Someone asked if public comment (can) be received by the committee? We will need to look at how we collect public/stakeholder input.
The above quote will be explained later, but it is very indicative of what happens in Delaware.
One of the biggest topics in Delaware these days is funding for education. It is everywhere. The Wilmington Education Improvement Commission wants to completely revamp how we fund our schools and included this in their redistricting plan which will be presented to the Delaware State Board of Education later today. The Vision Coalition has this as one of their six areas to get to the “North Star” of educational excellence in Delaware. But there is an even bigger group meeting these days to tackle this elephant in the room.
The Senate Joint Resolution #4 Education Funding Improvement Commission has been meeting since early November. I was able to obtain the minutes from their first meeting and I had some very deep concerns about some of the things I saw in there. But before I get to that, there are a lot of interesting names on this committee. The legislation called for 19 members but there are 24 on this committee. How does that even happen?
Chair: Former State Representative Darryl Scott
State Rep. Earl Jaques
State Rep. Ruth Briggs-King
State Senator David Sokola
State Senator Gary Simpson
Woodbridge Superintendent Heath Chasanov
*Delaware Association of School Administrators Kevin Carson
Delaware PTA Vice-President Ashley Dalzell-Gray
Delaware State Education Association Director of Legislation and Political Organizing Kristin Dwyer
New Castle County Vo-Tech Superintendent Vicki Gehrt
Woodbridge Board Member Walter Gilefski
State of Delaware Deputy Controller General Mike Jackson
State of Delaware Office of Management and Budget Deputy Director Brian Maxwell
Office of the Governor Education Policy Adviser Lindsay O’Mara
Governor’s Advisory Council for Exceptional Citizens Chairperson Robert Overmiller
*University of Delaware Center for Applied Demography & Survey Research Director Ed Ratledge
*Delaware Technical & Community College Chairman of the Board Mark Stellini
Delaware State Board of Education Member Barbara Rutt
Christina Cultural Arts Center Executive Director Raye Jones Avery
Kuumba Academy Head of School Sally Maldonado
Corporation Service Company President Rodman Ward III
Latin American Community Center Vice President of Development Claudia Pena Porretti
*Rodel Foundation of Delaware Vice President for Policy & Practice Madeleine Bayard
Support Staff for the Committee: Executive Director of the State Board of Education Donna Johnson and Secretary of Education Office Policy Advisor Tina Shockley
I have seen many of these names on various DOE working groups, legislative task forces and committees, and so forth. Some are new to me. Some of these are very affiliated with Rodel and the Delaware Business Roundtable. Some are very charter affiliated. But as usual, aside from one representative from the Delaware PTA, parents get the shaft. We are always shut out of groups like this. To answer my earlier question about how this group has more members than what the legislation called for, the answer was found here:
Three community members with special knowledge of education finance or special ability to contribute to discussion, appointed by Governor: Ed Ratledge, Madeleine Bayard, Mark Stellini, Kevin Carson
Whoever put this up on the DOE website must be using some odd form of Common Core math because I see four names there, not three…
Darryl Scott was the former Chair of the House Education Committee. He served three terms as State Representative from 2009-2015. I am very curious how a retired State Rep becomes not only the Chair of an education funding task force but also serves on the Southern Regional Education Board.
Why is the information for these meetings buried on the DOE website and not put on the General Assembly page for SJR #4? This is a legislative task force.
What concerns me the most about the below minutes is the quote at the top of this article. This is a public committee which is allowed to have public comment, no questions asked. The fact that a group like this isn’t sure how that will work stinks of non-transparency. These minutes were not found on the Delaware General Assembly Website. But when you look at the minutes, we see who decides how public comment can be given and viewed:
Donna Johnson advised that we will set up a website where all materials will be posted. An email address will be set up to receive public comment.
I’m sorry, but Donna Johnson is support staff, not a voting member of this committee. Why is she calling the shots on transparency? She is not a member of the General Assembly who enacted this legislation. As for the topics for upcoming meetings, who sets that up?
Chairman Scott noted that the next meeting will be held the week after Thanksgiving and that Tina Shockley will initiate a Doodle poll for the next meeting.
Who decides what is put on this Doodle poll? Another Department of Education employee. Who is running the show here? Of course we know anything education related that happens in Delaware is run by Governor Markell. And once again he is using the DOE to call the shots. So much for transparency and an open and democratic commission…
At their December 9th meeting, a presentation was given by Mike Griffiths, the School Finance Strategist with a company called Education Commission of the States. This is yet another think tank type of company in America dealing with how to “fix” education. Each state has a group of Commissioners. For Delaware, the Commissioners are Governor Jack Markell, Secretary of Education Dr. Steven Godowsky, Lindsay O’ Mara (Markell’s Education Policy Advisor), Senator David Sokola, and… Madeleine Bayard, Vice-President of Policy and Practice for the Rodel Foundation of Delaware. Senator Sokola is on the Steering Committee for this organization. Griffith’s presentation is here:
As well, Michael Morton from the Office of the Comptroller General’s office gave a very good presentation on Delaware School Finances. These are always tricky waters to navigate through for the average citizen, but I found this guide helped me to understand it better:
This is going to be a very interesting commission to keep track of. And once again, we have three different “coalitions” tackling school funding: WEIC, Vision Coalition, and this group…
We are seeing education funding play out in every single public school in the state. Schools are lacking resources and staff while the bloated Department of Education continues to shell out millions upon millions of dollars to corporate education reform companies. If Delaware wants to truly get more funding into our schools, this is the first place where funds can be reallocated. There should be no discussions about property tax re-assessments or weighted funding until the excess fat is trimmed out of the DOE. But look who is controlling this behind the scenes… This is Jack Markell’s mess. He will slide out of the Governor’s seat and leave the wreckage for Delaware to clean up. Thanks for that Governor…