Will The Real Publius Please Stand Up?

This just in: Henry Clampitt, a candidate for the Red Clay Consolidated School District Board of Education, just told a crowd of people at a PTA debate for the candidates, that he has been a victim of bullying by a blogger in Kent County.  He stated he is not a blogger.  The question that was asked of Clampitt was his stance on bullying.  Clampitt ran out of time but kept on talking and stated he needed to say this.

Yes, I wrote about Clampitt being Publius.  Long after someone else outed him on Twitter.  We all suspected but that was the first public confirmation of this.  Now, in the final weeks of the Red Clay board seat campaign, Clampitt addresses the issue.  Let me clarify one thing.  Publius was NOT a blogger.  He commented on a blog.  There is a huge difference.

The last time Publius commented on Kilroy’s Delaware, he said he was saying goodbye and the “sign was in the yard”.  Publius has not been seen since.  Around the same time, Henry Clampitt joined the Gateway Lab School Board of Directors.  Make of that what you will.  Publius was a bully on Kilroy’s Delaware.  He went after people with absolutely no mercy.  I will shed no tears for the consequences of those actions.  But we do all owe Publius a debt of gratitude.  His stance on charter schools and enrollment preferences and school choice kept the conversation going long after most people would have drifted away.

So if Clampitt wasn’t Publius, who was?  Was it the Smoke Monster from LOST?  Was it the Candy Man?  Was it Donald Trump?  Was it Kilroy himself?  Was it Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy?  Or was it…

The Bizarre Love Triangle Between Publius, Minnehan, and Clampitt **UPDATED**

All relationships have their ups and downs.  Such is the case between former Kilroy’s Delaware commenter Publius e decere and former Pencader board member and current Christina board member Harrie Ellen Minnehan.  Throw in a wild card like Henry Clampitt, former board member of Charter School of Wilmington, current board member at Gateway Lab School, and also a candidate for the Red Clay Consolidated Board of Education, and you have what I like to call a bizarre love triangle (which just so happens to be an awesome tune by New Order).  But what I found this morning… that brings this triangle to a whole new level… Continue reading “The Bizarre Love Triangle Between Publius, Minnehan, and Clampitt **UPDATED**”

The Best of Publius, Part 2: Priority Schools

So much for my daily “Best of Publius” series.  Mice and men and all that!  But I will make up for it.  Two and a half years, the shot heard round Delaware happened on the steps of Warner Elementary School in Wilmington when Governor Markell announced the priority schools initiative.  Take six “low-performing” schools and turn ’em around!  The planning for it was horrible as was the community reaction.  Legislators jumped on the Governor and the Delaware Dept. of Education.  Teachers and parents rallied at board meetings.  No one liked the idea of taking six inner-city schools, hiring new leaders, and replacing half the teachers.  Lest we forget, the definition of “failing” was based on standardized test scores.  Everyone hated the idea.  Well, except for Publius e decere over on Kilroy’s Delaware.  He had plenty to say about the debacle.

Yes, we should all bow our heads to the master, Publius himself.  I would shudder to think what would happen to Delaware education if his rantings ever bridged into an actual elected office!

The Best of Publius, Part 1: Vouchers

Does Publius believe in vouchers? I would say he does based on this comment over on Kilroy’s Delaware from last year.

publius40

While not coming out and supporting vouchers wholesale, Publius was promoting a credit or rebate to taxpayers for kids in private schools.  Why?  To reduce the tuition for parents.  A voucher is a voucher no matter how many different ways you try to shape it Publius.  You put a pig in crap it is still going to get filthy no matter how you do it.  That reminds me… how do our school board candidates feel about vouchers?

The Best Of Publius, Prologue

It has been nine months since the adventures of Publius came to a close over on Kilroy’s Delaware.  But such filings and mementos never truly disappear in this age of the internet.  I thought it was important for the citizens of our democratically elected state to remember what Publius stood for, what he believed.  He was not a man of simple words.  Nor was he a man for holding back how he felt.  He was a man of controversy and hypocrisy, sarcasm and hard to understand wit.  He poked fun at others without reservation.  While we are concerned about such trivial things like school board filings and Vitamin C rings in schools, we should hear the words of he who would be senator but instead seemed to be constantly board.  The master of the obvious and the not so subtle one, I give you fair readers, the Best of Publius.  Most of his comments over on Kilroy’s seemed to focus around the Red Clay area.  If you want, you can vote on his stances!

publius1

What Happened To Publius e decere?

For years, the commenter going by the name of Publius e decere haunted the comment section of Kilroy’s Delaware.  Last summer, he vanished without a trace claiming the “sign was in the yard” and it was a “Capitol” move.  For those of us who know who he is, it is very easy to put the pieces together.  Why he left and why he doesn’t want to stick his neck out there anymore.  But make no mistake, the spirit of Publius is alive and well in Delaware.  Those who support school choice to the exclusion of minorities, the impoverished, and the disabled.  Those who want to get their people in at district levels or on a school board.  These are the same shakers and movers that allowed Charter School of Wilmington and Newark Charter School to have the demographics they have.  They have their hooks in with legislators and state leaders.  They are non-profits, for-profits, charter school board members, and even some are so embedded into the state education system it would take a work of God to get them to leave.

They are the wolves in sheeps clothing at times.  But if you look close enough, you can see the Publius clones out there.  They are hob-knobbing with those wolves in sheeps clothing.  They attempt to placate those whose vote can make a difference with statements that are not so genuine but think they have the ability to dupe those who know better.  They try to speak the corporate education reform Kool-Aid drinking lingo but come across sounding like a mini-me of Jack Markell.  They talk about gaps like there should be a different word behind every potential gap out there.  When the only thing they truly know about the Gap is the stores in every mall in America.

In this season of change, we need to be very mindful about who is attempting to get on our school boards.  We need to know who wants to advance their own cause or truly make change in every school district.  And no, I will not be one of those vying for a school board seat.  I will say to watch out for what happens in Wilmington districts.  Very carefully.

Ask Teachers One Question And…

Alright, I admit it.  Asking Delaware teachers if they would consider taking a cut in their benefits and pensions probably wasn’t the smartest move in the book, but many of you came out in droves to respond.  Granted, no administrators, principals, or superintendents replied.  The article went over like a resounding thud.  But I challenge every single teacher in the state: if not benefits or pension, what do you view as wasted money in our schools?  And please don’t say “nothing”.  We spend a billion dollars on education in Delaware and that’s just from the state.  We also get federal money and local funds from school taxes.  While other states may laugh and say “that’s it?”, we are a small state with less than a million people and about 133,000 kids in public education.  Since this could be a hot topic with certain folks, feel free to post anonymously on this!

Since I just got home from work and grocery shopping and I’m dead to the world now, just a few updates on recent stuff.  They must have a huge cricket crisis going on in the Appoquinimink School District, because that’s all I’ve heard from them since I dropped the special education funding bomb on them last week.  I did have an interesting comment on the “Unsustainable” article that had me wracking my brain all day.  Delaware school districts and charters might be thinking I’ve slowed down on them and my target of the month is Appo.  Wrong!  I have a ton of articles that will be coming out in the next couple of weeks.  One is about an interesting superintendent situation going on in one of our school districts.  That one led to a VERY interesting board meeting last month.  Dr. Mark Holodick is winning the “who will be the next Secretary of Education in Delaware poll”, followed by Susan Bunting.  Every one seems to be playing pin the tail on the auditor in the past week and everyone wants to know when Tom Wagner is actually going to, you know, do some audits.  Kenny Rivera is now the Vice-President of the Red Clay Board of Education and Michael Piccio was voted in as the President.  The State Board is having their monthly snooze fest on Thursday.  Expect to hear some type of hip-hop hooray about the latest Smarter Balanced Assessment results but not the actual final scores cause they aren’t done yet.  Both the Christina and Red Clay Boards of Education passed resolutions to suspend the WEIC timeline which will be echoed by WEIC at a meeting on July 26th.  On Wednesday, WEIC will be honored by the Progressive Democrats of Delaware as their Education Heroes of the Year.  So Elizabeth Lockman gets a two-peat!  Jack Markell hasn’t signed the teacher evaluation bill yet, House Bill 399.  I guess he was too busy not filing to run for Congress (okay, I never said I bat home runs every time)!  Delaware Military Academy wants to build a sports dome, but not with any funding from the state.  They said it will all be from private donations.  Apparently Chief of Instruction Michael Watson at the Delaware DOE has been “chosen” to be on John Carney’s “transition team”.  How very presumptuous of you Mr. Carney.  Today is State Rep. Trey Paradee’s birthday so wish him a Happy Birthday on Facebook.  I did hear back from EFIC about their epic fail, which is the Education Funding Improvement Committee’s final report.  Apparently “their work isn’t done yet” after having a due date of March 31st which was extended until June 30th.  Publius disappeared from Kilroy’s Delaware about a month ago and hasn’t been seen since.  He said something about the sign is in the yard.  It makes me very curious why he would feel he shouldn’t comment “anonymously” on a blog anymore.  Especially in light of a recent vacancy in Dover (totally speculating on this one folks).  Unless…

Publius, otherwise known as Henry Clampitt…

For years, the online denizens of Kilroy’s Delaware have been subjected to the very pro corporate education reform rants of Publius, aka Henry Clampitt.  Clampitt served on the Board of Directors for the Charter School of Wilmington for many years until he “resigned” with no explanation given to the public whatsoever.  The CSW Board is usually very tight and tends to have many of the same folks on the board for years at a time.

Clampitt also serves on the Legislative Advisory Committee for the Delaware Charter Schools Network.  Clampitt has been in this role since some point last year.  Clampitt is very “pro-choice” when it comes to a parent’s ability to choose what school their child attends.  I believe this to be admirable, however, given his inability to fully understand how certain charter schools enrollment preferences have adversely affected segregation and discrimination in the Wilmington, DE area, it is an advocacy based on wrong intentions.  Having served on the Delaware Enrollment Preferences Task Force, Clampitt firmly believed in placement tests prior to admission at schools like CSW.

Clampitt and I have gone toe to toe on Kilroy’s Delaware going on two years now.  He is vicious in his attack methods, going so far as to make fun of people’s physical features while hiding behind his online moniker.

A few months ago, someone opened a Twitter account under the name of Henry Clampitt with a twitter handle of @publiusedecere, which is also his name on Kilroy’s Delaware.  Nobody knows who posted this Twitter account, but it disappeared within 24 hours.  For many, it is no secret who Publius really is.

ClampittPublius

When this Twitter account opened, it was in the middle of a major battle between two bills pending in the Delaware General Assembly concerning charter school audits.  On one side was State Rep. Kim Williams and the other was Senator David Sokola.  Williams’ bill passed the House last year.  Sokola introduced his bill in January.  Many felt (which I agree with) that Sokola’s bill weakened Williams’ bill.  At the Senate Education Committee meeting on Sokola’s bill, Williams and Kathleen Davies from the State Auditor’s office faced off against Sokola, Clampitt, and Kendall Massett from the Delaware Charter Schools Network.  Neither bill has gone up for a vote in the Senate since that meeting.

Clampitt attacked Rep. Williams in his “anonymous” blog comments on Kilroy’s Delaware.  If I were a guessing man, I would say Clampitt finally pushed someone over the edge which resulted in this fake Twitter account days later.  Many people sent me the link to this Twitter account.  I was shocked that someone went to that level of creativity to out Clampitt, but I wasn’t surprised.

As our little war has progressed over on Kilroy’s, Clampitt has recently started an online campaign to attack me whenever he gets a chance.  If nothing is even discussed in one of Kilroy’s article, as seen recently with some of his posts about Donald Trump, Clampitt will come out of nowhere in his vain attempts to demean me.  This is why I feel some perspective is needed for those reading Kilroy’s Delaware.  Clampitt has made this personal because he seems to be out to “get me”.  I don’t mind anonymous commenters unless you cross that line too many times.  I’ve written about Publius and Clampitt on here, but never together.  Kilroy has done the same.

Many have felt Clampitt, based on his comments, did himself in with the board at CSW.  Others, including myself, feel he can be very racist or discriminatory in his attempts to win an argument.  Many are just plain disgusted with his online antics.  Words such as “cocky” and “arrogant” are the labels I hear the most when others speak about Publius/Clampitt.

It has been highly rumored that he will attempt a run for the Red Clay Consolidated School Board next year, and will run against President Kenny Rivera.  This is something many in the Wilmington community seem to be dead against.  I’ve seen Clampitt a couple times.  Once at an Enrollment Preference Task Force meeting, and the other at a Red Clay board meeting.  When surrounded by his buddies in the charter community, Clampitt can tend to be very vocal.  But at Red Clay, he is very quiet and reserved.

Clampitt seems to be offended by anyone who disagrees with him.  He seems to have a particular hate for myself and Christina board member John Young.  He is also a fierce believer in standardized testing.  When asked about this, he states the same mantra all who support high-stakes testing: “We need to close the achievement gap.”  The very same achievement gap that has widened even further as a result of tests like the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  He believes opt out is wrong and opposes it on every single level.  He takes cheap shot at concerned parents who don’t believe a standardized test is a good measure of academic ability.

Together with his online supporters on Kilroy’s, he has turned what used to be a good place to have earnest discussions about education into a place where many are so offended they don’t come back anymore.  I refuse to leave Kilroy’s “kitchen table” because of a cyber bully.  But I will not continue to be mocked by a man who has so many inherent conflicts of interest.  If this means I am no longer invited to Kilroy’s, so be it.  But I am a firm believer in defending myself when attacked as voraciously as Publius has done.  Last summer, he went way over the line when he attacked my son’s disability.  I wanted to write this then, but I held back.  But as the attacks intensified the past couple months, I felt it was time to take a stand.  If he wants to continue to be a coward thinking he is protected by hiding behind his oh-so-original blog commenter handle over on Kilroy’s, that is his prerogative.  But in the real world, we all know who you are.

It is time to put a face to the name of Publius…

HankClampitt

Odyssey Charter School And Other “Successful” Charters Want Money To Grow

Matthew Albright with the Delaware News Journal wrote an article today about Delaware charters, and centered on Odyssey Charter School.  Delaware charter schools face obstacles to growth is the name of the article.  I think it’s funny, because many disadvantaged students face obstacles to getting into these “dream” charters like Odyssey, Charter School of Wilmington, Newark Charter School and Sussex Academy.  Their student populations always have less African-Americans, students with disabilities and low-income students than those around them.  And their cheerleaders always say the same thing: “Their lotteries determine who gets in.”  Yeah, and I have a bridge in Brooklyn I’d like to sell you.

School leaders and parents at successful Delaware charter schools say the state can and should do more to help them grow.  While understanding that the Department of Education has to crack down on charters showing evidence of financial mismanagement or a failure to provide high quality education, parents and educators wonder: If a school has top test scores, deep community connections and parents clamoring for expansion, can’t the state help?

Did Publius from Kilroy’s Delaware write this article?  If a charter school has “top test scores”, which doesn’t mean squat to me because I don’t value any standardized test score as a true measurement of any school, than they have trimmed the fat and picked the better students and essentially recruited (stolen) them from their local districts.

Albright talks about Odyssey’s latest money problems, something I wrote about six days ago.  But of course, Albright, being a reporter for a somewhat major metropolitan newspaper would get more information.  I’m just a blogger!  Should Odyssey get more money from the state?  Hell no!  Charters wanted to have it their way, but when they can’t get things their way, they call the State.  Enough.  They get more financial perks from non-profits and loop-holes in the budget to make up for what they don’t get from the state.

Charter skeptics maintain that the state shouldn’t spend a cent more on charters while traditional school districts cry out for more resources to serve at-risk students. They argue charters don’t serve enough of the kids who need the state’s help the most, and every dollar that goes to a charter is a dollar less for districts charged with that mission.

Damn straight!  Some schools are literally falling apart, and Odyssey and other charters want more?  After they have siphoned money and students away from their local districts?  Sorry, you missed the boat.  Why don’t they call the Longwood Foundation?  They are always giving away money to charters.  Delaware State Rep. John Kowalko got the Albright call and didn’t mince words:

“Until you can prove to me, and I mean show me proof on a piece of paper, that these schools are taking in the same kind of students as our districts and doing a better job, then maybe we have a different discussion,” Kowalko said. “Until then, it is unconscionable for us to be sending additional taxpayer dollars to them.”

Why would we give more money to a school that is facing this on their latest financial framework with the DOE:

The problems reported include deficits, high debt-to-asset ratios, low cash reserves and negative cash flow over the past three years.

So we give them a get out of jail free card while Christina bleeds?  I don’t see the state rushing to help them.  And the article even has Kendall Massett with the Delaware Charter Schools Network joining the fray!  I’m not sure when she finally figured out there were other schools in Delaware aside from charters, but I’m not sure I buy what she wrote:

“If any public school, not just a charter, is doing great things for kids, we should be enabling them to do more of it,” Massett said. “Odyssey is a great example of that.”

The timing on this is impeccable.  The DOE and Donna Johnson will be presenting to the State Board on the Statewide Review of Educational Opportunities.  This is the strategy to “determine how charters operate in Delaware” along with all the other great programs our schools offer.  Another US DOE non-regulatory non-Congressionally approved “suggestion”.

During the last legislative session, lawmakers approved a moratorium on new charters until June of 2018, or until the state finishes a comprehensive strategic plan that would address how charters fit into the state’s overall public education system.

If anyone really thinks there will be a moratorium on charters until 2018, they are smoking something funny.  Once the State Board celebrates Donna and the DOE’s hard work and does their high-five party, the charter applications will flow.

Kilroy Blasts Local Union And Is Publius Running For A Board?

This is a two-in-one article, but they are closely related.  Kilroy also wrote a reaction piece to the News Journal’s article on the opt-out penalty, but his article didn’t really delve into the article.  Instead, he blasted the unions and blamed them for Race To The Top.  It was seven years ago Kilroy, let it go!  But he didn’t stop there, he also attempted to do something with Red Clay Educators Association President Mike Matthews.  I’m not sure what his motivation was with all of this, but it is obvious Kilroy has a major beef with the unions.  Which got me thinking (always a dangerous thing, I know) about what might really be going on.

For all of Kilroy’s rants about Race To The Top and DSEA’s role in it, we NEVER hear one word about the charters support for Race To The Top.  They had a role as well.  Is there benefit for Kilroy to go gangbusters on unions and not the charters?  Probably not, but then I looked at who the bulk of the commenters are on Kilroy’s nowadays.  Die-hard charter and choice lovers.  Led by the always controversial Publius.  We know Kilroy has sidebars with a lot of his commenters.  I usually talk to him every couple weeks myself.  But is Kilroy being inundated with the charter special sauce?  And why would someone do that?  Perhaps if they were running for a local school board in the next few years.  That’s right.  Word on the street has it that none other than Publius himself will be running for a local school board!  While some (okay, many) know who Publius really is, you won’t hear it from me.

It would greatly benefit Publius to have Kilroy turn the public against the local unions.  Is Publius working Kilroy?  I sure hope not, because Kilroy wouldn’t be too happy if he found out!  But in my eyes, Publius on a local school board is more frightening than the last episode of American Horror Story!  Say what you will about DSEA.  I agree with some of Kilroy’s points on them.  They could have taken a much stronger stand on opt-out.  I have no clue how they really stand on the opt-out penalty and what their role is.  Someone is either telling the truth or they are lying.  Yeah, sometimes the truth is in the middle, but in Delaware politics, someone is usually playing someone else for their own benefit.  It’s a tricky slope to sled down.

I firmly believe, that with WEIC and the redistricting effort, Mike Matthews wanted to take on a greater role because he knew the responsibilities of being President of RCEA were going to greatly increase this year.  More focus and focus plus schools as well.  And we all know Mike will stand up to the DOE, which is desperately needed these days, and I wish all local education associations would do this instead of sitting on the fence.  Kilroy said this has never happened before.  Well guess what Kilroy, the time to defend teachers against the onslaught of the DOE has never been greater!

Hey Kilroy, I Found A Better Publius! And This One Has A Blog!

Over on Kilroy’s Delaware, the godfather of Delaware education blogs, there is a commenter named Publius.  Typical education reform kind of guy, ticking people off with his “choice” comments and “march to proficiency” stuff.  But I found a better Publius! This one hails from Florida, and has a great blog called The Withering Apple with a handle of Publius Withering.  I wish the Delaware Publius would move to Florida, but I wouldn’t wish that on the better Publius!   Check it out at The Withering Apple.

Publius, Tunnel Vision Is Not A Disability Charter Boy!

Publius over at Kilroy’s Delaware had an epic meltdown cause I insinuated he may be racist last week.  For those who don’t “know” Publius, let me enlighten you.  I’ve been posting comments over on Kilroy’s for the past seventeen months.  It’s how I got my start in blogging writing about my son’s experience at a Delaware charter school.  I always wondered who this one guy named Publius really was.  I figured it out after a few stumbles last December.

Publius is pro-choice.  As in charter school choice.  He thinks all parents should be able to have a choice over which school their child attends.  In theory, he is right.  However, without revealing his true identity, he is waist-deep in the kind of choice that leads to segregation, discrimination, and cherry-picking.  He also thinks high-stakes standardized testing is a “march to proficiency”.  Arguing with him is like fighting with a 500 pound gorilla.  It always comes back to the same thing, his way or the highway.  You can point out logic and reason to him, but if it goes against his modus operandi, he can’t be swayed.

So last week, I had enough.  I’ve always felt he had a bit of racism based on his comments and his true identity.  I honestly asked him how he really feels about African-Americans.  Well this set him over the edge, causing a week-long set of diatribes by Mr. Anonymous (not really, many folks know who he really is).  This culminated in a comment he made in reaction to my telling him he has “tunnel vision” when it comes to choice and charters.  His response?

 “KO “Mr Sensitivity for Disabilities” might want to rethink his blind “tunnel vision” comment.”

To which my response was:

“And if you ever bring up words like “Mr. Sensitivity for Disabilities” again, I will out you as the sniveling weasel of a coward you are. You don’t get to go there you pathetic excuse for a man. Test me, one more time, and everyone will know who you are. Try me…”

Reaction from others was just as strong.  The following is Not Safe For Work…

“Yo Publius ! I am not sure if you know this or not, Kevin is a parent of a special needs child. But even at that not good!” -Kilroy

“KO “Mr Sensitivity for Disabilities” might want to rethink his blind “tunnel vision” comment.” is vile – and crosses every line. Kilroy, don’t give Pube a pass on this – don’t pretend he didn’t know. He knows exactly what he’s doing and KO’s history and story (He’s flippin’ commented on it). Then again, we all know who Pube is (as I’m sure everyone knows who I am).  I watched him prance and skip down the aisle at the board meeting at Brandywine Springs last fall. You go, girl!” -Pandora

“Publius, we all know who you are, a verified asshole.” -John Young

I truly thought Publius would stay away for a while after this, but no, charter boy had to add one more thing today.  This is what he does when he knows he got his hands caught in the cookie jar, he tries to come up with some lame excuse for why the things he says.

“Again, “tunnel vision” is a pejorative which uses visual impairment as an inferred weakness and as a tool to criticize. I can see from all of these constructive comments that I struck your chords. Your collective willingness to “select” what is insensitive and what is not is — (drumroll) — your choice. Isn’t choice grand?” -Publius

Charter Boy just doesn’t get it.  Tunnel Vision is not a disability covered under any of the many under Federal law.  If it was, we all would have Individualized Education Programs (IEPs).  I wouldn’t expect Publius to know much about special education, as he is really not that familiar with it at all.  Would I out him?  Possibly.  If he went even further over the line than he has on many occasions.  But I’m sure this was his reaction to my “racism” comment.  I know all about blogger’s honor and all that, but Publius is special.  He is my “blogging nemesis”.  He stands for everything I hate and loathe about Delaware education.  And it isn’t choice.  It’s his special blend of choice that would limit others while holding those who are more advantage under the limelight.

It isn’t a case of charters vs. public schools.  There are charters in this state that are very integrated and serve the average special needs students in their schools.  Nobody has special education perfect as I’ve come to learn.  But his “special sauce” for choice is abhorrent in my opinion.  There are many who agree, and those on the polar opposite who agree with Publius.  One day, he will tick someone off past the point of no return, and everyone will know who he is.  That’s a day I can’t wait for.

The Delaware Charter School Tranportation Slush Fund Fully Revealed In State Code & Epilogue Language

Delaware State Code allows for charter schools in the state to keep any excess transportation costs for “educational purposes”.  No clarification is given for what those educational purposes are or what sections of the school budget they need to be allocated to.  As a result, Delaware charters have “kept” an estimated $1.35 million dollars, a luxury traditional public school districts do not have.  Certain commenters over on Kilroy’s Delaware claim this isn’t true, and even went so far as to post the full Title 14 Delaware code § 508 of the state code, which doesn’t indicate the slush fund.

“ § 508 Responsibility for student transportation.

The charter school may request to have the school district where the charter school is located transport students residing in that district to and from the charter school on the same basis offered to other students attending schools operated by the district, or to receive from the State a payment equal to 70% of the average cost per student of transportation within the vocational district in which the charter school is located and become responsible for the transportation of those students to and from the charter school. In the case of students not residing in the district where the charter school is located, the parents of such students shall be responsible for transporting the child without reimbursement to and from a point on a regular bus route of the charter school. In lieu of the payment from the State specified above, if a charter school utilizes a contractor for student transportation the charter school shall publicly bid the routes, and the State shall reimburse the charter school for the actual bid costs only if lower than the payment specified above. Notwithstanding the foregoing, a student at a charter school shall receive such transportation assistance as is made available to students pursuant to a public school choice program established by this Code provided that such student otherwise meets the eligibility requirements for such assistance. In the event a charter school chooses to transport students itself, it shall do so in accordance with all public school transportation safety regulations. Local school districts and charter schools shall cooperate to ensure that the implementation of this chapter does not result in inefficient use of state appropriations for public school transportation and the State Board shall exercise its authority to approve bus routes so as to avoid such waste.”

However, what the rocket scientist over on Kilroy’s Delaware failed to do, most likely deliberately as to show people he is right and everyone else arguing against him is wrong, is put in the part from the Fiscal budget which clearly indicates, in Section 347 of House Bill 225.  Even more hysterical, this commenter damn well knows about this, but blogger honor demands I not out the clown.

Section 347. (a) Notwithstanding 14 Del. C. § 508 or any regulation to the contrary, a charter school may negotiate a contract (multi-year, if desired) for contractor payment for school transportation up to the maximum rate specified which is currently 70 percent of the average cost per student of transportation within the vocational district in which the charter school is located or the charter school may publicly bid the transportation routes.  If the actual negotiated or bid costs are lower then the maximum rate specified above, the charter school may keep the difference for educational purposes.  If the charter school includes a fuel adjustment contract provision, the charter school shall be responsible for increased payments to the contractor or it may keep funds taken back from the contractor.

I wrote an article on this back in January, which clearly showed exactly how much each of the following charter schools were able to keep in FY14 based on this transportation slush fund buried at the near end of the state budget:

Academy of Dover: $56,788

Campus Community: $148,578

Charter School of Wilmington: $63,755

DE Academy of Public Safety & Security: $13,894

DE College Prep Academy: $17,750

DE Military Academy: $21,877

East Side Charter: $31,451

Family Foundations: $384,769

Kuumba Academy: $64,352

Las Americas Aspiras: $103,958

MOT Charter School: $23,126

Moyer Academy: $22,596

Newark Charter: $227,827

Odyssey: $150,607

Reach Academy: $25,647

Providence Creek Academy and Sussex Academy use their own buses, Thomas Edison broke even, Positive Outcomes uses Caesar Rodney School District buses, and Gateway and Prestige Academy each lost over $20,000 on this deal.

So collectively these 15 charters made $1,357,002.00, for average of $90,466.80 a school.  The amounts for Odyssey, Newark Charter School, Family Foundations, Campus Community and Las Americas Aspiras are all well over $100,000.  With no mandated allocation of funds except for the very vague “educational purposes” and no oversight of how they use these funds, who knows where they are going.  In the case of Family Foundations Academy, where the two school leaders embezzled over $90,000 in personal spending, and Academy of Dover where one principal spent over $127,000 in personal purchases, how is it even possible to trust how the schools are spending these funds.  Where is the accountability for these funds?

One Delaware legislator has said enough is enough, and he is requesting lawmakers to make an amendment to get rid of this:

Dear all,

Note HB225—- page 231, Section 347 lines 25-26. This is the language that is consistently inserted over the last 6-7 budgets that conflicts with the Title 14 section 508 mandate to return unused (for transportation) taxpayer money by Charter Schools. The amendment I am filing removes this onerous disregard for taxpayer money from the budget and I hope each and every one of you will support it to restore accountability and specificity of allocation to our spending of those taxpayer dollars. It is our responsibility to ensure that this practice ceases.

Respectfully

John Kowalko

I’m sure the rowdy bunch over at Kilroy’s will say I am doing my master’s bidding since they seem to think Kowalko owns me, which is so far removed from the truth it’s not even funny.  There are numerous issues I disagree with Kowalko on, but when it comes to education we align.

As Rep. Kim Williams House Bill 186 (charter school post-audit with the State Auditor) is supposed to get a vote on Tuesday  June 30th, and hopefully Rep. Debbie Hudson’s House Bill 61 (mandatory school board recordings) is put to a vote, and rules are suspended for each, along with Kowalko’s proposed amendment to the budget, we can start to see some legislative oversight and transparency over Delaware charter schools.  It all depends on how quick the Delaware Charter Schools Network and Kendall Massett can get their people down to Legislative Hall on Tuesday…

 

Breaking News! Kilroy’s Publius Supports Parent Opt Out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment!!!!

This just in, Publius from Kilroy’s Delaware supports parent opt-out of standardized testing.  Publius is ALL about choice, so he would have to support this because it’s a parent’s choice!  Isn’t that right Publius?  You’ve been very quiet since my replies to you last night.  I hope everything is okay and you had a super-duper Valentine’s Day!  I saw John Young made that comment on Kilroy’s, so I thought to myself “That could be the title of my next article”!  Thanks Publius!

Two Unique Views on the March to Proficiency, Just Opt Out Now!

Last night I saw two very unique opinions about proficiency.  The first came from the blog Minding My Matters and the other came from a commenter named Publius on Kilroy’s Delaware.  Both offered very strong reasons why the obsession with proficiency in Delaware has it’s pros and cons.

From Minding My Matters, this was written here: https://mindingjax2816.wordpress.com/2015/02/12/a-free-bird/

We will never achieve 100% of anything. NEVER. The very concept of perfection is patently ridiculous. There are exceptions to every rule, right? It is ludicrous to expect that 100% of students will graduate from high school with passing scores on any given standardized assessment and go on to college where they will successfully complete a full degree in the expected time frame and find a job and live the American dream with little pink houses for you and me. And in any case, whose dream is that? Even parents get the dreams of their children wrong. What makes any individual competent to say every child should go from Point A to Point B, and should any given child deviate from that course (say, to take the road less traveled), well, that child is failing? And not only is that child failing, but that child should be told he is failing, and that his school is failing and his beloved teacher is failing as a result of his failure.

And from Kilroy’s Delaware, on this comment thread, https://kilroysdelaware.wordpress.com/2015/02/10/christina-school-district-should-give-de-doe-the-three-priority-school-let-markell-choke-on-them/#comment-62772 Publius wrote this:

 “proficiency” is what society is built on. And has been, for a millenium. Imagine a society where everyone is incompetent, do you really want that? I don’t.

The DOE is striving to drive change. State-promoted bootstrapping. The Opt-Outers are resisitng this (and all) change with blind bare-knucke balderdash. Kowalko kwackery.

You are a good front man for the deniers. Your defense of the indefensible is noted. But the inexorable march toward improvement, proficiency, and high performance is a steam roller you should not stand in front of, Stanley.

Publius

Both of these made me really think last night.  What is this march to proficiency and where does it end?  Does it ever end?  I responded to both, late in the evening after a very long day.  I tailored my comments to both with very strong emotions.  One was with compassion and caring, the other with a no holds barred defense of my position.  The latter is not safe for work!  You can read both in the links above.  Both were talking about the same concept but from different walks of life.  One is an educator and union rep, the other a very strong charter school supporter with influence on the conversation.  While blog honor demands I don’t reveal who Publius is, I will say I do know, which lends a unique slant on my comments to him.