Message for parents and students of Pencader

Dear Parents and Students of Pencader Charter School:

Last year Kilroy’s stepped up to join the fight to save Pencader Charter School from obvious desire of the Delaware Department of Education lead by Governor Markell to closed Pencader over financial concerns. Pencader has amazing teachers and support staff. Also, Pencader has wonderful administrators and a new school board but the riffs over the termination of Mr. Lewis is toxic and the victims are you!

I am noting going to defend Mr. Lewis but the man has been around in education a long long time going back to the days when teachers would drag your ass out in the hall and paddle it for things like talking during class. Teachers these days are left to defend themselves with no real authority over students. Many charter parents and traditional school parents put discipline concerns tops on their list! They want their children in safe schools. Mr. Lewis telling a student she was acting like a spoiled bitch is as minor as it comes. Teaching is stressful and the shit has to get to even the best teacher and from what I hear Mr. Lewis is an outstanding teacher. As far as teaching yelling for class control ! Damn, back in my day we were dodging pieces of chalk and caulk board-erasers. Even the nuns in Catholic schools would beat the shit out students. God bless Mr. Lewis for all his caring years in education and please don’t bash him here! Unless the board and Mr. Lewis agree to release private executive board information we won’t know the full story. That as it many be, Mr. Lewis and all teachers must somehow maintain being professional in an era when teachers are frown upon for patting a student on the back or giving them a hug in praise. Teachers are victims in a society that appears to be turning to shit! His intention weren’t malice but non acceptable.  

The problems your school faces now is not about Mr. Lewis. When I supported Pencader charter school last year from the DE DOE Ax, I supported your new leader Mrs. Lewis another fine educators and please don’t bash her. What I see is emotionally hurting people and that hurt has festered into pain for students and parents who need not be required to take sides in this mess.

Pencader is a charter school for business and finance and you are getting a unique perspective in the dangers of family run businesses. Being in business isn’t a game! The first rule of economics is organizations exist to serve people. But much of the troubles in public education, is public education seems to serve everybody but students. The call for charter schools was to create individual schools with self-autonomy to better serve students (always open for debate). The Delaware Charter Schools Network seems to want to be the broker to end this crisis. Reports have this organization wanting to fire your school board. However, the Delaware Charter Schools Network can’t possibly know what went on in executive session regarding Mr. Lewis. Because if they do, someone broke the law. Delaware Charter Schools Network wants to be your friend and calls for a open Town Hall meeting to discuss this crisis. The problem is yours! The answers are with you! Don’t drink the Kool-Aid!

Let your school leaders, state legislators, the Delaware Department of Education,  other parents, other students, teachers and the community know your feelings about the impact all of this is having on “your” school do it here on Kilroy’s. Use any anonymous name you like but stick to that name. If you are bold enough to use your real name that’s even better. Trying to express yourselves to the impact of the current Pencader situation because, I am telling you , your schools is in very serious danger of not existing. I was very hard on DOE Dan last year because it appeared he supporting closing Pencader and I’ve have never align myself with anything he does. But common sense tells many of Pencader is sinking!

To the Pencader board and leadership: Do you really need the Delaware Charter Schools Network to be your babysitter? You are a school of finance and business educating tomorrows business leaders. Stop making this shit about you! Parents, student, many in the community even strangers rally behind you last year! It was for the concerns of the kids / students! Stop treating them like pets in a pet-shop! They are not merchandise, they are our kids. Stop acting like “bitches” !

Again, I don’t want to hear about Mr. Lewis or Mrs. Lewis in relationship to Mr. They are both fine people and gave years of their lives to education. What’s going on now is far more serious than the “bitch” word!

17 responses to “Message for parents and students of Pencader

  1. Greg MAZZOTTA

    Kilroy – well stated and I concur…keeping the focus on the strategic issues will ensure an effective transformation.

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  2. I don’t know much about Pencader, but even I can see it’s in serious trouble. And if even a fraction of what I’ve read is true then I’m with Kilroy thinking its days are numbered. (And perhaps they always were; perhaps what happened last year was merely a postponement. Yikes, that was cynical!)

    The teacher firing situation has merely exposed what I see as dysfunction.

    I’m also thinking that certain charters (those with big financial donors) count more than other charters. In many ways this situation with Pencader mirrors what we’ve seen happening in traditional public schools, where there are winners and losers and socioeconomics plays a role.

    What’s sad is that it will be the kids who suffer if this school closes. What is unforgivable is that charters don’t need to offer a plan for what will happen to these children if they close. Yes, I understand that charter parents signed their children up for an educational experiment – one without any safety net – but this isn’t about parents’ decisions. It’s about the children in the school.

    And I’m conflicted about stepping in and saving a failing charter. On the one hand, we need to think about the children in the school, on the other… charters are based on a business model (never liked that). It’s one of their key points, so if we step in are charter schools really charter schools?

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  3. kilroysdelaware

    “The teacher firing situation has merely exposed what I see as dysfunction.”

    Active charter school teachers on their own school boards is bad. Sure give them a non-voting seat on the board to ask questions of presentations of plans. But there is danger if those teachers on the board don’t vote the school leader’s way.

    Pencader is digging out of the financial hole. However, they can never come out on top until the fill every seat.

    The core problem here is the relationship between leader and teacher terminated. Its personal where professionalism should rule, I am not sure how it works in traditional public schools but one would thinks a spouse wouldn’t work in the same school where the out spouse was principal. But again, the issue here is getting over that and doing what’s best for the students and school.

    Parents and students must see this as adults within are too busy fighting for each other and not for the students. Also, to add insult to injury you have the new charter school queen of the Charter Schools Network stepping over the line and apparently call for the board to step down. Now don’t you wish we had recordings of these board meetings?

    Honestly, if I were a parent I would take my kid out at the end of the year. Dickinson STEM / IB still has many seats open! Pencader needs to end this bullshit now or I suggest parents start getting their kids out of there! Don’t wait until the doors are locked because you’ll have a hard time getting school records.

    I never thought I’d say go for it DOE Dan! But lets be hopeful and peace is made at Pencader soon!

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  4. I think we’ve established that charter schools are a special kind of public school, so asking if we should “step in or not” is not relevant. Pencader is a charter school that happens to have financial challenges. That shouldn’t completely diminish the fact that the school produces good results for it’s students academically within their stated charter. At the risk of dredging up the whole “traditional vs. charter” school debate I won’t beat up traditional public schools for falling short in a number of areas, but I think we should table that debate in favor of making sure a successful school remains viable. It is after all about the kids, right?

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  5. It is about the kids, and they are my concern. It just doesn’t seem as if they are Pencader’s concern. (Not everyone at Pencader, but enough to create problems.) There’s way too much leaking of information – none of it good, and none of it about the kids, right?

    Perception will be Pencader’s worst enemy. IMO, I don’t think they can withstand more drama. Drama creates instability. Instability results in parents leaving. There’s your parallel with traditional public schools.

    If I were a Pencader parent I’d give serious consideration to Kilroy’s suggestion of leaving. Not because it’s a bad school, but because its future seems uncertain. *sigh* Which then only creates a self-fulfilling prophecy of doom. Pencader needs to get its act together now.

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  6. kilroysdelaware

    Traditional public school would have financial problems if it weren’t for their ability to hold local operational and capital referendums.

    Pencader’s financial problems were passed on to the new board and school leader. However, the current “crisis” is compounding their financial problems. Also, the decline is students will cause further financial stress.

    Schools traditional and charters don’r fail! It’s the people within who fail! And if the adult games don’t stop at Pencader like soon, students and parents will fall victims to people proclaim they are leaders and innovators. Suggesting the entire board step-down because of the termination of a teacher is insane! If the leader of the Delaware Charter Schools Network did in fact go to the Pencader board and ask them to step-down perhaps the entire board of directors of the Delaware Charter Schools Network need to step-down.

    Were heading into May and parents need to step-up and demand an end to this crisis or start the process for moving their children for next year! Some might think I am interfering but that wasn’t a concern when I rallied for Pencader last year. The board and school leaders need to just stop the riff and pull together for the kids sake.

    ” Not because it’s a bad school, but because its future seems uncertain.”

    Pencader is a wonderful school and its sad many teachers and other workers will be unemployed at the expense of egos! Children and families will endure emotional stress (and are now) all because of adults acting like spoiled bitches. Kind of ironic that all this started over a comment telling a student student she was acting like a spoiled bitch!

    The is no reason why the board and the school leader can come together by this Friday with an announcement their differences have been resolved and all will remain and focus on meeting the needs of students.So parents give Pencader a deadline!

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  7. I agree, well stated. I concur as well ! I actually have nothing to say about any of it right now. I am numb.

    My only comment is to mention why I don’t use my real name. Right or wrong, my comments often include examples. Examples about my kids, my relatives, my friends and family. I would never use their name on a blog so I can’t really use mine either. I really have nothing other than their identity to ‘protect’. Once in while I see a ‘crazy’ person on here. It kind of makes me thankful for my decision to remain anonymous.

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  8. @Pencadermom – you don’t have to justify to anyone why you choose to remain anonymous. Some who post here beat their chest that they have the courage to use their real name, etc. So what? Disclosing their identity doesn’t add or take away anything from their opinion. Board members or other public figures who share their identity volunteered for a public position without anonymity so what have they really risked? Anonymity is a double-edged sword that allows honest discourse between concerned citizens as well as comments from the occasional jackass (no offense DDC). Don’t let anybody lead you to believe their opinion is more valuable or they have more conviction because they don’t use an alias.

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  9. thank you Patriot.

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  10. As much as I feel for everyone involved at Pencader, especially the students. I have to say that I felt the school should have been closed last year. There is something wrong with a buisness school having financial problems. One could argue that traditional schools run into the same problems (i.e. Christina District ) but charters are held to a different standard, wrong or right that may be. If the other stuff kilroy is posting is true, no tax filings, then they should definetly be closed. Again I am so sorry for all of those students and teachers as they are the true victims. Yet that should not be a reason to keep the school open.

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  11. kilroysdelaware

    Please do stay anonymous! Just please pick a name and stay with it.

    RED, I see your point!
    The Tax filing thing for 2008, 2009 and 2010 was part of the reason the old guard was failing and it was even missed by DE DOE review. I was informed they were complete and Pencader is begging for mercy on the fines. $75.00 day from what point! that would be $27,375 a year ?

    The clock is ticking here and it may being reaching a point of no return! But for sure The Delaware Charter Schools Network will jump in Pencader’s grave with something!

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  12. @ RED – So…applying your logic, when CSD was found to have allowed $13M to be stolen from the their district, the district should have been folded, right? Yes, this should have never happened or been allowed to happen (i.e. proper controls should have been in place to prevent something like this from occuring), but that doesn’t mean Pencader is a bad school, it just means they have bad financial controls/leadership the same way CSD had bad financial controls/leadership. Both can be corrected, and you don’t have to throw the proverbial baby out with the bath water.

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  13. pick a name and stay with it? Hope you aren’t talking about me? I have never used another name on here, not once. Or are you just saying that in general?
    RED, so maybe this is true, and I just don’t know, do all of the board members at CSW hold math or science degrees? Applying your logic I guess they should.

    The previous board members messed up the money years ago. It snowballed into a one and a half million dollar debt. Kilroy is right, DOE did not catch it year after year until it had already snowballed out of control. They got another chance, but the state did not give that decision until the middle of July. A lot of 8th graders had already chosen another school at that point, and some other families left too. (but not many. Why? because it is a good school. I guess like me, they thought the good guy usually wins)
    I agree with Patriot, you shouldn’t let a good thing die. Fix the problems no matter what they are and no matter how hard it is.

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  14. kilroysdelaware

    talking in general re: name! When people use multiple names they end up in a spam box and I have to go let them out! But its not nice to use one than one name. We need to hear from parents and students. But if anyone wants to take hard shots at someone they should use their real name,

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  15. I guess I missed all the fuss. I know about Mr L, but what’s going on with the bashing? The present leaders are wasting money; this is a fact.

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  16. kilroysdelaware

    Susan, how are they wasting money?

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  17. Barbara J. Finnan

    Just so you know: a retired friend of mine and I met with John Carwell almost a year ago (in June) to discuss charter schools and make what we believed to be positive suggestions for the improvement of administering charters and helping to guarantee their success, but also to make many suggestions as to what needs to be considered regarding their impact on the regular public schools. All ideas seemed to be well received. The one which he seemed to like best was a follow-up I had to a School Chiefs report of a few years back in which the Chiefs strongly recommended a transition plan for students and parents should a charter need to close or in the case of a temporary closing (fire/flood, whatever). I offered him a copy of this report, but he said since it was online and he would access it that way. When a regular school has an issue, students and teachers usually are sent to other schools in the District so no time is lost. Charters have no such plans, and despite the obvious need for one, there seems to have been no movement in a year on this from the Department of Education’s Charter division. So, here we are again. I also suggested that such a plan be required in a charter school’s application and updates for renewal. Presently there are still errors in applications and areas in need of updates. How are parents to make informed decisions when this whole thing is such a mess? For a Governor so immersed in the Business approach to education, how is it that Markell can’t get this done? No business could survive as long as this if run in this way. But it’s okay because while everything is supposed to be “For the Kids”, it’s only kids at stake????

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