Part of the sideshow conducted by the state charter commission on May 28 about whether or not to revoke the charter for Woodland Prep charter in Washington County was the chance for the school to impress commission members with all the expertise they have assembled to work on the school.
This is why someone named Angela K. Hansen was introduced via telephone midway through the afternoon. Seems that she was just appointed to the Woodland Prep board. No one on the commission knew her, but this was no surprise since she lives in Salt Lake City, Utah and admitted that she has never been to Washington County.
The Woodland Prep site and building is owned by American Charter Development of Utah. Hansen has a close relationship with ACD charters in Utah and North Carolina and this is obviously why she was nominated. (It is highly unlikely that other Woodland Prep board members had any relationship with someone 1,900 miles away who had never been to their county.)
The financial sitaution of Woodland Prep has been a major issue from the get go. It was discussed at length at the May 28 hearing. According to Hansen, she was brought on board because of her expertise and experience in school financing and ability to get schools on sound financial footing.
Hansen failed to tell the commission that she has just been declared bankrupt by the Federal Bankruptcy Court in Salt Lake City. Go here to see documentation.
Really now? And we’re gonna hire the town drunk to be the new preacher at the first Baptist church?
This was basically the tone of the entire hearing. People in Washington County are so uneducated and backward that we anything we say about them will be believed.
You had to hear it to believe it.
Subcontractors have been bullied and threatened and left the job. But no one has any documentation. Locals have made endless requests to get public records and this has somehow hampered the school from opening.. (Charter schools are public schools and their records are supposed to be public and it is perfectly legal to make such requests.)
Retired public school superintendent Joe Walters has been hired to be the school “leader.” When he was asked what is the major obstacle the school has in order to open in August, he said, “No one has any experience in charter schools.” When asked when the school building will be ready, Walters said, “All I have to go on is hearsay and guesswork.”
Time after time the Woodland Prep attorney asked his witnesses how many students will the school have. No one had an answer. Just vague references to “people are scared to sign up their kids,” or, “Probably 25 people in other counties say they will send their kids there.”
The only concrete number ever mentioned was 117.
Andy Craig is deputy state superintendent of education for the state. School finances are his specialty. He testified that it will be virtually impossible to run a viable school with only 117 students.
This circus has gone on for two years now. Delay after delary. Excuse after escuse. Always the other guy’s fault.
There are TWO billion acres in the continental United States. And out of all of them, some folks in Utah and Houston decided they would build an unwanted school on 10 of them in the middle of nowhere in south Alabama. In an area that, like rural places across this country, are drying up and blowing away.
And these rednecks, ate up with racism and hate and meanness and prejudice and generation of clannishness, don’t love us. They don’t trust our endless tall tails, They don’t believe our hearts are pure.
And guess what? Neither do I.
(The next installment of this ugly episode is supposed to unfold on June 9 when the charter commission will vote whether or not to revoke the Woodland Prep charter.)
This is not easy to write. The reason being that I spent 6+ hours on zoom today watching the state charter school commission hold another session about Woodland Prep charter, in Washington County.
It was sickening to say the least. Woodland Prep brought in one witness after another who had nothing but contempt for the folks of Washington County
The purpose of this meeting was to hear pro and con arguments as to whether or not the charter for Woodland Prep (that was granted two years ago this month) should be revoked.
At the end of the day we heard from the contractor who had nice charts about rainfall, the school leader (who is the only employee), someone who works part time for the school (and had to quit her church because people were mean to her), the board chair who does not live in the county and takes his kids to private school in Mississippi, a woman from McIntosh who has no kids in school, a former educator who has no kids in school, a businessman who has kids in public school, a brand new board member who lives in Utah, like Salt Lake City. And Mike Morley, founder of American Charter Development also in Utah, the company who owns the building and is paying all the bills.
At the end of the day, they were all victims who have been bullied and mistreated by the redneck masses of the county. they are just concerned about bringing good schools to Washington County. (that includes the board member from Utah who has never been to the county.)
Morley was a legislator in Utah for 10 years. He is “slick.” even though he can’t keep his stories straight. For example he said his company did not get involved with Woodland Prep until their charier was approved. He apparently forgot his company helped prepare the application.
He was also asked did it concern him that the National Association of Charter School Authorizers rejected the application partly on how lacking their budget plans were.(plans his company helped develop) He said it did not because a charter should not have to depend on outside money. This seemed unusual since one of his vice presidents put together Woodland Prep’s fund-raising plans. So why does a company spend money on something that is meaningless?
Yes, I am biased, but it was a rag tag effort. And tax payers from this state should not be treated with such disdain as they were today It was sickening.
Oh. The outcome? Stay tuned. The charter commission will have another meeting on June 9 to decide what to do.
This is how we should conduct state business? Of course not, but who am I?
Any good All-American deep-fried “educrat” loves a good study. About 150 pages on nice, shiny, slick paper, maybe with some charts and graphs tossed in. Something that will look good when you hand them out at a press conference. And that will still look pristine a couple years later when a secretary stumbles on a box of them in the back of a closet in some government office.
In fact, we like them so much that here in Alabama we’re about to spend up to $750,000 on one the voters of the state recently said they did not want.
Remember a year ago when the legislature planned to take control of the state department of education by getting rid of the elected state school board? There was only one problem, the voters had to go along with the legislature by passing a constitutional amendment saying they did not want an elected state school board.
Obviously, someone did not think, the voters could think for themselves so they got the wheels rolling by setting aside $750,000 in the 2019-20 education trust fund budget to hire a consulting firm from Boston.
And as you see by this article, the consultants recently showed up to make a presentation to members of the state school board. But when things really get interesting is when you to look at the 14-page Executive Summary. Which you can do right here.
Back to the constitutional vote held on March 2, 2020. Among other things, if passed we would have created the Alabama Commission on Elementary and Secondary Education. But it did not pass. Did not even come close to passing as voters rejected it 75 percent against, 25 percent in favor.
But apparently it takes a while for news to get from Montgomery to Boston because right there at the bottom on page one in the summary the consultants talk about how great it is that Alabama is creating the Alabama Commission on Elementary and secondary Education and doing away with the elected state school board.
Just one small problem. IT AIN’T TRUE.
On page two of the summary it says the ALSDE (Alabama State Department of Education) must take full ownership and accountability for student progress across Alabama. But where is the accountability for blunders like this?
According to grandpa, “learning” came in at least two varieties. One was by “doing.” Like when you find a flat surface to put down an old, crooked nail and make it straight again. Of course, it helps if the surface is fairly hard and you are right particular just how you hold the nail.
The other being “book” learning, the kind a school boy should do when they have a desk and a book in front of them.
This is the variety my son Kevin will be doing on June 1 at 4 p.m. Thanks to the good folks at the Alabama Humanities Foundation, Kevin is leading a discussion of the book, American Nations, by Colin Woodard every Monday of June.
For more info on how you can sign up for this on-line adventure, go here.
As I’ve said before, this is one of the most interesting books I have ever read and I’ve gone to it many times, which is why my copy is so dog-eared. If you are like I used to be, when you studied the history of the United States you never paid much attention to how this country was settled and how the backgrounds of early settlers had great impact on the various regions of the U.S. And continues to do so even today.
I can almost guarantee that at some point in this exercise you will have an “ah ha” moment. One of those instances where a light goes off and you say, “damn, why haven’t I ever thought about that before.”
Hope to see you then.
You tube fascinates me. I don’t think I’ve ever looked for anything on it without finding what I was looking for. And then there are all the things I just “stumble” across.
Like this story about Doug White, who set off from Marco Island, FL on Easter Sunday 2009 to return home to Louisiana in a chartered plane. They had scarcely gotten underway when the pilot suddenly had a heart attack and died. Doug’s wife and two daughters were also with him.
While Doug had a wee bit of pilot experience many years ago, he was totally unfamiliar with the King Air 200 they were in. What happened next can only be described as a “miracle.” Through the grace of the Good Lord and support of a group of air traffic controllers, Doug was able to land at the Fort Myers airport.
You can relive the entire adventure by going here. It will take you about 40 minutes, but you will be on the edge of your seat the entire time.
Then you can follow this with the equally gripping celebration of the team who got Doug and his family down by going here. You have to marvel at all this folks who knew what to do–and then did it. They were not looking for awards or accolades, they were just well-trained professionals rising to the occasion.
And in these very troubled times, their example is a wonderful lesson for us all.