Putting together the puzzle pieces

Delaware won the Federal Race to the Top grant in 2010. With it came to the state $120 million. Of that $120 million, the 19 school districts and 20+ charter schools received roughly half to implement key programs like data coaches ($8.2 million to Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.). The other half of that $120 million was reserved for the DoE to use toward their internal programming. These funds likely went towards new units at DoE like the Teacher and Leader Effectiveness Unit and other areas of bureaucratic largesse.

However, it was revealed quite a while back that the state hadn’t fully spent its half of the RttT funds by the time the grant expired on June 30, 2014. They were given an exception by Federal DoE to keep the funds as long as they were to use it in an appropriate manner.It’s expected that those leftover RttT funds will be used toward this Priority Schools initiative in Red Clay and Christina.

In order to fully inform myself where the monies are expected to come from for these Priority Schools AND to get an idea of HOW the DoE’s portion of RttT funds were spent in those four years, I sent the following email to DoE Sec. Mark Murphy:

Hello, Sec. Murphy:

 

Hope the school year has gotten off to a great start for you. I’m feeling quite at home with my new friends at Warner Elementary. They’re quite the dedicated and talented staff.
In doing my own research related to the proposed Priority Schools in my District, I’m interested in getting some financial information from you. In this email, I’m requesting year-by-year financial reports on how the Department spent its portion of the Race to the Top funds. As is known, roughly half of the $120 million dollars went to the school districts and the other half remained at the Department. I’d first like to know the total amount received as the Department’s portion. I’d then like to see the annual reports of how those monies were spent. As well, I’d like to see how much has been unspent and what projects DoE will be doing in order to spend down those monies.
If this information is easily accessible — and digestible — on the Department website, please feel free to forward me to that link. I’ve had members in my Association question me about this new Priority Schools initiative and the potential connection to RttT. Some of those members and myself are quite concerned about the lack of details provided at the press conference on Thursday and would like to peruse financials to learn more.
Hope you enjoy the weekend and thanks so much for your assistance,
Mike

It’s also expected that a California transplant named as DoE’s Chief Accountability and Performance Officer, Penny Schwinn, will be heading up this project at DoE. For those interested, John Young has some information on what Mrs. Schwinn brings to Delaware.For some perspective, she has less than a handful of years of actual teaching experience. At last month’s State Board of Education meeting, she was quoted by multiple sources, myself included, as saying that violence in our city communities “isn’t necessarily something our children need to overcome.” Mrs. Schwinn must have some perspective to make that comment. However, considering she only started her job in Delaware on June 9 of this year, I fail to see how her perspective and understanding is relevant.

I’ve shared with some of my RCEA members my concerns about the state’s plans. There is still much internal discussion to be had, particularly with our three impacted buildings, Warner, Shortlidge, and Highlands Elementary Schools. Within the next week, I’m sure you’ll all be hearing as more and more information and interpretation of said information is digested. Stay tuned.

 

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“While this could be attributed to several factors…”

Read the whole logic-proof, absurd letter from the Delaware Department of Education here. Anyone who thinks this agency is working in 100% good faith is deluding themselves.

This organization either suffers from amnesia or several delusional schizophrenia considering in years’ past across districts they’ve worked their hardest to specifically increase attrition at high-needs schools by either contracting with the saviors from Teach for America or invading key high-needs schools with the authoritarian “Partnership Zone” ideology.

Read it here. And do something.

On Nastiness

Voices4Delaware Education Action Fund is an off-shoot of the uber-business-friendly education think tank Rodel Foundation. Rodel is a think tank that likes to be taken seriously, but they’re seriously engaging in negative, harmful, and deceitful campaign tactics in the Christina School District.

The first nasty-gram hit on Wednesday. Among other things, the piece — which endorsed candidate Valene Harris over incumbent Shirley Saffer — placed the “failures” of the Christina School District on its seven-member Board. This advertisement may have had no approval from Harris; these PACs can do as they please. However, within 24 hours, Harris should have issued a statement condemning the harsh and inflammatory rhetoric within. She did not.

48 hours later, another negative piece arrived from Voices4Delaware Education/Rodel attacking Saffer and the Board. Question: Why would anyone want to volunteer to run for an unpaid office like school board if they knew they’d be victim to such nasty, vile, and hateful rhetoric?

At this point, it is beyond time for Valene to disconnect herself from this organization that claims it’s “4Education.” The organization could perhaps use a few lessons in kindness, honesty, and respect. Until that happens, and if I were managing Harris’s campaign, I would release the following statement condemning those awful ads:

While I appreciate the work of an advocacy group supporting my candidacy, I completely disagree with the tactics they’re using against my opponent. Serving on the Christina School Board would be a privilege and an honor. Tarnishing that honor by making outrageously offensive and belittling statements regarding the Board as a whole is where I draw the line. I ask Voices4Delaware to apologize for the ad and, further, I ask that they leave me off any further communications sent to constituents in the Christina School District if they are to continue employing such a tone. There is no room for negativity in this race.

That’s all. Valene Harris would come out smelling much better than she is now if she released something to the effect of the above statement. I do accept tips in the form of iced coffee and really good key lime pie, Ms. Harris! 😉