Tag Archives: Department of Education

Trump, St. Andrew’s School in Florida, school choice and state vouchers – the appearance of helping disadvantage students – Fake News!

On February 28, President Trump addressed Congress, speaking briefly about school choice for disadvantaged youth, breaking the cycle of poverty.  He talked about how families should be able to choose the schools that are right for them, whether they be public, private, charter, magnet, religious or home schools.

On Friday, President Trump visited a private school in Florida  – St. Andrew Catholic School – Florida is one of 14 states and DC, which has a state-funded school voucher program to qualifying students.

If you look at St. Andrew’s admission requirements you must provide most recent report card and state assessment, which would be ok since it is a private school. But President Trump though is pushing for school choice and vouchers. There is a $250 registration fee (non-refundable) per child is assessed. There is an admission test for students 2nd through 8th grades.  A parent needs three teacher recommendations.  There is a list of priorities, one being you must attend church on a regular basis and ENVELOPE USE AS DEFINED BY THE PASTOR.  

How are policies like this going to help break the cycle of poverty?  Folks living in poverty cannot afford a $250 non-refundable registration fee, $25 application fee or financially supporting any church every week? How are they going to pay for the balance of the tuition that is owed after using their voucher?

It is very interesting when you look through the qualifying student requirements for school-funded voucher programs, because most states require that a student has an IEP, certain disability or specific income level tied into the federal poverty level.  THIS IS THE IMPORTANT PART – In Delaware, most students who have an IEP or disability, and leave a private or charter schools, do so because the school does not provide the necessary special education services or the school tells a family that they cannot provide these services for the child – this school is not a good fit.

We have people creating policy that really have no idea as to what is really going on in our public schools, because if they did, they would understand that they are not helping disadvantage students.

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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.

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.

Why Was the former Indian River School District CFO Able to Get a State Job in the First Place?

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Below is a media advisory that was released on October 20, 2016 by Tom Wagner in response to media inquires. Thanks Kevin Ohlandt for posting this on Facebook. The Auditor’s Office is going to comp employees time to get the Indian River Investigation/Audit Report done. I started emailing (see below email) Tom Wagner back in May 2016 right after I learned about Indian River’s CFO. To the Auditor’s Office: How about getting an investigation/audit done because of inquires from the General Assembly.

The News Journal reported in April 2016 that Indian’s River CFO Miller was put on paid administrative leave. Delmarva Now reported in May 2016 that Indian’s River CFO Miller resigned.

Miller also had been audited in his previous job as chief financial officer of the Brandywine School District. He faced criminal charges as the result of that audit and resolved his legal troubles by entering a no contest plea before Superior Court Judge Carl Goldstein. How was this guy even able to obtain another state job in one of our school districts, that is the question that we all should be asking? In this article, it states that Miller will be in a position a year from now to seek under another state law, to have the criminal record resulting from the charges expunged. Unbelievable!

MEDIA ADVISORY

State Auditor’s Investigation into the Indian River School District

Posted On: Thursday, October 20, 2016

Dover, Del. – In response to media inquiries regarding the Auditor of Accounts’ (AOA) investigation into the Indian River School District, members of the media are advised that AOA intends to release its report in advance of the District’s referendum vote scheduled for Tuesday, November 22, 2016.

State Auditor R. Thomas Wagner, Jr. has authorized compensatory time for individuals working on this investigation in an effort to expedite the release of the report.

For more information, please contact John Fluharty at 302-857-3937. 

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.

Let’s be consistent with funding exclusions – but how about not excluding kids in the process!

I read a Delaware Online opinion piece this morning and I wanted to comment. I do believe the funding exclusions should be consistent throughout the state. It is my understanding that the Department of Education approved the exclusions every year. That being said, charters are public schools and they need to open their doors and accept all students just like our school districts do. The charters should not be able to kick their accepted students out of their schools because of grades, attendance or behavior – they should keep those students and provide resources to the students just like our school districts do. Charters want flexibility, the flexibility should not come at the expense of our children. There are Delaware charters that open their schools up to all students, anyone who wants to apply can apply and they will add them to their lottery. Then there are other charter schools that shut their doors, hang a sign “experience needed” – this needs to stop.

We need to stop putting up barriers and work together for “ALL” of our children.

Rep. Kim Williams – 19th District – Delaware

 

 

 

 

Delaware Votechs Spend More Per Pupil Than Any Other District In the State

Per Student Spending lowest to highest

With all the funding conversations that are taking place throughout the state, I have been looking through the data that is provided on DOE’s School Profile page.

New Castle County Votech, PolyTech, and Sussex Tech per pupil spending is higher than the other 16 school districts in Delaware.

How can we have public schools in the same county with different per pupil spending, how is this equitable? Votechs are not required to go to referendum, the General Assembly passes a bill to increase spending in the Votechs. The most recent bill that was passed by the General Assembly was House Bill 100, increasing the tax rate for Sussex Tech.

One example: New Castle County Votech’s 2016 Revenue Budget $74,705,189 with 4,629 students. Red Clay School District 2016 Revenue Budget $196,603,609 with 16,302 students (these numbers do not include Red Clay charter school students or the $9,662,194 charter payment).

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Another example is Sussex Tech and Delmar School District; both are located in Sussex County. Sussex Tech per pupil spending is over $5,000 higher than Delmar.

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Friday’s Education Corner – See What Lorrie from Dover has to say about education in Delaware

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I was at the State DOE meeting yesterday and spoke about “proficiency”, which we are hearing a lot about lately (I think it has replaced the word “rigorous”, at least for the time being!).  When we were in school, we got “raw” scores–the actual number of correct answers.  Today’s high-stakes tests have a “cut score”, above which students, teachers, and schools are deemed “proficient” and below which they are not “proficient”.  This score changes depending on the goal.  Who sets this score–the state, the outside companies, the U.S. DOE, or the test makers?  For example, with No Child Left Behind which required 100% proficiency in reading and math by 2013-2014, the only way to achieve that was to lower the cut score.  With Common Core, the cut score was set high so that more children would fail, thereby “proving” for all us unbelievers that Common Core is rigorous.  The parents, I would guess, are unaware that “proficiency” changes, how the cut score is determined, and that their children are not getting raw scores or the equivalent.  Schools are closed because of test scores.
Another matter that bothers me is the numbers of outside companies being paid by us to help the DOE.  From what I have heard, one of them, Rodel, may have a political agenda.  Corporations should not be involved in education; it is expensive and removes local control of education with another layer of bureaucracy.  Besides, I believe that the people who know education best are the educators.  If our educational system is so complex that our DOE cannot handle it, we need to rethink it and the people involved.
The last major concern I have is the preoccupation with data collection, accountability, and assessments. You have probably heard a lot about the assessments, so I won’t go into that here.  From what I understand, this all started with No Child Left Behind and continued with Race to the Top and Common Core.  The common denominator here is federal money, because we then have to do what they want us to do…collect data, show accountability, and assess.  Look at all the time and money we are spending on this–time that could be better spent teaching.  Our Constitution never meant for the federal government to be involved in education.  I believe that if we stopped taking this money and paid it, instead, to the state, we taxpayers would actually save money because there would be no middle man taking a chunk out of it before returning some of it to us.
Again, thank you for being willing to hear our concerns.  Have a good weekend.
Lorrie
Dover