Is This The Guy Pulling Carney’s Strings?

I’ve been looking for a common thread in everything I’ve written about what is taking place in Delaware education.  One person, so deeply embedded in the forces that are privatizing public education before our very eyes.  I believe I found it.  A common link to the initiatives taking place.  The Public/Private partnerships.  Workforce Development.  The Delaware Business Roundtable and the Delaware Chamber of Commerce.  The Rodel/Vision Coalition.  Personalized Learning.  The philanthropic ventures into public education.  Pathways to Prosperity.  I believe I just found the most powerful person in Delaware who is calling ALL the shots.  And most of you have probably never even heard the name. Continue reading

The Christina-Charter School Lawsuit Is Now Public!

That didn’t take long.  Three days ago, the Christina board agreed to the settlement.  Last night it went public.  Delaware Liberal has the whole thing in all its glory.  From what I’ve read, the district is off the hook for any back exclusions.  There will be a one-time payout for this year of $150,000 plus the per student allocation from a 2003 referendum that amounts to 10 cents for every $100 worth of assessed property value.  Christina will pay out the charter school payment part of the $5.5 million they received from the last fiscal year.   But going forward…

DOE will have to determine the exclusions and let the charters review them before the annual determination is made.  Tuition tax will now be a part of the local district payments to charter schools if the charter has comparable special education services to Christina.  Which explains why Newark Charter School took in a special needs child over the summer.  As the parent wrote in comments on this blog, this student was 17th on the wait list at NCS.  One day the parent got a call from the school and her child was in.  That would mean a student left and sixteen parents said no or left the school.  The parent did reach out to me to let me know NCS does not have a football team and that with students who may have moved played a factor.  As well, the parent states the school was not aware her daughter had special needs and had to scramble a week before school to make sure she got a one-on-one para.  They also said there are quite a few students at NCS with either Downs Syndrome or autism that have one-on-one paras.

The settlement also allows for both parties to claim or not claim exclusions from the Match tax.  Which means more headaches in the future.  I have to wonder how all the other school districts feel about part of their tuition tax now going to charter schools if the charters meet that “need”.  Is this why Appoquinimink hiked up their tuition tax last summer?  Did they know what the charters were planning back then?

This settlement releases the charter schools claims against Christina and their CFO, Robert Silber.  But they also filed against the Delaware Dept. of Education.  I don’t see language releasing the DOE.  Is their suit against the DOE still alive?

I would attach the Scribd document from Delaware Liberal, but the ink isn’t dry on the settlement yet.  Thirteen charters, the Christina board President, and Silber all signed.  That leaves two more charters.  Not a (legal) done deal yet.  But why aren’t all the signatures by the President of each charter board?   Some are.  Some are signed by the Head of School or a title similar to that.  But the board is the legal entity behind a charter school, not the Head of School.  I suppose it would depend on the ability of a Head of School to legally bind the corporation to this settlement.  I don’t have time right now to look through the bylaws of fifteen charter schools.  I would think an interim principal, like the one at Great Oaks, does not have that kind of authority.

Out of everything I’ve written about this whole Christina/charter school funding war, beginning at the end of August, as well as the countless other articles in Delaware media, one question still hasn’t been answered.  What made Greg Meece, Steve Dressel, and Joanne Schlossberg from NCS request a meeting with the Delaware DOE and Christina to discuss the local funding formula?  In other words, for 13 years, this 2003 referendum and the 10 cent thing was in play.  DOE signed off in it each year.  But Greg Meece found out about this earlier this year which prompted this whole thing.  Who told Meece about it?  Meece would have gone after this a long time ago had he known about it.  So who betrayed Christina?  It had to be someone with inside knowledge of the district’s finances.  Someone who knew a 13 year history of the finances.  Someone with a deep understanding of school finances.  Someone who had the motive and means and willingness to go after Christina.  Someone who didn’t care that this would affect tens of thousands of kids across the state.  Someone who didn’t care that telling Meece this would instantly cause him to bite the apple and unleash a lot of crap on the Delaware education world.  That is cold and unfeeling.  I am about 99.9% sure of who you are.  I’ve known for a long time.  I know how you like to play the long con.  I also know how you play people.  I know who your allies are and who your enemies are.  One day, your actions will come out.  And your justification for this does nothing.  Not when your sins will cause thousands of students who already had less to lose out even more.  You sold out the kids you claim to stand for.  It doesn’t balance any scales and it doesn’t even begin to absolve you.  You aren’t that crafty.  I saw you coming a mile away.

This is a shakedown no matter how you slice it.  The Delaware DOE, who approved the exclusions for all these years, gets the stiff penalty of having to do some more paperwork, something they thrive at already.  In the settlement, Secretary Godowsky escapes any blame by simply stating he wasn’t aware of the exclusions.  Which could very well be true since he wasn’t confirmed by the Delaware Senate until October, 2015.  But all the former Secretaries of Education would have known: Mark Murphy, Lillian Lowery, and Valarie Woodruff.  Why weren’t they named in the lawsuit if the charter schools had allegations going back to 2003?

I see this as just one more nail in the coffin of public education.  Now this opens the door for charter schools to get more funds from a referendum.  Funds earmarked for a district are now questionable.  Unless some shady deal went down at some point between 2003 and 2015, Christina is not to blame.  So why on earth would they settle?  I highly doubt their attorney fees would have climbed higher than the results of this settlement.  There is no possible way ninety minutes was enough time for their board to digest this settlement.  I read it last night and I still have many doubts.

The whole part about Christina paying $150,000 as a “one-time payment”?  That reeks of the amount Saul Ewing will charge the charter schools for their legal fees.  Wasn’t the Longwood Foundation going to pay for them?

This will be seen as a victory by many charter school parents, especially the ones at Newark Charter School.  They will point fingers at Christina and say “See, you settled, it was your fault.”  This is not a win for kids.

Call For NEA To Cut Ties With TeachStrong Coalition

Another new business item at the NEA Rep. Assembly in D.C. this week would call for NEA to quit the TeachStrong Coalition sponsored by the Center for American Progress.  Delaware Governor Markell is one of the biggest advocates for this farce of a coalition and helped to launch the initiative.  The Center for American Progress was also the same group that led the “Testing Bill of Rights for Education” which landed with a resounding thud.  This led to my creation of the “Parent Bill of Rights for Education” which pretty much led to a two-week banishment on Facebook for myself in April.  How dare parents voice their opinion!

The NEA has to realize they are cutting their own throats by aligning with these companies.  They need to fight this crap, not join it.  To read more on this NBI, please go here.  How much do you want to bet the TeachStrong ambassadors were carefully selected by these partnership organizations to further their own agendas, including the ultimate privatization of public schools?  Lily Eskelsen-Garcia, you are not leading your membership to glory.  You are leading them to the slaughter…  will the NEA members wake up and take back any shred of decency before it is gone forever?

John Carney: Don’t Be A Markell In Sheep’s Clothing

Carney

This is a plea to Congressman John Carney.

You are running for Governor in Delaware.  You haven’t officially filed yet, but you announced your intention last year.  In Delaware, it seems like a certainty you will win the election in November.  With that being said, I have some grave concerns with some of your education votes in the U.S. House of Representatives.

You voted yes for the following:

The Every Student Succeeds Act which yields to the states the ability to determine opt out procedures when parents don’t want their child to take the state standardized test.  Even though ESSA states 95% of students must take the state assessment.  The US DOE is ignoring the power given to states in this legislation.

You voted no for the following:

HR5: The Student Success Act.  This legislation, the House precursor to the Every Student Succeeds Act, allowed for parent opt out for any reason and would not penalize schools for opt outs in their accountability report cards.

In Delaware, parents cried out to our legislators last year to act for their rights.  While they were with us in the majority, when the time came for them to act again, many of them took the coward’s way out by not voting for a suspension of rules.  Something many of them have no problem doing all the time.  We don’t need another Jack Markell in Delaware.  I think we are all done with him.  His education legacy will be one for the history books, and not in a positive light in the long run.

Aside from attending Smyrna Day in the Smyrna School District and going to the Coding School in Wilmington, we really haven’t heard much from you on education.  I’m sure you are relieved this hasn’t come up.  But with ESSA regulations about to come out, it is essential that you let the voters of Delaware know your views on education matters.  If you are to be the presumptive winner for Governor of Delaware, let it be a presumption with all of the facts.

As a son of two teachers, I am sure you have a high regard for education and the teaching profession.  I would hope you don’t completely agree with many of the federal mandates from the past 15 years.  It is very important that you let us know your thoughts.  Let us vote with a clear idea of where you are coming from.  I am hoping you lead us out of the education quagmire Governor Markell perpetrated on the First State.  We want a Governor that supports parental rights as much as any other rights that you celebrate on social media so much.

I think you got a raw deal in 2008.  Many Delawareans feel this way.  Things could have been very different had you won back then.  Perhaps high-stakes assessments wouldn’t become the bread and butter of all things education in Delaware.  Perhaps our teachers would feel more respected by the state you hope to govern.  Perhaps parents wouldn’t feel the need to opt out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment had someone fought Arne Duncan and the US DOE during the tumultuous Race To The Top years.

The time has come for you to speak about education in Delaware and what you are looking to achieve.  If it is the status quo, which is not what Jack Markell states it is, but rather the complete sell-out of public education to companies who want privatization while funds seep out of classrooms and into the eager hands of hedge fund managers, then be honest and let us know that.  If you want something different, something bold and a bit radical, let us know.  Either way, your silence is deafening.

 

How Delaware Got A “D” On The Network for Public Education 2016 State Report Card

The Network for Public Education released state report cards for their 2016 State Report Card today.  Below is Delaware’s grade determination, for which they received a grade of D.  Personally, I would have given Delaware a grade of D for rejecting high-stakes testing with the behavior over a parent’s right to opt their child out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  Delaware scored very poorly on the “resisting privatization” category.  While Delaware doesn’t take part in any type of voucher system, the push for “school choice” is huge in the First State.  The gap between certain charter schools student demographics and their counterparts in the traditional school districts they reside in is gigantic!

NPEDelawareStateReportCard2016