Archive for July, 2013

July 10 is Nikola Tesla’s birthday

July 9, 2013 2 comments


I’m thinking of celebrating by going to Long Island later this month to join a volunteer crew cleaning up Tesla’s Wardenclyffe laboratory (well, the grounds anyway. The building is not yet open to the public). How awesome would that be? If I go I’ll post about it.

The site and the building have been purchased by a not-for-profit and will be restored to become the nation’s only Tesla museum. Unfortunately the tower no longer stands.

Happy Birthday Nikola Tesla – The Greatest Geek Who Ever Lived!


An open letter to Secretary of Education Mark Murphy on the HB 90 task force

July 6, 2013 10 comments

To Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy:

Dear Secretary Murphy,

Soon this month you have the obligation to appoint five parents to the HB 90 task force, if you haven’t done so already:

Section 8. An “Enrollment Preferences Task Force” is hereby established to consider the current landscape of enrollment preferences and practices used by magnet, vocational technical, and charter schools and develop recommendations, if necessary.

By now we are all familiar with the embarrassing debacle of the Governor’s Working Group on Charters, which among other issues was packed with charter supporters and featured no strong parent advocates of public schools. I strongly urge you to avoid that mistake when naming the five HB 90 parents, to avoid the taint of bias and help make sure this task force is operating in good faith. Since the task force has five parents, you do have the opportunity to make sure traditional district schools have a fair and proportionate voice.

With approximately 85% of Delaware students attending traditional public schools and fewer than 15% in charters, I suggest you appoint parents according to their representation in the school population: One charter parent/advocate, one VoTech parent/advocate, and three from traditional district schools.

And when you do make the appointments, it would be another expression of good faith to announce the appointments within days after they are made. These appointments will be highly visible and will by closely watched by a community of public-school supporters who, to say the least, were sensitized and appalled by the way the Governor’s charter group operated.

Reports are that during the HB 165 debate, the HB 90 task force was presented as a way to correct the accountability deficiencies of HB 165, in order to win support from the school superintendents (and probably some legislators).

Public school advocates are now determined to make sure this committee completes the unfinished vision of charter reform by adding accountability for diversity, accountability for equity, accountability for local control, accountability for impact, and accountability for transparency. All of these issues are affected by enrollment and are well within the scope of a consideration of enrollment practices.

Now being plotted in a top-secret Dover task force

July 1, 2013 1 comment

ATLANTA—One year into its founding as the purported “bold next step in education reform,” administrators on Monday sang the praises of Forest Gates Academy, a progressive new charter school that practices an innovative philosophy of not admitting any students. “We’ve done something here at Forest Gates that is truly special, combining modern, cutting-edge pedagogical methods with a refreshingly non-pupil-centric approach,” said academy president Diane Blanchard, who claimed that the experimental school boasts state-of-the-art facilities, a diverse and challenging syllabus, absolutely zero students, a world-class library, and the highest faculty-student ratio in the nation. “Thanks to our groundbreaking methods, we’ve established a structured yet free-thinking environment where the student is taken out of the equation entirely, and in fact is not allowed on school property. And the results, we think, speak for themselves.” According to its budgetary records, Forest Gates has so far received approximately $80 million in public funding from the state of Georgia.

– From The Onion