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).

My Email To Kendall Massett With Delaware Charter Schools Network Over The Scandals & Fraud In Delaware Charter Schools

  • Today at 10:23 PM
To
  • kendallm@decharternetwork.org

Dear Kendall,

I am the writer of Exceptional Delaware, and I would like to know why your organization is objecting to House Bill 186 and other legislation that would provide the essential oversight Delaware charter schools so desperately need.  This isn’t about protecting the finances of these schools, it is about making sure the students in these schools get the best education possible. 

What is occurring in so many of our schools: Academy of Dover, Family Foundations Academy, Providence Creek Academy, Odyssey Charter, Thomas Edison and others is a direct result of financial mismanagement, boards not properly trained in oversight, and allowing administrators to cut the board out of important decisions.  It isn’t the boards that suffer or the admins.  It is the students and teachers. 

If your organization truly represents school choice, then you need to make sure the schools under your purveyance are effectively able to run those schools.  Because we both know the DOE isn’t able to.  You have the backing of millions of dollars and several huge companies, but at the end of the day none of that matters if the charters are involved in all these scandals.  I would ask that you allow transparency to rule the day and that your organization backs House Bill 186 and House Bill 61.  Parents should have choice, but only when everything is crystal clear and out in the open.  It is completely inappropriate for any school to conceal finances or other important matters that can impact children.

I’m sure you don’t like me, and I’m okay with that.  I don’t like a lot of the underhanded tactics I have seen your organization perform, like having parents mass email representatives to block a bill that would actually allow the charters to escape from the financial malfeasances and show why they can be just as good as traditional schools.  I don’t understand the need to protect them, because it always comes out.  If it isn’t me, it will be the next blogger or reporter.  Things are reaching a crisis point with education in Delaware, and serving the will of money over students is not going to help these kids. 

Many people say the entire goal of the education reform movement in the past 10 years has been about the eventual destruction of traditional school districts and the “privatization” of schools, making them all charter or private schools.  I believe this point of view is the goal, but I also know it is a system that will never work.  Because along with that comes the notion of power and people will abuse that.  If you truly want charter schools to survive in our state, than I would strongly consider a different approach.  Because this way, it doesn’t work.  Charters will never take over.  Now it needs to become a matter of co-existence.  The way our schools are funded, with funds coming out of local funds from the traditional school districts does not work.  Fighting for scraps will always cause fighting.  We all need to come up with a better way and stop the fraud, waste and abuse going on in our schools.  For schools that only represent a small percentage of our students, I have never seen such so much chaos and disruption coming from anything in education as I have with the charter school movement.

The next move is yours.  And since I am a firm believer in transparency, I will publish this email.

Thank you,

Kevin Ohlandt

More Truly Bizarre Family Foundations Academy Stories Surface

More stories from Family Foundations Academy are coming to light, and strange doesn’t even begin to describe them.  All sources who have provided these stories have elected to remain anonymous for their own reasons.

One educator advised they did donate part of their paycheck during the school’s “troubled financial crisis” back in 2008, but never received their two promised personal days off.  In fact, the school discouraged employees from taking their state allotted 10 days off.  When teachers were out, their classes of 30 or more were cut in half and put in other classes, which would give classroom sizes of 45 or higher!

A certain office assistant from many years ago sure liked money.  The school had a company they contracted for school pictures.  Apparently, this company would grant those pictures for free to employees of the school.  This office assistant would tell the company certain parents were employees when they weren’t, charged the parents, and kept the money for their own benefit.  This same employee was also in charge of collecting lunch money, but I imagine the amount of food going out was a lot higher than the money coming in.  When called out on this by an admin, another admin came to her defense because this employee also served as a “liason” arranger for this admin in setting up “rendezvous” meetings with the other admin.

At one point, the school arranged for a trip to The White House.  As a brother in the infamous fraternity the school is associated with, the school used the frat brother’s bus company for the trip.  The bus broke down, and had to return to the school.  The bus company agreed to reschedule the trip for free, but an admin charged parents again for the field trip, and kept the money.

The school received funding from Race To The Top, and spent some of this money on a company called Tutoring Works.  Would you like to take a wild guess what fraternity is part of the owner of that company’s profile?  Would you believe only fraternity brothers and one admin were allowed to perform these Saturday tutoring sessions?

Some of the charges by the school have been confirmed.  At one point, the school charged parents and students for a trip to a 76ers game, with a promise of the bus ride, the game, and a dinner.  Unfortunately, hungry parents and children only received a hot dog in tin foil, no drink, and not everyone got a hot dog…  One admin sure loved Arizona Iced Tea, and would purchase many cases of it from a certain wholesale club.  As well as other lots of treats and goodies.

Apparently “motels” was a popular word in texts between parents and certain employees at the school.  So much so that jealousy soon caused considerable rifts.

When FFA was administering the DSTP tests, one teacher would block all the windows with paper and would place candy on the correct answers while the students were taking the test.  This teacher would NOT open the locked door until all the tests were done and in their bag.

Apparently many teachers who were fired or quit due to tyrannical control by admin, many teachers went to the Christina School District.  One admin actually left FFA for the day to see all the teachers at the different schools.  Apparently these were insane moments…

I’m sure there will be more stories that come out, but in the meantime I have not heard back from anyone at Family Foundations Academy about my formal request for a seat on their board.

In the meantime, parents, teachers and concerned citizens, please make formal public comment with the DOE.  Please include your name, and any witnesses to these events.  There are certain laws against retaliation, and the more of you that speak up, the stronger the statements.  I have no clue what will happen with this school in terms of any DOE decision on their charter renewal, but all the allegations and stories about them clearly show this is a school that was run by people who did not have the best interest of students in mind.  If they are to stay open, any admin, staff, or board member associated with any of these allegations needs to be terminated.  As well, any connection with any vendor affiliated with “the frat” needs to be eliminated as a vendor and all future vendors should be on a contract through the state contract system.