Delaware College Prep & Delaware Military Academy Also Up For Charter Renewal…Will Delaware College Prep Survive?

Charter Schools authorized by the Red Clay Consolidated School District go through charter renewals, modifications, and formal reviews through Red Clay, not the Delaware Department of Education.  Both Delaware Military Academy and Delaware College Prep are up for charter renewal this year.  Delaware College Prep was in the news very recently when the State Auditor found some financial abuse going on by the school leader.  Kilroy’s Delaware has raised several red flags about this school in the past six months.  They are also on probation status based on their formal review last year for academic performance.  Here is their charter renewal application:

And the exhibits and other information that are mentioned in the application can be found here:

Interesting that they have no parent representative on their school board as of October 1st, but they are “actively looking”.  Here is the agenda for this portion of the Red Clay Consolidated Board of Education meeting on Wednesday, 10/21/15:

Last year, we saw Moyer and Reach Academy close.  Two years before that, Pencader Business School closed.  Will we have two more Delaware charters close this  year?  Delaware College Prep and The Delaware Met?  And what will fill the void?  New charter applications in Wilmington have a moratorium until at least 2017.  What I can see is more charters submitting modification requests to increase their enrollment.  In the meantime, keep an eye out on Delaware College Prep.  Just because the DOE doesn’t cover this is not an indicator that Red Clay won’t hold them accountable.  I would love to see their reaction to the State Auditor report!

Campus Community School, Providence Creek Academy, & MOT Charter School: Charter Renewal Initial Reports

Last Tuesday, the Charter School Accountability Committee at the Delaware Department of Education held their initial charter renewal meetings with Campus Community School, Providence Creek Academy, and MOT Charter School.  Included below are the initial reports for each school.  The other day I wrote about Response To Intervention (RTI) and how it is frequently used for special education identification purposes.  Pay close attention to the following reports in regards to RTI and when it is used.

Organizationally and financially, Campus Community looks to be in good shape.  Academically, they clearly have some things to work on, based on DOE standards.  Especially with science, according to them.  I find it interesting they are moving to “standards-based” grading.

How can you have a meeting like this and not once mention the fact that you are being investigated by the state auditor?  Yes, they did the right thing with it, but I’m shocked no one at the DOE actually brought it up.  Something seemed really off with what PCA was saying in regards to their academics.  And what was Chuck Taylor talking about with the whole “we have a pond” thing at the end?  And make a mental note on when PCA said most students get an IEP and the fact that students from Kindergarten to 3rd grade do not get basic special education funding…

Like I said last Spring, MOT’s charter renewal looks to be a slam dunk.  The fact that they were investigated by the State Auditor and cleared of any wrongdoing will only support this.

My prediction with all three: all three will be renewed with PCA possibly going on probationary status because of the State Auditor thing, but I doubt that will happen.  Unless something comes out of the woodwork like Family Foundations Academy did last year, this will be an easy process.  Besides, DOE is going to have their hands full with The Delaware Met!

Delaware Met Is Having Another “Special” Board Meeting Tonight

The Delaware Met is having a “special” board meeting tonight to discuss further issues with the school.  Who knows what this meeting will bring.  Two weeks ago, the board decided to keep the school open after serious discussion about whether they should stay open or not.  The DOE could put the school on formal review.  We should get some indication of this on Thursday at the State Board of Education meeting in Dover.  What makes this meeting interesting is the timing.  The Delaware Charter School Office has their hands full at 5pm this evening with a Public Hearing for four charter schools.  Campus Community, MOT Charter School and Providence Creek Academy are all going through their charter renewal while Mapleton Charter School of Whitehall put in a major modification to change their name to Discovery Charter School with a move to Dover.

Meanwhile, here’s the agenda:

The Delaware Met High School

Special Meeting Agenda

October 12, 2015

920 French Street

5:30 PM

 

  • Welcome
  • Financial Update
  • School Leader Report – Sean Gallagher & Jacqueline Adam-Taylor
  1.  
  • EMO Report In – Innovative Schools
  1.  
  • Public Comment

Rodel’s Paul Herdman Made Over $343,000…And Our Children Lose More Education Everyday

This article will disgust you.  It disgusted me when I read their latest tax form, filed in July of this year.  The Rodel Foundation and all their education propaganda.  I have a new take on this.  We need to boycott anything associated with Rodel.  That means the Vision Coalition, the Delaware Business Roundtable, and yes, I’m going to go there.  The Wilmington Education Improvement Commission.  Why?  Because after the Budingers, who owned Rodel Inc. back in the day, Tony Allen is listed on the board of Rodel.  Dan Rich, the University of Delaware employee who is involved in all things WEIC, also sits very comfortably on the board of the Vision Coalition.

$343,000 a year.  For one man.  That is twice what Mark Murphy made as Secretary of Education.  It’s $126,000 more than the highest paid State of Delaware employee in education (who just so happens to be enjoying his obsession with the Vision Coalition these days).  How many starting teachers could we get with that?  Ten?  How about we take his salary and give every student in Delaware an extra $100 in funding.  I know, they are a “non-profit” company.  Of course they are.  How could they ever make a profit with just over $900,000 going to four people’s salary?

So who benefited from Rodel’s “expertise” in education on this tax form?

Parthenon Group: $700,000 (listed as consultants Rodel pays to do consulting work)

Aspen Institute: $175,000

Delaware Business Roundtable Education Committee $53,600

Delaware Charter Schools Network $30,000

Delaware Public Policy Institute $50,000

First State Military Academy $75,000

Great Oaks Foundation $75,000

Hope Street Group $10,000

Innovative Network For Communities $7,500

Innovative Schools Development Corporation $741,688

Latin American Community Center $15,000

Leadership Delaware Inc. $10,000

Music Associates of Aspen Inc. $30,000

National Public Education Support Fund $10,000

New Castle County Vo-Tech School District $13,451

Sustainable Settings $7,500

Teach For America Inc. $100,300

Teach Plus Inc. $7,500

The Delaware Met $75,000

The Partnership Inc. $7,500

Third Way Foundation $10,000

Vision Network $95,000

The ones in bold are the ones that really stand out for me.  That is an awful lot of money going to Innovative Schools.  But what puzzles me the most is the New Castle County Vo-Tech School District.  Looking back at their prior year tax forms, they have frequently given money to that district or schools within the district.

In terms of hedge fund activity, this tax form does NOT have the Rodel-Pebbles AA Multi-Strategy Hedge Fund, which I wrote in great detail about last year.  In that article, for their Tax Form 990, the amount in the fund was $158,071.  For the other two hedge funds they invest in, Hirtle Multi-Strategy Hedge Funds and Hirtle- Private Equity Funds, those amounts were $2,590,421 and $1,725,911.  A year later, those amounts are $2,710,070 and $1,636,033.  So if they cashed out the Rodel-Pebbles Hedge Fund, it looks like they invested $30,000 more in hedge funds for this tax year.  Like last year, their hedge fund activity is in “off-shore accounts” in the Caribbean or Central America.  For this tax year they invested over $6.9 million in these off-shore accounts, an increase of $2.9 million more than in their tax form filed last year.  Their net assets by the end of the year were $27,700,235 which was an almost $1 million dollar loss compared to the previous year, in which their assets went down $1.45 million compared to the year before.  Yet Dr. Herdman’s salary keeps going up each year because they do a “survey” to see how other similar non-profits pay their CEOs.  This is corporate education reform.  Where traditional public schools lose money each year while the 1% get infinitely richer.  And our state allows this by continuing this charade.

Now when Dr. Paul Herdman first started with The Rodel Foundation of Delaware back at the end of 2004, he was making a little over $168,000 a year with benefits and travel expenses.  Now that has mushroomed to $343,000.  A $175,000 increase.  And this is for their 2013 tax year!  I’m sure it is even more now.

Delaware, this is Rodel.  A company that is a non-profit that invests in off-shore hedge funds and their CEO receives more income than anyone in education in Delaware.  Remember, they sell a product, like any company does.  The product is designed to make them rich.  It’s a business.  They could care less how your individual child is doing.  They care about their bottom line.  So every time you go to the latest annual Vision party, every time you let them take your personal information so you can go to one of their events, or you attend an Imagine Delaware Forum on education that they sponsor, remember it is a big advertisement.  Rodel owns Delaware.  They own the Governor, they own the DOE, they own the Delaware Charter School Network, Innovative Schools, and it looks like the two main people on the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission.

If Rodel really cared about education in Delaware, they would be donating money to the school districts that need funds the most, to help out with classroom sizes.  This is a company that has $27 million in assets.  And it sits there, every year, going through investments and hedge funds and even though it slowly loses a little bit each year, it’s not enough.  I don’t see Rodel donating funds to Red Clay or Christina.  I see a hell of a lot of charter schools, and companies that support them.  And that one school district where a certain Interim Secretary of Education comes from.  Where a soon to be ex-US Secretary of Education visited one of the “most improved” high schools in the state twice which just happens to be in the same district.

When Rodel offers these “grants” to charters, think tanks, and charter friendly organizations, it isn’t out of the kindness of their heart.  It is an investment.  It is saying, if the amount is high enough, we now own you.  Do as we say.  Don’t rock the boat.  Oppose all legislation we don’t like.  We know Rodel and the Delaware Charter Schools Network are two of the biggest lobbyists in Delaware.  It’s not for the kids.  It’s for money.  So Paul Herdman can get an increase in his salary every year.  Don’t get me wrong, he works hard.  Destroying public education doesn’t happen overnight.  It happens over a long period of time, and he has been very proficient at it for over ten years now.

Boycott Rodel.  These are the things I would like to see happen.  DSEA and Delaware PTA get the hell out of anything Rodel/Vision Coalition related.  Tony Allen resigns from the Rodel board.  Dan Rich resigns from Vision.  The Delaware Department of Education immediately ends any contracts with Rodel that are not listed for public viewing.  They end any business relationship with Rodel.  For citizens of Delaware, please do not support this organization.  They have been selling a line of crap for over ten years and it needs to stop.  The only way to do that is to stop listening.  Do not legitimize their money-making agendas.  If they put an ad in the paper or a letter to the editor, write a complaint to the News Journal.  If you are worried about the Delaware Business Roundtable and how that could effect Delaware, don’t worry, Rodel does the books for their Education Committee.

If the leaders of organizations who work with Rodel and the Vision Coalition don’t want to leave, that’s okay.  Elections can change that with certain organizations.  And do not buy for one second that “Personalized Learning” is the wave of the future.  That’s what Rodel wants you to think.  Back in 2006, they predicted state standards and tests designed around those.  They envisioned a future, with the able assistance of then Treasurer of Delaware Jack Markell, where all children would be able to compete with their brethren in China and Japan and India and Singapore.  Millions upon millions of dollars filling the pockets of folks like Dr. Paul Herdman and Fred Sears III.  For what?  Have we learned nothing?

This article is going to tick off a lot of people.  Good.  It wasn’t meant to put a smile on anyone’s face.  It was meant to piss off those who would sacrifice our children’s future so companies like Rodel can live high off the hog.  You know exactly who you are, and the charade has to end.  Either you support public education or you don’t.  There is no middle ground.  Not anymore.

For the average citizen, remember this.  You hold immense power in your hands and voice.  Your hands can write a Refuse The Test letter.  Your voice can tell other parents to do the same.  Paul Herdman was scared out of his mind with the opt-out movement.  He had no idea how much power he does not have over people.  This is why he spoke at the Senate Education Committee meeting against House Bill 50, the parent opt-out legislation.  He knows that if parents don’t let their kids take the Smarter Balanced Assessment, his empire falls apart.  Very fast.  Let’s do it.  Let’s say screw the CEO and take back education.  Because if you think for one second it is your child’s education, you are dead wrong.  This is Rodel’s education, sold to them with your taxpayer money and the more than willing voice of your Governor.

Delaware Met Paid $380,000 To Innovative Schools Over Two Years…For What?

Now that the Delaware Met is closing down a month after it opened them, many in Delaware are asking “what the hell happened?”  Don’t worry, I’m in that same group.  In all my time doing this, I never got a lead that turned into something solid within hours, much less a lead that announced the closure of a charter school that no  one seemed to be any the wiser about their difficulties.  But my big question surrounds their management organization: Innovative Schools.  What did Innovative Schools actually do that warranted them receiving $380,000 since July of 2013?  And why were there employees being paid since July 2013 as well when the school didn’t even open until two years later?

From July 2013 until March 2014, we see salaries going out twice a month ranging from $3,245.19 to $4,110.59 (only once for this one, ironically, 12 days before Christmas).  Then in March, it bumps up to around $5,400 a month, but then back down to $2,700 in June.  Who was getting paid these funds?  And for what?  Meanwhile, Innovative Schools had over $380,000.00 in 26 months on their tab.  That’s some serious coin for a charter that hadn’t even opened yet for the bulk of these funds!  The Delaware Met website, which hasn’t had any board minutes posted (and their only one) since October of 2014, shows 15 board members.  And under the section entitled “School Leader’s Blog”, someone named Tricia talks about how she accepted the position of Head of School in May, 2015.  And good luck finding any staff, they don’t exist on the website.  Now the DOE website shows the Head of School to be Patricia Hunter Crafton, so I have to assume that would be “Tricia”.  But when I emailed the DOE and The Delaware Met for information yesterday, I received an out of office email for Crafton indicating she was out on maternity leave until November.  Nash Childs is listed as the President of their Board, but no relation to Great Oaks Charter School leader Kia Childs.

So who was the Innovative Schools lead for The Delaware Met?  Innovative Schools website lists Jemuel Anderson as the Operations Manager for The Delaware Met.  Now some bell is going off telling me I’ve heard this name before…where…where…where…and then the bell rings!  He was one of the plaintiffs when Moyer tried suing the State of Delaware over Moyer’s closure.  But Jemuel Anderson’s charter school history goes back beyond even Moyer.  He was the topic of many comments over on Kilroy’s a few years ago with the “is he” or “isn’t he” argument going back and forth over whether he was qualified to be a teacher rep on the board based on his lack of certified credentials on DEEDs (the place to look if teachers are certified or not in Delaware).  To go from either a one-on-one para (with the same student) for two years at Pencader to an Operations Manager of The Delaware Met for Innovative Schools seems like a pretty good career jump!  Astronomical I would say!

I’m just going to take a stab in the dark here and ask the obvious.  Could there maybe be some financial issues going on with this school as well?  In which case, the date of their official closure will be very interesting to watch.  If it is after September 30th, what guarantee does the State of Delaware have to ask for that money back?  If it’s already out there that the school is closing, what would happen if every single student left before September 30th?  Would they get no funding which would then force them into bankruptcy?  And it seems like it doesn’t matter if Innovative Schools cut ties with the school.  You know they have to be going “Ka-ching! We got $380,000.00 from a school that was only open a month!  Thank you Delaware taxpayers!”

Meanwhile, more Delaware students that are bounced around from Delaware charter to charter to charter are the true victims in all of this.  A generation of lost charter school students lost in the even greater sea of lost Wilmington children who are lost in the vast ocean called proficiency gaps.

Governor Markell Honors China Trip For 20 Students While Charter School Students In His Own Backyard Suffer

The Delaware Department of Education put out a press release today about twenty Delaware students who went to China for a month this summer.  That’s great Jack.  How about honoring the other 133,000 students in Delaware?  Or even the hundreds, if not thousands of Delaware charter school students in Wilmington who are forced to move from charter to charter to charter because the adults don’t know how to run a school?  But yes, by all means, please send out a press release about twenty students going to China to watch some company there for a month as part of your whole “World Immersion Program”.  Meanwhile, yet another charter school in Wilmington, this time The Delaware Met, vanishes into the ether before it even got off the ground.

The people of Delaware are really beginning to wonder about you Jack!  It’s like this is Jack’s world, and the rest of us are just living in it.  WAKE UP! Before the entire State of Delaware goes bankrupt!  But no, we shouldn’t judge Markell for the failure of others.  It’s not like he cares either way!  So without further ado, let me post the full China Press Release: Continue reading

The Delaware Met Down For The Count A Month Into The School Year

Today, I got an email from someone about The Delaware Met closing next week.  Usually, I want to get more information on something like this, so I reached out to the Delaware Department of Education and the leaders at the school.  Not one response.  I put out some more feelers, and it looks like this story has some weight to it.  I don’t have specifics, but I’m hearing about multiple incidents of violence at the school, a student brought a gun to the school on the very first day, and students leaving the school in mass quantities.  The school just opened a month ago.

This school is being touted as a “Big Picture Learning School”, whatever that means.  But it looks like families aren’t buying it.  Is this a sign of things to come for Delaware charters?  I’ve heard that many of the new charters are not prepared for their students this year, despite what the DOE is saying.  I’ve heard of multiple special education issues going on at many charters this fall.

Back to The Delaware Met, I’m hearing their relationship with Innovative Schools has soured to the point of breaking.  This is not a situation where the DOE will be closing the school, but The Delaware Met will be voluntarily closing down.  Has that ever happened before in Delaware?  This is a charter school that met their enrollment figures last Spring when many other charters were struggling.  So what happened?  I’m hearing many of the students were at-risk students who were facing issues at other schools including potential expulsion and suspension issues.  I have no idea how many students at this school are students with disabilities.  But how prepared was the school to handle these issues?  If the allegations are true, not prepared at all.  It’s one thing to apply to open a charter and get through the DOE.  It is quite another to actually implement all the talk and ideas once the school opens.

The other night at the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission committee meeting on Charter-District Collaboration, a Red Clay principal actually advised the committee he is getting a lot of students transferring back to traditional schools from charter schools.  The charter movement in Delaware may be hitting the brakes folks.  Is the party over?  Between financial concerns, funding issues, transportation problems (more last year), special education, and Smarter Balanced results showing the most at-risk students in charters are no different than traditional schools, I think it is past time the Delaware DOE ended their love affair with the charter movement.

If the school were to voluntarily close next week, it would make sense because the school would receive funding based on their September 30th count.  Better to do it now than to wait until after they get funding…

Updated, 5:44pm: This story is gaining traction by the minute.  Multiple sources are confirming, but no official word from DOE or the school.  The only question is exactly when and how many students are actually left at the school….

Updated, 5:47pm: Other sources are telling me this school received a significant student population from Moyer, which was shut down by the state a year ago and closed it’s doors for good on June 30th, 2015.