Daily Archives: April 1, 2012

OMG! Did J. Young really bitch-slap Delaware Governor Markell

To fix our schools, we need solutions, not sound bites by John M, Young (John M. Young is a member of the Christina School Board.)

Delaware’s RTTT initiatives are not doing as well as our Governor thinks they are (Professional Learning Communities, teacher eval, teacher retention) nor as bad as others think (DCAS testing, Partnership Zone), but the rhetoric is getting steep. Referring to teachers as human capital, not holding data coaches accountable, and masking “turnarounds” inside of “transformations” is eroding local control, betraying trusts and stiffening the inertia.

Shit! Data Coaches are nothing but spies for building administrators! As they help teachers utilize DCAS data they are also keeping notes on teacher performance. Also, when Race to The Top funding dries-up in two-years data coaches will be no more! They say current data coaches are training district personnel how to be data coaches. But again, when money is gone so is the positions. I’ll be damned if local taxpayers will pick up the tab! FYI. Markell has this thing about keeping his naysayer blinders on he lives in a bubble of real denial. The self-proclaimed Delaware education czar is in over his head! Don’t worry Jack, Pete and rePete have your $$$$ back!

Mostly though, I feel the root cause of much of Delaware’s simmering discontent is the single most misused phrase of all in this education debate: status quo. I hereby submit that it says far more about those who use it than those it is intended to describe. It is intellectually dishonest and only serves to widen the chasm between Dover and our communities. Those inside the system also want it to get better.

The root cause in the disconnect is the lack of capacity at the Delaware Department of Education. Hidden behind the neckline of key DE DOE officials is puppet strings. And how in the hell could the charter school review committee approve a charter school application that doesn’t have the means to help free and reduce lunch students? It’s really not the applicants fault by is the fault of people who seem to lack real passion for children. Markell has allowed the federal government full control of Delaware schools for 9-12% of total funding. What a deal for 100% control. Local school board members goes through the motions with no real empower to local flexibility.  I was there at Red Clay’s RTTT MOU board meeting where DOE Dan said ether vote yes to the MOU of fund Race to The Top embedded in new state education regulations. One board member “Becnel” voted no! The others kind of did the right thing under the circumstances. The when it’s all said and done DSEA Judas comes up smelling like a rose and was knighted into the DE DOE round-table.

Actually, one could effectively argue that forcing constant change upon schools from politicians and business leaders is the real status quo in American public education. In this regard, Delaware is not a leader, but rather just a sad, uninventive follower.

Delaware is great but leaders like Markell driven by personal political ambition should be tared and feathered! He uses the backs of the heads of poor Delaware students as stepping stones to Washington. When Markell’s political finances like Rodel and the business round table forked over some campaign contributions they stuffed the blue-print for Delaware school reform in his pack pocket. Markell had the nerve to bring a banker to the Race to The Top Washington USDOE interviews.

Educators need to lead the way to better schools, not us politicians: federal, state or local. We need to seek a better understanding of the landscape of our schools and then provide solutions, not sound bites. Our students deserve nothing less.

Those who signed the Race to The Top MOU and PZ Plans did the crime and now have to pay do time. And they’ll endorse Markell once again.

Governor we all want better schools.

Help us get it right in the classroom: holding court with Arne Duncan, following his polarizing rhetoric, and deploying his unproven reforms is a poor excuse for state leadership. He hasn’t fixed a school in his life.

Sorry Mr. Young Markell’s Arne Duncan knee pads has a few good miles left on it.

If you really want to do what he only claims to have done, and to remove the political pretense that drives all of our discussions here in Delaware, then please take your eyes off Washington, D.C., because that’s where important work like this doesn’t get done. See entire article 

Not going to happen Mr. Young! When is comes to Markell’s Washington obsession his addictions is like that of a crack-whore. Take the blinders off Jack and get a 360 view of the world around you. Breaking bread with a beggar will get you in heaven before breaking bread with a king. When a boy can’t look a man in the eyes during a handshake perhaps there is nothing to look at.

Delaware Charter School movement laced with hate and unintended consequences

Growing popularity of Delaware charter schools stirs fierce debate; Written by WADE MALCOLM and NICHOLE DOBO The News Journal

This six page News Journal article is

full of twist and turn. Please go back and read the entire article.

Jeremy and Patti Carlson tried for two years to get their oldest son into Newark Charter School. Finally, before the start of fourth grade, XXXX drew No. 16 in a lottery for 18 open spots.

I put X’s where the News Journal printed the Carlson’s son’s name to respect my blog rule to keep kids name of out debates. Mr & Mrs Carlson’s comment were fair and objective.

They weren’t enthused with the option in their feeder pattern: Glasgow High School, one of the state’s most challenged and, consequently, lowest-performing schools. Their initial interest in Newark Charter was sparked by the school’s high test scores and strong academic reputation. Private school wasn’t financially feasible.

I’ll have to agree with the Carlson’s on this one re: Glasgow High School. The partnership zone program at Glasgow is a mess. The overreaching hand of the Delaware Department of Education adds another layer of negativity. I wouldn’t trust my child in the hands of a school that sees sexual molestation of a student  as a “distraction” and then you have school staff members disappearing without reasons. Because of confidentially laws administrative infraction are code with an action numbers. The board votes on incidents the public have no clue what the staff in question did. Let’s not forget the little game of un-enrolling truant students rather that follow the legal process. Miss 10 days in a row followed by a letter to the parents and a so-called home visit after-which the student is un-enrolled by the school principal. Glasgow is out to build a favorable rating to the extent they’ll push this under-handed trick. Make note, when a student is un-enrolled they are not count as high school dropouts. So good for the Carlson family who want their children in a school that is focused on students needs not gaming the system that only produces fraudulent rating numbers.

Supporters of the charter expansion say Christina School District has failed to provide suitable environments for their children’s education.

Sure if they are talking Glasgow High School but I haven’t heard a convincing argument about the other CSD high schools. And for the lower grades trashing out all CSD elementary and middle schools is unwarranted.

Traditional public education proponents countered that Christina offers a wide range of Advanced Placement courses and a specialized track for academically talented students, and they fear for the future of those programs if charters siphon more students and, as a result, funding.

I think these concerned people are correct. As seats empty in public schools unit funding follows the student to charters. Also. there is an impact associated with the charter brain-drain. Race to The Top was sold as the magic save all bullet for public schools but it looks like full steam ahead with charters just in case we are wrong. Red Clay Lewis dual language school is a partnership zone school yet DE DOE is poised to approve a 600 seat dual language charter school three blocks from Lewis. The approval is a done deal because on influential politics embedded.

Supporters of the charter expansion say Christina School District has failed to provide suitable environments for their children’s education

Many of those supporters have children in Newark Charter from day one starting with kindergarten and are basing their opinion on perception. I don’t think charter school parents need to get into all the negative trashing CSD schools and should just say, I choose charter schools as an option that I feel is best for my child. Offending other parents who support traditional schools isn’t fair. Even Glasgow will produce high achieving students.

Situations like this illustrate how passionately parents and educators feel about the choices they make for educating their children. Since 1995, more than 20 charter schools have popped up across the state, creating a system that offers more alternatives.

 And what? It Doesn’t matter if many charter schools are under performing?

The debate has raised so many wide-ranging and contentious issues, state Education Secretary Lillian Lowery delayed the final decision by a month. Lowery will make a recommendation, and the state board of education will vote at its April 19 meeting

Lucky for Newark Charter Lowery did take her position to delay state board vote! Newark parents should send Lowery a letter thanking her for her bold move. But school leader Meece’s baby-fit over the delay fueled more debates. The vote will be a “yes” at the state board’s April meeting. Meece’s personal obsession to expand NCS went as far as convincing NCS parents to sign a free and reduce lunch wavier and forgo building a full service cafeteria. The waivers are legal but was it a deal parents couldn’t refuse? If they would have refused would it of jeopardize NCS plans to expand? Hell no! Sure a full service cafeteria would add financial pressure to NCS. But I though we were in this big push about children’s health and proper nutrition? It’s hard to believe the Longwood Foundation one of NCS backers supported such a fool notions.

Whatever the outcome, it won’t be long before state education officials confront more important decisions about the future of other major charter school initiatives

So are they bending to naysayers like Dontdestroychristina or does she and others with concerns raise questions with merit? But I must say, the basket of crab analogy raised some serious concerns with charter school leadership. Newark Charter expansion request may have been in the wrong place and the wrong time! But the school leaders’s New Journal editorial demonstrated the charter school movement has a concerning agenda. Parent do what the charter school options. But I am starting to think the charter school reformists are mixing up a deadly batch of new kool-aid.

Last month, Bank of America announced the donation of an opulent downtown Wilmington office building to the Longwood Foundation. Dubbed a “mega charter,” its 282,000 square feet could someday host four charter schools under one roof.

“It’s not just about creating seats, it’s about creating high quality seats,” said Thère du Pont, president of the Longwood Foundation, which did research showing charters made a positive impact on city youths.

Come on little Pete, a study performed by Longwood isn’t valid because the outcomes were predetermined. Polytetrafluoroethylene was safe right? Never trust a product where reports were completed by the salesman. Yes charter do have a positive impact on city youth but let’s not kid ourselves. That Bank of American building will end-up with education status making it exempt from paying school taxes. So tells us how much property tax revenue will CSD lose? And to add insult to injury, per student local operation funds will follow those CSD students into charters. CSD get’s slapped on both sides of the face. 

As these developments unfold, lawmakers are considering changes to the state’s 17-year-old charter school laws that could reshape the debate.

Don’t bet on it! Little Pete’s dad is thicker than thieves with Jack Markell and the republicans and democrats are united in Race to The Top and the charter school movement.  As for teachers in the cross fire, they at least can see republicans comes at them with political daggers in hand whereas, Governor Markell carries one behind his back. Ask Judas!

Advocates say Newark Charter and others like it have produced success stories, but some charter schools have struggled to improve student performance or to even survive. A cross-section of stakeholders are working on how to improve the state’s charter school legislation. Expected amendments to the law should be proposed by the summer.

And the bigwigs at the News Journal keeping Moyer /K12.Inc off the table suppresses the truth about how Markell the education czar’s hands on approach has been a complete failure.

Lowery said, there’s been a focus on making sure charter applications are high-quality. This year, there are five new charter school applications and all but one are affiliated with Innovative Schools, a Wilmington nonprofit that researches school models and provides technical assistance.

Like what? Making sure charter applications have the Rodel and Innovative Schools good housekeeping seal on it?

“It’s just a matter of ‘I want what’s best for my child,’ and it so happens my child is in Newark Charter, and that’s where I want him to go,” said Patti Carlson, whose younger son, XXXXXX, has also had a positive experience at the school. “Maybe I would feel different if my children were in public school.”

Thank you and I support your position.

The Carlsons tried traditional public schools when their children were young, and they do not describe it as a positive experience. They recalled rows of empty chairs at parent-teacher nights.

I’ve been there and PTAs focused on fundraiser and baking cookies don’t attract many parents to meetings. If shared decision-making is about either pizzas or cookie dough for fundraisers count me out! Even Title 1 parents get screwed over because Lowery stands-by and allows Title 1 Section 1118 to be used as a doormat and not be enforced. Technically Race to The Top is illegal because Title 1 parents weren’t part of the design and planning of Race to The Top. They too were fed the Kool-aid after Race to The Top was a done deal.

“There would be you and one other parent there,” Jeremy Carlson said. “We’d ask, ‘Where are all the other parents?’ And they said, ‘We just don’t get that many people.’ “

If more parents engaged their traditional public schools there wouldn’t be a need for charter schools. Schools do fail but so do parents. Perhaps it’s time to tie building administrator’s pay to a parental involvement factor.

“The community school works well,” Patti Carlson said.

And when they don’t, they fail! When Arne Duncan comes to town perhaps he should hold open town-hall meetings with parents rather than staged events with politicians and those who kiss his feet and ass!

During recent discussions of its expansion, detractors have labeled it exclusive. Its state-approved charter gives preference to children living within five miles of the school, and given the school’s popularity, few students from outside the immediate area can get a seat.

So the News Journal calls those who questions the charter school movement . “detractors” ? But I must say, it appears school districts like Red Clay uses a 5 mile or even less feeder-pattern zone.

Newark Charter has also been criticized for failing to offer free and reduced lunches to low-income students. School Director Gregory R. Meece Sr. said the school will add a lunch program next year. Charter parents have also said the school makes accommodations to ensure every student is fed during the school day, and the school might suggest changes to its five-mile radius provisions to alleviate concerns.

So where is the daily menu posted? Low-income students eligible for free and reduce lunch shouldn’t have to ask for for each day! Why are parents speaking on this and not school administrators.

“You would have tons of kids coming from all different areas,” she said. “I think the communication with parents would be more difficult.”


Newark Charter parents interviewed said the tone of the debate over their school has stunned them. Before adding the high school became a contentious issue, people most often cited Newark Charter as a success story. Its students’ scores on state tests last year far exceeded the performance of Christina. Even a majority of the charter’s low-income student are meeting proficiency standards.

NCS is a success story! But the questions raised is asking off of whose backs?

“It is clear that the proponents are not proposing an expansion to provide programs that are different from what is offered at the public high school,” Elizabeth Evans, of Newark, wrote in a letter to the editor recently. “They simply do not want their children mixing with the other children of our district.”

They want a five mile neighborhood school zone! Just like what some Red Clay parents have!

Parents at the charter believe their school’s expansion proposal has turned into a political battleground over the future of public education, and they insist that in their view, the effort was only about their children having the opportunity to continue in a school they love.

But public eudcation is about all children and fair and equitable education for all.

“They are essentially trying to protect their turf,” said Aloke Ghosh, a parent with one child in the school. “You have to give people choice, and then the economics will take care of it. If you are good, you will survive, and if you aren’t, you will not.”

But we’re taking public schools. You’re opening the debate that charter schools are private schools funded by the taxpayers.

Although unwavering in their support for the expansion, Newark Charter parents said they can grasp the dilemma the district faces.

“I understand that they need more kids to make the schools better, but you’re not going to get more kids until you make the schools better,” Patti Carlson said. “But why should our kids be the guinea pigs?”

More kids don’t make schools better but how can traditional schools make them better as charter school reformist lead by Wall Street, business and agenda seeking politicians like Markell continues to fracture the foundation of public schools?

Bohm believes the rapid proliferation of charter schools in northern New Castle County will undermine the public school system. With fewer resources to educate the remaining students, schools might not be able to provide children with potential with the opportunities to challenge themselves. She also feels traditional public schools need more parents like her involved in education. She looks at the makeup of some inner-city schools and sees a broken system.

“They are highly racially and economically isolated, and I think that’s a problem,” she said.

And as long as our state legislators keep their heads in the sand like ostriches the weight of charter schools will cause public schools to implode upon themselves. Public schools may be failing but the charter wrecking ball is helping the process.