Mike Matthews Speaks- From April 2006

This guest post is brought to you by the handle of The Bygone Blogger.  This blogger was one of those around back in the halcyon days of Delaware blogging- the time when the Iraq War commanded the headlines, America saw its first African-American President, and the Recession put America in severe dire straits.  In Delaware, it was the days of Governor Ruth Minner and the “I still have some hair” Jack Markell.  The Bygone Blogger covers the Mike Matthews situation and in the middle of it found some fairly recent material written by another Delaware blogger running for office!  We learn very fast that context matters!  This is something Atnre Alleyne, despite his vast amount of education, can’t seem to grasp.  Take it away Bygone Blogger!  Continue reading

DelawareCAN’s Atnre Alleyne Sends Out Unsolicited Emails To Delaware Teachers With His Self-Serving Blog Post

Atnre Alleyne, the Executive Director of DelawareCAN, sent out an email blast to Delaware educators today.  The email was unsolicited and left Delaware teachers wondering how Alleyne even got their email address in the first place.  This pattern of abuse on Alleyne’s part ends a week filled with his mischief. Continue reading

Breaking News: Mike Matthews Resigns As DSEA President

Following an article by WHYY earlier today, Delaware State Education Association President Mike Matthews tendered his resignation tonight.  Vice-President Stephanie Ingram will take over as President until the end of the three-year term in 2020.

DSEA sent the following email to its members this evening:

Dear DSEA members,

The educators who lead the Delaware State Education Association (DSEA) take seriously our responsibility to our members, their students and our community.  The Delaware State Education Association’s Executive Board convened an meeting this evening to discuss the blog posts written by Mike Matthews from 2006-2009 .  Regardless of the fact that these posts were created prior to Mr. Matthews becoming an educator and member of DSEA, they were completely inappropriate and contrary to the views or values of the educators who make up the DSEA.   
 
Therefore, Mr. Matthews has resigned as President of DSEA.  We thank him for his service to DSEA and its membership.
 
Per DSEA’s bylaws, as Vice President, I will now assume the position of President of DSEA for the remainder of the term, ending in July, 2020.

DSEA represents more than 12,000 classroom teachers, specialists, and education support professionals working in Delaware’s public schools. As educators we are dedicated to providing the best educational opportunities possible to all Delaware public school students. 
 
Our members provide a wide range of services to the students and the communities they live in.  They teach students in classrooms from early learning centers through high school.  They counsel adolescents and help them build career aspirations.  They deliver instructional assistance in every type of subject, prepare and serve nutritionally-balanced meals, provide needed transportation and ensure our schools and facilities are clean and safe.  They supply the professional services which help our schools run efficiently.

Since 1919, the members of DSEA  have dedicated their lives to supporting children and public education and we will never falter in that mission.  I am committed to helping DSEA to continue moving forward, building on the important partnerships with parents, community leaders, and elected officials, and maintaining our focus on the goal of providing all Delaware children with a quality education.

If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to email me at Stephanie.Ingram@dsea.org or call me at 302-734-5834.

In Solidarity,
Stephanie Ingram
DSEA President

 

Hey Project Veritas, This Is How Our Teacher Union Rolls In Delaware- They Get It Done! Publish That!

A month ago, I posted some articles about a far right-wing group called Project Veritas.  I didn’t know much about them but their videos intrigued me.  I gave the Delaware State Education Association a hard time and that may not have been very fair on my part.  Today, when I read an article by Cris Barrish with WHYY, DSEA President Mike Matthews impressed me a lot!  The article was about Senate Bill 234, which passed the Senate yesterday and will be heard in the House Education Committee in the next few weeks, if not sooner.

Mike Matthews, president of the Delaware State Education Association that represents teachers and other school employees, said crimes and violations like those cited in this article spurred his union’s lawyer to work with state education officials, attorneys and others to craft the legislation.

I remember talking to Mike about some of these horrific crimes that were making the media such as Karen Brooks in Smyrna.  He was as disgusted as I was.  A few years ago, Delaware Speaker of the House Pete Schwartzkopf came out with a similar bill but this one was much better.  I firmly believe DSEA’s role in the writing of Senate Bill #234 made it a much stronger bill.

Matthews said the DSEA “strongly supports” the bill because it could prevent the ability of child abusers to “bounce around’’ to different school districts with their teaching license intact while a serious allegation goes through a copious investigative process at the district level. The bill would also provide extensive due process to protect teachers who are unfairly accused by students, parents or other faculty, he said.

Amen Mike!  We don’t want ANY teacher or educator milking the system when they are abusing kids.  My take on teachers like this?  They shouldn’t be anywhere near children or teenagers.  But at the same time, we don’t want to necessarily punish the innocent.  Unfortunately, there have been situations where teachers have been victim to false claims.

“It clarifies the process that I think maybe has been muddied for some time,” Matthews said. “It kind of separates this idea that the employer, the district and board, has to take action before [the state can take action] to revoke or suspend an educator’s license when there are allegations of a serious crime.”

My take on this?  Most districts or charters don’t necessarily want the publicity when things go down.  If there is an arrest, they can’t help it.  What happens when an investigation is a stall tactic?  Forcing the state to take action tells the district or charter- “we know this is going on and we will take action when you won’t!”

“The bill takes necessary steps to remove those educators if there is clear fear of harm coming or having come to a child. I like to believe that like any other profession we are always going to have those who do not represent our profession well and need to be exited when it comes to these allegations and potential crimes.”

A fast exit!

What I didn’t foresee with this bill was how it could affect special education.  Barrish wrote about this aspect of the legislation when discussing the “letters of concern” portion of it.

The bill also has a provision that could apply when the state determines that no violation has occurred which warrants disciplinary action, but that “an act or omission” by the teacher is a “matter of concern.” Such a concern could be that the teacher creates inadequate Individualized Education Programs for students who are identified as in need of special education services.

I have very mixed thoughts on this.  A teacher could write a draft IEP before the IEP team convenes to discuss it.  Putting the onus on a teacher for what could be team decisions is very dangerous.  Yes, the teacher is the one that writes the draft, but the team decides what is final.  Any IEP team should include an administrator (usually the Principal or an Associate Principal), the school psychologist, the school special education coordinator (also called an Educational Diagnostician), the school nurse (unless the parent says it is okay for them not to attend), a special education teacher, and a primary teacher.  And of course the parent or parents.  When students reach 8th grade, they typically attend the IEP meetings as well.  Is one teacher out of a whole IEP team the only one that should get a “letter of concern” if the school winds up getting sued for not following an IEP?  Or writing a bad one?  This could open a huge can of worms.  I have always told parents, do not sign an IEP unless you are satisfied with it.  There is nothing preventing you from doing so.  And if you find the IEP isn’t working, you can always request another IEP meeting to revise it.

Now when it comes to teachers not following very specific parts of an IEP, such as not having the student do every other math problem as an example, that is a different matter.  If a teacher willfully doesn’t follow what is written in an IEP, I can’t defend that.  I may need to see more on this part.  The big question would be what happens if a parent sues a charter or district over special education matters.  Would those “letters of concern” become discoverable evidence?  Would the district or charter put themselves in a position of legal vulnerability?  Or would the special education law firm have to subpoena the Delaware DOE to get those letters?

I’m going to take this time and publicly apologize to Mike Matthews for my Project Veritas articles.  A DSEA email was provided to me the same day I saw Veritas’ videos.  I published it without reaching out to Mike for more information.  I regret that.  While the email didn’t condone the actions of the subject of a Veritas video it didn’t defend it either.  It was simply an internal email warning of potential Veritas spies hoping to entrap teacher union members.  I was harsh on DSEA and I acknowledge that.  Legislation doesn’t happen overnight and I will assume DSEA was working with the Delaware DOE on what became Senate Bill #234 long before the Veritas videos came out in May.  I had no idea Veritas was going to jump on my article and put Mike in the spotlight the way they did.  I remember seeing that video and gasping.  Yes, I published it, but the more I found out about Veritas the more something didn’t seem quite right.

I look forward to Senate Bill #234 becoming the law of the land in Delaware!  And I would hope James O’Keefe who seems to have made it a crusade to go after teacher unions can provide “fair and balanced” coverage to show the good things they are doing.  But knowing O’Keefe, he would probably take the credit for it himself.  That seems to be how he rolls!  He can say what he will about some rogue union leaders out there, but here in Delaware, our union looks out for students as well as teachers!

Ex Academy Of Dover Chief Noel Rodriguez Pleads Guilty In Theft Of $145,000

What would you do with $145,000?  Apparently, for Noel Rodriguez, it was whatever he wanted to do.  But the money wasn’t his.  Today, the former Principal of Academy of Dover pled guilty in the U.S. District Court in Wilmington according to Cris Barrish with WHYY.

Noel Rodriguez, 56, admitted in U.S. District Court in Wilmington that he stole in a number of ways, including charging personal expenses to four unauthorized school credit cards and a state credit card. He spent the money on electronics, travel, car expenses, gardening and camping equipment, home improvement items and a dog house.

According to the article, the newly christened U.S. Attorney, David Weiss, is in charge of Delaware when it comes to federal matters in court.  Rodriguez got a $250,000 fine and will assuredly be facing jail time at his sentencing, up to ten years.  What I would like to know is if part of that $250,000 fine goes back to Academy of Dover.  I think it should.  Taxpayers were robbed by Rodriguez, they deserve to have their tax money go back to what it was allocated for.

The article referenced the State Auditor of Accounts report, conducted by Kathleen Davies in 2014 and 2015.

“A major concern regarding the situation at the [school] is the length of time that passed without any intervention from oversight parties” the school board of directors and auditors, the Department of Education and the Charter School Accountability Committee, the report said.

It is my most fervent hope that all four of those entities know better now and this never happens again in Delaware.

Say, what about Providence Creek Academy?  What is going on with their theft of school funds?  Sean Moore and Tennell Brewington of Family Foundations Academy and now Rodriguez all pled guilty.  What about PCA’s shenanigans?  And the fact that one of the entities Davies slammed in her audit investigation just so happens to have PCA’s Head of School on it?  The good old Charter School Accountability Committee.  Word on the street is Chuck Taylor will be resigning soon and collecting that nice increased pension based on the past three years of service when he came back to rescue the school during the fall of 2014.  Say, is that matter still under investigation?

For Rodriguez, this puts a capper on that shenanigan.  As the article mentioned, Academy of Dover is still open and they actually increased their enrollment this year.

 

Christina School Board Member John Young Interviewed On Newswork’s First For Friday To Discuss Priority Schools

Christina Board of Education member John Young appeared on WHYY/Newswork’s First For Friday video series in an interview by Avi Wolfman-Arent to discuss the priority schools in the Christina School District.  This is an excellent depiction of the reality and horror this school district has been through in trying to save these three schools. The interview with Mr. Young begins around the 7:00 mark.

http://video.pbs.org/viralplayer/2365429944?chapter=3

 

WHYY’s Avi Wolfman-Arent Has Become THE Education Reporter In Delaware

WHYY/Newsworks has the best education reporter in Delaware, bar none!  Avi Wolfman-Arent has written many articles in the past few months that do not have the media bias we see in another Delaware newspaper (I’m talking to you News Journal).  While Avi was writing many articles about Family Foundations Academy, Matthew Albright from the News Journal didn’t even pick it up until a month after everyone else knew what was going on.  Avi has written many excellent stories about the priority schools without the usual Markell-DOE bias seeping through.  It is very refreshing to see someone write articles about education in a major media outlet in Delaware that remembers the basic tenets of journalism.

Take Avi’s article that came out today as an example.  He wrote about Stubbs Elementary School in Wilmington. Stubbs is one of the six labeled priority schools.  But Avi went to see a steel drum concert.  When I read this, it just made me realize even more that none of these schools should become priority schools and all that goes with that.  Please read Avi’s article entitled “Day In The Sun, For Delaware School Caught In The Crosshairs”: http://www.newsworks.org/index.php/local/item/77946-day-in-the-sun-for-school-in-the-crosshairs?l=df

Elizabeth Paige, a member of the Christina School District Board of Education wrote the following about Avi: “As a member of the CSD school board and a member of the community, I appreciate Avi’s work to report on education in Delaware.  This new kid on the block is proactive, approachable, and has shown his willingness to tell a story from many angles.”

Last week, Avi sat down with Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy to get his take on the current hot spots in Delaware education: Common Core, Race To The Top, Priority Schools, and more.  It was an excellent article and video, even though I didn’t agree with a lot of things Murphy said.

Avi has even made an impression all the way down in Sussex County.  Resident Nelia Dolan said “I am grateful there is a reporter in Delaware who is giving voice to all sides of the education debate.”

I see Avi everywhere these days, at House Education Committee meetings, at Board Meetings, and State Board of Education meetings.  I see others there, but Avi’s articles are the ones I will always read first.