Monthly Archives: May 2011

Happy days at the Delaware Department of Education

When Lillian travels it’s party time at DEDOE. No work , no reports and charter review meetings rescheduled.

Pencader school board starting to move into the sunlight

Breaking away from the old guard tradition the new Pencader school board  has begun to post board minutes online.

go to Pencader’s website and click School Board on bottom right side of webpage.

April’s meeting looks as if was a Executive Board Meeting which is reserved for personnel and legal matters. This is typical of all school board meetings as information discussed falls under protected confidentiality laws.

March meeting was public session. Minutes might be a little vague but this new board needs to walk before it can run. Ideally they will move toward digitally recorded meetings and posting those sound files online. Digital recorded meetings are not official board minutes and more of a means to allow parents, community, DEDOE and even state legislators the opportunity to listen in. Printed minutes are still required and must be voted on re: approval of minutes.

New Business

Dr. Lewis would like to initiate discussions with Innovative Schools to secure the services of Bill Bentz to help organize our financial reporting and budget design. Board agreed unanimously to push ahead with this.

Innovative Schools  offer various services to public schools and charter schools. I have some reservations about this corporation especially with their association with Rodel and  political type folks working in the background. However, Pencader is wise to seek out some knowledgeable of school finances and budgets and don’t see any harm here.

Public Comment:

Mrs. Kleinhomer, PAC President, presented a list of concerns which had been forwarded to Mr. Hamilton prior to the meeting.  Board members will review concerns and share comments with Dr. Lewis prior to next meeting.

Perhaps the board should have posted those concerns unless Mrs. Kleinhomer requested them not to be posted. Pencader and concerned community members need to come out to these board meeting and put their cards of concerns on the table. The time is approaching that parents, staff and board members need to join forces to save Pencader. My instincts are Pencader will be put on probation but Governor Markell has to prove to Arne Duncan the United States Secretary of Education he has the courage to close failing charter schools and traditional schools. However, Pencader failing finances is in part due to the Delaware Department of Education failing to comply with state law under Title 14, Chapter 15 Fiscal Provisions, § 1508. Citizen oversight of district finances. DEDOE has refused to comply with this law and laws requiring DEDOE annual charter school reports. There is no doubt former Pencader school leaders drop the ball or was incapable of managing school finances. However , the legislators enacted a law the required an open financial review process with monthly financial reports posted for public view. Markell will turn a blind-eye to his people’s misdeeds and it looks like no relieve from state legislators.

So to save Pencader which might be a very hard battle, parents need to step-up and get involved and demand full transparency and put their cards on the table. All must move forward to fight this battle as one. It’s ashame the old Pendcader administration didn’t work in the sunlight but perhaps that may have be intentional.

Good luck Pencader and keep opening those window and fill that school with sunlight.

Delaware Department of Ed tells legislators; Kiss my ass !

145th General Assembly
HS 1 FOR HB 119 w/HA 1

Primary Sponsor:

Schooley

Additional Sponsor(s):    & Sen. Sokola

CoSponsors:

Reps. Blakey, Booth, Carey, Hocker, Jaques, J. Johnson, Q. Johnson, Kovach, Kowalko, Lavelle, Manolakos, Miro, Mitchell, Schwartzkopf, Scott, Wilson

Introduced on :

06/04/2009

Signed 08/13/2009

Long Title:

AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE WITH RESPECT TO PUBLIC EDUCATION.

Synopsis:

This Bill permits local districts substantially more discretion with respect to expenditure of state education funds than they have under existing law. However, the bill also establishes a number of safeguards to ensure that those funds are spent in a responsible manner that enhances student achievement, including state approval of local district budgets, a requirement of full transparency for local district expenditures, and the establishment of citizen financial oversight committees for each district.

 Signed 08/13/2009

Oversight committees shall have representation from parents, educators, and taxpayers residing in each of the public school districts, provided that in the case of charter schools membership on oversight committees shall consist of parents of students enrolled in the charter school, educators at the charter school, and representatives of the Delaware Department of Education.

§1508.  Citizen Oversight of District Finances.

The Department of Education shall promulgate regulations by November 1, 2009 establishing procedures for appointment of citizen budget oversight committees for each of the public school districts and charter schools.

Every state representative and state senator who was present for the vote on this bill voted yes. House vote: () Passed 6/16/2009 6:01:14 PM——-  and  Senate vote: () Passed 6/30/2009 11:46:34 PM—  Yet not one has stepped up a demanded the Delaware Department of Education to be accountable for failing to comply with state law

The financial misdeed or pure incompetency of the former leaders of Reach Academy for Girls and Pencader High School for Business and Finance are nothing in comparison to our state legislators  allowing the Department of Education to put their asses in the face of the law.

It’s time for a major shakeup at the Delaware Department of Education ! Our children and parents have become victims of their own government. Who among our state legislators dare to show real courage and call for removal of the Delaware Secretary of Education and her clueless assistants? Can we PLEASE have some JUSTICE.

Rick Jensen’s secret interview with Arne Duncan

DEDOE Charter School Office is a train wreck

Folks I know I do a lot of ranting but go see for yourself. Click the list of charter schools and review board meeting minutes and monthly financial reports. That’s if you can find them. List of Delaware Charter Schools

I am not sure if you know this but there is a department within the Delaware Department of Education that oversees Delaware charter schools.

How F-ing hard is it for these DEDOE desk jockeys to click on the websites to ensure monthly board meeting minutes are posted and monthly financial reports are posted. The law requires these reports and a citizen budget review committee. Where are these reports and where are the required committees.

Come on Governor Markell, look for yourself! There is absolutely no reason for such a mess and a failure of responsibly!  I am not going to blame DOE Dan for this one! DOE Dan, check those websites and see for yourself! All it will take is a few E-mails to these school leaders to tell them, get your shit together and start putting required information online and get their budget committees in order!

Charter schools will fail and that is a given. But they shouldn’t fail because those in DEDOE aren’t doing the jobs.

Go ahead Lillian, look for yourself! It’s a mess!

How can parents stay informed if these schools don’t give a rat’s ass about their legal requirements.

Parents of charter schools reading please go to your child’s charter school website and see for yourself. And do remember if your child’s school ends up on formal review for financial concerns you’re going to want answers. I hear it many-times when there are problems at the school! Goes like this, why didn’t somebody tell us or why didn’t somebody do something sooner? Hello !  McFly Parent ! You are that somebody and don’t wait for a preventable crisis.

Why is DEDOE holding back on Moyer’s financial reports?

Last year the Delaware Department of Education took-over Maurice J Moyer Academy citing academic and financial concerns.

Moyer is running at 38% (202) of approved student enrollment of 525 students. DEDOE signed a contract with K12.Inc whose CEO is an old buddy of Delaware Governor Jack Markell. I’ve searched high and low and DEDOE did not provide the public with the financial arrangement.

Moyer’s webpage link provided by DEDOE is the worst school webpage in the state of Delaware. The webpage doesn’t provide information as who the board members are, board minutes, financial reports or even individual teachers names. Now if you want to invest in this Wall Street listed for profit (stock)  school they provide a link for that, K12 Investor Relations Information 

Checked on Wall Street and this stock (K12.Inc / LRN) Could have positive longterm potential. Hey Jack I see one of your old Nextel buds and we know you and big guy have a special connection. Jack, would you give this stock a hold or sell?

Hey Jack, can you tell us why Moyer gets a buy on HB119? Re: no monthly financial reports! Hey wait, aren’t they required to complete a financial positioning report like other schools?

That’s right Jack ! Lets kick around other charter schools to keep the eyes off of Moyer.

Another layer of school administration for Delaware schools to be added called SAM

New Program to Help Principals Focus Time on Instructional Leadership

Participating schools will be able to choose from two models for this service. One allows for the hiring of a full-time position to assist the principal in increasing time on instructional leadership by taking on operational responsibilities. The second model provides time-tracking software for the school and training for the building’s existing administrative assistant, along with a stipend to this individual for taking on this time-management responsibility.

Just what we need, more administrators! So now the principals will become instructional coaches and SAM will be in-charge of school operational functions.

SAM participants will be identified and trained by July with deployment planned for August. The contract runs through June 2013.

And then local taxpayers will foot the bill

This is one of several state initiatives to provide principals and assistant principals across Delaware with assistance as they assess and support teachers in their buildings and help them free up time spent on administrative duties.

Just what teacher’s need , big brother with more time on his hands. What about giving principals and their assistants more time to track-down parents who refused to engage in their child’s education?

The state is partnering with the University of Delaware’s Delaware Academy for School Leadership (DASL) on this project.

Why not partner with the U of D in allowing freshman education majors the opportunity to spend some time in classrooms during their first year. Call it “What the Fuck am I getting myself into 101.” Why wait until their senior year to put them in the classrooms. Give them a taste and time to bail and transfer to another major.

So this amazing program will reverse 20 years of education meltdown by June 2013 (one school year)? Once again we have another financially unsustainable program. And once again nothing to address the need for some serious parent outreach programs.

Delaware DOE incompetency delays capital finance for charter schools

A good inside friend told me that Delaware Governor Markell plans to push an agenda that provides capital funding for charter schools and this will happen in his second term.

Markell is a sleep at the wheel and can’t see the incompetency of those running the charter school unit of DEDOE add roadblocks to any plan that involves increasing capital funding. Charter schools are corporation and the state has no ownership in real-estate and if a charter organization decides to close or is forced closed the state cannot seize properties. Just think if the state handed over 10 million dollars to the former Reach Academy managers and closed Reach the corporation keeps the 10 million dollars invested in real-estate.  Same goes for any charter school.

Those starting charter schools know the rules of the game and shouldn’t be crying for capital funding. DMA and Newark charter schools go their shit together and didn’t ask for a handout. I am fine with conduit loans because that money is paid back.

Markell has a long way to go before he can push this agenda because those he installed at DEDOE to oversee charter schools lack the capacity to provide proper oversight that “helps” the charter schools stay on financial course. What we have is people who sit back and allows crisis to snowball to a point of no return. In the case of Reach and Pencader, Marell appointees refuse to follow state laws governing public education such as ensuring their department complete the required charter school annual report and ensuring citizen budget oversight committees are trained and in place. The reason this is not happening is because those appointees in the charter school office of DEDOE don’t see the law pertaining to them and their responsibilities. State legislators are reluctant to engage because they fear Governor Markell and that includes his own party. It’s pretty sad when the lawmakers turn their backs when state employees at DEDOE say screw the law.

Despite all these  failures in leadership Markell will push his agenda and state legislators will bow down. Is it too hard for Markell to put competent people place. Markell will close a charter school to prove he has what it takes to close failing charter schools but what’s going on here is Markell own appointees set up the schools to fail. Reach and Pencader wouldn’t be having the financial cisis they have if the safeguards the state legislators put in place were implemented. Surely with school level budget review committees in place perhaps they could have address many of the financial concerns before they snowballed. Sure Reach and Pencader’s management must be held accountable. However, an oversight process set in law was ignored by DEDOE charter managers.  Will they lose their jobs? Hell no!

The sad note to all this is children will suffer because adults appointed by Jack Markell failed to follow the law. Sure we can question the moral of the Reach and Pencader leaders but we also must do the same of those at DEDOE.

The issue of capital funding for charter schools can never be addressed or discussed until we have competent people working as partners with charter schools and you can bet all this Race to the Top reform will add more regulations to charter schools  that will drain on their budgets.

Markell wants to hand charter school capital funding and make traditional schools  go to referendum. Wouldn’t make sense that we follow the law overseeing school finances in which is the intent of Citizen Budget Oversight Committees. Allowing DEDOE to violate state laws sends the wrong message and harm children.

Does Rodel manufacture pharmaceutics ?

“The Rodel Foundation of Delaware was established in 1999 to help create one of the finest public education systems in the nation. The foundation focuses on improving public policy, supporting best practices, and engaging the public. In collaboration with public, private and civic leaders throughout Delaware, Rodel is working to implement Vision 2015, Delaware’s acclaimed plan for world-class schools.”

Amazing! 10 years later the federal government had to come in and clean Rodel’s mess up.

Governor Markell’s blunder could close Reach Academy for Girls

                               The Heart of  Reach

When will Governor Markell hold DEDOE charter school office accountable?

Delaware Governor Jack Markell jumps at every opportunity to take credit for good news in Delaware’s public school but hides like a coward when there’s bad news. But in this case of Reach Academy for Girls, the Delaware Department of Education charter school managers failed to implement and train citizen budget oversight committees as required by law, Title 14, Chapter 15 Fiscal Provisions; Subsection 1508.

Jack look these girls in the eyes and tell them the people you put in place to ensure their schools had financial oversight failed them. Jack when do we hold your people accountable for their failures? Man up Jack and hold someone accountable for failing to ensure Reach had the required citizen budget oversight committees. If it did perhaps this major crisis could have been avoided.

When will Governor Markell hold DEDOE charter school office accountable?

Title 14, Chapter 15 Fiscal Provisions

§ 1508. Citizen oversight of district finances.

The Department of Education shall promulgate regulations by November 1, 2009, establishing procedures for appointment of citizen budget oversight committees for each of the public school districts and charter schools. These committees shall have full access either electronically or in hard-copy format to all financial documents and financial information in the possession of the school districts they are assigned to oversee, with redactions permitted only to protect confidential personal information regarding students or employees. Oversight committees shall have representation from parents, educators, and taxpayers residing in each of the public school districts, provided that in the case of charter schools membership on oversight committees shall consist of parents of students enrolled in the charter school, educators at the charter school, and representatives of the Delaware Department of Education. Where possible, oversight committees shall contain at least 2 members with formal educational or vocational backgrounds amenable to oversight of school district financial statements. The Department of Education shall provide training to committee members. The Department shall also promulgate regulations by November 1, 2009, dictating uniformity and transparency in the financial recording and bookkeeping practices of the school districts and charter schools.

77 Del. Laws, c. 197, § 1.;

It’s time to fire some asses down in Dover. DEDOE puts Reach Academy for Girls and Pencader on Formal Review for financial concerns but yet failed to ensure these charters school as others comply with the provisions of the law re: Citizen budget oversight committees.

The law subsection 1508 noted above is quite clear assigning DEDOE the responsibly of making this happen. In fact the law states that representative of DEDOE are to participate. Just think Reach parents if DEDOE did their job their may not be the current crisis. Those issues could have been address through the committee and would not have snowballed to such a crisis. The committee was meant to be a safeguard to protect the financial interest of the school. Surely if Reach or Pencader is closed one would expect the person in charge of charter school oversight would be fired.

Arne Duncan to fund sperm coaches

Race to the Top — Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC) Program

On May 25, 2011, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius announced that the Administration plans to use approximately $500 million of the FY11 Race to the Top funding for a major competition in support of bold and comprehensive State plans for raising the quality of early learning programs.

Specific competition requirements, priorities, and selection criteria are still under development. However, consistent with the statute, applicant States will need to take actions to:

Increase the number and percentage of low-income and disadvantaged children in each age group of infants, toddlers, and preschoolers who are enrolled in high-quality early learning programs;

Design and implement an integrated system of high-quality early learning programs and services; and

Ensure that any use of assessments conforms with the recommendations of the National Research Council’s reports on early childhood.

Another state level grant competition when it should be district level and what about charter schools?

Look what happen with Race to The Top in Delaware! The state gets 50% of $119 million dollars to piss away as they see fit.  8 million dollars to Wireless Generation a subsidiarity of News Corporation own by Rupert Murdoch and where Joel Klein is VP. 8 million dollars for Wall Street data coaches and Jack Markell’s old business associates.

Here is another short-term federal grant that will require state and local funds to keep going. Yes Miss Crabtree pre-k is important but here we go again with DEDOE holding all the $$$$ strings. The Delaware Department of Education has become nothing but a bunch of cluster-fucks. What happens if a annual report on pre-k is required? Will DEDOE say F it we don’t have time like they do with the charter school annual reports which “mandated” by the state legislators?

The governor aka supreme grand wizard of Delaware public education does nothing to hold parents accountable for failing to engage in their children’s education. Parents don’t want to feed them; fine we’ll provide breakfast and lunch. Then there is transportation needs to and from schools or these so-called learning centers.

Increase the number and percentage of low-income and disadvantaged children in each age group of infants, toddlers, and preschoolers who are enrolled in high-quality early learning programs;

“Infants and toddlers”? Great! Looks like Markell will call on Wireless Generation to provide puppeteers to teach infants and toddlers. Wouldn’t it makes sense to teach parents how to be parents? Why not use this money for parent coaches?

When does this shit end? What next Arne Duncan sends out sperm coaches to inspect the heath of men before they produce?

Big question here is, what about charter schools? I don’t see any approved for pre-k or infants. Will it be a bring your little brother or sister to school day for current students?

When will the federal government put community outreach programs together that will help parents become better advocates and help them in becoming more engaged in their children’s education? The apparent problems we are seeing are social related issues and somehow public school teachers are expected fix and if they don’t they’re ineffective!

So this program is to be use for low-income and disadvantage children!

Is that an acknowledgement poverty has an impact on one’s ability to learn? So now we need to find the breakdown of mother / father and children of high poverty families. It seems we are allowing a cancer to form and then treat it after the fact. Folks, we need real sincere community outreach programs run by honest people not those who will drop to their knees for the likes of Jack Markell.

Urgent reform of Delaware charter school approval and oversight needed

As far as approval process, I think by now we know what charter school academic plan should look like. Delaware Military Academy and The Delaware Academy of Public Safety and Security have a unique twist but as far as core academics I am sure it mirrors public schools and other charter schools. The real concerns that seems to present the most problems are with the management of school finances. Something has to give and personally I think a charter schools must have a CPA on the board of director at time of filing the charter school application. However,  a CPA from the business world isn’t necessarily  verse in school finances. I feel once a charter is approved which in many cases it’s almost a year before opening, the charter officers and required CPA should be required to participate  in  DEDOE school finance training. Other board members such as parent representativeness must participate in same training within six months of appointment. We need to see a better foundation on the financial end.

Oversight;  Charter school boards must post monthly board meeting minutes online within 5 days of approval. Monthly financial reports posted online must be a requirement. Digital recordings of board meeting (public session) should also be a requirement and those recording won’t represent the official board minutes.  The recordings  should be posted within 5 days of the initial board meeting. Honestly a fine of $500 should be imposed for each occurrence of failing to comply.  After three occurrences in one year the charter should be put on probation and board president and vice-president be require to step-down from the board.

The biggest concern is DEDOE does not treat the charter school crisis as emergencies. The review process is too long and pretty much leavs the parents, teachers and community in the dark. Kind of strange for me to say this but I think the Delaware Secretary of Education should have some discretionary powers through a level based probation system. Perhaps a three stage probation, Level 1 , Level 2 and Level 3. Level 3 being the most severe prompting Former Review. Level 1 could be for infraction such as failing to provide the public via websites online “detailed” board meeting minutes, monthly financial reports and require financial positioning reports. Impose a $500.00 fine and third offense Level 2 probation requiring board president and vice-president to step-down. Also require the charter school to submit an corrective  action plan and require “all” board members to repeat training. Also, if DEDOE gets numerous complaints from vendors not being paid or teachers not being paid Level 2 should apply.

I might be drawing for straws with this idea but the fact remains the current oversight process is broken. If we value students and parents we can’t keep them in the dark and cause undue stress making them fear their charter school is going to be closed. Students and parents of Reach and Pendcader are most-likely going through emotional hell not knowing if their schools will be open next year. It seems one big red flag goes up and confusion sets in. A probation system will be like little flags going off which should prompt action and even greater involvement of parents and community. Give parents the means to provide better oversight of their charter schools and boards. Charter schools that don’t post meaningful detailed board minutes and financial reports seem to have something to hide. As far as P-cards to charter schools, they need to be open with monthly expenditure reports per card holder.

The real problem with “problem” charter schools is lack of transparency which is a clear indicators of poor management and possible misdeeds.

The bottom-line is , if we don’t do something now all charter schools in Delaware will see major disruptions. The shit will finally hit the fan and state legislators who have been asleep at the wheel will come up with legislation penalizing all charter schools because of a few assholes.

Again as always, I don’t oppose charter schools and support student and parent choice option. We shouldn’t need charter schools but until we effectively address the concerns with traditional public schools we’ll need them.  What I do oppose is selective charter school admissions based on student intelligence level. We need open admission with a transparent lottery process.

One thing for sure , if my child were a student of Reach or Pencader I be far up the asses of those in power at DEDOE and the governor. I would rally parents to physically protest DEDOE and the governor. There is no excuse to have such a dragged-out process that causes emotional harm to parents and students.

Hard to believe I am suggesting giving the Delaware Secretary of Education greater discretionary powers but it’s obvious the num-nuts managing the DEDOE charter school department are useless as a woodpecker on an aluminum telephone pole.

Rewarding one charter school for failing and not others doesn’t make sense

$5.8M goes to four Delaware schools; Federal money will fund ‘ambitious reforms’ in classrooms. Written by NICHOLE DOBO

The 2011 School Improvement Grants recipients are Christina School District, $3.2 million; New Castle County Vo-Tech School District, $1.5 million; and Positive Outcomes Charter School, $1.1 million.

Why not just close this failing charter school or force a state sponsored takeover? The $1.5 million could have been better spent on address needed changes in Delaware charter school laws and better financial management training for charter school administrators and their boards. Would makes sense to use the money to improve all failing charter schools rather than just rewarding one failing charter school. So far the charter schools that have failed and are failing seem to be a result of failed administration. We need working partners in these charter schools to help then become more effective in management skills. We need a charter school management certification process. We need to training these people before they open their school doors.