The events of James Joyce’s novel Ulysses took place entirely on June 16, 1904, when the novel’s (hero?) Leopold Bloom took a walk around Dublin, henceforth known as Bloomsday.
I celebrated by taking a walk around the neighborhood. How did you ladies celebrate?
At 10:23 on the morning of the House vote on HB 165, Dr. Michael Thomas, President of the Delaware Chief School Officers Association (superintendents), announced the superintendents’ opposition to HB 165. It was a good letter of opposition, voicing many of the objections other public-school advocates would have voiced, had they been permitted to attend the meetings of the Governor’s Working Group on Charter Schools. Despite denials, this charter group was where the outline of the bill was developed.
Here’s an excerpt from Dr. Thomas’s letter of opposition:
The establishment of a charter school performance fund of $2 million is misguided and one of which the Chiefs Association is in direct opposition. We do not believe this fund is appropriate given the fact that many charter schools are selecting students and creating very much a form of re-segregation.
I had been wondering when public education was going to speak up for itself and its silent majority, after the abdication of DSEA. Dr. Thomas’s letter was like rain after a dry season. It was like seeing the cavalry coming over the hill. It was like watching Rocky get up off the mat.
But at around 4:00 pm the same day, apparently nursing a pair of freshly broken thumbs, Dr. Thomas sent another message reversing the supers’ opposition to the bill. Notwithstanding the retraction, this one was also a good message:
From: Thomas Michael
Date: June 11, 2013, 3:51:08 PM EDT
To: McDowell Harris , Henry Margaret Rose , Marshall Robert , Lavelle Greg , Cloutier Catherine , Lopez Ernesto B , Blevins Patricia , Sokola David , Peterson Karen , Hall-Long Bethany , Townsend Bryan , Poore Nicole , McBride David , Ennis Bruce , “Lawson Dave” , “firstname.lastname@example.org” , Bushweller Brian , “email@example.com” , Pettyjohn Brian , Hocker Gerald , Venables Robert
Subject: HB 165 Charter Legislation
I forwarded to you earlier today concerns and subsequent position of the School Chiefs regarding House Bill 165. This bill possesses some components which address concerns regarding the current legislation and regulation of charter schools. Some of these components will serve to produce better clarity and accountability for the development and operation of charter schools. The particular issues that were defined in my earlier email were:
1. The $2 million performance fund
2. DOE authority to transfer funds from public school districts to charter schools
3. The extension of a renewal term for a charter school for ten years
In voicing these concerns, this was not to assert that the bill is without merit, but was to emphasize the concern of the School Chiefs on the matters cited above. Certainly we believe parts of the bill are a step forward and hopefully can be a platform for subsequent changes in the future. Further, we believe the establishment of the proposed task force can address not only concerns with admission preferences, but also a number of other critical items that deserve consideration. There has been a commitment provided and reinforced in conversation today that the matters cited above will be looked at in a critical analysis along with the impact on a community and its public schools for future charter approvals. Therefore, based on these conversations and commitments, the School Chiefs Association will support the charter legislation and work diligently with appropriate agency designees for continued improvements and refinements.
Michael D. Thomas, Ed. D.
President, Delaware Chief School Officers Association
Reading behind the lines, this letter is telling us HB 165 is probably inevitable because the backroom forces behind it are too strong and will lie, cheat, or steamroll anything or anyone in their way. Instead, we should fall back on organizing to influence the HB 90 task force, which will meet to advise on reforming choice admissions including charters and TPS, and which the charter lobbyists want almost as badly.
Charter lobbyists are no doubt counting on this task force producing another victory that will further enable the oncoming uncontrolled charter expansion, which again might have something to do with CEB. How do you reconcile 4 charters in 1 building with potentially different admission preferences?
The retraction is not credible and reeks of coercion. I am certain it was meant to be taken that way. Dr. Thomas is practically blinking S-O-S with his eyelids as he sends the retraction.
And if you think about it, after you charge the charter schools with resegregation, how do you take back something like that? You can’t. The original criticism stands.
There was apparently some deal struck or at least some assurances given to Dr Thomas regarding the choice task force. I wish Dr. Thomas had stood his ground, but then again I’m not the one between the hammer and the anvil. And I wouldn’t trust any deal offered by the mysterious broker in this case.
Don’t worry Dr. Thomas; I am sure your dog will be released in good health just as soon as HB 165 passes the Senate.
There is some newly published (as far as I know) data on the DOE website covering Delaware school choice on a very detailed level, including per district, per school, charter/VoTECH/TPS, demographics, special ed stats, and even a simple display of “percent meeting standard.” Much of it is data that is not available in other form and you couldn’t reconstruct it if you tried. There is plenty here to keep us all busy. Note that the spreadsheet has multiple tabs.
(h/t commenter openaccess)
From: Thomas Michael
Sent: Tuesday, June 11, 2013 10:23 AM
*To:* Ramone, Michael (LegHall); Miro, Joseph (LegHall); Baumbach, Paul
(LegHall); Osienski, Edward (LegHall); Kowalko, John (LegHall)
*Subject:* HB 165 Charter Schools
I correspond to you as current President of the Delaware Chief School
Officers Association regarding House Bill 165. There are several
components of the bill in which the Chief School Officers Association has
significant concern and is in direct opposition. The establishment of a
charter school performance fund of $2 million is misguided and one of which
the Chiefs Association is in direct opposition. We do not believe this fund
is appropriate given the fact that many charter schools are selecting
students and creating very much a form of re-segregation. Certainly we do
not believe this was the intent of the charter law but clearly it is the
resulting factor and should not be provided tacit approval by legislative
action. Additionally, the bill provides the Department of Education
authority over the transfer of funds from local public school districts to
charter school districts. We believe this is wrong. If this would be a
good practice, then it would seem reasonable the Department of Education
can also transfer funds from charter schools to public school districts.
Finally, the extension of a renewal term of a charter school for ten years
seems excessive and does not provide reasonable and prudent oversight to
allow a charter school to exist for ten years if it is ineffective, not
holding to its original charter and not making educational progress. Such
an extension would seem irresponsible. ****
Therefore, the Chief School Officers Association asks your consideration in
voting *no* to House Bill 165.
Michael D. Thomas, Ed. D.
President, Delaware Chief School Officers Association
Delaware’s 58th Annual DFRC Blue-Gold All★Star Football Game is one of Delaware’s premier benefit events and is for a good cause, helping those with intellectual disabilities. It’s always a great game, with high school all-star players, band members, cheerleaders, and other students from around the state. And since this is Delaware after all, you are guaranteed to meet your friends and your elected officials (and those who would like to become elected officials!)
The game is at the UD stadium. There’s tailgating, and lots of pre-game activities for kids and grownups. Even if you aren’t sure you can go, pick up a few tickets for the cause. Tickets are available online NOW via TicketLeap and are also available at the door.
Schedule and details will be available here: http://www.blue-gold.org/blue-gold-football-game
It’s more than just a football game. For weeks before the game, the football players and cheerleaders are matched with individual “buddies” who benefit from the programs, and they spend time together at their homes and other events, even if it’s just having a catch. I know this first-hand, because my younger brother with Downs Syndrome was always thrilled when his buddy came to visit. These high school kids really are All Stars. Everybody wins even before the game starts.
By way of explanation, I’ll reprint a comment I made this morning on DelawareLiberal:
At a high level, the bill is a referendum on whether we want to embark on an uncontrolled and unaccountable expansion of charters that will disrupt and diminish our public school system. This expansion has never been brought to a vote and has not passed the usual vetting channels that determine where and whether we need a new school.
HB 165 is the enabling mechanism that will launch this expansion. The amount of money is not great, but it puts the camel’s nose under the tent. It’s what the charter movement has been waiting for.
The accountabililty supposedly provided by the bill is a deception. The bill is not a “compromise” and charters give nothing back of value. The bill actually reduces accountability, by limiting valid disqualifications that might derail a charter approval or renewal. And by extending renewals from five to ten years, charters have to face official accountability even more infrequently.
The bill makes a head fake toward taking impact on existing public schools into account, but removes the teeth by removing impact as a disqualifying issue (unless there are other issues as well. This is what public school advovates fear – charters can be plunked down willy-nilly, decimating the capacity and program planning of the districts they are plunked in.
The bill hangs all accountability on the Performance Framework which is designed specifically NOT to include all aspects of accountability. There is no accountability for impact, no accountability for diversity, no accountability for local control, no accountability for transparency. All the Framework asks of charters is that they be wonderful all by themselves within their four walls, never mind what resources they have to displace to do it, and with no larger responsibility to the system.
And then there is the arrogant way the committee deliberations were hidden from stakeholders, with no traditional public school advocates having a seat at the table, and then defending the process as somehow normal. That is the shabbiest treatment of voters I have seen in a long time, and those responsible have work to do to regain our trust on education issues. The way charter forces (including elected officials) tried to wire this bill and rush it through under the radar has left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth.