She Will Fight for Charters & Choice...
Never heard of her?
Well, she has been around and around and around…from Baltimore to Sacramento to Delaware to Texas to almost Massachusetts, she's been everywhere, man. At only 36 years old, she's a TFA'er, a Broad Academy grad, and held a litany of jobs.
Schwinn, who has a B.A. in History from UC Berkley, began her career in education as a Teach for America corp member in Baltimore City Public Schools. But the classroom gig didn't last long before she landed back in her home state of California where she took a job working for a screw supply company, McMaster-Carr.
Well…there might be a bit of foreshadowing here.
Her words: "When I relocated to California, I recognized that in order to be more effective on behalf of the students currently being served in our nation's public schools, I would need to become better versed in the skills that I saw as essential for true district leadership. This prompted my transition to a company called McMaster-Carr."
Nuts & Bolts, We Got Screwed!!
Sacramento is home to another Teach for America alum, Michelle Rhee. For those who need a reform refresher, Rhee is the past Chancellor of DC Public Schools who got caught in a test cheating scandal. She also claims to have eaten a bee but that's another story. Her husband, Kevin "KJ" Johnson is the current mayor of Sacramento who has been accused of inappropriate sexual conduct towards young girls. Johnson endorsed Schwinn in 2012 when she ran for a seat on the Sacramento County school board. And that's not all in this Peyton Place of education reform. Rhee's first husband is none other than former Tennessee Education Commissioner, Kevin Huffman.
The year before Schwinn narrowly won her seat on the school board, she founded a new charter school called Capitol Collegiate Academy where she served as school principal. In addition to being a charter school principal, she managed to find time to also be the Director of Student Achievement for St. Hope Public Schools. Later, she became Assistant Superintendent for Sacramento City Unified School District while still serving on the County School Board.
It is obvious Schwinn, who has been in her role for two months after leaving Sacramento, CA, needs to do a bit more research on Delaware. To think the issues of crime in Wilmington won't have an impact on the classroom is foolish and naive. To insult issues of poverty, crime and discrimination show an apparent lack of true reality in Wilmington. This is definitely a hurdle to overcome Penny Schwinn, and to continue to ignore this reality will only make the problem worse. As the Chief Of Accountability and Performance in Delaware, you need to look at ALL aspects of environment and how they impact the classroom.
For students with disabilities, Schwinn needs to recognize why special education teachers are leaving the profession, and that is mainly due to forced compliance with Common Core standards being shoved down their throats. Children are more than test scores, and the sooner the DOE realizes that, the better education and special education in Delaware will be. Litigation is rising in Delaware because of this education reform, not in spite of it.
The fact that charter schools in Delaware were not included in this presentation speaks volumes. To not include them ignores the impact charter schools have had on students with disabilities and minorities in Delaware, especially in the Wilmington area. Certain charter schools in our state have specific enrollment requirements that discriminates against low-income minorities and special needs children. The easy excuse for this by ignorant people is that children with disabilities are “low performers”. I think the Exceptional Children Group in the DOE is on the right track in correcting this position, but they need to realign their priorities in how to go about this.
Thanks to anonymous for getting this to me! Our schools and DOE in Delaware have been slowly invaded by pro education reform individuals. This is all backed by The Rodel Foundation of Delaware and The Vision Network. Last Spring, the Delaware DOE hired Mrs. Penny Schwinn, a charter school leader from Sacramento, as the Chief Accountability and Performance Officer. Months later, Mr. Paul Schwinn, her husband, has been hired as the Director of Leadership Development for the Delaware Leadership Project, which is funded by the Delaware DOE, Rodel and Vision. I know the Delaware DOE wants family involvement, but this is a clear conflict of interest. The wheels on the Schwinn go round and round.
Okay, back up. We need to explain that the Texas Education Association known as TEA is not the same thing as the Tennessee Education Association also known as TEA. The Texas TEA is their state body that oversees their public system of education like our TDOE, Tennessee Department of Education. The Tennessee TEA is an association of teachers like a teacher's union—only we don't have teacher unions in Tennessee. Which might explain why we have perhaps the most controversial pick for Education Commissioner.
Things didn't go so well for Schwinn in Texas.
Mercedes Schneider has details here and here and here of the Texas SPED scandal and how it spilled over into Louisiana.
Last year, Schwinn went looking for a job again. This time she found an opening in Massachusetts where she was one of three finalists for Commissioner of Education. Unlike, Tennessee where the Governor appoints the Commissioner, in Massachusetts, the State Board of Education votes on who will serve as Commissioner. And when all was said and done, Schwinn did not receive a single vote from any of the Massachusetts Board members.
Schwinn's job hunt came to an end today when Bill Lee selected her to be Tennessee's Commissioner of Education. We have no doubt that she will keep her promise to fight for charters & choice.
But Momma Bears will continue the fight for our kids especially our most vulnerable children who need special education services, who live in poverty, and who desperately need public education.