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It takes a little sleuthing to figure out what happened.

In a nutshell the game was up when Manuel Alfaro, who was the executive director of assessment design and development at the College Board went online at Linkdin and posted some cryptic messages.  Over time this was his story.

Coleman brought him in a month after his takeover of  SAT by Common Core. Coleman to meet test deadlines simply transferred Common Core’s material over to the SAT data base and had hired Alfaro to create a fake research and development operation to get around copyright laws… Basically his job was to make it look like it was not stolen.

The test was published and distributed before being proof read.  Proof readers were eventually hired but after the test had been sent out… The May 2016 test was this test, it is the one Juniors took in Delaware to determine… whatever…  Small problems in this test were wrong answers marked as right ones, or no correct answer available among the 5 options. Bigger problems involved the “fake” questions now regularly inserted in such tests which do not count towards the score and are only there to test their quality for use in future tests.  These inserted questions were so difficult and time consuming, they prevented students from finishing the test.  Hence the scores of May 2016 will be lower than years past.

However Alfaro though he lived through it, does not have the tests. Therefore he was appealing to several states including Delaware, to use the transparency clauses in their contracts to bypass the College Board’s proprietary restrictions and have them find the questions, answers, and details to back up what he lived through…

His computer has been confiscated by the FBI.  Now, because of this court case, a gag order has been levied upon him and all involved and all relevant documents have been put under court seal.

Simultaneous to this, Reuters is reporting on an East Asian cheating scandal involving the SAT and PSAT  Apparently there is only a small pool of questions which many firms-for-hire to boost scores, already have.  They teach the questions and answers and their customers score very high on these tests.  Sourced out of East Asia Reuters was given 400 of the current questions from an outside source and sent copies of them to the College Board to confirm they were legit.  The College Board pleaded with them not to publish these actual questions and answers since they were the only questions in use this school year.

Bottom line: anyone looking for reassurance that the SAT is a better test under Coleman will be very disappointed.

As Reuters says… the test has never been worse….

“200 hundred items were sent to the Content Advisory Committee for review. Their feedback was scathing. One committee member wrote an 11-page document letting the College Board know that these were the worst items he had ever seen. In the past, he had not seen the worst items because they were rejected due to poor item statistics. In fact, the usual 15-20 percent of the items that are pretested and are rejected due to poor performance, were on the May 2016 test used to hold students and teachers accountable.”

Charter schools shall be eligible for public funds under procedures established by this section….

The Department of Education (not the district) shall annually calculate the local cost per student expended by each school district for each type of student for the year immediately preceding based on the formula set forth in subsection (e) of this section…

subsection (e)

Local cost per student as used in this section shall be calculated as follows:

Total Local Operating Expenditure in Preceding Fiscal Year’s Total Division I Units, minus Spec School Units Number of Pupils per Unit

Where:

Total Local Operating Sum of all expenditures (Expenditure in from local sources) minus (Preceding FY local expenditures for tuition) minus (local expenditures for debt service) minus (local expenditures for Minor Capital Improvement) minus (local cafeteria expenditures) minus (any other local expenditures deemed by the Secretary of Education to be inappropriate for inclusion for the purpose of this chapter).

Breaking it down,  the Total Local Operating Cost, is the sum of all a district’s expenditures

minus its expenditures for tuition (meaning students who left the district and took their money with them)… Obviously these could not be counted towards the cost of those students remaining….

minus any expenditures for debt… No one accounts for debt as a cost of doing business.  I don’t care if you are a restaurant, a movie theater, or Chemoirs.  Debt cost is added after all expenses of doing business have been calculated.  Then with those profits, you pay off debt.   Debt cost can have nothing to do with per student cost otherwise taking on debt suddenly makes it look like you are spending wildly on each student.

minus Minor Capital Improvements … Fixing a roof or installing a new air conditioner cannot be directly related to the cost per student.  Imagine if it were, how student costs would rapidly fluctuate yearly and between districts or even in the same fiscal year… Older districts would be stuck with unbearably high costs, newer districts enjoying much lower.

minus Local Cafeteria expenditures….

minus any other expenditure deemed by the Secretary to be inappropriate for inclusion…

So if any wrongdoing has occurred, it is directly attributable to the Secretary of Education…   He is in charge of determining each district’s cost per student, and IF there are any other expenditures which need excluded from the cost per student, he makes the decision…

So are we going to lynch Mark Murphy now?  You’re a little late…

Now that you too have seen the law, this statement Earl Jaques included in his mysterious email which tags a line of Sokola’s, is odd.

“The Christina District increased that line from under $700 thousand to about $9.2 million since 2011, and has not asked the Secretary for approval of the increased exemptions. “ —Sokola

Seeing how only the Secretary can make any adjustment to the formula and how only the Secretary can determine the cost per student, it is difficult to think Dave Sokola knows what he is talking about….  How could they increase that line when only the Secretary handles “that line”?

Rather odd from someone who wrote the legislation.

If Christina were holding back money, it would be at the behest of a former Secretary of Education’s decision, not the Christina School Board themselves…

So any attempt to blame Christina District is not going anywhere.  They are blameless. Don’t take my word for it. Read Title 14: *(509)…. Perhaps Sokola and Meece should take time to commiserate together and spend their time singing the …. “509 Blues”…. (in Title 14, that is)…

Dave Sokola Cough Cough Darrell Issa

Darrell Issa is known for not giving a damn about truth, his constituents, or his honor. He is responsible for 40’s of millions spent on witch hunts to find dirt on Hillary Clinton.  (How is that working out for you, bro?)  He is the richest elected official in Washington, all of his money from Viper Car Alarm…. (DE, do, DE, do, whooop, whooop,).. As a kid, he was also arrested for car theft….

Dave Sokola, whose district contains some of the best of Christina School District’s public schools has been gutting those schools to finance Newark Charter School.  This charter school  was “that same one” which was forced to abandon its “white only” admissions policy and use a fixed lottery instead. Still, people they don’t like, don’t get in the lottery.

Hence the correlation mentioned in the title… One sells out the ethics of our national government; the other sells out our ethics of our little children…

Recently a charter heist of $3 million dollars concocted in the middle of the night, was sprung on Christina.  Legislative authorities were alerted in time to stop it, thank goodness. But Dave Sokola hotly defended the stealing of the money in a letter to a Charter School constituent….

One can dance around whether Sokola is culpable or not.  He was not involved in the decision, that was the Delaware Department of Education and if he’d remained silent, no one would have known.  However his outburst was published and is now public knowledge.

Christina educates 15,000 students every day.  Newark Charter only 2000.  But Sokola wanted to take $3 million away from those 15,000 and give it to only those 2000, who btw, are from wealthy parents, almost all white.  This same school was caught this summer fudging its books, forcing the collection of “dues” from parents for field trips, and then charging the state for those same field trips and pocketing the money…

Yep, those are Dave Sokola’s friends.   Are you now seeing the connection?  Both Issa and Sokola are about the fleecing… Taking from the public and putting into the hands of the elite, their “friends”….

Darrell Issa As The New Sokola

Good news is that he is up for election against a good candidate. We can bump him out and have a public school champion working hard to keep Greater Newark’s money in our schools instead of always trying to find another owner for it…….

Out of Delaware’s total 136,027 students, 11,865 go to charter schools, 124,162 continue in public education… (8.72%) (btw Red Clay’s charters not included since Red Clay is the authorizer)

That little 9% siphons a money better spent in public schools. Costs in 2016.

ACADEMIA ANTONIA ALONSO 1,232 Payments $3,524,608.63

ACADEMY OF DOVER CHARTER SCHL 1,374 Payments $3,628,701.16

CAMPUS COMMUNITY SCHOOL 2,425 Payments $4,558,838.47

DE COLLEGE PREPARATORY ACADEMY 1,364 Payments $2,351,143.15

DELAWARE DESIGN-LAB HS 1,282 Payments $2,410,480.42

EARLY COLLEGE HIGH SCHOOL 1,144 Payments $2,757,920.69

EAST SIDE CHARTER SCHOOL 3,060 Payments $7,426,823.05

FAMILY FOUNDATIONS ACADEMY 2,613 Payments $8,846,337.76

FIRST STATE MONTESSORI ACADEMY 1,388 Payments $3,794,639.93

FREIRE CHARTER SCHOOL 1,354 Payments $2,958,912.10

GATEWAY LAB SCHOOL 1,749 Payments $4,556,773.53

GREAT OAKS CHARTER SCHOOL 751 Payments $3,229,356.48

KUUMBA ACADEMY CHARTER SCHOOL 1,995 Payments $8,058,005.38

LAS AMERICAS ASPIRA 3,549 Payments $7,931,013.77

MAPLETON CHARTER SCHOOL AT WHI 2 Payments $1,736.86

MAURICE J. MOYER ACADEMY 50 Payments $112,524.40

MOT CHARTER SCHOOL 4,510 Payments $11,355,105.68

NEWARK CHARTER SCHOOL 3,958 Payments $26,599,416.25

ODYSSEY CHARTER 3,161 Payments $13,048,335.82

POSITIVE OUTCOMES CHARTER SCHL 1,746 Payments $3,118,502.54

PRESTIGE ACADEMY 1,427 Payments $3,687,431.41

PROVIDENCE CREEK ACAD CHTR SCH 3,351 Payments $7,414,681.73

REACH ACADEMY FOR GIRLS 37 Payments $233,814.90

SUSSEX ACADEMY OF ARTS SCIENCE 2,336 Payments $6,422,637.21

THE DELAWARE MET 870 Payments $2,100,835.55

THOMAS A EDISON CHARTER SCHOOL 2,790 Payments $9,237,268.52

All told, roughly $149,365,845.39 was spent on non-Red Clay Charters… which taught only 11,865 students. On gross cost, that amounts to $12,588 a student…. Without charters and all else being equal, that same money when spread across the balance of those left in public schools, is a lost benefit of $1202 or rounded down, $1200 loss per student remaining in public schools… (Total benefit to a class of 20 would be $24,000).

So in a future court case by the ACLU over the unconstitutionality of charter schools in Delaware, when asked to prove harm backing their claim, here it is… Charter Schools take $1200 away from each student remaining in public schools…

Now some people think that since money follows a child that those schools with fewer students need less. Unfortunately no. The costs to those schools losing students to charters remain the same. Utility costs don’t change because you have fewer students; teaching costs don’t change because you have fewer students. Maintenance costs don’t change because you have fewer students. In fact, no costs get eliminated because you have fewer students. What does happen is all those fixed costs go up as a percentage of total revenue coming in. So there is less discretionary income available for students… You have to cut things like football, sports, music, arts, and all those things that are more important than books in any school.

Likewise, the charters on a shoe string budget are also running at levels of no frills with none of the above. A whole generation loses big time.

And for what gain? Only one of those schools met proficiency levels… Roughly 2000 students…

WE are going through all this pain of hurting 134,000 students just to hit our goals for 2200.

This is why, Charter Schools need to be eliminated from Delaware. Or with enough political will, they can still be allowed to stay, but only if they are fully funded by line items in the state budget, and public schools return to being fully funded by their localities.

The problem is not so much with the harm Charters do to their own students… It is what they do to everyone else…. And upon surveying the damage done so far, it is past time everyone not hired or associated with the CHARTER SCHOOLS NETWORK, stands up and says… NO MORE……

One thing that is important this election season is to find out who is for charter schools and who is against them… Then vote for someone who is against them….

Recently some regulations were changed deep inside the DOE to allow more money to go to charters and be taken out of public schools… They supposedly were stopped by loud noises from legislators. But such will keep coming again and again as long as Charter School law remains open and charters still remain an option….

Did you ever wonder why they always have to “sneak” charter school changes through? Why do YOU sneak things, like past your wife or husband, like past your boss, like past your children? Is it because you don’t want to get caught?  Exactly… So why are we “sneaking” changes to charter law in the dead of night?

Because it is bad legislation for Delaware’s soon to be one million people, and it benefits probably 5 friends of those players pushing it forward….  The only way to pass something that will piss off one million to make 5 people happy, is to keep it hidden from those million people…

When someone says at any forum that they are FOR charter schools…. if you can, ask them in public this question:…. Since only one in five children go to charter schools in Delaware, and since Charter Schools take money away from those other four…. how do you propose re-compensating those Public Schools who get hurt by having a Charter take their money, so the levels of educations for 4 out of 5 Delaware children, can remain the same??

And that’s the rub… When they say we are going to improve education for one fifth of our children by great charter schools, what isn’t said at all, is that 4/5ths of our children now have to suffer educational losses due to funding cuts!

How can that even make education better?

If you have a +1 and then add a -4 to it, Common Core or not, you still get a -3 compared to zero change if you did nothing at all….

So ask them, in public, out loud, how if they promote a charter, what is their plan to fill the gap of funding in the public schools system caused by those very charters they support….

Then, don’t vote for them.  Vote for their opponent…

Because in all campaigns leading up to this year…. there has been deep silence on that other side of the issue…..

But that other side,  the harm they do to the MAJORITY of students, is exactly why charters in 25 years, have never adequately functioned to improve education across any wide area….

Does your education department try to manipulate the public with false information and one-sided viewpoints?

They then are not on the up and up.

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Does your education department try to sneak things past you without you knowing?

They then are not on the up and up.

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Does your education department try to bypass your legislative process?

They then are not on the up and up..

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Does your education department establish rules and regulations with no public input or discussion, or does it appoint boards of people it holds close and keep out people with differing opinions?

They then are not on the up and up…

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Does your education department try to make you think things are really bad, but there is no evidence supporting them other than what they make up?

They then are not on the up and up….

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Does your education department cater to business while demeaning teachers, parents, and students?

They then are not on the up and up…. There are no businesses operating out of those undersized school desks in any of our classrooms. They have no part in the decisions being made by our school officials.

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If your education department does any of these, rest assured,

They are not on the up and up…. Something is wrong…. All of these things are non-democratic. Your education department is running a totalitarian operation in your state which is unconstitutional…

Think about it… If you were running an operation that would benefit the entire state, wouldn’t you want people to know?  Of course.  You would sell it, and sell it, and sell it, and sell it, and the people would buy it, and buy it, and buy it, and everybody would be on the same page.

But when you have to sneak things through as the only way to get it done, telling just a few people while leaving the rest in complete darkness… well, why ARE you sneaking something through except for the fact that it is bad overall and couldn’t get the votes required to make it into policy?  If something is that bad, why then, do we need it?

 

 

 

 

As we approach election season, we expect to hear those aligned along big business, begin in earnest to crucify our public schools.

While I believe some of these candidates may be well meaning, I expect their campaigns to be summed up as follows:

Delaware education is failing. Its teachers and students perform terribly. Let me (and my wealthy friends) fix it…..

Parents of the public school community are sick and tired of that narrative. We know it is not true.

Too often, the News Journal, WDEL, and others lead with the same lazy headlines: “Delaware Education is failing!” That same contemptuous narrative leads to chatter at water coolers, at dinner parties and in church parlors as well as comment sections.

Parents whose kids HAVE gone through Delaware’s public schools can say with certainty, no way have Delaware’s teachers failed in teaching our children. The vast majority of our kids’ classmates and their parents are not failing at all.

No, what is failing is Delaware’s support of public education. What is failing are toilets that overflow in kids’ schools. Bathrooms that don’t have soap. Roofs that leak. Understaffing. Overcrowded classrooms.

The narrative should be that Delaware is failing bigtime in its support of public education.

With such headlines our media feeds the blame game. Many families with excessive resources either leave the state or pay private school tuition of $22,000 or more, then proclaim “Yep, Delaware public education sucks” — even though Delaware functions at a fraction of that amount to educate a much more diverse population.

We are tired of the undeserved contempt.

We believe we have an outstanding citizens on our school boards and outstanding staffs manning all of Delaware’s Schools. So let’s all change the lazy and contemptuous narrative in the community. Change the media headlines. RE-invest in Delaware’s schools and make the wealthy pay 100% of the bill. It’s Delaware’s  parental responsibility to the future generation to continue what is working well now…

It’s outside big money that is screwing things up….

 

Some people think we have to live with having Charter Schools.. John Young just put forward a motion that was passed by the Christina School Board opening it up for charter applications 2017-2018.  Many members on that board have been anti-charter in the past so now might be a good time to examine the pros and cons for letting Charter Schools exist…

We’ll start with the perception.  Charter Schools have an overall decent perception for one reason.  When one looks at test scores rankings of a state’s schools, the top spots almost invariably are held by the same charters year after year.  Therefore that being the only acquaintance non school parents have with education, that remains their go-to opinion.

There is a reason that they lead.. These charters control who gets in; public school’s can’t and accept everyone. For the same reason it is why MIT is the smartest college/university in the nation; they select only from people who have perfect scores on their SAT’s.  So the reputation MIT has among colleges, is the best analogy to describe how most Delawareans unfamiliar with educational issues, view charters…

Not all charter schools are this good however. One charter is 103rd out of 106 schools. Another is 95th out of the same 106. Another is 92nd. Another is 90th…  So whereas we do have two good charters that lead the pack in state scoring, we also have at least 5 that have 90 public schools doing much, much better than them…

First lesson in dealing with charters is:  don’t generalize. Don’t think all charters are good.

When you say you want to get rid of charters, you never hear complaints from parents of those charters who have 90 public schools doing better than their child’s school. Those parents dream of a new entity coming in and taking over their charters.  No, you only hear from parents who support the two top schools, because having their child return to a public school, for them is a step down.

Charters take money from public schools.  Some quote this as a good thing and cite the scores of the top schools versus how much money they save the state.  They cherry pick their results and say, “see, we educate better for less”.  But charters also include those near the bottom. They educate worse for less.  And they take both money and children from public schools who ARE doing a better job at educating… and desperately need that money they are giving up.

When you look at the charter problem there are two ways to react.  One is emotionally. The other is rationally.

The emotional way is to say, “oh no, I love my kid’s charter; I’ll fight to keep it”.  It is not based on rationality at all, but an emotional bond one has with it because of one’s child…

The rational way is to say… ok, let’s look at the math.  One of every Delaware child is a charter students and some of those schools are great, and some are not.  (If curious you can go through here and peg them on their rank of all state schools).  But by default, 4 of every 5 Delaware students must remain in public schools.

So if you (assuming the charter is one of the good ones), take a child out of the public school and put him in a better charter school, you get a benefit.  Call it +1 student doing better than they would had they remained… But, that money leaving the school, means that there is less money now to be spent in the public schools. Christina leads the pack with $21 million flowing out of its district; $21 million which could otherwise be spent in its existing schools.  Therefore having the charter close by negatively impacts those 4 out of 5 remaining in public schools. Some cutbacks have to occur.

So when you look at programs, you have to balance the positives with the negatives. Charter supporters and charter lobbyists often use slight of hand to only show you the positives.  But one can’t accept only the positives and ignore the negatives if one is intent on making good policy. Therefore, despite the current myopia inside our DOE, the reality is that with Charters you could theoretically get a +1 benefit to one fifth of your students, but a negative -4  would occur for all those remaining in public school.

Bottom line of charter impact?  -04 + 01  =  -03…   Your net total if applying the impact of charters across all spectrums of your student body, is a negative number.  It is a negative number because you have to account for those hurt by an action as well as those helped.. For example if we only looked at those who are being helped, robbing banks would be a great career….

In every argument about charters… someone needs to bring up the question:  what is its impact on those remaining in public schools?

Balance could theoretically be leveled like this:

  • Charters have more student activities.  What is the impact of that on those remaining in public schools?
  • Charters have more going to college!  What is the impact of that on those remaining in public schools?
  • Charters have the top scores in the state!  What is the impact of that on those remaining in public schools?
  • Charters provide a choice. Parents should not be stuck.  What is the impact of that on those who are stuck in public schools?

This IS the million dollar question that must be considered for every positive a charter might have!   Because no matter how great that charter IS, it is hurting 4 others for every gain it gets putting society in the negative as far as learning goes.

This is not just an academic thought exercise.  Everywhere charters have entered a school district or system, the overall measurements of student achievements has dropped system wide.  Some schools develop to do well, but there are 4 times their number that are imploding from a gross lack of financial renewal.

To consider charters as a benefit, you have to close your eyes to the negative impact they create outside their four walls and simply just look at the inside parameters of that school.

A schoolmaster can well afford to do that. Same with a Charter school parent.  But no one at a district level, state level, or national level can responsibly ignore the harm that having charters around, does to a public school system…

So people can defend charters all they want. They can pretend that those against charters are pooh-pooh babies or whatever.  They can deprecate with slurs anyone who dares contest that charters are the sole white knight of education… (they are predominantly white)…

And if they are successful at swaying those in power, the entire system of education gets worse, and worse, and worse as time flies. Because you can’t go against math….

-4  +  1  =   -3……

There is absolutely no way you can win with an equation like that.

 

 

 

 

 

Kevin posted an RYP and here were some questionable points that need clarity or legislative safeguards to protect our children.

The Vendor shall develop the interfaces with the DDOE’s Student Information System
(Delaware Student Information System – DELSIS), the DDOE Code Library, and DDOE’s Identity Management System……..Interfaces must include data transfer capabilities from DELSIS and the Delaware Code Library…  PAGE 16

Comment:  one can see transfer to, but why from?  Why would the DOE want to be able to manipulate data involving specific children and their specific test scores?
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The proposed system must support collecting and maintaining records for students as they move through the school system, and archived until four years after graduation from high school or the student’s 22nd  birthday, whichever occurs first…. PAGE 15
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Vendors must describe in their proposal:
  • The mechanism for detailed test results (test history) to be archived in off-line storage
  • The normal time period for maintaining historical on-line information
  • The process to archive data off-line through user-controlled purge criteria
  • The process to restore archived data into current system, use it, and then purge it in a controlled manner, retaining the archived data off-line. PAGE 16

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Data files containing scores must be available at the DDOE within forty-five (45) calendar days after a student completes the assessment. Assessment results files must provide both student level and item level data.  PAGE 19

Comment: which means they must have the scores by July 15th if last test was before June 1st.

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Vendor must provide a method for:
  • Changing the SID associated with a test without having to end the test.
  • Ending a test event in cases where the test results are likely invalid
  • Changing an Institution Identifier associated with a test
  • Restarting a test from the beginning and while not incrementing the total number of opportunities used by a student
  • Restarting or resuming a test after a student moves to another location within the Delaware public schools, based on the SID.  PAGE 19

 

Comment: being able to change ID’s of either the student or school in the middle of the test from a central office does not instill confidence in this test.
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The Vendor shall propose procedures for monitoring the accuracy of readers’ (grader’s) scores throughout the scoring process using papers from the benchmarking sessions. The readers (graders) should be unaware they are scoring papers with pre-established scores.  PAGE 24
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The Vendor shall propose a reader quality control reporting system for hand-scoring and indicate how they will use that system to ensure quality scoring. The Vendor shall include the following items in that system:
  •  tracking of reader scores/discrepancies;
  •  use of training reports that show reader performance during training and qualifying;
  •  inter-reader reliability reports;
  •  recalibration reports that show reader scores on the recalibration sets;
  •  troubled paper identification in which papers with extremely personal and/or offensive content are flagged and forwarded to DDOE along with the necessary identifying information;
  • and other reports and/or procedures as deemed necessary by the Vendor to ensure a quality scoring  PAGE 24

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The DDOE would prefer not to use any materials that need copyright permission.  PAGE 25

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Saturday:  News Journal publishes hit piece on Kathleen Davies, auditor of accounts working under Tom Wagner.

Sunday:  kavips  and Kevin glean from the article’s writing that no wrong doing was behind the removal and this was done to hush up a politically sensitive scandal which Kathleen had uncovered.

Sunday:  Kim Williams comments auditor Tom Wagner told her he pulled the audit, and sent letters to the charter schools.

Monday:  kavips points out that something at Newark Charter School scared someone and caused the audit to be pulled and Kathleen to be sidelined.

Tuesday:  Using the Delaware Checkbook,  kavips does a piece showing the inequities of education between Bancroft where teachers have to pay out of pocket for pencils for their kids, and Newark Charter which spends almost .5 million alone on student activities.

Wednesday:  Several Charter parents call out kavips saying they pay for those trips, the state did not.

Saturday:  Kevin posts an expose on Newark Charter showing that they did not use the money given by parents for the trips, but charged all those trips to the state, and instead used the parent’s money for two capital projects which are not paid for by the state.

In one week, we now know why Kathleen Davies was put on administrative leave. Ironically, this would still be undercover if they had just removed Kathleen without trying to slam her in the press without having anything to slam her with…

What we know…

Newark Charter School does not file an IRS 990 as required by law… VIOLATION

Newark Charter Collects money from parents for field trips and uses it for capital projects.  VIOLATION

Kathleen was removed from the audits and put on leave; Tom Wagner, State Auditor, stopped the audits and sent letters instead to charter schools.  VIOLATION