Nancy had something about SB 27.

This Act would authorize the Department of Education, pending available funds, to offer competitive two year start-up grants to public schools for the purpose of developing new programs for students capable of performing accelerated academic work.

Some background.

It is a copy of the Federal Program that went horribly wrong. The US Department of Education decided to give grants out to just Charter Schools to help them start up and become viable. It is the same as capital funding except these were going to be competitive.  By making it competitive, one can “choose” who will get the money…  Hooray!  Triple X Charter School! You win a Prize!”  and it can be done with no mention that the money would be better served in an existing District, which also did the work and actually put in a better grant application. This type of legislation opens the doorto where I can request money from my “friends” in legislature “whom I shoot pool with”, and they will …”give” it to me, and they can actually preapprove or “guarantee” that I will win the contest ahead of all the other future applicants…

The Federal Program, sponsored by the federal DOE, had one purpose…

“The purpose of the Charter Schools Program (CSP) is to increase the national understanding of the charter school model by (1) expanding the number of high-quality charter schools available to students across the Nation by providing financial assistance for the planning, program design, and initial implementation of charter schools, and (2) by evaluating the effects of charter schools, including their effects on students, student academic achievement, staff and parents.”

Now the state is emulating that same policy.

However the Federal Program had some glitches.  In 2011,  the Federal Program awarded new grants to the top two rated applications, New York and Florida. Three other states, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and New Jersey received highly rated applications but could not be funded with the available FY 2011 funds. Therefore, the Charter Schools Program funded down the FY2011 slate using FY 2012 program funds.

The language of SB 27 specifically designates public schools. Since the Federal Program was strictly for Charters upon which this was modeled, we should get clarity if Charter Schools are being designated here as public schools for this grant?  Public schools are owned by the public, Charter Schools are owned by profit seeking corporations.  Can they, or can they not,… apply for these grants?

Further more, there is now, another task force:  The Gifted and Talented Student Task Force... Time for FOIA requests.

There are two Amendments attached to it in the House both by Miro, and one is to replace the other…  The first amendment has this line added…. supporting existing or inserted before this line… “initiating new programs”.. Apparently he was redacted after posting it, for the second amendment has these lines inserted instead….  “or renewing existing programs of the same description whose funding sources are expiring”.

Then with this sentence in the middle…  “The number of schools receiving such grants and the amount of such grants shall be determined based upon funds available during the relevant fiscal year”…. it concludes with this:   Grants shall not be awarded to supplant existing funds for current programs..

Confusing?  Not just to you.   How can funds be used to renew existing programs which have current funds expiring, but at the same time be forbidden from being used to renew existing funds for current programs?

Cost of this?  The fiscal note is complete, but…by magic, it unfortunately disappeared as has mysteriously happened with all education bills being processed through the General Assembly this session. It went dark as critical voting approaches.  The website shows it was done on this page, but the link… was disabled…

So are we giving Charter Schools, $1 million?  $2 million?  $3 million?  $4 million?  $5 million?  $10 million?  $15 million? $25 million?  $30 million?  $45 million?  $50 million?

Kind of makes the Port of Wilmington look like pennies on the dollar.

I’ll close with Bryan Townend’s remarks,  published by Nancy.

4) “During Senate floor debate, it was noted that the JFC Co-Chair had never seen a bill with a fiscal note that said “TBD” pending decision of JFC. Given the complete novelty of that approach, I believed it to be inappropriate to vote for the bill. It does not set a particularly helpful precedent to pass bills with “TBD” fiscal implications.”

I’ve got this feeling that this Senate under Blevins and this House under Schwartzkoph are taking the Democrats to their ruin in 2014 and 2016. The city seats will be safe, but not the suburbs or rural areas. As these effects hit all public schools on top of Common Core, voters will get mad. When they look back and see shenanigans such as voting on bills that are incomplete to be filled in later, passing bills without debate which will do colossal damage to our educational infrastructure just as suffered by those in Chicago and Philadelphia…

Even I’m ready to work for Republicans running against these rubber stamping guys. You don’t mess with our kids!