I have actually been going back and forth on who to vote for in my district for a few months now, Democrat Trey Paradee (the existing State Rep for my district) and Republican Pete Kramer. I’m going to be completely honest. Up until 14 months ago, I had absolutely zero interest in state politics. This is my fault as a human being, but I was ignorant of many things going on in Delaware, and I really didn’t care. And then things happened….
As any long time reader of this blog is well aware, my son had some (okay, numerous) problems at a “charter school in the County of Kent”. When things blew up and became unsalvageable with the school, my wife and I were weighing our options to see what avenue to take next. She reached out to Trey Paradee, and we did get a call back from one of his staff members and explained what was going on.
Flash forward as few weeks later, and I read a post on this blog called Kilroy’s Delaware about how some charter school meeting was held in secret and not open to the public. People were pissed, and this was my intro to Kilroy’s blog. Going ahead six months to last Spring, my situation with the charter school was resolved, but I had still had a lot of questions. I told the story about what happened to my son on Kilroy’s blog after a few weeks of “vetting” him. I really didn’t trust anyone at the time, but Kilroy and I had several chats about the state of education in Delaware. By the time I finished telling my son’s story, I had decided to start my own blog, but I wanted to pay Kilroy back for letting me tell my very long story for a month.
In my last post on Kilroy’s, I promised to go to Legislative Hall to drum up support for House Bill 23, which would make all school boards digitally record their meetings and put them up on their website. I invited any who wanted to attend, and I made a couple posters and went down. I doubted anyone would show up, but I was determined. So I made the drive downtown, and started walking around the front of Legislative Hall with my posters. Several people asked me what House Bill 23, and some of these were legislators. It was a solo act I was doing, but I didn’t care. I started memorizing faces and made a decision to find out who these people are. It started to rain a bit, so I put the posters in my car and decided to actually go into the hall and see what they did there.
My first visit was to meet my House Rep, Trey Paradee. His secretary called him and he agreed to meet with me on the spot. I was impressed right away. I went into his office and there was this rather large dog sitting there. Trey introduced me to Belle, and he explained there was a dog group there and he was going to be in a picture with Belle. I explained why I was there, and that I was very concerned with special education in Delaware. He agreed, and explained some of his own personal journey in the world of special education with a member of his family. We agreed to talk more.
I met a few other politicians that day, most noticeably Debra Hudson to find out why the bill she sponsored wasn’t going up for a vote. She explained it needed more public support, but she would ask about it. Never heard back from her at all! I got home and reached out to his opponent in the election, Pete Kramer. He explained he was against Common Core and standardized testing. My decision was made right then and there, as Kramer was against the same things I was. The next day I started this blog.
Within weeks, I became involved in the political landscape in Delaware when the US Department of Education declared Delaware was one of three states and Washington D.C. to need federal intervention with special education. I read about it in the Delaware News Journal, but it was missing a lot of facts, so I did some quick research on it and posted an article on my blog. This was my first huge article on Exceptional Delaware. Within days, the Senate in Delaware created a concurring resolution to create an IEP Task Force, but there were no parent reps on the task force. I emailed every single house rep and senator in the General Assembly advising them not having a parent on this task force would be a slap in the face to special needs parents across the state. When the Senate voted on it, they passed it without a parent rep. I put out a call on Twitter and Facebook to have a re-vote to allow parent reps. A couple days later an amendment was added allowing a parent from each county which was my suggestion in my email to them.
But life has a funny way of throwing curve balls when you least expect them. Paradee and I became friends on Facebook, and we would chat here and there, nothing too significant. On the morning of 4th of July, he was looking for volunteers to support him in the 4th of July parade. I knew my son would be very excited marching with a real politician and giving out candy to kids. We got there, and unfortunately my son had a very bad reaction to everything going on. Part of his disability is sensory processing, and parades can be very stressful, especially without comfortable shoes (which was my fault for not getting them from the car for him)! He broke down, and Trey Paradee didn’t say a single negative word about it. Usually when this happens, my son will get weird looks, but Paradee sensed he was having a hard time, and he asked me if he was okay. I advised him about his sensory processing and he understood.
My son joined back up with the parade about 10 minutes later and had a blast. Afterwards, I was talking with Paradee for a while about politics and education. We talked about House Bill 334, which would replace DCAS with the Smarter Balanced Assessment. A few weeks before, the Delaware House of Representatives had passed it, and then a couple weeks after that the Senate voted no, a few of them flip-flopped, and then they voted yes. Markell would have used executive power to make it happen either way, so the whole thing was an exercise in futility. Paradee explained to me that he genuinely felt kids were getting tested too much with DCAS and since Smarter Balanced was once a year it would be better for students. He explained that he heard from many parents in our district that were upset about the multiple tests.
A week or so later, Pete Kramer was going to houses and he came to ours. I was at work, but my wife spoke with him and she advised him of our son’s Tourette Syndrome. He emailed her back advising my son is lucky cause he will grow out of it in a few years. This occurs sometimes with TS, but for most afflicted with this disability, it stays. It may become more manageable but it is not normal for it to just go away.
To draw to a conclusion, this is why Paradee is getting my vote. He listened when I talked about my son. Kramer listened, did some quick research which I’ve seen on Wikipedia, and responded to my wife with something I felt was highly inappropriate in trying to help a potential constituent. I truly believe Paradee loves connecting with people. I have yet to meet Kramer even though I’ve reached out to him a few times.
Yes, Paradee voted for the Smarter Balanced Assessment, but I’ve since learned Secretary of Education Mark Murphy had already bought the test for the state and it put the legislature in a very difficult position. I’ve also questioned how much information members of the General Assembly who aren’t on the education committee received prior to the vote.
I’ve seen the signs all over my area, and Paradee’s are simple, vote for him. Kramer put up a few that say “Paradee raised taxes” and so forth. I’ve received mailers from both, and Kramer’s are all about why Paradee shouldn’t be elected. Paradee talks about what he’s done and what he wants to do. If his worst act as a House Rep was raising taxes when he said he wouldn’t, who cares. Sometimes taxes need to be raised or you don’t get the services you need to survive as a community. It’s unfortunate, but there you go.
While Kramer is against the same education things I am, he doesn’t have the connection with people that Paradee does. I am also certain that some day soon, parents are going to revolt against Rodel and Markell and their whacko education reforms. I have faith that Paradee will vote with his conscience when this happens and support what families want and not what Markell wants.
In conclusion, I endorse Trey Paradee for House Representative of the 29th District in Delaware! Vote for Trey!