaware works.
Updated: Some libraries are holding events called “Postcard Party for Education Funding”. Details can be found here. This is a brilliant idea! Reach out to the sponsors and see if you can get these events in your local libraries if they aren’t in your area!
In a week of somber news around Delaware in the wake of pending teacher and educator layoffs, districts are scrambling to figure out their budgets for next year. Through this blog and other social media sources, citizens of the state are growing concerned about teachers losing their jobs and classrooms becoming more bloated than they already are. In response to this public outcry, Red Clay Consolidated Superintendent Dr. Mervin Daugherty wrote a letter to the community about what this means for the district and the community.
I’ve seen many Delawareans giving Governor John Carney a pass on this since he inherited most of this mess from former Governor Jack Markell. But his almost boneheaded solutions could make the situation much worse for citizens across the state. In the coming weeks, I will be going through last year’s budget as well as the proposed budget for FY2018. I will also recommend areas across districts and charter schools where funding should be cut or consolidated without losing teachers. I will present these recommendations and findings to the General Assembly and Governor Carney. I am sure it won’t be in any official capacity, but I will do so all the same. Any input or recommendations from the general public will be most welcome!
Governor Carney sent a letter to all Delaware public school teachers this morning for Teacher Appreciation Week. The irony of this letter, as several Delaware school districts are getting ready to layoff teachers, is astounding. Because of Carney’s proposed budget for FY2018, Delaware school districts are put in a no-win situation. School boards can either raise property taxes with the match tax or reduce their own budgets (of which they have to do anyways). Carney shifted the onus of the budget deficit away from his office with his “shared sacrifice” language. What he did was attempt to make damn sure the taxpayers of the state shift their anger at Delaware school boards when their taxes go up or see their children suffocate in huge classrooms with less teachers and programs.
I have this to say to Governor Carney: what you have done is shady and despicable. It is the ultimate in political posturing, but your muscle flex is going to backfire on you. You won’t get away with playing the budgetary Darth Vader where others do the dirty work for you if you want to survive past 2020. Your opponents are most likely salivating over all this because you exposed a major Achilles heel very early in the game. And you better believe if charters somehow benefit over all this, I won’t be the only one protesting. Many will join me. As an example, will the General Assembly get rid of the very useless charter school transportation slush fund? Will charter schools also have teacher layoffs? Will they actually lose some of their transportation budget like all the local school districts will? If the answer to any of these is a no, I don’t see much “shared” sacrifice.
If any members of our General Assembly think they can sneak in the usual perks into the epilogue language of the budget in the final hours of this legislative session (I’m talking to you most of all Mrs. Death Penalty flipper), it will cause a ruckus unseen in Legislative Hall for some time.
It is past time Delaware stopped using students and teachers as sacrificial lambs. It isn’t just Carney and the General Assembly who are doing this, it is also the school districts. I have yet to see any school district cutting administrative positions. So far, I am fairly sure Indian River, Christina, Caesar Rodney, and Colonial will be cutting teachers. That list will grow.
Below is Carney’s letter to teachers. Like I said, this is almost insulting. I have no doubt students said many things about their teachers, but Carney (or whichever staff member wrote this letter) seems to cherry-pick certain things to further
his Rodel’s own agenda. Can we just stop pretending John Carney? Just come out and rename the state Rodelaware. You aren’t fooling anyone. This letter demands the famous “John Young redline edition”…
Sent: Wednesday, May 10, 2017 8:34:32 AM
To: K12 Employees
Subject: Thank you
As the nation recognizes National Teacher Appreciation Week, we in Delaware have a lot to celebrate. Secretary of Education Susan Bunting joins me in thanking all of you for helping our students succeed in school and in life.
When you say “celebrate”, who is celebrating? Of course Bunting is going to join you. She will do whatever you want! Nothing against Dr. Bunting, but if I have learned one thing about a Governor’s Cabinet, they follow whatever the Governor says, which usually translates to what Rodel wants. Please don’t use words like celebrate at the same time teachers are facing unemployment. It is the ultimate insult.
If I needed any help remembering how lucky we are in Delaware to have such great educators, I got it Monday morning. Secretary Bunting and I visited Capital School District’s Hartly Elementary School and I asked the students why their teachers are special. Their rapid-fire answers were right on point:
What were the other answers provided by students? I have a very hard time believing that the majority of answers given by students in an elementary school were geared towards post-secondary education plans. But I’m sure the Rodel and Delaware Business Roundtable business types love these answers. Feed the beast!
“They make sure we’re ready for college.”
“Without them we wouldn’t know how to use decimal points.”
Okay, that’s a good answer.
“They’re helping us get good jobs some day.”
By standardize testing the hell out of these kids and forcing them to learn in digital technology classrooms, the state is robbing children of a true educational experience. This data collecting of children, geared towards shifting the workforce to select jobs for the future, is social engineering at its absolute worst Governor Carney. Please stop with the Markellian way of thinking and be your own man.
And my favorite:
“They teach us to care about each other.”
Awwww, that is so cute. Reminding teachers, as many prepare to get pink slips, that it is about the students and they should just shut up and share the sacrifice for the good of the state. And just so you know, many Delaware parents teach their children to care about each other. That isn’t solely owned by teachers. For many students, it is. But parents across the state play the main part in raising their children. So let’s not even get into the plans to transform education into a “public-private partnership”. Kids need to be in brick and mortar schools, not the local non-profits at younger ages.
Our kids get it. They know just how much you do and how invested you are in them.
Yeah, too bad our state isn’t invested in them. Too bad they aren’t invested in our students either. Unless you like having over 35 kids in a classroom. Tell me Governor Carney, how many kids were in YOUR classrooms when you went to school back in the day? But let’s keep paying for Smarter Balanced and all the Common Core bullshit. Let’s keep our classrooms wired at all times so corporations get those nice bottom line numbers at the expense of students. Let’s let the data whores continue to collect private information on our students through their iPhones and Google Chrome. Schools, teachers, and students are not “investments”. Those are corporate education reform words. Yes, the children are the future, but by putting them in terms of financial gain, you insult every single child in this state.
I hope you were able to join us on April 27, when we hosted a Telephone Town Hall with Delaware educators to discuss issues around public education in Delaware. Specifically, we discussed education and our state budget.
I was on that call. Most town halls end when the questions run out. But not on your schedule Governor Carney.
This is an important discussion, and I will continue to listen to educators during school visits across Delaware. We face a $400 million budget shortfall, but I remain dedicated to each of you and your students.
Dedication is more than “listening”. It means making damn sure any sacrifice stays the hell out of the classroom. But you can’t do that, can you? Let’s pray our General Assembly finally and collectively says NO to your horrible budget proposal.
Our plan is to fix our structural deficit, and get to a place where we can again invest in areas that will move our state forward: early childhood education, arts, additional supports for at-risk students, health and wellness, and after-school programing, to name a few.
The key wording is “get to a place”. That means you want to kick the can down the road, which Delaware is fantastic at doing. Your predecessor was excellent in that regard. “Invest now” all too often means “pay the price later”. No child should pay the price for adult decisions. If you want to fix the structural deficit, how about you actually go after delinquent property taxes? Sign an Executive Order demanding the counties exert pressure on those who feel they don’t have to pay at all! Like the Chinese company that owes Red Clay over a million bucks in back property taxes. Or the golf club in Middletown that likes to play games with Appoquinimink. Make sure our State Auditor has the ability to properly audit our schools and see where every single penny in Delaware education funding is REALLY going. Cause we both know there is foul play going on in some circumstances. But turning a blind eye to that has helped to lead us to where we are at now.
All Delaware students deserve a quality education, and an equal opportunity to succeed. And I know you work hard every day to deliver on that promise. Thank you for all you do.
All Delaware students do deserve a quality education. But not your definition of it. And let’s not even get into this “weighted funding” nonsense. We both know what that is really about Governor Carney, don’t we. If I were you, I would give considerable thought in the next week to revising your proposed budget. Because if you truly care about students, this is not the way to go. I tried to give you a chance and have faith in you. I have yet to see you live up to that promise. Tax the rich more. Seriously. That is the best way to start.
Kevin Ohlandt, the blogger who is getting sick of public education being a sacrificial lamb to the likes of Rodel and the Delaware Business Roundtable in the name of corporate profit and social engineering.
I received a letter from Governor Carney in my email today. So did over 900 other Delaware citizens. Two months ago, a push was made to send letters to Governor Carney concerning House Substitute 1 for House Bill 12. This is the pending legislation which would provide Basic Special Education Funding for students with disabilities in Kindergarten to 3rd grade. The state provides extra special education funding for all other students with disabilities who have an IEP, so why not these students who are just getting their start in elementary education?
For years, I have been advocating for this funding. So has Rep. Kim Williams. This is the second go-around with this legislation. House Bill 30, from the 148th General Assembly, sat around in the Appropriations Committee from early 2015 until June 30th, 2016 and died. I have yet to meet anyone who thinks this bill is a bad idea. I understand we have a deficit Governor Carney, but the purpose of state funding should have a top priority of those who need it the most. These students fit that criteria. Response to Intervention does not take care of these students’ needs, nor as it designed to. Please don’t perpetuate this myth. You did not include it in your proposed budget and I am calling foul on that oversight. I pray our elected officials in the General Assembly have the common sense to put children first when they approve the budget for Fiscal Year 2018. They are the future of Delaware.
The letter was dated March 7th, 2017, but I just received it today. I won’t bicker about that, but it is noteworthy. What I will mention is Governor Carney’s refusal to commit to this funding. I just don’t get it. It is a no-brainer and everyone knows it. Who is lobbying against this bill behind the scenes?
A group of parents demanded answers today from Red Clay Consolidated School District officials regarding the suspension of the basketball team from their last game and the playoffs. As I wrote yesterday, the team was suspended when they got off their bench at the end of a game after they were told not to. Allegations of racial slurs have been central to this matter but neither Red Clay or Delaware Military Academy have said anything in an official capacity that these epithets came out despite numerous witnesses coming forward on Facebook, comments on Delaware Online, and witnesses that have come forward to Red Clay officials. Now those parents are demanding the suspension decision be rescinded based on what they are perceiving to be a lack of due process based on policies within Red Clay. The following letter was sent to the district today. As well, Red Clay board member Adriana Bohm asked the district to rescind their decision.
**Updated, 4:25pm: According to The News Journal, the district may reconsider the team’s suspension for their remaining game and the playoffs. Still no response from Commandant Pullella at Delaware Military Academy.
On Friday, newly christened U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos sent a, how shall I call it, awkward letter to all the education leaders of each state. Alarm bells went up immediately. Many people are scratching their heads about the missive dealing with state Every Student Succeeds Act implementation plans. The word “may” in relation to Title I, II, III, IV and V funding is the part that is confusing many. Is this Betsy’s way of phasing from Title funding to her school voucher plan? And how many enemies of modern-day accountability standards are equally confused about Betsy gutting the John King regulations from last fall? This could be a Trojan Horse leading to more Competency-Based Education. We all know CBE is a darling of the ed reformers these days. Read the below letter and sit and wonder like the rest of us! I have no doubt President Trump is clueless about any of this and is applying his next daily helping of orange glow.
Today, Delaware Governor-elect John Carney picked Indian River Superintendent Susan Bunting as the Delaware Secretary of Education when his term begins in January, 2017. This is probably the worst choice he could make and it has the potential to become ripe with scandal. Continue reading
Greg Meece didn’t wait long. We still don’t have verification that all the charter schools signed the settlement between the Christina School District and the 15 charter schools. But Meece took his opportunity to brag and he did so with arrogance and a pompous attitude. Yes, NCS parents, this is your not so humble leader. I have no doubt this was Greg Meece’s favorite moment of the year. But the big question surrounds the truth. It was under the assumption the charter schools and their attorneys over at Saul Ewing offered the settlement. Other sources have all parties working together over the Thanksgiving weekend to hammer it out. But what Greg Meece states is something completely new. And there is another downright dirty thing in this letter which was not written in the settlement the way Meece wrote it. To me, that kind of negates the spirit of the settlement. The settlement explicitly stated this was not a case of wrongdoing on Christina’s part, but Meece’s one sentence inclusion in here suggests otherwise. That line is bolded for emphasis below.
As I was working on my article this weekend about Greg Meece and Newark Charter School, I went over a lot of articles pertaining to the lawsuit. Why on earth would Christina offer to settle based on their own Legislative Briefing? Furthermore, I don’t recall their board ever voting on action pertaining to the lawsuit. I would imagine only the Christina board could direct their attorneys to negotiate a settlement. The only vote they held about the lawsuit was the one regarding the actual settlement. So someone is lying. Is it Christina or Greg Meece?
Dear NCS Parents and Staff:
This regards the lawsuit that Newark Charter School, in conjunction with 14 other charter schools and four parents, filed against the Christina School District (CSD) and Delaware’s Department of Education (DDOE). The general idea of Delaware’s school finance law is that the property taxes paid by residents, which are initially held by the local school districts, should follow the child when families choose to enroll their children to a public charter or choice school in Delaware. In the case of CSD that was not being done. Charter and choice school students were not getting their fair share. The DDOE performed a detailed analysis of this past year’s funding between districts and charter schools. It concluded that CSD had excluded from charter schools more funds than it was allowed to exclude. Delaware law requires that the Secretary of Education make the final determination regarding the allowable exclusions from districts. In August, the Secretary of Education made his decision. This decision would have provided charter and choice students who live in the CSD approximately $450 more per student. In early September, over the charter schools’ objections, the Secretary reversed his own decision, due to outside pressures being made on him. This is when the 15 charter schools decided to sue both CSD and DDOE.
Both CSD and DDOE offered to settle the lawsuit before it went before the courts and the charter schools agreed to the terms of the settlement. Among the details of the settlement:
* The CSD now agrees that $5.5 million in revenue that had been excluded from the pool of funds shared among all students in the district, including those who attend our school, will now be shared with all charter and choice schools serving Christina students.
* The DDOE agrees to bring greater transparency to the process through which it determines each district’s Local Cost Per Student. DDOE is obliged to share information and seek input from charter schools as part of this process.
* We will be working with the CSD to examine whether opportunities exist to share resources to serve special needs students.
* Both CSD and DDOE agreed to cover the cost of the charter schools’ legal costs.
* In return, the charter schools agreed to relinquish claims on funds that may have been inappropriately withheld in past years.
As a result, the tax dollars that should follow your children to Newark Charter School will arrive for this school year and in future years. These funds will be put to good use here, where they belong and where they are needed.
I would like to thank you for your support as we worked through this legal process, and I’m happy to answer any other questions you might have. If you would like to see a full copy of the settlement, we will be glad to send you an electronic copy.
Gregory Meece, School Director and the NCS Board of Directors
Excuse the hell out of me Greg Meece, but did you just write a letter to parents indicating that Christina broke the law even though the settlement you just signed clearly indicates otherwise? I have to ask, what the hell is wrong with you? You just violated your own settlement with this public letter.
Meanwhile, the Christina School District put out a press release on their own website today which doesn’t have a few of the things Meece mentioned in his letter:
Christina School District Signs Principled Settlement Agreement
The Christina School District has signed a principled settlement agreement to a Civil Action by 15 charter schools regarding the sharing of local property tax revenue.
- In the annual certification of Christina School District’s Local Cost Per Student pursuant to Section 509 (e), both the 2003 Referendum Revenue and CSD’s expenditures posted against those revenues will be ignored. In other words, such expenditures will be neither included in, nor excluded from, CSD’s Total Local Operating Expenditures. This is important because under the statutory formula for sharing local property tax revenue with charter schools, if such expenditures are included in CSD’s Total Local Operating Expenditures, the 2003 Referendum Revenue shared with the charter schools would not be subject to the restrictions imposed by the voters in 2003.
- Beginning with Fiscal Year 17, the revenue generated by the 10 cent levy shall be divided by the total number of students residing in CSD and attending public schools in order to determine the per student share of the 2003 Referendum Revenue.
- The parties agree that the dismissal shall include all claims that were brought or could have been brought, in the Lawsuit regarding FY’17 or any earlier fiscal year.
- DOE will recommend a process to be used by the DOE in the future for determining Local Cost Per Student. In this process:
- Districts will have the opportunity to request DOE approval for Exclusions from Total Local Operating Expenditures, with Districts providing justification for their request.
- DOE will make a tentative determination responding to each requested Exclusion, together with DOE’s reasoning
- Districts will have the opportunity to discuss with DOE its tentative determination before such determination is final and included within the annual certification
- Prior to the annual certification, DOE will provide all charter schools with its tentative determinations, along with District justifications, and will afford the charter schools an opportunity to discuss such determination
- DOE shall establish a schedule by which it proposes to meet each of the steps noted above.
Today, twenty-five Republicans in both the U.S. Senate and House Education committees told U.S. Secretary of Education to kill the “supplement not supplant” regulation that has drawn the ire of the majority of the teaching profession in America. In a nutshell, this regulation would completely change the way Title I funds are disbursed to schools, would cause severe damage to the teaching profession, and would grant Title I funds to schools that are not Title I schools. I wish some Democrat members of these committees would speak up!
|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE||CONTACT: Press Office|
|November 7, 2016||(202) 226-9440|
The regulatory proposal would change the longstanding requirement that prevents school districts from using federal Title I funds as a replacement for state and local funds in low-income schools.
In comments submitted to Education Secretary John King, the members said the rule “draws broad and inaccurate conclusions about what Congress intended when amending the [‘supplement not supplant’] provision that are not supported by the statutory text and violate clear and unambiguous limitations on the Secretary’s authority.”
The members said certain provisions of the rule are “unlawful, unnecessary and could result in harmful consequences to [local educational agencies], schools, teachers, and students.”
You don’t have to click on the link, you can read the entire letter below:
The Delaware Department of Education released the first draft of the Delaware Every Student Succeeds Act this evening. I have read about 90% of it and I have many thoughts on it. Some I loathe just seeing them in writing, some I actually like, and some need to marinate for a day or two. There are a lot of variables with this: final regulations from the United State Dept. of Education, stakeholder group conversations in the next couple of months, and the usual big one: state funding.
In my opinion, it is going to be very hard to get accurate feedback until the regulations from the U.S. Department of Education have been finalized. Will this plan be a trick or a treat? Happy Halloween! Here is the plan. It begins with Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Steven Godowsky’s letter, followed by the six sections, and some items from the appendices. I will have much, much more to say on this in the coming days.
And these are the six points:
I’ve written about Atnre Alleyne more than any other Delaware Dept. of Education employee (aside from Godowsky) in the past six months and he doesn’t even work there anymore! On Wednesday, Delaware Public Media released a letter Alleyne wrote to the Delaware DOE for input on the first draft of their Every Student Succeeds Act which should be out tomorrow. With a ton of other sponsors on the letter, including Rodel, Teach For America, the Delaware Charter Schools Network, the Delaware Business Roundtable, the Delaware Chamber of Commerce, and of course, TeenSHARP, an organization run by Alleyne and his wife. An organization he could potentially benefit from through ESSA grants. No conflict of interest there. But to make matters worse, he also sits on the Governor’s ESSA Advisory Committee.
Alleyne and the Delaware Corporate Education Reform Network (my new nickname for the above-mentioned companies) also rounded up every single civil rights group they could for this letter. The PACE Network, Christina Cultural Arts Center, the Wilmington Education Strategy Think Tank, Aspira of Delaware, and oddly enough, the American Civil Liberties Union of Delaware. The same organization who submitted a Civil Rights complaint against the State of Delaware and Red Clay Consolidated School District for authorizing charter schools that continue segregation in Delaware (22 months later and no word on that one).
To say Alleyne is making a move would be an understatement. This was the same person who did everything in his power to kill legislation on teacher evaluations. He pretty much got his wish when Senator David Sokola added his amendments to the bill. Why should anyone listen to what amounts to a benefactor of ESSA? Thanks to Delaware Public Media for putting this letter up on Scribd. While I agree with very few of the points of the letter, it is definitely a power grab by Alleyne. Alleyne is also an “education fellow” at 50CAN, just another one of those education think tanks that sprung up in the past decade with funding by the Gates Foundation and a gazillion other foundations that support charter schools. And one of the documents Alleyne brings up in his letter was something Alleyne was compensated for at the Delaware DOE. He worked in the Teacher/Leader Effectiveness Unit before he sprouted his wings to do… this kind of stuff.
I have no doubt the Delaware DOE gave this letter very serious consideration and will incorporate the thoughts of it in the plan. Kind of like how Senator Sokola took Alleyne’s charges with House Bill 399 very seriously. But they were in cahoots the whole time. This is Rodelaware you know…
On the Pulaski Elementary School website, a letter from Assistant to the Superintendent Ed Mayfield from yesterday fully states what the Christina School District is doing in regards to the mold issue at the school. Meanwhile, I submitted a FOIA request to the Christina School District for the BATTA reports for all of their schools for FY2015, 2016, and 2017.
October 11, 2016
Dear Pulaski Elementary School Parents/Guardians:
Christina School District officials and facilities staff are in the process of addressing an issue of mold being present in three school classrooms. These classrooms, Room 10, Room 11, and the computer room, are not being used by students or staff, and will be off-limits until the issue has been thoroughly addressed.
Between Friday, October 7 and Sunday, October 9, the three rooms were isolated and all exposed surfaces were vacuumed using special filters that trap harmful particles, and were wiped down using an antibacterial solution. Filtration devices were also placed in the rooms and were left in place for a period of 72 hours.
An environmental company will be conducting air-quality tests of the entire building beginning on Wednesday, October 12 and continuing on Thursday, October 13, and Friday, October 14. A representative of the Department of Public Health will also do a walk-through of the building on Friday, October 14. The test results will help us determine if problems exist in any other part of the building. If air-quality issues are identified in other parts of our building, district protocols will continue to be implemented, and, if necessary, we will put additional action plans in place.
We will communicate any updates to you as soon as they are available. If you have questions or need additional information, please direct them to Mr. Ed Mayfield, Assistant to the Superintendent, firstname.lastname@example.org; 552-2601.
Assistant to the Superintendent Christina School District
Newark Charter School Board President Stephen Dressel is claiming they joined the lawsuit against the Christina School District and the Delaware Department of Education, along with 14 other charter schools, and actually said “This is not a step we take lightly.” Yeah right! Dressel sent a letter to NCS parents and staff today about the suit. No doubt to rile them up more than they already are. I’m sure they will blast me on their new Facebook page, Parent Networking. Since NCS Parents had a few moles (guess what chumps, you still do). Greg Meece, Stephen Dressel and Joanne Schlossberg started this whole mess when Christina passed their referendum. They know exactly what they are doing here. Maybe that’s why they had their 16 minute board meeting in September so they could rush to executive session to talk about this. I have no doubt they were salivating at the opportunity. If anyone doesn’t see this for what it really is, they are fooling themselves.
Because of the lawsuit, any communication around this issue is probably not allowable by FOIA since it would be a part of litigation. But we all know who started this and why. Greg Meece. The “savior” of Delaware public education. It will be interesting to see how the Delaware DOE reacts to this. After all their boasts about NCS, look what they did. I have a feeling there is a lot more to this. All I know is the ESSA Student and School Supports Discussion Group in an hour and 15 minutes is going to be very interesting. How can this subject not come up?
Funny how NCS brings up taxpayer dollars when the whole district to charter funding formula by itself is flawed. NCS and the other charters are about to learn a very important lesson called “you don’t understand district funding”. And how does this work when Donald Patton, who sits on the board of Las Americas ASPIRAS, is also an administrator in the Christina School District? Isn’t that a HUGE conflict of interest?
The Delaware Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families sent two emails to Delaware Superintendents regarding the discontinuation of day treatment centers in Delaware. I submitted a FOIA request to five Delaware Superintendents last evening to obtain these emails. One of them got to me first so I canceled the other requests. Both these emails give very definitive timeframes for when this was going to happen. The State of Delaware reversed course on this issue, but make no mistake, this was going to happen prior to that decision. One important thing from the second email is the glaring fact that TODAY is the last day for any district or charter school to make a referral for a day treatment center in Delaware. So my question would be that if this change is on hold, is today still the last day for any referrals? The second email had a lot of attachments included in the FOIA request. Apparently there will be public meetings where they will present this. One of them already happened in New Castle County on September 8th, but I would highly recommend they have another one since this story just broke in mainstream media two days ago.
Email sent to Delaware Superintendents 8/26/16
Follow-Up Email sent to Delaware Superintendents 9/9/16 and Key Information
The District-Charter Funding War of 2016 has officially been declared over.
While this topic will assuredly come up again, Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Steven Godowsky sent a letter to the Delaware House of Representatives and the Delaware Senate stating no changes will be made to choice and charter school funding this year. This includes any changes in exclusions. The Delaware Dept. of Education is putting a “hold” on what the exclusions had previously been until this blew up a couple of weeks ago in the public eye.
Please note how Godowsky frames the origin of this as “district to district” concerns. That is an absolute lie. We all know exactly where this originated from- Newark Charter School. We also know the Delaware DOE was willing to stab school districts in the back in order to please the charters by circumventing state code any way they possibly could. What they didn’t count on was the public openly revolting against them. As I’ve been telling people, if you make enough noise, things will change. We need to take this momentum and do more with it. Markell, for all intents and purposes, is a lame-duck. Godowsky will be gone in the next six months. The DOE, at least their leadership, looks more like incompetent buffoons by the day. This was a big mistake on their part. Very big. It would have been one thing if they made this a public matter. Another if they clued the districts into it instead of all this cloak and dagger drama.
While this “resolution” doesn’t completely finish the job, the non-transparency role of this saga will end. Any meetings going forward on this will be in the presence of the House and Senate Education Committees. There is still one guy at the DOE who I believe has a lot to answer for. I’m talking to you Mr. David Blowman.
Well that didn’t take long. United States Secretary of Education John King has been the official Secretary of Education for not even three months and he is already under the Education and the Workforce Committee’s microscope. The United States Senate should have never confirmed him in the first place. Why are we dealing with this so soon? Because John King thinks he is invulnerable based on the arrogant and cocky mindset of those in corporate education reform who think they are perfect and everyone else is scum. Remember after 9/11, when President Bush said you can’t negotiate with terrorists? It is the same with corporate education reformers. You can’t try to get lemonade out of a turnip. You will only get a headache.
The Every Student Succeeds Act regulation process has begun, but like most of us, we have no clue what is really going on with it. I have the same problem in Delaware when our “stakeholders” convene on some task force, working group, or committee. There is no true representation. It is who they want on these groups. They want an outcome so they will stack the deck to make sure they get it. Nothing but smoke and mirrors here folks! So why are Kline, Alexander, and Rokita having a hissy fit because King did what is in his very nature to do? Even if you give a snake legs, it’s still a snake. You can’t change the character of a person by giving them a title. If anything, that character becomes a part of the title.
Read the letter below. King has until June 7th to respond. Will he? Even if he does will it change anything? This is exactly what I predicted would happen. For some inexplicable reason, the Every Student Succeeds Act was rushed through the US House and Senate with a quick signature by Barack Obama. It was, as explained in the letter, heavily lobbied… probably too much. This bill wasn’t about students, it was about corporations. There is very little in this act that actually helps students. It may look that way, but far too many states invested the past seven years on Common Core and the state assessments. They aren’t going to change course now. Not during an election year. Kline should have known better, but no, he acted with haste to get King nominated. What about this clown’s history ever said that was a good idea?
And from the official press release on this:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 17, 2016 CONTACT: Press Office
Congressional Leaders Raise Concerns with Integrity of ESSA Negotiated Rulemaking
WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN)—along with Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education Chairman Todd Rokita (R-IN) and Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN)—today wrote to the Department of Education to express “serious concerns about the integrity” of the department’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) negotiated rulemaking process. Among other concerns, the letter raises questions related to the makeup of the rulemaking panel, a lack of rural and student representation in the process, and the accuracy of statements made by the department’s negotiators.
First established in 1990, the negotiated rulemaking process was created to bring federal agencies and interested stakeholders together to develop certain new regulations through a framework designed to promote consensus among diverse groups. The Every Student Succeeds Act requires the department to use this process, at a minimum, for regulations on standards, assessments, and the requirement that federal funds supplement, rather than supplant, state and local funds.
To “evaluate the Department’s compliance with negotiated rulemaking requirements and the integrity of the ESSA negotiated rulemaking process,” the chairmen’s letter requests information related to a number of questions, including:
•How the department met a requirement that individuals on the negotiated panel shall include “representation from all geographic regions of the United States, in such numbers as will provide equitable balance between representatives of parents and students and representatives of educators and education officials.”
•Whether the department’s actions in naming panel participants biased the panel’s deliberations.
•Protocols and/or criteria used to determine when a secretary or other high ranking department official will speak to a panel or otherwise participate in a panel’s work, as Secretary King did during the rulemaking process.
•Steps taken to ensure statements made by the department’s negotiators accurately reflect the statute and their role in the negotiated rulemaking process.
•The participation of three outside experts and the process for choosing those experts.
•How the department determined which provisions related to assessments would be included in the process.
Additionally, the letter requests “all documents and communications related to the department’s determination of its legal authority for all regulatory language proposed to the negotiated rulemaking panel.” The chairmen are requesting a response by June 7, 2016.
Yesterday, I broke the news that the Delaware Department of Education was going to be submitting another ESEA waiver. Even though the Every Student Succeeds Act forbids these waiver schemes. I reached out to the Delaware DOE for more information on this latest waiver, and received the following information from Alison May, the Public Information Officer at the DOE. Below is what Alison sent me, including the letter Ann Whalen sent to all the states, along with the letter states would need to sign to get the waiver. Note the part I bolded which extends ESEA waivers well after ESSA will be implemented. There are serious games afoot here. Is John King already abusing his authority? Will Congressman John Kline (MN) intervene and stop this dead in its tracks?
Meanwhile, like with all previous ESEA flexibility waivers, state education agencies are required to get public comment on the waivers. With three weeks time, how can this happen? Some district boards don’t meet again until after the April 15th deadline. Don’t they also have to submit any ESEA waivers to the Delaware Education Support System (DESS) advisory council? How could that happen, as required by Delaware law, if the meeting scheduled for this week is canceled and no meetings are scheduled between now and April 22nd?
We are already losing a week due to Easter/Spring break. As well, the Delaware General Assembly will be off for two weeks after this week. How is the Delaware DOE going to make sure everyone sees this? Or is just merely putting a notice up, hidden away on their website, or sending out a tweet, sufficient? Thank God I find these things when I do! This is the same kind of non-transparent information they put out there like the Accountability Framework Working Group last year. They count on folks not looking for or even knowing where to find this information. Too bad they didn’t count on me!
If the Delaware DOE’s deadline is April 15th, and this information is due to US DOE on April 22nd, does this mean the State Board of Education will put it up as an action item at their April 21st meeting? Will they allow public comment on an action item which they typically don’t due to their archaic rules?
FW: FW: Letter from Senior Advisor Whalen re: Speaking and Listening Waiver People
Sent: Wednesday, March 02, 2016 9:17 AM
Subject: Letter from Senior Advisor Whalen re: Speaking and Listening Waiver
March 2, 2016
Dear Chief State School Officer:
This letter is following up on information I provided in fall 2015 regarding the peer review of State assessment systems. In a letter on September 25, 2015, I indicated that the U.S. Department of Education (ED) would provide additional information regarding how a State could request a limited waiver of the requirement that its assessment system cover the full range of its academic content standards for speaking and listening, if the State has adopted those as part of its reading/language arts standards.
Over the past several years, States have been working hard to establish and implement challenging, State-developed academic content standards and creating an assessment system that supports student learning and is aligned to those standards as part of a broader strategy to ensure that all students graduate from high school prepared for college and careers. ED is aware that many States have adopted speaking and listening content standards as part of their reading/language arts standards. However, we realize that measuring speaking and listening skills in a large-scale summative assessment may not be practicable at this time. Therefore, pursuant to section 8401(b) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), if a State’s reading/language arts content standards include speaking and listening standards, ED invites the State to submit a request for a limited waiver of section 1111(b)(3)(C)(ii) of the ESEA, as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB), so that the State’s assessment system need not measure the State’s speaking and listening standards at this time. ED is only inviting this waiver with respect to aligning assessments with speaking and listening standards.
If your State is interested in applying for this waiver, ED is providing the attached template to aid your request. A State may request a speaking and listening waiver through the 2016-2017 school year. ED will continue to work with States to develop best practices with respect to assessing speaking and listening on large-scale assessments and may allow States to request an extension of the waiver for subsequent years based on their demonstrated progress towards implementing an assessment that measures speaking and listening standards. Please note that receipt of this waiver does not alleviate the other requirements regarding the State’s assessment system as identified in the assessment peer review guidance, including the requirement to provide appropriate accommodations to all students, including students with disabilities and English learners.
In order to meet the requirements for a waiver under ESSA, a State must provide the public and any interested local educational agency (LEA) in the State with notice and a reasonable opportunity to comment and provide input on the request to the State. In addition, the State must provide notice and a reasonable time to comment to the public and LEAs in the manner in which the State customarily provides similar notice and opportunity to comment to the public. In order for this information to inform the peer review of your State’s assessment system this spring, we request interested States to submit their requests no later than April 22, 2016. This will enable ED to make timely decisions and allow your State to meet its deadline for submitting the remainder of its assessment documentation for peer review.
Please contact Patrick Rooney (Patrick.Rooney@ed.gov) or your OSS State contact (OSS.[State]@ed.gov) if you have any questions or concerns. Thank you for your continued commitment to our nation’s students.
Senior Advisor to the Secretary Delegated the Duties of Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education
cc: State Title I Directors
State Assessment Directors
Council of Chief State School Officers
EXAMPLE OF REQUEST TO WAIVE THE SPEAKING AND LISTENING REQUIREMENT UNDER THE EVERY STUDENT SUCCEEDS ACT (ESSA)
Senior Advisor to the Secretary
Delegated the Duties of Assistant
Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education
Office of Elementary and Secondary Education
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20202
Dear Ms. Whalen:
I am writing to request a waiver, pursuant to section 8401(b) of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), of section 1111(b)(3)(C)(ii) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB), that [State]’s assessment system measure the full range of the State’s academic content standards. [State] requests this waiver only with respect to measuring the State’s speaking and listening content standards, which are part of the State’s reading/language arts academic content standards. [State] requests this waiver because it is not practicable at this time for [State] to administer a large-scale summative assessment that includes speaking and listening standards. This waiver will advance student achievement by permitting [State] to have a valid and reliable assessment system that measures the full range of the rest of the State’s academic content standards while providing time to complete the work necessary to have a valid and reliable measure of speaking and listening content standards.
[State] requests this waiver to allow for continued State and local receipt of Title I, Part A funding in good standing while [State] completes additional work to develop accurate, valid, reliable, and instructionally useful assessments related to speaking and listening. This waiver is requested for the 2015-2016 school year [(if requesting) through the 2016-2017 school year]. [State] assures that, if it is granted the requested waiver —
- It will continue to meet all other requirements of section 1111(b)(3) of the ESEA, as amended by NCLB, and implementing regulations with respect to all State-determined academic content standards and assessments, including reporting student achievement and school performance, disaggregated by subgroups, to parents and the public.
- It will continue to work toward assessing speaking and listening consistent with the State’s academic content standards.
Prior to submitting this waiver request, [State] provided all LEAs in the State with notice and a reasonable opportunity to comment on this request. [State] provided such notice by [insert description of notice, e.g., sending a letter to each LEA on [date] or sending an email to each LEA on [date]] (see copy of notice attached). Copies of all comments that [State] received from LEAs in response to this notice are attached hereto. [State] also provided notice and a reasonable opportunity to comment regarding this waiver request to the public in the manner in which [State] customarily provides such notice and opportunity to comment to the public [e.g., by publishing a notice of the waiver request in the following newspapers; by posting information regarding the waiver request on its website] (see attached copy of public notice).
Please feel free to contact me by phone or email at [contact information] if you have any questions regarding this request. Thank you for your consideration.
The Delaware State Board of Education fulfilled their obligation to the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission by providing them a letter regarding their rejection of the final redistricting plan. There are serious questions as to the legality of the State Board’s actions at their meeting on January 21st. But in the meantime, WEIC is meeting tonight to go over the letter and plan their next move. The meeting will begin at 5:30pm at the Red Clay Consolidated School District office on 1502 Spruce Avenue in Wilmington.
Below are the letter the State Board sent to WEIC on 1/31/16 and WEIC’s response letter from the same day.