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Monthly Archives: August 2012
Lack capacity at the Delaware Department of Education causes lack of uniformity at local school board level
Unlike traditional school districts, charter schools lack consistency in providing the public meaningful school board agendas.
Information provided me indicates the Pencader school voted on the school budget based on oral presentation with no supporting documentation. Also, there was no documentation of the financial presentation supplied to the public. Can you believe the board voted and approved this budget without having hard copies and subjective board discussion? Same goes for school leader’s report in which school leader wasn’t even there to present it. They actually voted on it! The board voted yes and didn’t even have discussion on critical changes in policies such as Employee Handbook changes and get this, no discussion on contract bid procedures. The sad part of all of this is, a DE DOE official was in the room apparently with his thumb up his ass! Will he call for a charter school review meeting?
Governor Markell sold the state legislators on Mark Murphy’s outstanding organizational and leadership skills. Mr Murphy, please take an evening and browse each charter school’s webpage. You’ll see in many cases lack of reports required by law re: Citizen Budget Oversight Committees, poor vague school board meeting minutes where in most cases they are months behind and same goes for financial reports. I cannot see how you intent to raise the bar for all public schools with such inconsistency and blatant disregard transparency to the taxpayers of the community and parents of school children within. Many of these bad behaviors were in place prior to your arrival. However, you are here now and have been sold as the wonder boy that was going to reform Delaware public schools. You are being paid as a qualified leader and that would suggest you don’t need extensive training. I know Governor Markell has you on a short rope that limits your ability to think and act on your own. Just visit those webpages and pretend you are a parent of a student at those schools. We cannot expect to see positive changes in the classroom and teaching without the same expectations in the board room. Leadership starts at the top and so should organizational skills.
From Transparent Christina; Congratulations to Glasgow High School and Stubbs Elementary for making AYP! #PZ
No disrespects to CSD and schools referenced but with the NCLB waivers and inconsistency in DCAS, there is no real validity to AYP. But do praise these schools for efforts given.
For Red Clay, Dickinson and McKean meets AYP and A.I. high school does not! Lewis meets AYP so why are they a PZ school whereas Warner didn’t meet AYP and should be a PZ school. Make note, Warner appears to be the only Red Clay Elementary School that didn’t meet AYP. Perhaps its time to consider Warner for conversion to a charter school. A.I. middle appears to the only Red Clay middle school that didn’t meet AYP.
I am sure schools and districts will be blowing their horns for school that met AYP and promise to work hard on the schools that didn’t. As you know, thanks to the NCLB wavier there is no longer “superior” rated schools. Kind of sad because all school couldn’t meet the bar deeming them “superior” schools out performing were stripped of the “Superior” distinction. The Delaware Department of Education applied for the wavier and now plays this shell game with school performance.
Just when you thought it was safe to get out of the water, a new test is heading to Delaware called, the Smarter Balanced Assessment. Just another shell in the shell game to create an illusion Race to The Top is working.
Words for the Pencader Board Meeting, Thurs. August 30, 2012. (Harrie Ellen Minnehan)
A mission statement is a statement of the purpose of a company or organization, its reason for existing. The mission statement should guide the actions of the organization, spell out its overall goal, provide a path and guide decision making. It provides “the framework or context within which the company’s strategies are formulated.”
I would like to read aloud the Pencader Charter High School mission statement and ask that the Board take a moment to consider if their actions are being guided by this statement and are they doing all that they can to ensure that they and all school staff are following the path put forward by the statement. The mission statement is there to guide decision making and as a framework within which the board and the staff should follow. My question would be, “Is this happening?”
“Welcome to Pencader Charter High School where our traditions of excellence in the education of young men and women of conscience, competence, and compassion are stronger than ever. We continue to emphasize, in all of our endeavors, the themes of excellence, humility and integrity and our students are called to make them a part of their daily life at Pencader.”
As Board members are you doing as you are statutorily required to do, and that is, to manage the school to ensure that all school staff adhere to the school’s mission? That should not be a difficult question to answer, however, I believe it is difficult for some, if not for all of you right now.
Let’s take a quick look at the three themes found in the mission statement:
Excellence: the fact or state of being excellent which means worthy, first rate, very fine, remarkably good, in fact superior;
Humility: the sense of being humble, not proud, not arrogant, unpretentious, and having a modest, yet reasonable sense of one’s self worth;
Integrity: an adherence to moral principles and character; honesty.
Media coverage over the summer has brought these themes to the forefront. What does not think when they hear the name of Pencader Charter High School today? What visual comes to mind?
One year ago we were fighting for the very right for Pencader to remain open, not because of a lack of adherence to Pencader’s mission, but because of human errors and mismanagement of financial resources. I daresay that last summer and throughout most of this past academic year we on the Board worked hard, together with Bill Bentz from Innovative Schools, to right that financial ship and I believe we were successful.
At that time the DOE laid down seven conditions Pencader had to adhere to financially to remain open. We did that. Right now, DOE is measuring Pencader’s value as an institution only by those seven conditions.
However, I submit that the community at large has a far wider and perhaps wiser vision because they are measuring Pencader’s value as an institution by the themes set forth as the school’s mission. Does Pencader today demonstrate to the community excellence, humility and integrity? The answer to that question, sadly, has to be “no.”
A school, unlike a house, is built from the top down. A school is known by its leadership which is the “top” but also serves as its foundation. Think for a moment of the picture that the community now sees of the school and as no other has been shown to them. The community sees what you have shown to them, and that is:
–a leader who misrepresented herself as having a doctoral degree which she has never been able to authenticate
–a leader who concocted a scheme to allow her husband and two other teachers to work full time, collecting a state paycheck and simultaneously collecting a state pension which is illegal. That action has caused your school leader to be referred to the Department of Justice for further investigation of very possibly criminal action
–a leader who lied to the State Pension Board about the three teachers involved in the pension fraud
–a leader who shares with you, the board, only that which she wants you to know, not that which you need to know
And yes, there is more, but how much more is “enough?” How much will it take before you as the Board of Directors takes your school management responsibilities in hand and begins to rebuild this school?
The question is, what are you waiting for? There is always the option of another Formal Review by DOE’s Charter School Accountability Committee. If your inaction results in that I suspect you will not escape whole as we did in the formal review last summer.
FYI the parents make request are being treated like idiots! When will a civil rights lawyer step-up and help these parents being rolled under the bus? “If education is the most important civil rights issue of today”, why aren’t these parents standing up for the children civil rights being controlled by clueless board members? Where is parent representation on this board?
Information I am receiving indicates Pencader charter school board of directors started their meeting without the required quorum and a quorum wasn’t established until an hour into the meeting.
Parents were addressing the board about how the school leader is making it difficult for them to withdraw their children. Parents were calling for the removal of the school leader.
John Carwell, Education Associate for the Charter School Office of the Delaware Department of Education and former Vice President of Community and District Partnership for the Rodel Foundation of Delaware was in attendance. Carwell nor any member of DE DOE have the authority to injection themselves into any school board meeting. Surely he was taking notes to report back the his superiors such as “outgoing” Dan Cruce Deputy Secretary, Chief of Staff. Many are concern Carewell isn’t up to task as being a objective voice for Delaware’s public school and rights of parents. Many in the community sit back and think government is going to step-up and advocate for their rights and concerns. Folks, this is not the case with the Delaware Department of Education. Delaware Governor Markell micromanages everything and everybody! I wouldn’t be surprised if DE DOE employees has to go to the bathroom in alphabetical order.
Sadly in Delaware, parent faced with crisis such as with Pencader charter school they complain “why ins’t anyone doing anything”. There a few parents stepping up but they can’t do it alone.
Power in Delaware doesn’t cost on single dime! Its there for the taking! Bitching at a school board that are nothing more than handpicked puppets (Pencader) is like talking to a brink wall! It’s time for Pencader parents to step-up and save their children’s school that perhaps is past the point of no return. If there is not leadership changes soon, Pencader is doomed! It appears the Delaware Department of Education is keeping back until after the election to protect Jack Markell. Once elected to his second and final term as Governor he might step-in. Believe it or not, their will be more parents bitching to save Pencader if there is talk of it staying open. I just can’t understand why all Pencader parents can’t see a concern with leadership in the sense of being ineffective in managing school affairs.
Folks, its time to move the issues directly to the Delaware Department of Education, the state board of education and to the media.
I am seeing tweets from Pencader achool board meeting indicating some parents are raising hell that Pencader is not releasing their children in order to attend other schools.
Red flags’ raised over contract at Pencader Written by Nichole Dobo The News Journal
Leaders of Pencader Charter Business and Finance High School are considering contracting with a company affiliated with the school’s departing board president, a move that concerns the state Department of Education.
The school board meets today and is expected to accept the resignation of its president, Vincent DiMauro. The school is considering an arrangement where it would enter into a business relationship with DiMauro’s firm to do consulting work that might include corporate governance and financial advice.
This guy has been on the board for a month and hasn’t even received board training and has no clue to school finances and regulations. It also appears the board may have been meeting illegally. When was this shit discusses? The night he was elected to the board?
Folks lets not get into bashing the school leader or this board member. The failure is with the Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy. DE DOE told the Delaware State Board of Education that they meet with Pencader regularly and there were “no red flags” and Pencader is meeting the conditions of probation. Secretary Murphy’s DE DOE crew pretty much feels moral and ethics are the board concerns.
“That information raises many red flags for me. Frankly, the red flags are ones that I raised as potential when we last met and that I counseled you all to avoid,” Cruce wrote in the email. “I’m surprised to see that they have come to fruition.”
Why is DOE Dan making these comments, he gave his resignation and is out to door soon. Isn’t John Carwell DE DOE point man on charter schools? Bull shit on the “Red Flags”, DE DOE said there we no “Red Flags” at the last state board of education meeting! I think its time we see a “White Flag” and Mark Murphy pack his gym bag and leave!
Cruce said in an interview that he was awaiting more information from the school regarding his concerns. That information is expected by Saturday.
Just buying time so he can get out of town for someone else to clean up his mess!
While all details of the possible arrangement have not yet been decided or made public, the school has communicated to the DOE that the firm, Wilmington-based Integrate LLC, charges up to $245 an hour, according to Cruce’s email. The school intends for the entire contract to be for less than $50,000, according to the email.
Why are Pencader parents putting up with this shit?
Cruce said there are questions regarding the consulting arrangement that should be answered by asking the opinion of the state Public Integrity Commission, which offers free advice to former and current state employees and public officials on such matters.
Where in the hell is the State Auditor and the AG ?
DiMauro said he was open to obtaining such an opinion. However, he said it is premature because the school board and administration have made no decision on the contract.
So the board had discussion on this matter? Where ? When?
Pencader is required to have a state-approved plan to manage its finances, which up until recently has included help from outside consultants. Pencader had been contracting with a Wilmington-based nonprofit, Innovative Schools, for financial management services until recently.
WHAT ????????????????????????? Innovative Schools?? LOL :) :) :) :)
Cruce said the school was doing a good job managing a difficult financial situation that nearly caused its closure last year. The state is monitoring the chater school, which remains on probation.
The state is asleep at the wheel and Murphy lacks capacity to lead!
Another question remains, DiMauro said: Was he a legal school board member?
That complaint is being investigated by the state Attorney General’s Office. No opinion has been published yet.
AG will take the position referring everything back to the Delaware State Board of Education.
Where are the Pencader parents in all of this? The school belongs to them and its hard to believe all this shit is going on!
Folks, there is a real disconnect at the Delaware Department of Education starting at the top. This goes beyond the school leader and the school board! Governor Markell appoints puppets aligned with Rodel’s Vision 2015 and is disregarding morals and ethics when it comes to running our schools funded by the taxpayers including charters.
Pencader, a school for business and finance?? What a training center for the federal government ?
Students are allow to transfer out of a charter school but as you see they must stay the first year unless there is good cause.
(d) A pupil accepted for enrollment in a charter school pursuant to this chapter shall remain enrolled therein for a minimum of 1 year unless, during that 1-year period, good cause exists for the failure to meet this requirement. For purposes of this section only, “good cause” shall be defined as a change in a child’s residence due to a change in family residence, a change in the state in which the family residence is located, a change in the marital status of the child’s parents, a change caused by a guardianship proceeding, placement of a child in foster care, adoption, participation by a child in a foreign exchange program, participation by a child in a substance abuse or mental health treatment program, mutual agreement by the board of directors of the charter school, the board of the receiving district and the parent or parents or guardian of such child to the termination of such enrollment, or a set of circumstances consistent with this definition of “good cause.”
I visited Mike “Jimmy Hoffa” Matthews Facebook and he was critical of Gov. Christie’s position on teacher tenure.
Matthews said this, “Teacher tenure” is a misnomer used to characterize unions as lazy thugs. It’s called “due process,” governor. Get it right or STFU”.
I always thought teacher tenure meant seniority and due process. However, here is an article in the Dover Post, New tenure rules connected to Race to the Top goals Law requires good ratings in addition to three years of teaching. August 04. 2010.
The new tenure rules outlined in SB 263 give school districts the ability to remain flexible with new teachers as they refine their skills and adjust to the stiffer evaluation criteria the state committed to by taking the Race to the Top money, said sponsor Sen. David Sokola, D-Newark.
Currently, school districts basically have two options when a teacher reaches three years of service: give the teacher tenure, making it much more difficult to fire that person later, or let the teacher go.
The new tenure rules will be implemented within three years, whenever the state codifies its new teacher evaluation criteria.
So Gov. Christie wants to model New Jersey’s teacher tenure after Gov. Markell’s and Christie needs to STFU? But if you are going to endorse Gov. Jack Markell after supporting and signing a tenure law that does tie student testing to teacher evaluations to standardized testing one thinks you should STFU and don’t complain about tying teacher’s job to student testing.
HOWEVER, tying teacher tenure or anything to Race to The Top a federal short-term grant due to expire in about two-years is a fool’s journey! Embedded in Race to The Top is the business roundtable agenda that is out to bust the union and continues the push for new charter schools that continues to destabilize traditional public schools as they agreed to radical changes within Race to The Top and NCLB waivers. Delaware school performance rating are derived via standardized test called DSTP and now DCAS. DSTP was deemed flawed after more than 10 years but many knew from day one. NCLB was flawed resulting in granting waivers. However, it doesn’t matter, schools are being rated poor and outstanding public teachers are chastised as a result of a flawed state test and NCLB. Public school teachers are being treated like criminals for a crime they did not commit. Public schools aren’t broken and are just f’ed up due to the over reaching federal government who imposed flaw programs like NCLB and by Delaware governors Carper and Minner who imposed DSTP long before NCLB requirements! Now we have Governor Markell cheerleader for Race to The Top that is causing far more damage than NCLB and DSTP combined! But this time when the RTTT money is gone local taxpayers must back-fill state education budgets because Markell and state legislators made requirements for a short-term federal grant called Race to The Top state laws and regulations. By time Matthews is elected president of DSEA we’ll be at a debate point where the business roundtable wants to called public teachers, instructors. Now don’t get me wrong, Matthews will bring some innovated ideas like lifting local rules prohibiting teachers from baking cookies for their students or making them fresh fruit cups. Who knows president Matthews might call for convection ovens for every classroom with a picture of Michelle Obama above :)
More and more we are seeing headlines about teachers and school staff victimizing students. The headlines are big and the media attention extends pass Delaware borders. But that’s where the flow of information ends! The community very seldom sees the end result aka convictions, plea bargains, dismissed cases or whether or not the teacher or school staff is permitted to work with children back in the schools. And in all fairness, teachers or other staff can be wrongly accused which leaves an unfair mark their character not easy to shake off once legally cleared . I think the AG’s office needs to add a webpage that tracks dispositions of all cases where a teacher or school staff was arrested for crimes committed against children. The other benefit would allow the public to keep a watchful eye out for any of these convicted person who are prohibited from working in schools and with kids. We can’t count on the Delaware Department of Education to be an effective watch dog! Why doesn’t DEEDS reflect teachers who have been convicted and prohibited from teaching children with some sort of red flag?
We need to protect our children while in care of educators and educators wrongly accused. We see the headlines that concern us all but very seldom see what happens after the legal process.
I strongly suggest The Delaware Department of Education and the AG’s office contact the Pennsylvania Department of Education to bring this to Delaware, Search Educator Discipline Opinions and Adjudications Special thanks to Lois Lane for providing me with this amazing link to PA DOE.
Online book with some good insight on Desegregation and Delaware’s Neighborhood Schools Act. Choosing Equality: Essays and Narratives on the Desegregation Experience By Robert L. Hayman, Leland Ware
I see it like this, the Delaware State Legislators deferred the final decision of Delaware Neighborhood Schools Act onto the Delaware State Board of Education. I attended the public hearing / presentation of Red Clay’s Neighborhood School Plan. Here is a link to Delaware’s approved Neighborhood School Plans. Many of Delaware’s charter schools opened after the Neighborhood School Plans were approved and implemented. Since there is no formal impact study done on charter schools in relationship to the traditional school district it is located in, no one real knows the impact on the district Neighborhood Plan. With the exception of Newark Charter School that uses the 5 mile preference the assumption that charter schools are neighborhood schools is wrong. Also the assumption the City of Wilmington in one neighborhood is wrong. Just like Red Clay School District as an example, there are many neighborhoods within whereas school assignments dictate school neighborhoods. In Wilmington students attending a charter school on the east side of the city while residents of the west side of the city doesn’t make the charter school a neighborhood school in technical terms. Also, city charter schools do attract students from outside the city boundaries. Concentrating charter schools in the city of Wilmington could create a de facto city school district. Red Clay officials in recent defense of building a new elementary school in Hockessin (Graves Road) commented in regards to no new schools are being built in Wilmington, said but there are, “charter schools”. To me that comment suggested Red Clay rather wash their hands of Wilmington students and allow other entities aka charters to educate them. So why no charter school in Hockessin? Its easier for a more affluent community to influence the district to fund their needs rather than create and maintain a charter school. The point is, the dynamics of approved Neighborhood School Plans change each time a charter school is added and obviously the concentration of poverty and minorities grow within charter schools located in the city of Wilmington is ALARMING and in some sense circumvents the intent of desegregation.
Many whites equate the desegregation order by the federal court as “forced busing” as punishment of some sort! Force busing was hard on children as far as time riding on school buses. But seems not so if traveling to a desired charter school. The State Board of Education and civil rights leaders overlook the fact that Red Clay’s Dickinson High School assignments of some Wilmington students living closer to A.I. DuPont High School whereas the bus ride to Dickinson is longer. Study the area in blue on this map. Also, of study the A.I. High assignments aka feeder-pattern you’ll see some students live closer to McKean and Dickinson than A.I. High. Why not re-shift those feeder-patterns sending students closer to the closest “neighborhood” school allowing more students living Wilmington to attend A.I. High which is closer to them? Won’t happen because those who wore those arm bands that read, “save A.I.” backing when fighting force busing as they called it are still among us. Even as Red Clay adds bricks and mortar to accommodate the A.I. High overflow of choice students Red Clay does nothing to correct this social injustice. Also, there are some same concerns with students living in Wilmington assigned to McKean.
Delaware public education in regards to charter schools hasn’t hit an alarm stage that might require injection by the federal courts but will in time come. Wilmington somehow can’t have its own school district because send all students attending schools out side the city back home. The concentration of poverty and minority would increase in a Wilmington school district and we’re back to square one re: resegreation like issue. The new governor’s charter school task force won’t touch this issue and demand an impact study be done on new charter schools as it relates / impact traditional public school district “and” other charter schools serving same student population. Nor will the task force concern itself with the impact of charter schools in relationship to the dynamics of the Neighborhood Schools Act. The deep-seeded political intent of this task force is to address some oversight issues as a smoke screen to address capital funding for charter schools.
This issues within are deep and complex. Those who crafted the charter school law were part of a crowd who had discontentment with “force busing” but even deeper. The law was written with preferences that allows discrimination of at-risk and special needs students but yet allows charters to serve at-risk and special ed students. As a former school board member put it to me, they have their charter schools re: minorities. Public schools should include every child. Yes there are schools for the blind , deaf and severely special needs. But creating a public school system that uses levels of academic abilities not relationship to a profound handicap is concerning and when the outcome gives the appearance of resegregation by design it is a social injustice and a slap in the face to the promise.
All debatable and sure we tend to see what we want. It is the fibers of today’s society that drives the social events of tomorrow.
Kids caught after party; Police: Twenty-four detained Saturday on curfew violations. Written by Esteban Parra The News Journal
Twenty-four children attending a back-to-school party held at the Wilmington Jaycees’ Club House Saturday night were detained by police after the event’s midnight ending.
Szczerba said the Jaycees rented out the clubhouse, at 1309 N. Scott St., to a group that charged a $10 admission to the party. Event organizers may face criminal charges, Szczerba said, noting organizers initally told officers the party was a debutante event.