Should Charter School Board Members Be Allowed To Manipulate Their Board To Allow Themselves To Lead A School?

Stack the deck towards a power play and you often get what you want.  That is the case with Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security.  Tomorrow night they will hold their monthly board meeting.  The rumor mill has it that Margie Lopez-Waite, the current President of their board, will resign as President and the board will vote her in as the Head of School.  With that will assuredly come some type of financial incentive for Margie’s undying loyalty to the school (insert sarcasm here).  Together with her salary at Las Americas ASPIRA, she will be making a pretty penny.  Oh yeah, Delaware state code dictates you can get your pension based on your three highest years of salary.  Something the soon to be departed Providence Creek Academy Head of School took full advantage of.

Here is the issue though.  From what I hear, Margie doesn’t spend enough time at her current school.  She has her trusted minions and followers who pretty much run the school.  By her cut throat first and answer questions later tactics yesterday, she is stacking the staff deck at DAPSS to do the same thing.  In essence, Margie Lopez-Waite is a power-hungry dictator who is completely running the school.  Unless there is a mutiny, the Delaware DOE will let it happen.  This is a classic power play on her part.  But she may have shown her cards too early.  I expect a huge crowd at their board meeting tomorrow night.  She pissed off a lot of people.  I would say I hope the Charter School Office at the Delaware DOE shows up, but their leader will be leaving them soon as she… wait for it… replaces Chuck Taylor at PCA.  Perhaps it is time Secretary of Education Dr. Susan Bunting actually took the reins on this and stopped Margie’s power trip and exposes it for what it really is.

Margie’s bloody coup is not new.  We’ve seen other “leaders” throughout history do the same thing.  We call them dictators.  Tyrants.  They don’t last in the annals of history.  Eventually the people rise up and take back the power.  This is my big issue with some of our Delaware charters.  They are run by folks who tend to answer to the ruler of the school, not the other way around.  Far too many of their board members, which are appointed, not elected, are meant to curry favor with said ruler.  While commenters on my article from last night come to the plate in defense of Margie, I have yet to hear those commenters say anything about the lives Margie destroyed yesterday.  About teachers and staff who came to work yesterday with a job and are now wondering how they will feed their families after June 30th.  Even though Margie promised more training for them through Colonial.

Margie will take full advantage of Colonial’s relationship with Relay Graduate School and get cheap teachers for DAPSS.  Relay is just another teacher-prep fast track program.  They bounce around like kangaroos in the Outback, but they are fiercely loyal to their leaders.  In other words, they are cheap puppets.  Be careful what you wish for.  You may get exactly what you want.  It helps to have friends from high school help you get what you want, doesn’t it Margie?

Scumbag Delaware DOE Defends Freire’s Offensive Opt Out Trick To Parents

I reached out to Secretary of Education Dr. Steven Godowsky and Assistant Deputy Secretary David Blowman about the Freire Charter School Opt Out/Smarter Balanced Assessment/Final Exam scandal. Apparently, the Delaware Department of Education thinks it is perfectly acceptable for students to earn an A for tests they never took.

While I won’t release the full email chain since I would betray a source, I can say it is one of the most disrespectful and insulting emails I have ever received from the Delaware DOE.  What offended me the most was how Blowman wrote his response, as if this is a common occurrence and it is A-Ok.

FreireBlowmanResponse

I must have been sniffing glue to think the Delaware DOE would take this matter seriously and actually, for once, do the right thing.  But no, they turn it around with Blowman’s cocky and arrogant “historically common” and “educationally appropriate”.  So every single parent in Delaware knows, the Delaware DOE does NOT give a crap about what actual grades a student gets in classes, JUST the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  They don’t care if a student could be failing a course, but an unearned A on a final exam could cause them to pass a class.  Because the Smarter Balanced Assessment is the true measurement, right assholes?  Social promotion is okay as long as we get that participation rate, right Blowman?

I am DONE with this Department.  DONE.  As if their fraudulent Teacher Leader Pilot program I wrote about yesterday wasn’t bad enough, I get this unbelievable spit-in-parents face email.  Because it is okay if a school changes grades.  It’s okay if they offer sweetheart deals to parents to manipulate them out of opting their child out of a test that doesn’t give any true instructional feedback, parents don’t know the scores until after the school year ends, and it violates a parent’s constitutional, God-given, and fundamental right to decide what is best for their own child.

Is the DOE calling final exams unnecessary?  The tests that actually show what a student may or may not have learned the entire year in a class, unlike the Not-So Smarter Balanced?  Really Blowman?  Are you out of your Kool-Aid drinking mind?  We know this isn’t in statute or regulation because our corrupt Governor cares more about companies than students.  If the situation were in reverse, like a parent wanted to opt their child out of a final exam, but the school said “How about we do this: let your child take the final exam and one of our teacher leaders will take the Smarter Balanced Assessment for your kid,” the DOE would be at that school pretty damn fast.  It’s the same thing Blowman!  By giving a student a false grade, you are teaching that student it is okay to manipulate the system.  By allowing schools to do it you are showing all you care about is a high-stakes test.  If that is the DOE’s definition of college and career ready, I weep for the future.

I truly don’t care if the DOE never gives me information again because of this article.  I truly don’t.  Not with the complete idiots in charge over there.  From now on, everything will be a FOIA or a complaint to the U.S. Department of Education.  So teachers, who I do respect immensely (except for those who do the suck-up dance to the DOE), please let me know of any “sweetheart” deals your administrators are pulling on students.  Parents as well.  Because this is sick.  This is what our education governance has come down to: immoral and unethical practices coming all the way from the top and THEY ENDORSE IT.  Just because something isn’t written in Title 14 doesn’t make it right Blowman.  Don’t you dare try to pull that crap on me.  Did you really think my response to this would be “Okay, dead issue.”  This email could have easily said “We at the Department do not agree with the inappropriate actions taken by Freire with parents.”  Instead, I’ll bet they got a high-five for their most excellent anti-opt out tactics.

I used to treat some DOE employees with kid gloves in the past.  I’m done with that.  You have spit on parents and their rights, manipulated teachers and their best interests, and lied to the public for the last time Delaware DOE.  You have invited the opt out wrath that is coming your way in the 2016-2017 school year.

For my readers, I apologize for my harsh language in this article.  But I feel it is necessary because there are no other accurate words that best sum up my thoughts on our Department of Education.  We sit here in Delaware and pretend this is okay.  Why aren’t parents and teachers standing up in mutiny at every single State Board meeting and picketing the Delaware DOE office?  We allow this by doing nothing.  If you think anything I write in this blog makes ANY difference, it is marginal at best.  They won’t do a damn thing until they see parents rising up in massive numbers.  And if some of our schools or the Department that is supposed to oversee our schools think lying, fraud, cheating, manipulating, brainwashing, stealing and disrespecting our children and those charged with teaching them, you need to do something about it.

I’m sure the DOE will do something that will piss me off more than this.  I have no doubt.  This is why we pay them the big bucks with no oversight.  So they can screw over every possible person who doesn’t conform to their Rodel/Markell ass-kissing agendas.  And for those who think you are at the table, you aren’t.  And it isn’t a nutritious meal.  You are ON THE TABLE and they are eating you alive and you are letting them do it.  I don’t want to hear one more word about the cannibalistic Delaware Way (except the very excellent Delaware Way blog- shameless plug).

Breaking News: Freire Charter School Gave Students A’s On Final Exams If Parents Didn’t Opt Them Out

At least five students at Freire Charter School in Wilmington were given A’s on their final examinations in exchange for their parents not opting them out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment this spring.  One parent was notified by the school that the Delaware Department of Education claimed all schools had to have a participation rate of 100%.  When the parent challenged them on the federal and state laws which require 95% participation, the school agreed on that figure.  They also told the parent the school was already under the 95% participation rate threshold.  All five parents agreed to this deal.  The school lured parents who wanted to prevent parents from opting their child out into this “deal” with false pretenses.  Furthermore, the students didn’t even take their final exams but they were automatically given A’s because of this.

Can someone please tell me when this madness is going to stop?  Aside from all the bullying issues at this “zero tolerance” school, we now have test fraud?  How much does the Delaware Department of Education know about this?  If they don’t, what are they going to do about it?  This is exactly why the veto on House Bill 50 needed to have the override by the Delaware General Assembly.  But our legislators were too scared to tick off the “education Governor” and do the right thing for parents.  Now we have this going on.  No one in Legislative Hall who voted no on the fake “suspension of rules” to bring the override to a vote probably doesn’t care that our schools play games like this.  How many situations like this have played out in other Delaware charters or districts?  I would call for the Delaware Department of Education and the Delaware State Board of Education to render all scores from the Spring 2016 Smarter Balanced Assessment as invalid due to corruption and fraud.  We don’t know how many students and parents were given choices like this.  And the results are meaningless.

One parent notified me the only reason she didn’t opt her child out, even though this deal was offered, was because she was choicing their child out of Freire into another district.  That district had a requirement for Smarter Balanced results in order for the student to enter their honors program.  While I may not agree with that requirement from the other district, it is their right to require it until a law is set in stone for them not to.  But Freire proceeded to not have the student take the final exam and gave the student an A for both their Math and English/Language Arts final exams.  Also against policy with the Delaware DOE, parents and students were given the scores when they were “encumbered” which means they couldn’t reveal them at that point.  I would have to imagine no schools are able to give out this information until the Delaware State Board of Education discusses them at their board meeting in two days.  In fact, scores aren’t even going out to

As for Freire, are you trying to send the message that the Smarter Balanced Assessment is more important than a parent’s Constitutional right to opt their child out of the state assessment?  That it is okay, from a “zero tolerance” school to trick parents and then deliver false scores on final exams to prevent them from exercising that right?  Parents chose to send their child to your school because they believed in your “zero tolerance” edicts.  While I don’t agree with zero tolerance, it was also a parent’s right to make that choice.  But since you have no interest in applying “zero tolerance” to your own school,  I would strongly suggest the Delaware Department of Education Charter School Office immediately conducts a thorough investigation into these allegations through the formal review process.  For a school that hasn’t even been open a year and Governor Markell attended your ribbon-cutting ceremony, these egregious actions are unconscionable.  This is why these standardized tests bring out the worst in schools.

I would also urge our General Assembly, upon reconvening on January 7th, 2017, to immediately draft legislation in regards to opt out, similar to House Bill 50, and also addressing immediate consequences for schools that use lies and false pretenses toward parents and students have anyone involved in those situations immediately terminated and criminal charges pressed against them.  And if a new Governor should veto such legislation, I would expect an immediate override of that veto.  Those who voted no on January 14th, 2016: this is on you!  Please don’t play political games for political favors when you aren’t the ones who are being toyed with by those who should know better.

If any other Delaware parent out there, at any charter school or district was offered similar “deals” or promises in exchange for not opting your child out, I can be reached at kevino3670@yahoo.com and I give you my assurance all will be confidential.  Thank you.

 

Schwartzkopf & Blevins: Call For Emergency Session To Override Markell’s Veto Of HB50 BEFORE 10/17/15

We are at crunch time Delaware!  In the US DOE approval letter for Delaware’s 2015 ESEA Flex Waiver request (seen below), it explicitly states Delaware must approve their School Success Framework by October 31st.  The Delaware State Board of Education is the approving authority, and they meet on October 17th.

I need EVERY willing and able citizen of Delaware to email Delaware Speaker of the House Pete Schwartzkopf and President Pro Tempore of the Delaware Senate, Patricia Blevins, to call for an emergency session to override Governor Jack Markell’s veto of the parent opt-out legislation and give it enough time to make sure it is approved by 10/16/15 with the condition that it goes into effect immediately.  If the House overrides the veto, it would go back to the Senate, but they cannot do the same in the same legislative session day.  So the latest this could happen for the House would be October 15th, and for the Senate, October 16th.

To email Schwartzkopf, please email: Peter.Schwartzkopf@state.de.us and his phone number is (302) 744-4351.

To email Blevins, please email: Patricia.Blevins@state.de.us and her phone number is (302) 744-4133.

If the State Board of Education passes this, our schools will be penalized for their participation rate on standardized assessments.  As I wrote yesterday in great detail, the Delaware Department of Education is trying to pull a fast one on parents and schools.  This is their final attempt to prevent a veto of House Bill 50 by inserting an opt-out penalty into state regulations without any legislative approval.  This was done with very underhanded and sneaky methods until I lifted the veil of transparency on this earlier this week.

Our schools deserve more than this.  They deserve who will work with our schools, not against them.  Penny Schwinn with the Delaware DOE needs to offer proof of her claim that the penalty rate portion of the Delaware School Success Framework, otherwise known as the School Report Card, is mandatory.  Otherwise she has pressured school district superintendents, admins, the Delaware PTA, and DSEA into setting up something that will be detrimental and dangerous to all our schools, students, teachers, and Delaware itself.  Please email or call Schwartzkopf and Blevins today!

Academy of Dover – Don’t Blame Me For Your Failures Leading To YOUR Formal Review!!!

Seriously?  You are telling staff the formal review is going on because I have a vendetta against charters?  I didn’t cause your former head of school to pillage state funds.  I didn’t cause a teacher to kick a student who SHOULD have an IEP.  I didn’t draw up the documents to make you pay a judgment against Mosaica for $2 million dollars.  I didn’t cause your standardized test scores to go down.  I didn’t cause your board to fail to post minutes of their board meetings for years.  I didn’t make you not have a Citizen’s Budget Oversight Committee.  And I certainly have NO power over the DOE to put you under formal review in the first place.  Do you want to know who can take full responsibility for all of this?  Your board and your past and present heads of school.

Accountability starts with yourself.  Perhaps you wouldn’t be in this predicament if you weren’t so busy trying to blame others for your own colossal mistakes.  Get your special education department some training.  Make sure all your teachers are certified.  Stop being cheap with your funding.  Stop lying to the DOE and the Charter School Accountability Committee.

I only write about ANY school that jacks things up so bad I can find it.  If that means the DOE, or even your own website shows things that are jacked up, I will write about it.  Don’t like it?  Don’t mess up.  There are mistakes and then there are careless errors.  You excel at both.  But don’t think for one minute I will give you the ability to think these are all just mistakes.  Some of what you’ve done is intentional.  You may think you can pull the wool over everyone’s eyes, but if not Thursday, one day your cockiness and arrogance will be your undoing.  Only you can change that.

Breaking News! Governor Markell Publicly Announces He Will Veto Parent Opt-Out Bill

Delaware Governor Jack Markell just told listeners of WDEL he would veto the opt-out legislation, House Bill 50, if it comes to his office.  WDEL host Rick Jensen asked if point blank: “Would you veto the bill?”  Markell said “Yeah.  I never say what I’m going to do to a bill in advance, but I can say I absolutely don’t support that bill.”

He also said Common Core is not a curriculum and it is not federal intrusion or a takeover of American education.  He brought up the civil rights organizations opposing the bill, and said students need this.

He also explained his “Alan Jackson” email address to Jensen and said it was so he could get crucial emails and not get bogged down going through hundreds of emails.  He talked about how transparent his administration has been.  And yet I have not received an acknowledgment of my FOIA request submitted to his office five days ago.

This is a very desperate man with vast amounts of arrogance and conflicts of interest.  He needs to be impeached…NOW!

**UPDATED** 6:14pm: this has been updated to include the EXACT words Markell said on air.  The clip about this on WDEL’s website right now does NOT include the part where he said “Yeah”.