Home > Uncategorized > The most unsurprising revelation of HB 165 (UPDATED)

The most unsurprising revelation of HB 165 (UPDATED)

June 22, 2013

Of all the odd moments of the HB 165 campaign, one of the oddest was the announcement of the Chief School Officers’ oppposition to the bill on the morning of the House vote, amd then five hours later the reversal of that opposition. It happened behind closed doors, and while even the less astute among us could immediately see what happened, the cover is now being torn off this story.

There are no surprises here. It was the Governor and the Secretary of Education, of course, but just how it went down shows just how hard these two men were willing to work the supers in pursuit of this legislation.

Dr. Thomas sent out his letter of opposition at 10:21 on June 11. According to a credible source, it wasn’t long before his phone was ringing. It was Secretary Murphy, followed shortly by a call from the Governor himself. The gist of these calls was their contention that not all the supers felt the same way about the bill when they had spoken to them (!), without naming the ones that did not agree. They also pointed out that there had been some supers on the Charter Working Group,(namely Holodick, Bunting, and Gehrt), and that their requests had been addressed by including additional technology funding.

Dr. Thomas replied that there was a consensus among the chiefs on the opposition, but no formal vote had been taken.

Nonetheless, after the calls Dr. Thomas felt compelled to email all the supers and poll them on their position. The wording and the results of that poll are not known, except that due to the timeframe not all had responded. But the responses led to Dr. Thomas’s new email retracting the organization’s opposition the same afternoon.

Remember the Governor and the Secretary had been working these supers on the phone.

So did Dr. Thomas jump the gun in issuing the opposition? Maybe, maybe not.

UPDATE 6/23: I received a clarification that Dr. Thomas’s had in fact circulated the wording of his original letter of opposition, and that no super had responded with objections. Support for the second email came only after the supers had heard the Governor’s assurances that their concerns would be dealt with by the HB 90 task force.

Since then, three districts have backed up Dr. Thomas by going on the record opposing HB 165, all citing different concerns, but on the whole illustrating that the bill is not ready for the floor.

The districts included some of our largest districts and those who expect the most impact from HB 165:

The Board of the Capital School District (Thomas’s own) passed a resolution opposing HB 165.

The Board of the Christina School District also passed a resolution opposing HB 165.

The Red Clay Board also passed a resolution in opposition, and Superintendent Merv Daugherty issued a letter opposing HB 165, specifically citing impact on his district.

There is nearly a week for more school districts to weigh in. It looks like the wheels are coming off the Governor’s contention that the chiefs are not largely behind Dr. Thomas’s letter of opposition. Apparently it is much easier to sway the superintendents than their boards.

Remember that the superintendents do not work for the Governor or the Secretary of Education – their responsibility is to their independently elected Boards. I can imagine the Governor and Secretary were mindful of this and the conversations were somewhat restrained.

  1. zman
    June 22, 2013 at 8:20 am

    Mike- Just to clarify – Red Clay’s Board passed a resolution. Dr. Daugherty sent the resolution at the direction of the Board.

  2. June 22, 2013 at 8:24 am

    Thanks zman, and upon rereading Merv’s letter, that’s exactly what he said. Post is updated, coffee poured.

  3. kilroysdelaware
    June 23, 2013 at 6:29 am

    Reblogged this on Kilroy's delaware.

  4. Citizen
    June 23, 2013 at 2:52 pm

    It would be interesting to know which Supers actually saw that opposition letter, b4 it went out to reps. There wasn’t much time for it to be written, circulated & vetted by 18 people. How many (and who) actually supported it? Any way to know?

    Given the behavior of the 165 task force, I wouldn’t t feel assured by promises re: the HB 90 task force. I’m sure Rep Wms will do what she can, but still…

  5. June 23, 2013 at 3:00 pm

    The supers work for the boards, so the board resolutions should carry more weight. This is why charters HATE being accountable to the local community and are working so hard to avoid it.

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