Tag Archives: Public Schools

School District Consolidation Task Force Must Look at Charter Schools When Issuing Recommendations

Consolidation

The General Assembly passed HCR 39 which establishes a task force to study and make recommendations related to school district consolidation. A report will be submitted to the General Assembly no later than January 30, 2018.

HCR 39 was presented to the House for a vote, at the time there were four amendments submitted, one being House Amendment 2. House Amendment 2 required the task force to study and make findings relating to the inclusion of charter schools in school districts and as part of school district consolidation.

The House voted and House Amendment 2 passed the House with support from every Representative including Republicans. At the time, I was extremely impressed that both sides, Republicans and Democrats came together to review all public schools including charter schools.

HCR 39 went over to the Senate and that is where things started to unravel. Sen. Bonini introduced Senate Amendment 1 which would remove the 24 charter schools from the task force and just look at studying the 19 school districts. Sen. Bonini’s amendment could have failed if no Democrats crossed over and voted yes on his amendment – his amendment passed the Senate 12 yes and 8 no. The charter schools were removed from the consolidation study but they still had a seat on the task force. What Sen. Bonini failed to do in his amendment is to remove the Charter Schools Network from having a seat on the task force.

HCR 39 came back to the House with Sen. Bonini’s amendment attached to the resolution. The House needed to vote again on the resolution. When the House was getting ready to vote on the Sen. Bonini’s amendment, I introduced House Amendment 5 which would remove the Charter Schools Network from having a seat on the task force. I asked for a roll call and the amendment barely passed the House, the vote was 21 yes to remove the Charter Schools Network and 20 no’s which would keep the Charter Schools Network on the task force. What surprised me the most is how many Democrats voted to keep the Charter Schools Network on the task force. The entire House originally voted yes to include the charter schools when looking at consolidation. Rep. Jaques called my amendment UNFRIENDLY and he voted no on this amendment. I did not understand why Rep. Jaques had an issue with my amendment because Sen. Bonini is the one who killed Rep. Jaques House Amendment 2 which added charter schools to be reviewed when looking at consolidation. My amendment passed the House and it was then sent back to the Senate and they voted again and it passed.

How can we really look deeply into consolidation when we are not including charter schools. We have 19 school districts and 24 charter schools and each charter school operates as an independent school district. Charter schools do not share positions, for example, a head of curriculum at Providence Creek, that person stays at their charter school.  Red Clay School District head of curriculum is shared among 27 schools, not one school. Providence Creek has 700 students and 9 administrators which do not include their specialty staff, if we are going to look at consolidation it must include all public schools! People call charter schools public schools but some members of the General Assembly obviously do not believe this when you look into their voting history.

 

 

 

 

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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.

Providence Creek Academy Charter School Investigated…Once Again Shows School Leaders Misused Thousand of Dollars in Tax Dollars!

Yesterday, the Auditor of Accounts released another report showing that school leaders at Providence Creek Academy Charter School in Clayton misused thousands of dollars in school funds. You can view the entire report below.

House Bill 186 would require all charter schools to go through the Auditor of Accounts for their audits, currently all public schools except for charter schools goes through the Auditor of Accounts. Sen. Sokola’s bill, Senate Bill 171, will still allow charter schools to select their own auditors. The issue is allowing charter schools to select their own auditors. Academy of Dover’s auditors audited Academy of Dover for three years. The reason why Academy of Dover was audited by the state someone phoned in an anonymous tip to the Auditor of Accounts hotline–the Auditor of Accounts opened an investigation. Because of the fraud and mismanagement of tax dollars now we are using additional tax dollars to investigate these schools not only through the Auditor of Accounts but also through the Attorney General’s Office.

I was in a meeting yesterday discussing both bills with Sen. Sokola and the Delaware Charter Schools Network. The Charter Schools Network reasoning for not supporting House Bill 186 is the original charter law allowed charters to have flexibility and to have extra freedom from state bureaucracy in exchange for tougher consequences for poor academic performance. Apparently, the current system is not working and we the taxpayers have seen over and over the cases of mismanagement to outright fraud involving our tax dollars. Charter Schools should have their audits performed under the Auditor of Accounts just like our public schools—charter schools are public schools funded by local school and state taxes.

DE Online article: Audit finds Providence Creek school leaders misused funds

 

Send a letter to our Delaware Senators

Our tax dollars are being mismanaged or stolen and no one is being held accountable, we need this to stop. Please remember, this is not about charter schools vs public schools, this is about accountability and transparency, it is about making sure our local and state tax dollars stay in the charter schools and not in someone’s wallet. Currently, charter schools are  funded by our local tax dollars through property taxes and state taxes. The charter schools are not audited through the State of Delaware Auditor of Accounts as public school districts. House Bill 186 gives the Auditor of Accounts the necessary power to audit charter schools as they do public school districts.

Please sign the letter asking the Senate to support House Bill 186 and not to support Senate Bill 171, Sen. Sokola’s bill. Sen. Sokola’s bill does not give the Auditor of Accounts the authority to audit the charter schools. We cannot continue to allow individuals to continue to mismanage or steal our tax dollars.

It takes 30 seconds to read and sign the letter to the Senate.

Click here to send a letter to our Delaware Senators.

How many Delaware students with disabilities are also low income students?

In 2014, the Department of Education reported on DOE’s School Profile Page 35% of our Delaware public school students are low income and another 13.9% are students with disabilities. The September 30th Enrollment number for the 2014-2015 school year reported that 134,932 students were enrolled in Delaware public schools.

The total number of students attending public school in Delaware is reported to be 134,932 with 47,226 being low income students and 18,756 students being students with disabilities.

graph 1

I asked the Department of Education how many of the 18,756 students with disabilities are low income and their answer was 45% of the students with disabilities are also low income students 8,440.

graph (1)

Delaware provides additional funding for students with disabilities, there are three categories: Basic Special Education, Intensive Special Education, and Complex Special Education. Currently, Delaware does not fund a Basic Special Education student who is enrolled in Kindergarten through 3rd grade, go to § 1703 Unit of pupils for more details.

  • Preschool — 12.8
  • K-3 — 16.2
  • 4-12 Regular Education — 20
  • 4-12 Basic Special Education (Basic) — 8.4
  • Pre K-12 Intensive Special Education (Intensive) — 6
  • Pre K-12 Complex Special Education (Complex) — 2.6

January 2015, I introduced a bill, House Bill 30, which would add Basic Special Education funding for grades Kindergarten to 3rd grade. The House Education Committee released it and it was assigned to the House Appropriations Committee in March.

This bill provides State funding to kindergarten through third grade for basic special education. State funding already occurs for intensive and complex special education during these grades. Currently the basic special education funding runs from fourth through twelfth grade. This bill is an effort to promote earlier identification and assistance for basic special education needs which should then mitigate costs over the long term.
  • 81% of our enrolled pre-k students were identified with a disability.
  • There are currently 5,843 students (pre-k thru 3) identified last year in special education.
  • In 2013-2014 67.89% of 3rd grade special education students were below standards compared to 24.34% of general education 3rd grade students.
  • US DOE issued a report in June 2014 stating that Delaware was one of three states that was identified as “Needs Intervention” with respect to special education. The US DOE has targeted Delaware for federal intervention.
  • 3rd grade is an important year for reading; this is the year that students move from learning to read, decoding words using their knowledge of the alphabet – to reading to learn.
  • 3rd grade students who lack proficiency in reading are four times more likely to become high school dropouts.
  • 3rd grade proficiency is crucial for continued academic success.
  • House Bill 30 would add 136 more special education teachers to charters and district schools.
  • Delaware school districts every year have to apply for a class size waiver Title 14 – Chapter § 1705A (c) if their Kindergarten thru 3rd grade classrooms exceeds 22 students on the last school day in October in ELA, Math, Science and Social Studies. The local school board may vote to waive this at a public meeting before December 1st of each year. This bill would help to reduce class size in grades Kindergarten through 3rd grades.
  • The extra teachers will also help with Response to Intervention.
  • RTI is a practice of providing high quality instruction and interventions matched to a student’s need.
    • Tier 1 includes all students,
    • Tier 2 students with insufficient progress in Tier 1 in reading.
    • Tier 3 students are students who have not made progress in Tier 1 or Tier 2.
  • I surveyed the 5 school districts with regards to their RTI numbers. A total of 23,550 RTI students including 3,346 students with a disability are either in Tier 1, 2 or 3. No additional resources are given to the districts in order to support this initiative.