Collier County School Board Naples Daily News

Master of Puppets

By Bolduc and Bracci

It has been 31 years since the band Genesis released their classic “Land of Confusion” video starring puppets, and with the printing of two Naples Daily News hit pieces on Kelly Lichter and Mason Classical Academy this week, perhaps an updated video should be created starring School Board members Roy Terry, Eric Carter and Stephanie Lucarelli, along with Daily News reporter Annika Hammershlag, as puppets of Superintendent Kamela Patton and her billion dollar failing regime.

Overall, within the last two months, U.S. News and World Report has reported the average English Readiness Score for Collier County High Schools is 55%. Couple this with the recent release by the State of Florida of 3rd grade English scores which demonstrated over two thirds of CCPS run Elementary Schools are either D-Level or F-Level in English proficiency, and the Patton regime is in need of some serious damage control.

Given this academic horror show, and the fact Mason Classical Academy scored the highest in Collier County in 3rd grade English proficiency at 90% by not following Patton and AdvancED’s destructive Digital Learning curriculum, it appears Patton has cranked up her Mighty Wurlitzer Propaganda Machine with the Naples Daily News; all scripted and acted by her puppets Terry, Carter, Lucarelli and Hammershlag, to create a fake news controversy at Mason Classical Academy in order to deflect the public’s attention away from her academic disaster zone.

To be more specific, Naples Daily News reporter Annika Hammershlag ran two hit pieces this week claiming Kelly Lichter was financially damaging Mason Classical Academy by resisting clear financial extortion by former Mason board member, Matt Mathias, for not accepting a $1.38 million loan at 9 percent interest over five years if Lichter would resign from Mason’s board.

The Naples Daily News and Annika Hammershlag owe an apology to Kelly Lichter and Mason Classical Academy for the following deceptive reporting practices:

  1. Hammershalg never revealed it was Matt Mathias who triggered Mason’s special board meeting in the first place to consider a $1.38 million emergency loan because Mathias sent a demand letter that $1.0 million of existing loans were being called in due to undocumented and unsubstantiated claims that his clients were unhappy with Kelly Lichter’s leadership.
  2. Hammershlag greatly exaggerated the potential financial damage to Mason. Relying on then-board member, Byron Donalds, who is now a state legislator, stating that the higher interest loan – 14 percent compared to the 9 percent offered by Mathias – would cost the school nearly $120,000 more a year. That is ludicrous, the annual difference between 14 percent and 9 percent on a $1.38 million loan is closer to $60,000, not the exaggerated $120,000 claimed by Byron Donalds, and parroted by the Naples Daily News.
  3. What happened to Ethics and standing up to financial extortion? Do Mason’s Bylaws state their board will be selected by whoever comes up with million dollar loans at the lowest interest rate?
  4. Since the Daily News disclosed this financial debate occurred in May 2016, why did they sit on the story until June 2017, and publish the first story on the morning of the CCPS Board Meeting where Mason’s Charter Contract was under consideration for extension?
  5. Oh that’s right, so Roy Terry, Eric Carter and Stephanie Lucarelli could express their “concerns” with extending Mason’s contract later in the evening.
  6. Then, to put icing on the Daily News’ cake of gutter journalism, no loan for $1.38 million was ever taken out by Mason in May of 2016. Not at 14 percent, not a 9 percent, never. That’s right, Annika Hammershlag and the Daily News ran two hit pieces claiming Lichter’s management style could potentially cost Mason over $1.0 million, when the loan in question never materialized or existed.

If not for Kelly Lichter’s insistence on standing for principles in the face of treachery, Mason Classical may not have had the fortitude to withstand the strong-arm tactics of Superintendent Patton and District General Counsel Jon Fishbane who attempted to force Mason to agree to accreditation review by the globalist AdvancEd organization, which would have thrown Mason’s classical-Constitutionalist Hillsdale College education model out the window.

Led by Lichter who has repeatedly shown a Thatcher-like steely spine, Mason stood up to the Patton-Fishbane onslaught, and correctly told them to stuff it.

The District should focus on improving its own disastrous educational performance – not meddling with Mason’s success.

Such a shame Superintendent Patton does not embrace Mason Classical Academy’s outstanding curriculum, teacher freedom and near zero reliance on standardized tests in order to find ways to improve her 22 D-Level and F-Level CCPS Elementary Schools. Instead, she appears to spend more time and energy orchestrating hit pieces with the Daily News; all acted out by her puppets Roy Terry, Eric Carter, Stephanie Lucarelli and Annika Hammerschlag.

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