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Delaware Governor John Carney is throwing Delaware’s public school system under the bus and he will begin this transition with the Christina School District. Yesterday, he sent an unannounced delegation to Springfield, Massachusetts that included far more than those on his public schedule. This group included Assistant Superintendent Noreen LaSorsa, Wilmington Education Improvement Commission Chair Tony Allen (who received his invite on September 23rd), Christina Education Association President Darren Tyson, and an unnamed member of the Delaware State Education Association (which was their legislative liason, Kristin Dwyer). I’m sure Carney’s Education Policy Advisor Jon Sheehan attended as well.
The News Journal covered the trip in an article by Jessica Bies:
Despite school board members asking to be equal partners in the effort, there were no members of that group on the trip.
Carney apparently seems to think Tony Allen is a better choice to bring on trips about Christina than the actual board members:
Tony Allen, chair of the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission, on the other hand, has known about the trip since at least Sept. 23, he confirmed Friday. He said he was invited sometime before that.
In the article, it said Board President George Evans received an invite “very recently” but was unable to attend. Board Vice President Fred Polaski said he didn’t even know about it until a reporter called him.
Christina Board member John Young had plenty to say about this trip on his Facebook account this evening:
Delaware officials touring a Massachusetts effort run by an unelected governing board under a 501(c)-3, just like DE charters for possible use in Christina. On its face it certainly appears that Governor John Carney does not intend to partner with Christina, but deploy untested, unproven ideas on us. I honestly took him at his word Tuesday, now it seems like I may have been wrong to do so. Google Springfield Empowerment Zone if you want the 411 on this ed reform trainwreck that’s seemingly on the way. I am disappointed that mere days after agreeing to engage us within the rules that govern public meetings and board actions, a delegation was sent out of state to “research” a model to insert into CSD and usurp local control, possibly placing millions and millions of dollars into the hands of an appointed board without any elected representation from Christina.
Carney is playing the exact same kind of education games Jack Markell played. I’m not sure which is worse at this point, but at the rate Carney is going I have to go with our latest corporate education reform Governor. What makes Carney so dangerous is his throw it in your face backdoor dealings. He doesn’t care who he pisses off. As long as he has his select cabal to go along with his plans. Transparency is a thing of the past with this Governor. He is initiating very scumbag moves.
There can never be public trust with John Carney. Never. He has proven that multiple times. He is getting our legislators to think his hocus-pocus public-private partnership scams are perfectly okay. There is no collaboration with Carney. If you don’t go along with his vision, he will go ahead and do it anyway. The very fact that Carney wants to emulate a flash-in-the-pan scam like this where the “partnership” creates a board to oversee these schools separate from the local education agency board of education where the state picks the four board members and the district the other three shows an immediate state control of Christina’s Wilmington schools. But his contempt for local authority was not missed by Young in the News Journal article:
It has become clear the trip was planned in advance of that meeting, school board member John Young said, which concerns him because if the Springfield model ends up being the basis for the Christina partnership, it would suggest the outcome was predetermined and the school board didn’t actually have any say in the matter.
That’s right Mr. Young. Carney doesn’t want the Christina board to have any say because he knows they would say no. This is priority schools all over again except this time Carney is very upfront about selling these schools off to a corporate entity. Call it a non-profit all you want. I’m sure the overlords of this non-profit would exact their pound of flesh from the district in the form of certain salaries and operating expenses.
Where is DSEA President Mike Matthew on this? He has been very quiet about all this since it came out in the past week. I would think, given his resistance to the priority schools fiasco, he would oppose this. But he has been silent and I would like to know why. Especially given what Bies said in the article:
Legislators in Massachusetts say the program is “compelling” and has made it possible for the state to effect educational change without seizing local control from school districts. Yet, teachers unions have complained that it removes control of schools from local officials and puts it more in the hands of the state.
What is to stop this from spreading out from Christina? I have no doubt Carney will push this on other districts as well. Especially when their Smarter Balanced Assessment scores don’t meet his fake standards. Once again, the Christina Board of Education will have to stand up against the evil empire (the state) to prevent further erosion in local control even though Carney’s crappy vision ridiculously suggests it would give more local control.
I have no doubt Carney will sell more of his public-private partnership encyclopedia salesman malarkey throughout his term as Governor (a one-term Governor I hope and pray). But what he is really doing is selling his state away. He is evaporating transparency with his Family Services Cabinet Council and the non-public board meetings of his public-private partnership board at a state level. The Delaware Department of Education seems to be okay with this and I have never been more annoyed with Secretary of Education Dr. Susan Bunting for going along with this dog and pony show. But I suppose that’s why Carney picked her for this post. She has become Carney’s yes woman. But what should I expect from the Rodel-Vision circle of followers? This is not the change promised by Carney in terms of the Delaware DOE. They aren’t a support network for schools. He has found a way for them to micro-manage our schools more than ever with this nonsense. But he wraps it in his public-private partnership bow.
As for Tony Allen, he is being used in a big way for the second time by a Delaware Governor. Markell used him and threw him out with the whole WEIC plan. Now Carney is sucking him in with his big vision for Christina. I would think Allen would be too busy with his new Del State job, but I guess not. Not listed in the article is another attendee, Nnamdi Chukwuocha. This Wilmington City Councilman actually thought it was a good idea for corporations to take over public schools in the infamous Christina priority schools board meeting when he gave his public comment back in September, 2014. More of Carney surrounding himself with those who will suck up to him, allow themselves to be used, or whatever empty promise or vapor he whispered in their ears.
The Delaware DOE, State Board of Education, and our past two Governors have had a consistent hard-on for the Christina School District. Once they get their hooks into them it is only a matter of time until the infection spreads. Delaware is a small state so it would not come as a shock to me that we are a model state to completely destroy the word public in public education.
This whole thing stinks like hell and I hope Delawareans who do care about public education wise up and stand up fast to this fake Governor and his shallow followers. If Mike Matthews is the man I believe him to be, he will fight this tooth and nail. If he even entertains this notion, I will publicly shame him and my support for DSEA will be done. If he does not publicly go against this, it will prove he ran for President of DSEA for the power.
The Springfield model is a fake. It is just another way for Carney and other corporate education reform politicians to erode local control away and give power to states who in turn give out taxpayer money to idiotic companies who have taken more money away from the classroom than anything else since public education was first invented.
I am beginning to doubt any sincerity from John Carney. This whole district consolidation task force seems to be the big distraction. “Look here and pay attention to that while I spin my web of lies somewhere else in places you would never think to look.” The problem with Carney is his ego. He really is as transparent as Saran Wrap. I don’t look at him and think, “what a great politician I can trust”. I think, “That guy can’t be trusted at all. He’s up to something.” We all know the type. But that seems to be okay for over half of Delaware who put the guy in power with an empty campaign that essentially had no platform we hadn’t heard before. This is what happens when you reward a false sense of entitlement Delaware voters.
At tonight’s Wilmington Education Improvement Commission, the committee passed their final draft which will be presented to the Delaware State Board of Education at their meeting on Thursday. The State Board is expected to vote on the plan at their January meeting. The no votes belong to State Rep. Charles Potter and Wilmington City Council member Nnamdi Chukwuocha. One of the students representatives was absent from the meeting.
The sole public comment belonged to yours truly. To summarize, I told WEIC “I hope you guys know what the hell you are doing!” I advised them if this winds up making students with disabilities lives harder, they will all hear from me. I let them know Red Clay is already having issues with their inclusion program, and putting more students into the mix could make it tougher. I advised them I am resigned to this going to a higher power at this point and I hope the best decision is made for the students.
As the only legislator present at the meeting (Senator David Sokola had a proxy vote of yes in his absence), State Rep. Potter’s vote surprised me. I’ve heard from many that the true battle for the future of the redistricting effort and the WEIC plan will be in the General Assembly. The wild card is not that we will have a budget deficit in Fiscal Year 2017, but how much it will be.
WEIC will continue after this into the new year. It is a five year plan and the redistricting is just the first step. Chair of WEIC Tony Allen wished everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy Kwanza!
Seven weeks ago, the Democrats in the Delaware House of Representatives were in caucus discussing the Wilmington education bill which would allow the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission to draft up plans which would in turn authorize the State Board of Education to redraw district lines. After that, as the plan goes, the schools in the city of Wilmington that belong to the Christina School District would convert over to Red Clay Consolidated School District. But something went awry.
I have heard this story, from both sides, and the truth is most likely somewhere in the middle. I will not name legislators in this story, but Senate Bill 122 almost died that day. Two problems arose during their caucus. One was the issue with Brandywine. Did they not want to be a part of the redistricting or were they not included in it on purpose. Of note is the fact that Brandywine School District has no charter schools in their district. The second, and even bigger problem, was something Governor Markell may or may not have said. I am inclined to believe he did say it based on history surrounding what was said.
A discussion came up with the Governor surrounding a traditional high school in Wilmington, which there is none of right now belonging to any district within the city limits. When asked where high school students will go after the redistricting, Markell was overheard to say they would go to the Community Education Building. This is the property donated by Bank of America and the Longwood Foundation to run charter schools. There are currently two charters in the building with another set to open later this month, Great Oaks.
When this came up in caucus, the whole group of representatives charged into Governor Markell’s office in Legislative Hall to demand the truth. Imagine, if you will, multiple elected officials bursting into a Governor’s office to find out if a rumor was true. This would never happen on a Federal level, but this is Delaware. Tony Allen, the Bank of America executive, chair of the Wilmington Education Advisory Committee and the just announced chair of the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission, who was with Markell in his office, said if this was true he would pull out of the whole initiative. Markell denied ever saying anything of the sort and after the legislators calmed down and came out of caucus, they assembled in their legislative session and passed Senate Bill 122 with a vote of 36 Yes, 3 Not Voting, and 2 Absent. The bill had already passed the Senate on 6/11/15.
Yesterday, Governor Jack Markell signed Senate Bill 122 into law, along with House Bill 148, which creates WEIC. The glaring elephant in the room with all of this comes down to funding. I would find it very hard to believe a Governor as on top of things as Jack Markell would not see the funding just plain doesn’t exist for this redistricting of Wilmington schools. The projected deficit of $160-170 million next year will not allow for this to happen. If it did, funds would need to be taken from many other demanded services in our state. The DOE can’t even afford to keep to their promised allocated amount with Red Clay’s three priority schools. Which is seriously ticking off Red Clay. Their board president, Kenny Rivera, will be one of the vice-chairs on WEIC, so he will be very close to any discussion at the planning and meetings for all of this.
So if the funding doesn’t exist for this on a state level, where would the millions upon millions of dollars to make this happen come from? It would be quite logical for corporations to “donate” funds for this. It would also be logical for them to want their own stipulations for this as well, such as making the schools in Wilmington a charter district.
None of this exists in Senate Bill 122. To prevent a referendum, the affected school districts would have to agree to the transfer of property to the receiving district and their boards would have to pass a resolution in support of this. The trick will be in the timing. Say WEIC makes their plans, and all the schools in Christina go to Red Clay. The State Board does the redistricting, and it happens as written. This is the crucial moment: funding. WEIC is required to determine this in their report. The State Board has until March 31st next year to complete this or their authority goes away. Shortly after the General Assembly returns in January, Governor Markell will release the FY2017 proposed budget. If WEIC completes their report prior to this, Markell will have to plan the budget around that. Otherwise the legislators will have to see where these puzzle pieces would fit into a picture that may not allow this to happen.
Why would Tony Allen, a very high-functioning and brilliant executive at Bank of America, one of the largest financial institutions in the world, agree to chair not one but two committees when issues of funding would be paramount to the whole thing? I can’t help but remember the Christina Board of Education meeting at the Sarah Pyle Academy last September. Nnamdi Chukwuocha, the 1st District Council Member for the Wilmington City Council and also the chair of their Education Committee, spoke during public comment about funding for Wilmington Schools.
We talk so much about the quality and what is happening at some of our charter schools. We often mention East Side Charter School, but one thing that’s not ever mentioned about East Side Charter School is the relationship that they have with Barclay’s Bank, and Barclay’s Bank supporting that initiative. You want to do something for me, do something for my children in the City of Wilmington, I want all these institutions, let’s take JP Morgan Chase, let’s take DuPont, take Bank One, all of these banks, and let each one of them adopt one of these six schools and then let’s talk about this initiative. To me that’s what we need, we need these priority schools to be supported.
If I were a betting man, I would guess this is already in play and has been for years.