After waiting an extra ten days to put up the audio of their June board meeting, the future of the Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security is once again in doubt. Immediately into their board meeting, Margie Lopez-Waite resigned as President of their board and was than voted into the new Head of School position. Continue reading
Events at Odyssey Charter School have been bubbling for some time now but they are coming to a boil in recent weeks. When the Odyssey Board of Directors chose not to renew Headmaster Nick Manolakos’ contract, they put forth Riccardo Stoeckicht as their new “Campus Operations Officer” and Denise Parks as their Head of School. Between these two hirings, the school is looking at over $300,000.00 for these two positions alone. But the shenanigans don’t stop there. Continue reading
I’ve been wanting to do this for years! I’ve changed this blog to include links to every single Delaware school district and charter school. As well, I’ve added all the Delaware media (newspaper and radio) websites. I’ve included many State of Delaware websites: Delaware DOE, Governor Carney’s website, The General Assembly, Auditor of Accounts, Attorney General and more! Various education support groups have been added: DSEA, Delaware Charter Schools Network, Delaware School Boards Association, Delaware Association of School Administrators and more! You will still be able to find a list of current Delaware blogs as well as closed Delaware blogs. I cleaned up those lists to take out ones that are not current anymore (nothing written in 2018) and those that are non-functional. In addition, I’ve added some links to what I call “transparency” sites that folks ask me about all the time. I’ve found a ton of information over the years at many of these links and so can you!
If you are not on these list of links and would like to be added, please let me know. I try to get everything but I’m not perfect!
I hope these changes will allow Delaware citizens, parents, students, teachers and more be able to navigate through our state easier. These are just the first of many changes coming to Exceptional Delaware!
Transparency in public education is a must. When more than a quarter of Delaware’s state budget goes to public education, the citizens expect, and rightfully so, transparency. But some of our districts and charters struggle with transparency.
I haven’t done this since 2016, but I thought it was a good time to see how Delaware’s traditional school district and charter school boards were doing with transparency on their websites. I checked for board minutes, board agendas, and board audio recordings. Continue reading
Two bills closely tied with public education passed in the Delaware House of Representatives today which clears them through the General Assembly and await Governor Carney’s signature. Another bill passed but goes back to the Senate due to an amendment.
Senate Bill #234, which gives the Delaware Secretary of Education the ability to suspend a teacher’s credentials due to an arrest from abuse or other egregious crimes, passed the House with a 41-0 vote. As written in the synopsis of the bill, this will… “include situations involving felony crimes against children or where there is a clear and immediate danger to student safety or welfare“.
Senate Bill #242, which will establish Pay for Success programs in Delaware passed with 39 yes, 1 no, and 1 absent. The sole no vote belonged to State Rep. Rich Collins. An amendment placed on the bill in the Delaware Senate would create a working group to explore how Pay For Success would be implemented in public education, both early childhood education and K-12 education. I am still torn on Pay For Success but this would allow some time for the Working Group to really take a look at how this would work to make sure it didn’t conflict with existing federal laws (such as IDEA) and to set up parameters. Pay For Success is where an outside investor would come in, pitch a program with measurable outcomes, and if approved, would set out on this program. If the program works with those outcomes, the State would pay the company back. If it doesn’t, they wouldn’t. The bill sets up Pay For Success for all state agencies.
Senate Bill #172, which is meant to increase the transparency of education funds, passed the House but an amendment clarifying some language on the bill which causes it to go back to the Senate for a final vote (provided they don’t put any amendments on it). That bill passed in the House with 41 yes votes.
On the Senate side, they passed House Bill #268 which deals with Senior property tax credits, but due to an amendment placed on the bill in the Senate, it will go back to the House.
Finally, Delaware Governor John Carney signed both the budget bill and a bill giving one-time bonuses to state employees and retirees. Both the Bond bill and the Grant-In-Aid bill will come up for a vote on the last day of the Delaware General Assembly, Saturday June 30th.
I was looking at various polls I’ve put on here over the past couple of years and I was astonished at some of the results of them! In some cases we were completely wrong! These were basically straw polls I conducted over the past year or two. Continue reading
Will a Wilmington charter school become embroiled in the ongoing saga of Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security and Las Americas ASPIRA Academy? Many are saying yes. Continue reading
Yesterday, Red Clay Superintendent Dr. Merv Daugherty sent a letter to parents advising them of all the education cuts since 2008. He also urged them to attend the Delaware PTA rally outside Legislative Hall next week to support basic special education funding for students in Kindergarten to 3rd grade.
I agree with a lot of what Merv said but then again I have to wonder about some of his logic. After all, Red Clay did purchase one-to-one devices for all their students which costs a pretty penny. As well, they are one of the few districts that still has Race To The Top administrators even though the funding for that horrible federal initiative ended years ago.
His language in the letter confused me a bit though because he asks parents to vote with public education funding in mind. Yes, the General Assembly decides the budget. But who is Merv asking these parents to vote for? State legislators? School board candidates? Should a school Superintendent be pushing parents toward certain votes? And that’s what happens when I don’t have my morning coffee before I write!
In terms of special education, I have supported any bill that gives that funding. This is the foundation of special education for these kids. It baffles me that our legislators will fund pre-school as much as they do but not provide this necessary and vital funding. They really don’t have any more excuses to justify their cowardice with special education funding. I highly salute the legislators who consistently support State Rep. Kim William’s bills to get this going. If you have the means, come down to Legislative Hall next Wednesday, May 9th, at 1:30pm, on the East steps.
I fully support public education funding but I also support the ability to properly audit those funds if need be. Last year, the State Auditor’s office released a report on education funds but since so many school districts code expenditures different the auditor couldn’t make heads or tails of the funding. So perhaps we should be making sure our vote for State Auditor is a sound one and not based on a popularity contest among certain legislators. If you are going to vote for a Kathy in September, make sure it is for Davies!
Things I like that are going on? Senator Dave Sokola’s bill for education funding transparency which could go a bit further than what it has in it now. I love the fact that people are waking up to education issues and speaking out. We may not always agree, but the discussion is healthy.
To read Merv’s letter to parents, please see below:
Tonight is the final meeting of the Delaware School District Consolidation Task Force. The meeting will be held at 5pm at Legislative Hall in Dover, in the House Chamber. This is the big one folks! All the subcommittees issued recommendations last week and the entire task force will be voting on each one. That doesn’t mean they are a done deal. It typically means legislation could be forthcoming to address those recommendations. All the recommendations from each committee appear below. Come down (or up) to Dover and check it out! We will see if this mysterious oddity State Rep. Earl Jaques dropped last month concerning a recommendation to have the State Board of Education get the authorization to have the state takeover “failing” school districts resurfaces. It wasn’t popular when I reported it and many thought Earl slipped on a banana peel or something.
Academic & Student Needs Sub-Committee Recommendations:
Teachers And Staff Subcommittee:
As part of the Every Student Succeeds Act, all schools are required to provide more transparency with how they spend money. Delaware Senator Sokola seeks to codify this with legislation currently in circulation for sponsorship.
I like this bill. I believe an amendment should make sure every expense down to the school level is given a specific category. Trying to read Delaware’s online checkbook is a lesson in futility at times and does not give an accurate picture to make sure funds are spent the way they are supposed to. Excluding certain items, like under (2) (b) of the proposed legislation should not happen. Yes, these funds can be tracked in a confusing way through state reporting procedures but putting the whole puzzle together can be very difficult.
What do you think? Will this bill provide the information we need?
Last night at the Delaware State Board of Education meeting, five Delaware charter schools received unanimous approval from board members. Academia Antonia Alonso, Early College High School, First State Montessori Academy, and Sussex Academy were approved with no conditions. For Thomas Edison Charter School, that was a different story. And for another, the State Board did not get a complete record. Continue reading
Delaware Governor John Carney hasn’t even been in his job a year and already he has managed to irk me more than former Governor Jack Markell. Why? Many reasons. Continue reading
The Christina Board of Education meeting last night was filled with some awesome discussion about what appears in the title of this article. I painstakingly transcribed the part of the meeting with the Superintendent’s report to the Board and the crazy discussion after. Board member John Young was on fire!!!! The topics dealt with Governor Carney’s plans for Christina’s Wilmington schools. There is A LOT of information in here. A ton. From venereal diseases to transparency to possible school closures and more! I have a feeling things are going to look VERY different in Christina’s Wilmington schools a year from now. And for the record, I agree with John Young on EVERYTHING he said! Continue reading
For most of this year, I’ve been beating up Delaware Governor John Carney over the non-public Family Services Cabinet Council. My beef has been that the meetings for this group are behind closed doors. Nobody knows what goes on in these meetings. That changes on Monday, November 13th. Carney is allowing the Council to have a public presentation at Del-Tech’s Wilmington campus at 300 N. Orange St. in downtown Wilmington from 6:00 to 7:30pm.
Governor John Carney will host a discussion with the Family Services Cabinet Council at Delaware Technical Community College in Wilmington.
The agenda will include presentations on data-sharing efforts among state agencies in Wilmington, state service coordination for low-income families, and a planned dual generation center to improve the delivery of job-related services, and services for Wilmington children.
The event is an opportunity for stakeholders and members of the public to provide feedback and ideas for improving the delivery of state services in Wilmington.
This is the kind of open transparency I’ve been begging for. While it is not a solution to my issues with this Council, it opens the door to what they do. Thank you Governor Carney. I’m not sure if my complaining had anything to do with this, but I do thank you for this opportunity. Was this why the Family Services Cabinet Council met twice last week, on October 30th and November 1st?
Even though I’ve done my fair share of beating up on the Delaware Department of Education, I felt they were transparent in a few ways. Most specifically on their website. But now I am finding that transparency is evaporating fast. There are three examples of this, most of which would not be caught by most people. For a blogger like myself, those three areas contained a lot of information.
The first is their special education section. For years I would look at their Due Process Hearing and Administrative Complaint decisions. Each report would name the specific school district or charter school. Since last Spring, they stopped doing that. Now it just says “______ school district” or _____ charter school”. What is the big deal? Don’t parents of students with disabilities have a right to know what kind of special education complaints are happening at certain schools?
In looking at the above two screenshots from the DOE website, a pattern begins to form. Last school year, there were three administrative complaints against charter schools in Delaware. None of them are named. I don’t need to be a forensic scientist to figure this one out.
The second area involves Department of Education personnel. As long as I can remember, the Delaware State Board of Education would list changes to DOE personnel on their website as part of their agenda for each meeting. That stopped a few months ago. I did reach out to Donna Johnson, Executive Director of the State Board of Education. She said the State Board does not control personnel at the DOE and they were the only state agency that listed personnel changes. So it was a matter of consistency. I get that, but it was also what made the DOE stand out above those other state agencies. Not to belittle other state agencies, but the DOE is an important one and citizens have a right to know who is leaving or who is hired there.
The third area, which absolutely no one in their right mind would find is a bit tricky. It involves their search engine. I learned a few years ago that if you type “PDF” in their search bar it will bring up all PDF documents. You can even tweak it so the results come up with the most recent documents. I relied on this to see what was going on at the DOE. The last PDF document that comes up on the search of most recent is from 5/2/2017. I highly doubt the DOE is not creating PDF documents anymore. I know that is the case because I’ve seen them. But they somehow found a way to eliminate it from their search bar. Maybe they figured out some crazed blogger from a specific IP address was always using it and disabled it.
It doesn’t shock me that these transparency issues coincide with the new Carney administration. I, as well as others, have written about a continual lack of transparency coming from the state since Governor John Carney took office. I guess the people no longer have a right to know.
There is so much going on tonight. First up is the first Town Hall meeting (which I filed a FOIA complaint against the Governor’s Office and Christina School District for a violation of the seven day notice) for the Governor Carney let’s screw with Christina School District one more time. Second is the Red Clay Consolidated School District Board of Education meeting in which they pick up a new board member and tackle the resolution similar to the Christina resolution on sanctuary schools and all that. Finally, it is the Capital School District Board of Education meeting. My son goes to school there again so I have a vested interest in what goes on in their district. I can’t possibly attend all of them. So which one am I going to? Who gets the honor? Continue reading
Delaware Governor John Carney is throwing Delaware’s public school system under the bus and he will begin this transition with the Christina School District. Yesterday, he sent an unannounced delegation to Springfield, Massachusetts that included far more than those on his public schedule. This group included Assistant Superintendent Noreen LaSorsa, Wilmington Education Improvement Commission Chair Tony Allen (who received his invite on September 23rd), Christina Education Association President Darren Tyson, and an unnamed member of the Delaware State Education Association (which was their legislative liason, Kristin Dwyer). I’m sure Carney’s Education Policy Advisor Jon Sheehan attended as well.
The News Journal covered the trip in an article by Jessica Bies:
Despite school board members asking to be equal partners in the effort, there were no members of that group on the trip.
Carney apparently seems to think Tony Allen is a better choice to bring on trips about Christina than the actual board members:
Tony Allen, chair of the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission, on the other hand, has known about the trip since at least Sept. 23, he confirmed Friday. He said he was invited sometime before that.
In the article, it said Board President George Evans received an invite “very recently” but was unable to attend. Board Vice President Fred Polaski said he didn’t even know about it until a reporter called him.
Christina Board member John Young had plenty to say about this trip on his Facebook account this evening:
Delaware officials touring a Massachusetts effort run by an unelected governing board under a 501(c)-3, just like DE charters for possible use in Christina. On its face it certainly appears that Governor John Carney does not intend to partner with Christina, but deploy untested, unproven ideas on us. I honestly took him at his word Tuesday, now it seems like I may have been wrong to do so. Google Springfield Empowerment Zone if you want the 411 on this ed reform trainwreck that’s seemingly on the way. I am disappointed that mere days after agreeing to engage us within the rules that govern public meetings and board actions, a delegation was sent out of state to “research” a model to insert into CSD and usurp local control, possibly placing millions and millions of dollars into the hands of an appointed board without any elected representation from Christina.
Carney is playing the exact same kind of education games Jack Markell played. I’m not sure which is worse at this point, but at the rate Carney is going I have to go with our latest corporate education reform Governor. What makes Carney so dangerous is his throw it in your face backdoor dealings. He doesn’t care who he pisses off. As long as he has his select cabal to go along with his plans. Transparency is a thing of the past with this Governor. He is initiating very scumbag moves.
There can never be public trust with John Carney. Never. He has proven that multiple times. He is getting our legislators to think his hocus-pocus public-private partnership scams are perfectly okay. There is no collaboration with Carney. If you don’t go along with his vision, he will go ahead and do it anyway. The very fact that Carney wants to emulate a flash-in-the-pan scam like this where the “partnership” creates a board to oversee these schools separate from the local education agency board of education where the state picks the four board members and the district the other three shows an immediate state control of Christina’s Wilmington schools. But his contempt for local authority was not missed by Young in the News Journal article:
It has become clear the trip was planned in advance of that meeting, school board member John Young said, which concerns him because if the Springfield model ends up being the basis for the Christina partnership, it would suggest the outcome was predetermined and the school board didn’t actually have any say in the matter.
That’s right Mr. Young. Carney doesn’t want the Christina board to have any say because he knows they would say no. This is priority schools all over again except this time Carney is very upfront about selling these schools off to a corporate entity. Call it a non-profit all you want. I’m sure the overlords of this non-profit would exact their pound of flesh from the district in the form of certain salaries and operating expenses.
Where is DSEA President Mike Matthew on this? He has been very quiet about all this since it came out in the past week. I would think, given his resistance to the priority schools fiasco, he would oppose this. But he has been silent and I would like to know why. Especially given what Bies said in the article:
Legislators in Massachusetts say the program is “compelling” and has made it possible for the state to effect educational change without seizing local control from school districts. Yet, teachers unions have complained that it removes control of schools from local officials and puts it more in the hands of the state.
What is to stop this from spreading out from Christina? I have no doubt Carney will push this on other districts as well. Especially when their Smarter Balanced Assessment scores don’t meet his fake standards. Once again, the Christina Board of Education will have to stand up against the evil empire (the state) to prevent further erosion in local control even though Carney’s crappy vision ridiculously suggests it would give more local control.
I have no doubt Carney will sell more of his public-private partnership encyclopedia salesman malarkey throughout his term as Governor (a one-term Governor I hope and pray). But what he is really doing is selling his state away. He is evaporating transparency with his Family Services Cabinet Council and the non-public board meetings of his public-private partnership board at a state level. The Delaware Department of Education seems to be okay with this and I have never been more annoyed with Secretary of Education Dr. Susan Bunting for going along with this dog and pony show. But I suppose that’s why Carney picked her for this post. She has become Carney’s yes woman. But what should I expect from the Rodel-Vision circle of followers? This is not the change promised by Carney in terms of the Delaware DOE. They aren’t a support network for schools. He has found a way for them to micro-manage our schools more than ever with this nonsense. But he wraps it in his public-private partnership bow.
As for Tony Allen, he is being used in a big way for the second time by a Delaware Governor. Markell used him and threw him out with the whole WEIC plan. Now Carney is sucking him in with his big vision for Christina. I would think Allen would be too busy with his new Del State job, but I guess not. Not listed in the article is another attendee, Nnamdi Chukwuocha. This Wilmington City Councilman actually thought it was a good idea for corporations to take over public schools in the infamous Christina priority schools board meeting when he gave his public comment back in September, 2014. More of Carney surrounding himself with those who will suck up to him, allow themselves to be used, or whatever empty promise or vapor he whispered in their ears.
The Delaware DOE, State Board of Education, and our past two Governors have had a consistent hard-on for the Christina School District. Once they get their hooks into them it is only a matter of time until the infection spreads. Delaware is a small state so it would not come as a shock to me that we are a model state to completely destroy the word public in public education.
This whole thing stinks like hell and I hope Delawareans who do care about public education wise up and stand up fast to this fake Governor and his shallow followers. If Mike Matthews is the man I believe him to be, he will fight this tooth and nail. If he even entertains this notion, I will publicly shame him and my support for DSEA will be done. If he does not publicly go against this, it will prove he ran for President of DSEA for the power.
The Springfield model is a fake. It is just another way for Carney and other corporate education reform politicians to erode local control away and give power to states who in turn give out taxpayer money to idiotic companies who have taken more money away from the classroom than anything else since public education was first invented.
I am beginning to doubt any sincerity from John Carney. This whole district consolidation task force seems to be the big distraction. “Look here and pay attention to that while I spin my web of lies somewhere else in places you would never think to look.” The problem with Carney is his ego. He really is as transparent as Saran Wrap. I don’t look at him and think, “what a great politician I can trust”. I think, “That guy can’t be trusted at all. He’s up to something.” We all know the type. But that seems to be okay for over half of Delaware who put the guy in power with an empty campaign that essentially had no platform we hadn’t heard before. This is what happens when you reward a false sense of entitlement Delaware voters.
The Head of School for Delaware Design-Lab High School, Joseph Mock, resigned after holding the position for less than six months. I saw no notification on their website or social media pages. This happened the same day Dr. Salome Thomas-EL was ousted from Thomas Edison Charter School.
Delaware Design-Lab has faced low enrollment woes since before they opened. Further complicating matters is the ongoing legal matter with the former Head of School, Christina Alvarez. They even have a new website. They do have a board meeting tomorrow night. They held an emergency session on September 13th to discuss “personnel and contract negotiations”.
Not much information to report, but this DID happen. That I can say with 100% certainty.
What in the world is going on with our charter schools in Delaware? It is not good for any school’s stability to play musical chairs with their leaders. It certainly isn’t good for students! I would think the school would make an announcement somewhere. At the very least, I hope parents received an email from the school. Or perhaps I am breaking this news to the public for the first time…
All the Design-Lab schools run out of Philadelphia. This is the first (and only to date) Design-Lab school in Delaware.
I just received this email in regards to the School District Consolidation Task Force and where it will go from here:
School District Consolidation Task Force – HCR 39
A Letter from the Chair – Rep. Earl G. Jaques, Jr.
September 20, 2017
I have gotten a lot of questions from task force members and those who attended this week’s meeting about the path of this task force moving forward. Where are we going from here?
I thought it would be helpful to review what we have achieved so far as a task force and outline my goals for our future meetings.
Our first two meetings have been focused mainly on organizational matters. At the first meeting we elected the Task Force Chair as required by HCR 39. Then we established four sub-committees (Academics/Student Needs, Finance, Teachers/Staff, and Structure). These four sub-committees are being led by four outstanding individuals with extensive knowledge and experience in their fields. In order to include a diversity of opinions and perspectives, we added additional members to the original 22 members designated by HCR 39. At our second meeting, we approved these additional members to give us a group with backgrounds and experiences from across our state.
To ensure transparency, we have put all minutes, power point slides and other related material on our designated section on the legislative website; more materials will be uploaded to this site soon. To view the documents uploaded please scroll to the bottom of the page to “Minutes, Reports, and Information.” In addition, all materials have been sent to every member of the taskforce and those members of the public who asked to be included on the email lists. In cooperation with our statewide media partners we were able to get the citizens of Delaware to provide us with their ideas, suggestions and comments on what they would like to see happen with our school districts. We received 146 different written responses.
This past Monday we hosted a task force meeting in Sussex County to receive verbal comments from county residents. At this meeting David Blowman, from the Department of Education, presented an overview of our state’s districts, schools and students with some informative graphs and maps. The response to his presentation was overwhelmingly positive, so much so that members present expressed their wishes for residents in Kent and New Castle Counties to have the opportunity to view it as well.
In accordance with this feedback, we plan to hold the same meeting at William Penn High School (October 16th) for New Castle County residents and then shortly after that meeting to hold one again for Kent County residents. In order to give residents of each county the opportunity to view the presentation and share their thoughts we have decided to move the meeting schedule a bit.
Instead of waiting until November to meet as a full task force as was originally planned, the Kent County meeting will be moved to October 25th at Caesar Rodney High School. Then the full task force will meet in early November (details TBA) to vote on the various plans suggested so that the sub-committees can start their work. I envision this vote as being one where 2-3 proposals are chosen to be explored and modeled and compared with the current system. This is a very important topic and so our work cannot be rushed. I will ensure that sub-committees have adequate time to complete their work while also making sure that public submissions and comments are properly heard.
Once the sub-committees’ work is completed we will meet as a full task force to determine the feasibility of the various components and discuss recommendations to be included in our final report to the State Legislature.
I look forward to continue working with all of you on this very important issue area. If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to reach out to me or my legislative aide, Madinah Wilson-Anton.
27th Representative District
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.