Earl Jaques Planning To Draft Legislation That Would Put Christina In Receivership By The State

State Representative Earl Jaques has some mighty bold plans in the 150th General Assembly.  The biggest and most controversial will be a bill that would have the state takeover the Christina School District.  It is in the works and he is looking for sponsors. Continue reading

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Providence Creek Educators Drop Labor Day E-Mail Bomb On Their Own School Board

One Hundred and Twenty-Three Years ago, the United States Congress passed a law which made Labor Day a national holiday in America.  Last evening, over half the Providence Creek Academy educators sent an email to their board which could not only have long-lasting ramifications for the Clayton charter school, but all Delaware charter schools. Continue reading

A Note For Parents (Especially Charter School Parents)

I wrote the following on the Smyrna Clayton Residents Facebook page earlier today.  I dared to write a post about teacher attrition at Providence Creek Academy which led to the usual onslaught by parents whose kids either attend the school or used to.  Or their HR Director who likes to answer questions with a kernel of truth but when asked about the total number of teachers who have been fired over the summer, she refuses to respond but continues to like comments on the thread.  Or the guy who thinks posting memes instead of coming up with his own words lends him some type of credibility and street cred.  I’ve learned, when it comes to charter schools in this state, it is easier for parents to ignore lies than to come out of their comfort zone and face the truth.  It is sad.  In any event, this is what I wrote:

 I find it hysterical that so many are more than ready to believe things I write about the state and the Delaware DOE but refuse to accept the fact there could be corruption at the schools their child attends. I get that parents make a choice to send their child to a school their kid attends. I respect that choice. But when I shed some light on things that go on in those schools (usually charters), parents get up in arms and want to say I am off base, or I am wrong, or I have some personal grudge against the leader, or so on and so on. In the meantime, there is ZERO transparency coming from the school about the transgressions, teachers are leaving the school in droves, but as long as THEIR kid is doing okay, all is well. In the meantime, ALL of us are paying taxes for all these schools and no one seems to care that their hard-earned money is being used for personal purchases. Sorry, I will never subscribe to the belief that standardized test scores show whether a kid is getting a good education. I will never support that if any teacher questions anything they are ripe for firing. You come at me from the perspective of a parent, and I get that. But I’m looking at things from a much bigger picture. Sorry if that annoys you, but I guarantee you that if you don’t open your eyes and demand transparency now you will be left holding the bag when it comes to your kids. I am looking out for your kids believe it or not. You don’t have to like my style or approach, but I do ask that you begin to open your eyes that not everything is what it seems.

The Blockchain Invasion Of Education Begins: Sony & IBM Want To Digitize ALL Education Records

In the near future, Sony and IBM plan on putting all education eggs in one basket: the Blockchain Ledger.  This is very, very bad.  Especially when Sony wants artificial intelligence to analyze the information for the classroom.

Beyond making it easier to share information, Sony said also that the stored data sets could potentially be analyzed using AI to provide feedback and improvement ideas for educational institutions and their curriculums and management.

According to Techcrunch, this wouldn’t roll out until next year and it is in the experimental stages now.  The idea is to use some school districts as a model.  What would be in this digital portfolio?  Test scores, diplomas, education records which I can only assume will include social-emotional measurements, discipline records, and health records.  While the system touts itself as being the most secure on the planet, that also means all that data would follow a student from cradle to grave.  In the article, they talk about how it can be helpful for future employment.  My fear is children will be judged based on test scores and potential behavior issues they might have exhibited when they were a teenager.  To me, this is a huge mistake.

I wrote about Blockchain and its capabilities in education a year ago.  Delaware passed it into law for banking purposes earlier this summer.  Both Delaware Governor Carney and former Governor Jack Markell wanted those laws to pass.  While much of that was for the financial viability of the state in getting Delaware in on the ground floor, the impact on public education was sure to be a discussion point during these decisions.  Governor Markell has always touted himself as the “education Governor” and pimps many corporate education reform companies in Delaware and across the country.

The future I’ve been dreading is coming to pass, right before my eyes.  Artificial Intelligence should never replace human decision-making capabilities but our education leaders seem to welcome this corporate invasion of public education.  I have no doubt I will be writing more about this in the future.  While we can all agree public education needs some changes, this is not the way to go.  Our children’s future depends on human interaction, not algorithm, data sets and artificial intelligence.  This was why all the states had to create longitudinal data systems during Race To The Top all those years ago.  It wasn’t setting up Common Core.  It was setting this up.  Are we machines or are we human?

Ron Russo Lost Me With Jeb Bush, I Think I’m Going To “Go Home”!

Ron Russo, a senior fellow at the right-leaning Caesar Rodney Institute, wrote a blog post yesterday with a BOLD PLAN for Delaware schools.  By even mentioning former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and the Foundation for Excellence in Education in the very first sentence, it was hard to lend any credibility to this piece.  But I read the whole thing out of morbid curiosity.

…Governor Jeb Bush, the keynote speaker, told the attendees that they had to, “Be big, be bold, or go home.”

I would have left at that point and proudly went home.  Jeb Bush has made a ton of money capitalizing off the backs of schools and students.  He is the very essence of corporate education reform.  I give anything he says zero weight.

Russo seems to view former Red Clay Consolidated Board President William Manning as the Messiah of Delaware education:

He recommended a confederation of independent schools each locally managed and free of regulations about who to hire and how to teach.  The schools would be evaluated only by performance data that would be shared with the public.

Manning’s vision created charter schools that do not serve the populations within their district boundaries.  Quite a few Delaware charters have selective enrollment preferences that seem to further segregation and push out kids with high needs.  Manning was the lead attorney in the lawsuit against the Christina School District when charters that serve Christina students sued the district to get more money per student.  Eventually the lawsuit wound up becoming a settlement that further stripped funds away from the district.  Russo’s BOLD PLAN is modeled after the original charter school bill, Senate Bill 200:

The Caesar Rodney Institute is supporting a systemic change to our education bureaucracy called the “BOLD PLAN”.  It significantly alters the way the current education system operates by empowering the individual schools to make operational decisions to best serve their students.

In theory, this would be a great idea.  However, Russo lost me yet again when he brought up the VERY controversial priority schools as a potential model for this plan:

CRI’s BOLD PLAN incorporates the best features of the 1995 Charter School Law and the Memorandum of Understanding designed by Delaware’s DOE for Priority Schools.  If the changes proposed in the MOU were expected to raise the performance of the state’s lowest performing schools, why wouldn’t those changes be offered to all public schools?

Sorry Ron, but the priority school Memorandums of Understanding were absolutely horrible and did more to create parent backlash in Wilmington than anything seen before.  So what would this plan consist of?  Therein lies the rub:

BOLD legislation would specify areas of local decision-making.  Such areas would include: 1) Authority to hire and dismiss all staff; 2) All programing inputs (school calendar, schedule, curriculum aligned to Delaware standards, instructional practices and methodology, textbooks, technology, etc.); 3) Marketing and planning; 4) Support services including transportation, food, and maintenance; 5) Budget preparation and expenditure control with surplus operating funds retained by the school.  Schools will have autonomy from any district or Delaware DOE requirements not mandated by state or federal law.

This legislation has more holes than a donut shop.

  1. What happens if the board membership or the Superintendent of the district is not operating under normal parameters of their function?  What if personal grudges get in the way of a sound decision to hire or dismiss all staff?  Delaware is a small state and conflicts of interest are well-known in this state.
  2. You lost me at “Delaware standards”.  If you truly want to give local education authorities the coveted local control, they would be free to set their own curriculum without being tied to any type of standard pushed down from the state or federal government.  I have yet to see any indication Delaware will get rid of Common Core which was created under false pretenses.
  3. Don’t they already do this anyway?
  4. See #3
  5. That would not be a good thing.  Delaware charter schools already keep their surplus transportation funds in a sweetheart deal with the General Assembly and there is no apparatus to make sure those funds are being used with fidelity.  What is the point of even having a district or charter board if the school can do whatever it wants with extra money?  This proposal sounds like anarchy.

Russo’s logic becomes even more confusing when he casually drops the Rodel Visionfests and Race To The Top into his conversation:

The BOLD PLAN complements Delaware’s other education improvement efforts (Visions, Races, etc.).  In fact, it may even complete them.

I don’t think completion of those plans is something anyone in Delaware really wants.  Race To The Top was an unmitigated disaster with funds going to the state Department of Education more than local school districts.  The Vision Coalition goals further perpetuate many bad corporate education reform policies.  It is hard to take anything they do seriously when the CEO of the Rodel Foundation of Delaware, Dr. Herdman, makes over $345,000 a year.

Ironically, Russo channels Dan Rich who has been very involved with the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission’s proposed Wilmington redistricting.  But Russo doesn’t bring him up in any way related to that endeavor but rather his involvement with the Vision Coalition:

At the very first Vision 2015 meeting hosted by Dan Rich, then Provost of the University of Delaware, he ended the meeting by telling the attendees that if they wanted to improve Delaware’s public schools they had to be bold and, if they didn’t want to be bold, they should get out.  Hmmmm, it seems that Dan was way ahead of Jeb.

Comparing Rich to Jeb Bush almost seems insulting.  Of course, any education push should be bold.  But by telling people if you don’t like it to “get out” or “go home” it is essentially saying if you don’t agree with us we won’t give you the time of day.  That is NOT the way education issues should be ironed out and only creates more of a divide.  The Delaware charter school experiment, now well into it’s third decade, has met with very mixed results.  It has not been the rousing success the forefathers of the original legislation thought it would be.  Why would Delaware even entertain this idea based on that?  And lest we forget, all this imaginary “success” is based on standardized test scores, of which Delaware has gone through three different state assessments since then.  Sorry Ron, but this is not a BOLD PLAN.  It is an old plan, that just plain doesn’t work.

I have to wonder about the timing of this article.  The Caesar Rodney Institute has long been a fierce supporter of school vouchers.  Delaware has been very resistant to that system under Democrat control but under the Trump administration and the appointment of Betsy DeVos as the U.S. Secretary of Education, it is not surprising to see Russo coming out with this type of article.  President Trump and DeVos want a federal school voucher system that has already met with disappointing results in several states.

John Carney Q&A Reveals Thoughts On Education In Delaware: Susan Bunting, Labor Day, and Test Scores

carneyshuckers

Delaware Governor-Elect John Carney and State Senator Brian Pettyjohn held a question and answer session at J.D. Shuckers in Georgetown this morning.  The packed restaurant submitted many questions.  A few of them dealt with Delaware education.  Carney’s answers provided some insight to one of his recent decisions. Continue reading

Breaking News: Freire Charter School Gave Students A’s On Final Exams If Parents Didn’t Opt Them Out

At least five students at Freire Charter School in Wilmington were given A’s on their final examinations in exchange for their parents not opting them out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment this spring.  One parent was notified by the school that the Delaware Department of Education claimed all schools had to have a participation rate of 100%.  When the parent challenged them on the federal and state laws which require 95% participation, the school agreed on that figure.  They also told the parent the school was already under the 95% participation rate threshold.  All five parents agreed to this deal.  The school lured parents who wanted to prevent parents from opting their child out into this “deal” with false pretenses.  Furthermore, the students didn’t even take their final exams but they were automatically given A’s because of this.

Can someone please tell me when this madness is going to stop?  Aside from all the bullying issues at this “zero tolerance” school, we now have test fraud?  How much does the Delaware Department of Education know about this?  If they don’t, what are they going to do about it?  This is exactly why the veto on House Bill 50 needed to have the override by the Delaware General Assembly.  But our legislators were too scared to tick off the “education Governor” and do the right thing for parents.  Now we have this going on.  No one in Legislative Hall who voted no on the fake “suspension of rules” to bring the override to a vote probably doesn’t care that our schools play games like this.  How many situations like this have played out in other Delaware charters or districts?  I would call for the Delaware Department of Education and the Delaware State Board of Education to render all scores from the Spring 2016 Smarter Balanced Assessment as invalid due to corruption and fraud.  We don’t know how many students and parents were given choices like this.  And the results are meaningless.

One parent notified me the only reason she didn’t opt her child out, even though this deal was offered, was because she was choicing their child out of Freire into another district.  That district had a requirement for Smarter Balanced results in order for the student to enter their honors program.  While I may not agree with that requirement from the other district, it is their right to require it until a law is set in stone for them not to.  But Freire proceeded to not have the student take the final exam and gave the student an A for both their Math and English/Language Arts final exams.  Also against policy with the Delaware DOE, parents and students were given the scores when they were “encumbered” which means they couldn’t reveal them at that point.  I would have to imagine no schools are able to give out this information until the Delaware State Board of Education discusses them at their board meeting in two days.  In fact, scores aren’t even going out to

As for Freire, are you trying to send the message that the Smarter Balanced Assessment is more important than a parent’s Constitutional right to opt their child out of the state assessment?  That it is okay, from a “zero tolerance” school to trick parents and then deliver false scores on final exams to prevent them from exercising that right?  Parents chose to send their child to your school because they believed in your “zero tolerance” edicts.  While I don’t agree with zero tolerance, it was also a parent’s right to make that choice.  But since you have no interest in applying “zero tolerance” to your own school,  I would strongly suggest the Delaware Department of Education Charter School Office immediately conducts a thorough investigation into these allegations through the formal review process.  For a school that hasn’t even been open a year and Governor Markell attended your ribbon-cutting ceremony, these egregious actions are unconscionable.  This is why these standardized tests bring out the worst in schools.

I would also urge our General Assembly, upon reconvening on January 7th, 2017, to immediately draft legislation in regards to opt out, similar to House Bill 50, and also addressing immediate consequences for schools that use lies and false pretenses toward parents and students have anyone involved in those situations immediately terminated and criminal charges pressed against them.  And if a new Governor should veto such legislation, I would expect an immediate override of that veto.  Those who voted no on January 14th, 2016: this is on you!  Please don’t play political games for political favors when you aren’t the ones who are being toyed with by those who should know better.

If any other Delaware parent out there, at any charter school or district was offered similar “deals” or promises in exchange for not opting your child out, I can be reached at kevino3670@yahoo.com and I give you my assurance all will be confidential.  Thank you.

 

What Is Wrong With So Many Delaware Charter Schools?

I’ve been racking my brain on this for a long time now.  If it isn’t financial abuse, it’s bad enrollment preferences.  If it isn’t the DOE praising certain charter schools, it is a lack of due process.

I think what it comes down to is arrogance.  We see that in traditional school districts as well, but what makes it so pronounced with the charters?  Charters are smaller.  When they make noise, everyone hears it or points it out.  Nothing gets some Delawareans pissed off more than seeing some charters blatantly flaunting their admissions process.  For others, it is the amount of money being wasted by school leaders and not making it to the classroom.  But when a charter has issues, hearing or seeing the leaders defend problems that are so inherently wrong makes them look rather foolish.

Just about every charter school in Delaware, since I started this blog, had one of the above issues I mentioned since I started this blog back in June of 2014.  Three charters have shut down, with another going down at the end of this year.  When things go down at a charter, we often see the bulk of the parents defending the school as if they can do no wrong.  Is it that they are blind to the facts or is the option of sending their child to a traditional school district so frightening for parents they are willing to overlook these infractions?

There are the true horror stories like Delaware Met and possibly Delaware Design-Lab High School.  Brand new charters that don’t seem to have a clue how to run a school.  And as we’ve seen time and time again, the DOE, with rare exceptions, doesn’t do anything until after that Wednesday in January when the choice window closes.  We find out what they knew all this time, and the DOE gets away with it every single time.

What are we teaching our children?  That it’s okay to send the more fortunate and the more knowledgeable to the “better” schools?  That it doesn’t matter if you go to a school that is 98% African-American?  That if you are “counseled out” of a charter it’s okay to be out of the system for over a month?  Behind all of this is the shadow of standardized test scores.  For all Delaware schools, including charters, this is the measurement over which the DOE’s judgment is severe.  Many think the DOE is too charter friendly, but when there are issues, the DOE comes down on them like white on rice.  Which is good, but had the DOE acted sooner in many of these situations things wouldn’t get as bad.

There are no easy answers or solutions to these issues.  What we need is a culture change when it comes to charters.  In the meantime, the war, yes, the war, continues.  It bubbles over into every aspect of education in our state in one form or another.

DOE Recognizes Delusionary Growth In Ceremony For Non-Priority Schools

This is interesting.  Priority schools get a press conference in front of Warner Elementary School with the Governor and legislators in attendance.  The citizens of Delaware are told these schools are failing, for all to see.  Recognition schools get a party, on a secure Air Force base in Dover.  Ten of them get $8,000 each to do with what they will.  Priority schools get over $5 million, divided by the six of them, to send Wilmington into a tailspin.  Six are shamed and eleven are honored.  They are all Title I schools, but some get favor while others get false labels.  One is open for the world to see while the other is closed.  Priority demands a chunk of the money goes to a company called Mass Insight while the rewarded ones can form a voluntary committee to allocate the funds.  Priority gives teachers stress and frustration while reward gets banner and a shiny headline.  Priority gets a picture of failure and recognition gets a picture with Secretary Godowsky.

From the DOE press release to the media:

 

Media Advisory       *Please note RSVP deadline below*


Contact Alison May (302) 735-4006

REWARD, RECOGNITION SCHOOLS TO BE HONORED


Secretary of Education Steven Godowsky — joined by principals, superintendents, educators, parents and students — will honor the 2015 Reward and Recognition School award winners during an event at 1 p.m., Friday, Feb. 19 at  Dover Air Force Base Middle School, 3100 Hawthorne Drive, Dover.


These awards, created by legislation passed by the Delaware General Assembly in 2009, formerly were called Academic Achievement Awards. They recognize schools for closing the achievement gap and/or showing exceptional growth on state tests for two or more consecutive years.

 

This year, there are two Reward and 10 Recognition schools that will receive $8,000 each. Additionally, there is one School of Continued Excellence that will be recognized. There is no monetary award with this honor. Each county is represented among the winners.

 

Reward schools are Title I schools identified for being either highest performing or high progress.  Recognition schools are chosen for exceptional performance and/or closing the achievement gap.  The School of Continued Excellence is a school that has received a state award during 2014 and continues to qualify for Reward or Recognition distinction in 2015. It is designated a School of Continued Excellence to recognize its sustained accomplishments.

 

As in years past, each school will appoint a committee (with administration, teacher, support staff and parent representation) to determine how the award will be used. All schools’ representatives will receive banners and will have pictures taken with Secretary Godowsky.

Because Dover Air Force Base Middle School is located on a secured military facility, the state must submit information about all those attending the event in advance so visitors can receive security clearance. Journalists planning to cover this event should RSVP with their names (as it appears on his or her driver’s license), driver license number (please note state if not Delaware) and date of birth to Alison.May@doe.k12.de.us no later than 8 a.m on Thursday, Feb. 11.

 

Dover Air Force Base Middle School (3100 Hawthorne Drive; Dover, DE 19901) is accessed by Del. 1, exit 93. (This is south of the Del. 1 and Rt. 10 intersection.) After taking Del.- 1 exit 93, proceed west toward Base Housing on Old Lebanon Road. There will be a security guard gate. Continue on Old Lebanon Road. Make a right (north) on Hawthorne Drive. The school will be immediately on your left (west).

Did Prestige Academy Lie In Their Major Modification Request?

It is modification mania at the Delaware DOE this month!  Prestige Academy submitted a major modification request to reduce their enrollment to 240 students, and two minor modification requests: one to drop 5th grade and the other to decrease their instructional days from 194 to 184.  In the Charter School Accountability Committee initial report, the DOE flat-out says information they provided in their major modification request is not true.  Also included are parent complaints.  There aren’t as many as Delaware Met 2.0 Delaware Design-Lab High School, but the main one troubles me quite a bit.  Where is the due process for suspended students at Delaware charter schools?  Does it even exist?  Students should not have to face over a month of suspension.  That is ridiculous!

 

DOE Recognizes MOT Charter & Sussex Academy As “Reward Schools” While Low-Income Title I Schools Are Labeled

The top recognition by the Delaware Department of Education for schools that do awesome on standardized assessments are two charter schools.  One is in a district that has a low population of low-income students and is in a more affluent area of the state, and the other has been named in a lawsuit by the ACLU for selective enrollment preferences in their application process that results in discrimination.  MOT Charter School and Sussex Academy are the two reward schools.  The recognition schools are as follows:

Distinguished Title I/Recognition Schools:

Thurgood Marshall Elementary School and Newark Charter School

Recognition Schools:

Brick Mill E.S., Dover Air Force Base M.S., Lake Forest North E.S., Lake Forest South E.S., Lancanshire E.S., Olive B. Loss E.S., Southern Delaware School of the Arts, Kathleen H. Wilbur E.S.

School of Continued Excellence 2015:

Howard High School

This is a new process for the Department as approved in their ESEA waiver submitted earlier this year.

Meanwhile, in the low-income Title I schools that have high populations of low-income, minority students, and students with disabilities, these schools have been labeled as Focus, Focus Plus and Priority Schools.  There are 10 Focus Schools, 4 Focus Plus, and 7 Priority Schools listed in the below report.  None of them are charter schools…no magnets…no vo-techs…just traditional school districts struggling to receive the resources and staffing they deserve.  They are not allowed to pick and choose who goes to their schools.  They take everyone.

Delaware Charters Getting Whiney About Wanting Capital Funding For Construction Costs

Matt Albright with the Delaware News Journal just wrote an article on Delaware Military Academy looking to expand.  During their charter renewal process, Delaware Military Academy (DMA) asked for a modification to increase their enrollment from 566 cadets to 715 over the next five years.  To do so, they would need additional facilities to hold the students.  They need capital funding to do this.  Delaware charter law explicitly states charters in the state do not receive capital funding.  Another Delaware charter, Odyssey, was highlighted in the News Journal a couple weeks ago for wanting this as well.  Albright wrote:

The school has a plan for how to expand, but it does not know yet how it will pay for it.  This is a common concern for charter schools because they do not get capital funding from state government like traditional schools do. That means charters must stretch their budgets if they want to build new facilities or make major renovations.

That is the way the law was written Matt!  Come on, you know this.  So why are you pandering to the charters?  I don’t see you asking citizens to vote yes in traditional school district school referendums.  This is just a big advertisement for the legislators.  This is how the charter community works.  They get the News Journal to write stories about what they are sorely lacking, right before the legislative session begins, in the hopes it will become an “issue”.  If I were the Red Clay board, I wouldn’t approve this modification if the school does not have the ability to hold the additional students and doesn’t have the funding available.  This is very poor planning on DMA’s part.  Crying poor after they submit a modification but before it is even approved shows poor judgment.

A recent bill which passed in the Florida House of Representatives would allow charters in the state to get 40% of the district’s funding for capital costs.  The capital funding part was just a part of a larger bill, but the bill had no controversy until the capital funding section was added.  Other highlights of the bill include:

The proposal would create the Florida Institute for Charter School Innovation to help new charter schools. It would also make it easier for top-performing charter schools to replicate themselves in high-need areas and specify that charter schools receiving back-to-back Fs would be automatically closed.

This is something Commandant Anthony Pullella, the leader of DMA, is already pushing for.

Pullella isn’t calling for the state to instantly start giving charters as much capital money as it does traditional school districts. But he does believe schools should be able to earn some assistance if they prove they are effective.

He proposes, for example, a graduated system in which a charter could earn 25 percent of a traditional school’s capital funding after five years of proven success. It could progressively earn more the longer it continues to show it is successful.

I could easily see some of the legislators in Delaware trying something similar to what the Florida House just passed.  In addition, other parts of the Florida charter bill are taking shape in Delaware.  We are seeing this with the Statewide Review of Educational Opportunities.  As well, the Wilmington Education Advisory Committee recommended an organization to oversee all the Wilmington charter schools.

Charter schools were required to be models of innovation that local districts could emulate.  But the problem with the perceived success Pullella talks about is the fact that this is based on standardized test scores.  This is the barometer of all public schools success in Delaware.  There is also the question about the school population and how charters select their applicants.  Any school can be a success if the application process is flawed and only the best and the brightest are allowed in.  This is something quite a few charter schools in Delaware have issues with.  Including the biggest: Charter School of Wilmington, another Red Clay authorized charter.

But the big kicker is this: what happens if the school closes?  Since charters are considered corporations and they are not state-owned, the property would revert back to that corporation.  Any funding a state kicked in would be lost forever.  Something Delaware State Rep. Kim Williams brought up in the News Journal article as well:

“What if the school closes? Does the state get the building? It’s kind of a gray area,” she said. “DMA is very popular with parents. But they knew coming into this that that kind of funding was not available to them.”

Chances are we will see that exact situation play out in exactly one week when the State Board of Education will most likely revoke Delaware Met’s charter and have them close after this marking period ends.  While the school received no capital funding, they did receive $175,000 as part of the Delaware Charter School Performance Fund.  Money from this fund can go to capital costs with very little oversight.  We are now seeing, after twenty years of charters siphoning off more and more local school district dollars,  Delaware charters wanting to change the playing field even more in their favor.  Even though they get tons of money from the Longwood Foundation, they still want more.  Based on an illusion of success called standardized test scores.  And as usual, they find a public spotlight in the form of the News Journal.

When folks say I am anti-charter, I’m not.  I’m all about following the rules.  If it isn’t Family Foundations Academy squandering over a million dollars, or Delaware Met’s self-nuking a month after they opened, its stuff like this that drives me crazy about charters.  They brag about how great they are and act like they don’t have any money.  But DMA apparently had extra money to spend when they went through their own investigation with the Delaware State Auditor’s office a few years ago.  And lets not even get into special education at a lot of these charters.  They know exactly what I’m talking about, right guys?

I fully expect to see someone, possibly a Republican State Rep. or Senator, to introduce some crazy legislation like this in Delaware during the second part of the 148th General Assembly.  The big difference between Florida and Delaware is that the Republicans don’t hold the majority in the First State.  My recommendation to Delaware charters: stop whining about what you don’t have and looking for short cuts.  You know where to go to get that kind of money, so give the DuPonts a call.  Or one of the numerous charter-loving “foundations” or “non-profits” out there.  But stop asking an already cash-strapped state for more money.  And stop expecting to get more from the local districts.  Because at the rate you are “expanding” and “growing”, you are getting more of the local share of school district money than you ever were.  But what happens when those districts reach the breaking point, and they are no longer able to pass referendums?  Look at Christina as a model of this.  Cause if you don’t, you will end up shooting yourselves in the foot.

The one thing charters in Delaware do much better than traditional school districts is parent engagement.  I don’t think anyone will contest that.  But please, stop brainwashing these parents into reaching out to the media to get your way.  The bizarre cult-like fascination with some Delaware parents and charters is bad enough as it is.

As for the News Journal: please stop with your charter loving articles.  Yes, you write about the bad too.  But you try to bring issues up not because they are truly newsworthy, but because you are getting calls from the charter lobbyists who also happen to be aligned with your biggest advertisers.  It’s called bias, and it is well-known throughout the state.

Delaware Priority Schools: The Truth Revealed Part 37 **The Unfair Comparison**

In order to sell the methodology for the six priority schools in Red Clay and Christina, the DOE had to find comparison schools. One of the biggest schools the DOE praised was all the way down in Dover in the Capital School District. What made Booker T. Washington Elementary School so awesome (aside from the fact my own son went there during the 2nd half of 4th grade)?

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Many viewed the rise of Booker T. as an unfair comparison. First off, Booker T. stops at 4th grade, so there was no 5th grade scores to compare it to. Second, Booker T. includes the “gifted and talented program” so there is also a rise in standardized test scores. Third, Capital changed their zoning a few years previous so the very demographics of the school were changing over time. An unfair comparison indeed!

Campus Community Looking Good For Charter Renewal!

The Delaware Department of Education issued a charter renewal report to Campus Community School on 4/30/15, and the school responded yesterday.  While many know I’ve had issues with this school in the past, I also recognize any school that makes important changes and stays on course can be a good, or even great school.  Campus made many of those changes the past couple of years.

The only hurdle Campus is experiencing with the DOE is the same problem many schools in Delaware with a high population of low-income students are having: scores on standardized tests.  This is an ongoing systemic issue with the state in my opinion.  The demands placed on these schools is insane in my opinion, and there are many ways to determine effectiveness in a school.  I do not believe standardized test scores are a good measurement at all.  The fact that Campus had near identical rates with their home district, Capital, shows progress IF you believe this is a quality tool of measurement, which I don’t.

Documented research, proven time and time again, has shown students from low-income or poverty in urban schools do not perform as well as their peers.  But the Delaware DOE and the US DOE continue to believe all performance gaps should be closed, even as this methodology is falling apart at the seams.

I had to laugh that the DOE measured Campus Community on high school graduation rates since they closed their high school in 2012.  I’m sure it was a technical error, however it’s probably not so funny to the school when they get these reports for charter renewal and they see these kinds of flaws.

While I may have some issues with some of the things I’ve heard in regards to parent opt-out responses, overall Campus has come a long way.  In comparison to Academy of Dover and Providence Creek Academy, I would say they are far superior.  They certainly have not had any of the financial issues those schools have, and glaring “situations” do not appear to be going on.  Great job Campus!