Home > Uncategorized > Walking back the cat on the BoA building

Walking back the cat on the BoA building

February 16, 2012


First of all, let’s be perfectly clear: Bank Of America did not donate this building to charter schools. They did not donate it to the people of Delaware, or to the children.

They donated it to the Longwood Foundation.

“Walking back the cat” is an information analysis technique, which I first heard about in a classic column by William Safire:

Intelligence analysts have a technique to reveal a foreign government’s internal dissension called ”walking back the cat.” They apply what they now know as fact against what their agents said to expect. In that way, walkers-back learn who ”disinformed” or whose mistake may reveal a split in a seemingly monolithic hierarchy.

So keep that in mind, as we go through and compare the quotes found in the news on Day Zero of the announcement. These are the people who participated in the planning, or otherwise had detailed knowledge ahead of the public.

First of all, Senator Coons:

“This building is a gift,” Senator Coons said at an event announcing the news Thursday morning. “It is a gift from the people of Bank of America who have made it possible, to the people of Delaware, the children, and the organizations that will bring this building to a new life in the years ahead.”

So what kind of schools will Delaware put in the building? Well, perhaps Delaware won’t be putting any schools in the building at all:

[Longwood President Thére] Du Pont says the foundation will be picky when it comes to approving schools to move into the facility. “We will implement a rigorous testing process to screen the tenants for the building…”

See, this building does not belong to Delaware schools. To Wilmington parents who have been forever seeking a measure of local autonomy, of real political control of their own schools, this must be difficult news to hear.

Charlie Copeland may have let the cat out of the bag:

The Longwood Foundation plans to take that building and create the “Community Education Building” (CEB) and put 4 Charter Schools right in the heart of the City of Wilmington.

I think the screening process is complete, and has been for some time.

And finally, as recounted by Kilroy, there is the February 12 radio show in which Red Clay Superintendent Merv Daugherty was asked about the lack of traditional middle and high schools in the city, and responded that there were plenty of charter schools.

So – I’ll leave the detailed “walking back of the cat” as an exercise for the reader. But ask yourself: Who disinformed? Who knew what, and when?

Again, this is Day Zero of the announcement. There are surely more details to come. But we have got to get the governing documents for this deal into our hands and out on the blogs before the Feb. 28 referendum. And keep your eyes open for any meetings or public hearings for the intended use of this building.

  1. kilroysdelaware
    February 16, 2012 at 8:21 pm

    The big big big question now is , with the offer of bring more charter schools in Wilmington what impact will that have on Red Clay’s capacity! Now it’s even more so Red Clay needs to stop the expansion. With the new dual language charter school coming locates block from, Red Clay’s Lewis it’s obvious there will be more empty seat a Lewis. And now this announcement! But no matter how you cut it, there are no “traditional Red Clay middle and high schools in Wilmington” Why cater to one neighborhood and not the other.

    Good post Mike !

  2. kilroysdelaware
    February 16, 2012 at 8:34 pm

    01100110 01111001 01101001 00100000 01101010 01100001 01100011 01101011 00100000 01101101 01100001 01110010 01101011 01100101 01101100 01101100 00100000 01110011 01110101 01100011 01101011 01110011 🙂

  3. February 17, 2012 at 6:52 am

    At last night’s Highlands meeting one guy (on the referendum steering committee?) was very excited about this charter school. He kept bringing it up and calling it a game changer. People kept saying, “um okay, but what about our/your schools in the city? When this charter opens Red Clay will still have Highlands, Warner, Shortlidge, and Lewis. What are you going to do about your schools?”

    There wasn’t an answer, other than let’s form a committee. Audible groans. One parent pulled out the Wilmington Neighborhood Schools proposal and said, “we can start with this.”

    I’m rapidly reaching the conclusion that the plan is for only charters to exist in the city, and that Red Clay is fine with that.

  4. kilroysdelaware
    February 17, 2012 at 10:34 am

    “There wasn’t an answer, other than let’s form a committee.”

    LOL !!!

    Certainly with this new mega charter school campus the impact on Red Clay’s Wilmington school population will leave many seats opened. Building a new school anywhere in Red Clay is questionable! Sorry to say at, this time it looks like Wilmington is a wart on Red Clay’s ass!

  5. February 17, 2012 at 10:54 am

    With this news, it is time for a moratorium on new school construction AND on approval of new charters, until there is time for public review and approval.

    (And yes, that means No on the Graves Road school).

    This building represents a major offensive in the war on public schools. 2000 new charter students in Wilmington is the end of traditional public schools for miles around. It is a Trojan Horse, unless the public gets control of it right now.

    It’s not just a building, it’s ongoing control of the schools. This building has more strings hanging from it than Snoopy at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade!

    I can think of many ways to use this building in a manner that is more positive for all. We need to examine the documents and look for ways to retain public control of the use for that space. The public should be screening the “tenants,” not a corporation or even a private foundation, no matter how benevolent.

  6. February 17, 2012 at 11:24 am

    I completely agree. The problem that we’ll have with that offensive, however, is that this charter will appeal to city residents who want a viable alternative to what their traditional public schools are offering them now and to suburban residents who will see this as a way of getting rid of an area they never really wanted – for whatever reason.

    Allow me to put on my tinfoil hat: I’m beginning to think this was the plan all along. Let city schools fail, which leads to charters. When, and if, this new mega-charter opens traditional city public schools will be decimated. Which will then lead to empty district owned city buildings, and, which given the law that states that charters have the right to use available space in schools, will then become charters themselves. Does that sound too crazy?

  7. Coolspringer
    February 17, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    I agree, Mike – great post. There are very important issues of school governance at hand, not just in the City of Wilmington.

  8. Coolspringer
    February 17, 2012 at 1:04 pm

    Pandora, not crazy at all – I said the very same privately to one of the board members during last night’s meeting. He says that is no one’s plan! My feeling was, perhaps not one he was in on, but it seems all a bit too convenient.

    I’m not sure I care what we call our publicly funded schools, I just want to know who is running them, how and why, I want them beholden to same standards – not just of academic nature but a strong ethical one (where the socioeconomic diversity comes in) that I want to see the traditional district schools beholden to – with public governance and fiscal transparency is of course the greatest concern with charters. Not boards made up of investors. None of us wants to see our kids’ education or anyone else’s at the mercy of profiteers who will move on when the money runs out, no matter what the outcomes.

  1. February 23, 2012 at 1:49 pm
  2. February 28, 2012 at 9:20 am
  3. August 6, 2012 at 8:57 pm
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