I was a member of the ESSA Advisory Committee and our last ESSA meeting was last week. I read the entire updated draft ESSA Plan, 90 + pages, and there are a few things that are very troubling – one being the state would like to move forward with the continued labeling of our public schools with a 1 to 5 star rating – similar to a hotel rating. There were members of the ESSA Advisory Committee who support the 1 to 5 star rating but there were members who opposed it.
There are schools in Delaware that are allowed to select their students based on grades, attendance, behavior, a test, an interview, or a state assessment. There are schools in Delaware that have low percentages of ELL, Spec Ed and Low Income students compared to other schools in our state. How can we compare our schools when some schools can admit students based on academics? How can we compare schools when certain public schools are “Counseling out” students with disabilities – other schools enrollment practices limits access to certain student populations? How can we compare schools when certain schools can say to a family this school is not the right fit for your child? How can we compare schools when some schools are testing in March compared to those schools that test in April or May? Our bigger schools will have to test earlier so they can test all the students to meet the 95% participation rate so they are not penalized and the smaller schools can afford more classroom time because the size of their school.
Recently, I wrote to the Department of Education, asking why Family Foundation Charter School was approved for a name change. DOE’s response was:Family Foundations Academy stated its rational for the name change was, “There have been many changes in the last two years for Family Foundations. These changes have included new leadership, new curriculum and a new focus for our future. With all of these changes we have been focusing on the impact we wish to have in New Castle County as well as the city of New Castle. We are deeply committed to seeing the children of New Castle actualize into adults that make a deep and positive impact on our future. We want our name to reflect our focus on our community.”
Family Foundations Charter School has had plenty of bad press during the last few years. Two of their former leaders were accused of misspending school funds and Federal prosecutors have charged one of theformer leaders with theft. According to aDelaware Online article from January 2015, one leader made $73,956.02 in purchases with the cards, while the other leader spent a total of $20,673.85. I have provided a link to the Delaware Auditor’s Office audit on Family Foundation. The Department of Education and the State Board of Education supported Family Foundations name change but is pushing for the 1 to 5 Star rating – so there is a different set of standards in place when it comes to some of our public schools. The state approved two/three name changes for Moyer Academy Charter School which eventually closed. Changing the name of a charter school attempts to conceal the issues, which in the end hurts the students and community. These schools should to keep their names so we can make sure they are actually improving and that they are transparent. How can our State Board of Education hold some of our public schools to a higher standard than others?
I filed a FOIA complaint against the State Board of Education concerning their January State Board meeting. Here is the Department of Justice’s opinion to my complaint. I still have one more FOIA complaint outstanding with regards to the February State Board meeting. The State Board just responded to DOJ yesterday with regards to my second complaint. I am sure I will not have DOJ’s opinion on the 2nd complaint for a few weeks.
I have many issues with the State Board of Education. I thought maybe the answer was to write a bill and have the State Board elected and add appointed members such as legislators, members of various organizations etc. to the board. I am beginning to think we really do not need a State Board of Education. It is just another bureaucratic body that is just not necessary–it is time to remove the middle man.
Research is being done so I can have a better understanding about our state’s history with respects to the State Board of Education and Delaware Department of Education.
I have filed two FOIA complaints against the State Board of Education–one was filed on January 24, 2016 and another on February 25, 2016.
I was on the State Board of Education website today and found the State Board of Education Procedures Manual. On page 8 of this manual, it goes over how the State Board will be evaluated. They have no evaluation process, they apparently monitor themselves.
Evaluation The Board will monitor its own process and performance to ensure continuity of Board improvements, integrity of Board actions and progress toward Board goals. The Board will be accountable to the public for competent, conscientious, and effective accomplishment of its obligations as a Board. The Board may seek the input from others regarding the effectiveness or impact of Board initiatives as part of the evaluation process, and may utilize the services of an independent consultant in doing so.
Today, House Bill 232 was filed. This Act will require the State Board of Education to accept public comment on all agenda items at its meetings, including charter school applications and changes to regulations. The Board is not required to accept public comment concerning student disciplinary appeals. The Board retains discretion to limit the manner, length, and timing of public comment at its meetings.
The State Board’s mission statement speaks about being in collaboration with community and stakeholders, the DE State Board of Education serves as the primary voice for Delaware citizens on education policy, but does not allow for public comment on the day that certain action items are going to be voted on.
When a building is scheduled to open, there is a punch list of items that need to be completed before the building is issued the Certificate of Occupancy, this is for the safety of the occupants of the newly, constructed building. Why is this not the same when it comes to approving charter schools here in Delaware? Our children will become the occupants of the newly, constructed charter and we as a state should be making sure all that was promised in the original charter application is in place before the doors even open.
Delaware Met originally submitted their charter application December 2012 . Delaware Met was scheduled to open their doors for the 2014-2015 school year. They requested a charter modification for a year delay which was granted April 2014 and they were placed on formal review. Delaware Met opened their doors in August 2015. Delaware Met has only been opened since August 2015, they were placed on formal review for a second time and DOE issued a punch list of items that have not been completed, see below document.
During the April 2014 State Board Meeting, the State Board placed Delaware Met on formal review. I found a letter to Delaware Met from DOE placing them on formal review back in 2014. Attached to DE Met’s letter is a list of conditions, the only issue is this list of conditions is for Delaware Design Lab High School and not for Delaware Met. I have requested from DOE the list of conditions that were placed on Delaware Met back in 2014. Below are the State Board of Education meeting minutes, view page 3.
The Department is seeking the consent of the State Board to place Delaware MET on formal review to review concerns relative to economic viability and compliance with enrollment within their charter. A motion was made by Mrs. Rutt to consent to placing Delaware MET on formal review. The motion was seconded by Mr. Coverdale, after discussion on the action item by the Board with the representatives from the Department of Education presenting the item; the action was voted on and carried unanimously. Mrs. Rutt was excused at this time due to a prior commitment.
Below is the April 2014 letter from DOE placing Delaware Met on formal review. Look at the last two pages, you will see the conditions are for Delaware Design Lab High School and not Delaware Met.