Christina Board Votes To Settle With The 15 Charter Schools In The Lawsuit

Christina Board voted on charter school settlement

Exceptional Delaware

The Christina Board of Education voted yes for a settlement with the 15 charter schools suing them and the Delaware Dept. of Education over exclusions in the local funding formula.  Board member Fred Pulaski made a motion to approve the settlement.  Board member John Young said two hours isn’t enough time to digest the entire settlement.  He said he wasn’t happy with the way things went down and the short notice to come up with an answer.  Shirley Saffer, another board member, agreed with Young’s assessment of the situation.  The vote came down to 4 yes and 3 no.  The three no votes were cast by Board President Elizabeth Paige and members Young and Saffer.

Many legislators showed up for the decision: Senator David Sokola, Rep. Paul Baumbach, and Rep. Ed Osienski.  Baumbach left before the board came out of executive session.

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Trump Announces Next Secretary of Education, Guess What, She is Not an Educator!

The next Secretary of Education has been named and again it is not an educator. Why does our Presidents and state leaders think it is ok to appoint someone as Secretary of Education who has never taught? Our Surgeon General is a doctor, the US Attorney General is a lawyer – so why is the Secretary of Education, one of the most important jobs, not required to be an educator? Every four or eight years a new federal education plan is introduced and the students are the experiment. We have no stability when it comes to our educational system here in the US. Things will never change when we keep appointing the wrong people. Things will never change when we have billionaires who do not normally send their children to public schools and who are making decisions about how to best serve our kids.

Click here to read Betsy DeVos Bio.

Pete Tucker: The Coverups of the Rhee-Henderson Era in DC

Headed down the wrong path if Rhee becomes the next Secretary of Education

Diane Ravitch's blog

Pete Tucker, an independent journal is in DC,criticizes The Washington Post for its failure to cover the scandals of the Rhee-Henderson era.

http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/us_582f468ce4b08c963e343e70

Tucker writes in HuffingtonPost that the Washington Post has a long history of giving favorable treatment to Rhee (I would add,more in their editorials than their news pages).

Tucker is disturbed that the Post swept the latest scandal under the rug.

“The newspaper’s latest effort comes on the heels of Henderson being censured for soliciting donations from city contractors, including one accused of serving kids spoiled food and stealing millions. (That contractor, Chartwells, reached a settlement with the District in 2015, agreeing to pay the school system $19.4 million.)

“The donations Henderson secured were directed to the DC Public Education Fund, which she controlled. (The Post also contributed to the fund but failed to disclose that.)

AP’s Ben Nuckols broke the story in April. The Post then…

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Delaware Audit Investigation Slams Indian River School District For Nepotism, Fraud, Conflict Of Interest, And Personal Spending

Exceptional Delaware

Delaware State Auditor Tom Wagner released the Indian River School District Audit Investigation at 2pm today.  The numerous allegations in the report include using facsimile signatures for purchases, the Superintendent receiving gifts in the form of jewelry, the former CFO donating over $50,000 to non-profits where he served as the President of the boards, the business office lying to the auditor about a discrimination lawsuit against the former CFO, incorrect paychecks and salaries for teachers, not following the state rules for accounting, the CFO’s sister-in-law working in the business office, almost $160,000 in payment vouchers that had half for invalid purchases and the other half breaking rules all over the place, possible allegations of the district paying for a board member’s tuition at a Maryland school, many reimbursements to the CFO’s personal American Express Card, over $20,000 on in-state food purchases, the Superintendent buying White House Christmas ornaments, over 20%…

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Politico: Eva Moskowitz in the Running for Education Secretary

Our educational system is once again up in the air, very concerned.

Diane Ravitch's blog

Politico reports on speculation that Eva Moskowitz is high up on the Trump list as a potential Secretary of Education.

Hedge fund manager John Paulson gave Moskowitz $8.5 million for her charter chain. He was also a major supporter of Trump.

Would she want to leave her charter empire, where she is paid handsomely? As Secretary of Education, she could spread the gospel of privatization far and wide.

While Moskowitz has found herself on the defensive at home, Success is still seen as a national charter model by many influential reform leaders. That’s based in large part on loyal, vocal support for her from the families of her student body, which is overwhelmingly poor, black and Latino — groups among whom opposition to Trump in the election was particularly strong.

(Success staff seemed to be mourning the results last week; the network’s social media staff posted a Langston Hughes poem…

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EdWeek: How Virtual Charters Evade Accountability by Lobbying and Campaign Contributions

Studies, even by charter-friendly organizations like CREDO of Stanford, have repeatedly demonstrated that virtual charters have high dropout rates, low test scores, and low graduation rates.

Diane Ravitch's blog

Ariana Prothero writes in Education Week about the “Outsized Influence” of lobbyists for the virtual charter industry.

The virtual or online charter industry is a sham and a fraud. Readers of this blog have read many articles and research studies demonstrating that these “schools” survive by the power of their lobbying and campaign contributions, not because they have any educational value. Studies, even by charter-friendly organizations like CREDO of Stanford, have repeatedly demonstrated that virtual charters have high dropout rates, low test scores, and low graduation rates. This doesn’t seem to bother state officials because…well, lobbying and campaign contributions.

K12 Inc is the biggest operator in the field. It was started by the Milken brothers, it operates for-profit, and it is listed on the New York Stock Exchange. The article doesn’t mention it, but two dozen K12 Inc schools lost NCAA accreditation because of the shoddiness of the education they…

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Farmland Preservation, which lawmaker benefited from this program?

Last year, Rep. Wilson introduced a bill House Bill 124, this bill would amend the Delaware Constitution to restrict any appropriation of the state’s transfer tax collections until farmland funds receive $10 million. The Delaware Farmland Preservation Fund was created under the Delaware Agricultural Lands Preservation Act in order to conserve, protect, and encourage improvement of agricultural lands within the State. A Constitutional amendment requires two-thirds approval of the House and Senate in consecutive sessions of the General Assembly.

On March 9, 2016, The News Journal published an article titled:  Bill would ban lawmakers from raiding farmland funds.  Rep. Wilson is quoted in the article stating that “They have robbed that fund for the past six years,” Wilson said. “We want to keep it sovereign.”

My issue with Rep. Wilson, he sponsors a bill that is amending our constitution and he does not disclose that he has benefited from the fund. According to DNREC’s website, he has received from this program almost $400,000.00, see below document.

I introduced House Bill 391 which would require every member of the General Assembly or person elected to state office to  disclose as part of their financial disclosure if they have received more than $10,000 in the last 10 years due to the sale of land, development rights, an agricultural conservation easement, a forest preservation easement or any other type of easement to the State of Delaware, any county, any municipality, any public instrumentality, or any government agency or organization. My bill did not make it out of committee. We need more transparency in our state government.

Why Do Some People Who Run for Office Feel the Need to Lie?

 

lies-photo

I just cannot understand why some people feel the need to lie when running for office. My opponent, Jim Startzman, who ran against me two years ago, put up a post on his Representative Facebook Page which stated that I was a representative only 17% of the time. I find personal attacks and nasty ads to be a tool to deflect from the real issues. I think you should run on the work that you have done or propose to do. I do think you should defend yourself when someone is lying about your record.

I did go on my opponent’s page and left a comment and so did many others in defense of me. Thank you to all that did make a post on his page, I really appreciated seeing all of your comments. Mr. Startzman eventually started deleting certain comments and eventually deleted the entire post – so much for Freedom of Speech. I happened to make a copy the post earlier in the day.  Mr. Startzman was using a Conservative Report Card who graded all Delaware legislators on how we voted on certain issues, that is where he got the 17%. I have been in office for four years and I have never missed a day. Mr. Startzman, if you are going to lie, people are going to call you out!  See below to read his Facebook post and comments that where left.

When the auditor’s office does not do its job who audits the auditor’s office?

I was going through the Delaware Online Checkbook and I came across an entry in the checkbook that I wanted more information about – it was a charter school petty cash entry. I sent the entry to the Auditor’s Office for clarification. I was told the Auditor’s Office was reviewing their petty cash accounts.  The Auditor’s Office had a document titled:  Charter School Petty Cash Expenditures – Fiscal Year Ended June 30, 2015 which was never released to the public even though Wagner’s office had been working on this for months. Instead Tom Wagner sent the following letters to the charter schools and others in place of the document.  The public was left in the dark once again, so much for transparency with our tax dollars.

US Secretary Establishes New Teacher Prep Program Regulations

teacher-prep-infographic-7-16-15

The US Secretary of Education established new regulations to implement requirements for the teacher preparation program accountability system (see below to read entire report) that will result in the collection and dissemination of more meaningful data on teacher preparation program quality.  I have also included a link to Delaware’s Plan that was approved by US DOE. Delaware’s plan includes stakeholders and I see a few familiar names mentioned in the report, one being Mike Matthews.

The feds point out that the final regulations address shortcomings in the current system by defining the indicators of quality that a State must use to assess the performance of its teacher preparation programs, including more meaningful indicators of program inputs and program outcomes, such as the ability of the program’s graduates to produce gains in student learning [5] (understanding that not all students will learn at the same rate).

What our teachers need resources, resources, and more resources! Delaware needs to fund kindergarten through 3rd grade basic special education. Delaware needs full-time art, music, technology, PE, library, and talented and gifted teachers in all of their schools. Delaware and the entire nation need to move away from their obsession on testing. Let teachers take control of their classrooms and do what they do best – TEACH! Do we go into doctor’s office and rate them?  A report card showing the public how many people have died under their care – label why each patient died, their age, race, gender, income and then rate each doctor and label their practice as a failing or needs improvement – NO, so why do we feel the need to do this to our schools and our educators?

I recently visited Mote Elementary School, in my district, and I spent my time there in Pre-K and 1st grade rooms, no state assessment required in these grade levels. I witnessed two teachers who were thoughtful, engaged, kids had smiles on their faces and who were having fun learning – one teacher was in her 1st year and one teacher had been teaching 16+ years. Disclosure – Principal Bolden at Mote let me walk through the school on my own and I had access to the entire school. We need to move away from worrying about a test and give teachers more time to teach and mentor new teachers – I believe we would see better results.

Two more thoughts, first – why do we need to test public school students every year – test them once in Elementary, Middle and High School.

The second thought, Delaware does not have a state assessment that measures growth, that needs to change as well!