Posts Tagged ‘HB 165’

Letter to my senator

June 24, 2013 1 comment

Point out the school board resolutions opposing HB 165 (Red Clay, Christina, Capital). Charter lobbyists HATE facing local voters; that is why they are working so hard to avoid it.

From: “Mike Oboryshko”
Subject: Red Clay opposes HB 165 and so do I
Date: Sun, June 23, 2013 4:11 pm

Greetings Senator Lavelle,

The Red Clay School Board opposes HB 165 and so do I.

Dr. Daugherty’s letter specifically cites impact on district schools, and
calls for the return of funding that has been cut from district schools.
Please support Red Clay and do not vote against the interests of your

The bill promises to trade funding for accountability but it does not
deliver accountability for diversity, accountability for local control,
accountability for impact, or accountability for transparency. The
Performance Framework is a weak peg to hang accountability on.

I am not interested in amendments. As your constituent I ask you to oppose
this bill or at least facilitate its tabling.


Mike Oboryshko
Red Clay parent


The most unsurprising revelation of HB 165 (UPDATED)

June 22, 2013 5 comments

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.


Today is payday for charter lobbyists

June 20, 2013 4 comments

**Update: Put the champagne back on ice!! SB 165 has been pulled from the Senate Ready List, and a new Education Committee meeting has been scheduled for Wed. June 26. There is still time to call your Senator and oppose.***

Not only will the HB 165 charter funding/deregulation likely be passed, but the State Board of Education is poised to approve hundreds of new charter seats. Time for charter lobbyists to pop the champagne corks, light a few cigars with $100 bills, and celebrate the kickoff of the long-sought uncontrolled charter expansion!

Also, by the end of June, the next cohort of CEB schools will be selected by a committee of out-of-town carpetbaggers.

Don’t be distracted by the Senate; keep your eye on the SBE too (1:00 pm). The SBE meeting in particular has a buffet of important information (agenda). If you are at all able to attend, please do. Otherwise you will have to wait for the audio, and for the documents to be posted on the web.

Here is an excerpt from the massive agenda:

B. Department of Education

1. Charter Schools
a. Reconsideration of Application for Major Modification of an Existing Charter:
Academy of Dover (For Action)
b. Decision on an Application to Open a New Charter School:
Delaware Design Lab High School (For Action)
c. Decision on an Application to Open a New Charter School:
First State Military Academy (For Action)
d. Decision on an Application to Open a New Charter:
The Delaware MET (For Action)
e. Decision on an Application to Open a New Charter:
Pike Creek Charter School (For Action)
f. Application to Modify an Existing Charter:
Kuumba Academy (For Action)
g. Application to Modify an Existing Charter: MOT Academy (For Action)
h. Update Regarding Development of New Performance Agreements (For Discussion)
i. Update on Closure Preparations for Pencader Charter School (For Information)
j. Update on Status and Progress of New Moyer Academy
(For Information/Discussion)
k. Annual Charter School Report (For Information)
l. Monthly Charter Schools Update (For Information)

2. IDEA Annual Performance Report

3. Update on Common Core State Standards Implementation Initiatives
4. Department of Education Regulations
a. 106 Teacher Appraisal Process Delaware Performance Appraisal System
(DPAS II) – For Discussion
b. 107 Specialist Appraisal Process Delaware Performance Appraisal System
(DPAS II) – For Discussion
c. 108 Administrator Appraisal Process Delaware Performance Appraisal System
(DPAS II) – For Discussion
d. 106A Teacher Appraisal Process Delaware Performance Appraisal System
(DPAS II) Revised – For Discussion
e. 107A Specialist Appraisal Process Delaware Performance Appraisal System
(DPAS II) Revised – For Discussion

C. Professional Standards Board
1. 1502 Professional Growth Salary Increments (For Action)

D. Other

Tags: ,

The art of persuasion

June 16, 2013 5 comments

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” , “” , Bushweller Brian , “” , Pettyjohn Brian , Hocker Gerald , Venables Robert
Subject: HB 165 Charter Legislation

Dear Legislator:

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.

Respectfully submitted,
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.


BREAKING: President of Delaware Chief School Officers opposes HB 165

June 11, 2013 3 comments

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.

Respectfully submitted,

Michael D. Thomas, Ed. D.

President, Delaware Chief School Officers Association


In case I didn’t make myself clear…. NO on HB 165

June 10, 2013 5 comments

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.