The Parent Opt-Out Blitz Begins Now in Support of House Bill 50 #supportHB50 Share on Facebook, Retweet

House Bill 50, Parental Opt-Out of Standardized Testing, Uncategorized

House Bill 50 is on the agenda for Thursday, May 7th as per Delaware State Rep. John Kowalko.  The House of Representatives will basically determine if they listen to the will of their constituents and parents or if they ignore them and bow to Governor Markell and the DOE by casting a yes or no vote.

I am calling for a Parent Opt-Out Blitz, effective immediately.  If you haven’t signed the petition please do so now.  Listed below is every single Delaware State Representative and Senator’s name, email address, phone numbers listed on the General Assembly website, their public facebook accounts where applicable, their public Twitter accounts where applicable, and even some of their own websites.  I was unable to get the Senate phone numbers up, but I will later tonight.  I wanted to get this out there as soon as possible.  Please share this link on your facebook.  Tweet this link.  Delaware bloggers, please reblog.

Today, parents will be out and about.  In Dover, thousands will be out for Dover Day.  I need all parents who support this to spread the word on House Bill 50 and educate other parents on it.  Let them know about the threats and intimidation going on in our schools to our fellow citizens.  Let them know opt-out is an option.  Go on our elected officials Facebook accounts: message them, post on their walls. Go on their Twitter accounts with hashtag #supportHB50.  Leave messages, and e-mail them.  Not once, not twice, but as many times as you can muster.

I need you to call them all.  Every day, from now until Thursday.  For any parents who have not opted their child out and have been told no, it is time for you to make a stand.  For your child.  For those who have opted out seamlessly, or in the face of great odds, it is time to give your strength to parents who need your courage.

Let your elected officials know that if Governor Markell vetoes the bill, you would like it if they protest the veto and revote for it in the event that occurs.


House Representatives

District 1: Charles Potter Jr., email: (302) 744-4351, (302) 762-8322

District 2: Stephanie T. Bolden, email: (302) 744-4351

District 3: Helene M. Keeley, email:  (302) 744-4351

District 4: Gerald L. Brady, email: (302) 577-8476

District 5: Melanie George Smith, email: (302) 744-4126

District 6: Debra J. Heffernan, email: 302-744-4351, Work: 302-577-8476,  Home: 302-762-3478

District 7: Bryon H. Short, email: (302) 744-4297 (302) 475-2252

District 8: S. Quinton Johnson, email: (302) 744-4351

District 9: Kevin S. Hensley, email: (302) 744-4351

District 10: Sean Matthews, email:  (302) 744-4351

District 11: Jeffrey N. Speigelman, email:  (302) 744-4171 Alt Phone: (302) 399-7728

District 12: Deborah Hudson, email: (302) 744-4171, (302) 651-9571

District 13: John L. Mitchell, Jr., email: (302) 744-4351

District 14: Peter C. Schwartzkopf, email:  (302) 744-4351

District 15: Valerie Longhurst, email:  (302) 744-4351

District 16: James Johnson, email: (302) 744-4351, (302) 322-3521

District 17: Michael P. Mulrooney, email: (302) 744-4351

District 18: Michael A. Barbieri, email:   (302) 744-4279, (302) 420-6564

District 19: Kimberly Williams, email: (302) 744-4351, (302) 577-8476

District 20: Stephen T. Smyk, email: (302) 744-4321

District 21: Michael Ramone, email: (302) 744-4108, (302) 584-8601

District 22: Joseph E. Miro, email: (302) 744-4171

District 23: Paul S. Baumbach, email: (302) 744-4351

District 24: Edward S. Osienski, email: (302) 744-4351, (302) 292-8903

District 25: John A. Kowalko Jr, email: (302) 744-4351

District 26: John J. Viola, email:  (302) 744-4351, (302) 598-8311

District 27: Earl G. Jacques Jr., email: (302) 744-4142

District 28: William J. Carson, email: (302) 744-4113

District 29: W. Charles “Trey” Paradee III, email: 302-744-4351, 302-382-2727

District 30: William R. “Bobby” Outten, email: (302) 744-4083, (302) 398-3816

District 31: Sean M. Lynn, email: (302) 744-4351, (302) 735-1781

District 32: Andria L. Bennett, email: (302) 744-4351

District 33: Harold J. Peterman, email: 302-744-4171, 302-335-4261

District 34: Lyndon D. Yearick, email: (302) 744-4171302-387-2510

District 35: David L. Wilson, email:   (302) 744-4150(302) 422-9270

District 36: Harvey R. Kenton, email:

District 37: Ruth Briggs King, email: 744-4251(302) 856-2772(302) 744-4171

District 38: Ronald E. Gray, email:

District 39: Daniel B. Short, email:

District 40: Timothy D. Dukes, email: 744-4172(302) 628-5222(302) 280-6344(443) 235-9806

District 41: Richard G. Collins, email:


Delaware Senators:

District 1: Harris B. McDowell III, email: Facebook: 

District 2: Margaret Rose Henry, email:

District 3: Robert I. Marshall, email:

District 4: Gregory F. Lavelle, email:

District 5: Catherine Cloutier, email:

District 6: Ernesto B. Lopez, email:

District 7: Patricia M. Blevins, email:

District 8: David P. Sokola, email:

District 9: Karen E. Peterson, email:

District 10: Bethany A. Hall-Long, email:

District 11: Bryan Townsend, email:

District 12: Nicole Poore, email:

District 13: David B. McBride, email:

District 14: Bruce C. Ennis, email:

District 15: David G. Lawson, email:

District 16: Colin R.J. Bonini, email:

District 17: Brian J. Bushweller, email:

District 18: F. Gary Simpson, email:

District 19: Brian Pettyjohn, email:

District 20: Gerald W. Hocker, email:

District 21: Bryant L. Richardson,

Even If Governor Markell Vetoes House Bill 50, The General Assembly Could Override The Veto

Governor Markell, House Bill 50, Parental Opt-Out of Standardized Testing

Governor Markell announced today he would veto House Bill 50 if it is passed by the Delaware House and Senate and comes to his desk.  However, in Delaware law, it could be overturned by the Delaware General Assembly.  Here’s how, taken from the Delaware Constitution:

§ 18 Approval or veto of bills, orders, resolutions or votes; repassage over veto.

Section 18. Every bill which shall have passed both Houses of the General Assembly shall, before it becomes law, be presented to the Governor; if he or she approves, he or she shall sign it; but if he or she shall not approve, he or she shall return it with his or her objections to the House in which it shall have originated, which House shall enter the objections at large on the journal and proceed to reconsider it. If, after such reconsideration, three-fifths of all the members elected to that House shall agree to pass the bill, it shall be sent together with the objections to the other House, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by three-fifths of all the members elected to that House, it shall become a law; but in neither House shall the vote be taken on the day on which the bill shall be returned to it. In all such cases the votes of both Houses shall be determined by yeas and nays, and the names of the members voting for and against the bill shall be entered on the journal of each House respectively. If any bill shall not be returned by the Governor within ten days, Sundays excepted, after it shall have been presented to him or her, the same shall be a law in like manner as if he or she had signed it, unless the General Assembly shall, by final adjournment, prevent its return, in which case it shall not become a law without the approval of the Governor.

For purposes of return of Bills not approved by the Governor the General Assembly shall be considered to be continuously in Session until final adjournment and the Clerk of the House of Representatives and the Secretary of the Senate shall be deemed proper recipients of such returned bills during recess or adjournment of the General Assembly other than final adjournment.

No bill shall become a law after the final adjournment of the General Assembly, unless approved by the Governor within thirty days after such adjournment. The Governor shall have power to disapprove of any item or items of any bill making appropriations of money, embracing distinct items, and the part or parts of the bill approved shall be the law, and the item or items of appropriation disapproved shall be void, unless repassed according to the rules and limitations prescribed for the passage of other bills, over the Executive veto. Every order, resolution, or vote to which the concurrence of both Houses of the General Assembly may be necessary, except on a question of adjournment, shall be presented to the Governor, and before the same shall take effect be approved by him or her, or being disapproved by him or her, shall be repassed by three-fifths of all the members elected to each House of the General Assembly, according to the rules and limitations prescribed in the case of a bill. Every order and resolution to which the concurrence of both Houses of the General Assembly may be necessary, except on a question of adjournment and those matters dealing solely with the internal or administrative affairs of the General Assembly, shall be presented to the Governor, and before the same shall take effect be approved by him or her, or being disapproved by him or her, shall be repassed by three-fifths of all the members elected to each House of the General Assembly, according to the rules and limitations prescribed in the case of a bill.

In a nutshell, if House Bill 50 gets to the point where Markell vetoes the legislation, the House of Representatives (who originated the bill) would record Markell’s objection, and if they decided to revote on it, and if 3/5 of the House says yes (25 out of the 41), it would then go to the Senate.  They would vote, and if 3/5 of the Senate says yes (13 out of 21), it would become law.

So this means everyone needs to call, email, post on their elected officials Facebook, Twitter and any other social media they have, and publicly and loudly request their support for House Bill 50.  I will be posting information that will make this very easy for everyone shortly.

Listen To Governor Markell Say He Will Veto House Bill 50, Kowalko Response On WDEL Coming NOW!

Governor Markell, House Bill 50, Parental Opt-Out of Standardized Testing

WDEL has put up a podcast of the arrogant and condescending comments made by Governor Jack Markell today in an interview with Rick Jensen.

The part about his Alan Jackson email address begins at the 7:00 mark, his remarks about opt-out and common core begin at 12:16, and his BIG remark about the veto starts at 18:03 with the “Yeah”

To hear the report by WDEL’s Amy Cherry on it, you can listen here: but note the part where Markell clearly says the word “yeah” in the podcast does not appear on her report.  In my estimation, his yeah is confirmation he would veto the bill.

Meanwhile, Delaware State Rep. John Kowalko is on WDEL with Allan Loudell, right at this very moment.

Delaware Priority Schools: The Truth Revealed Part 17


In Part 17 we see the beginnings of a very controversial Penny Schwinn had in front of the State Board of Education and members of the public.  This was last August, when she told a board member, in response to a question about the extreme amount of violence in Wilmington affecting the classroom, “That’s not necessarily a challenge to overcome.”  It was challenge she said, not hurdle, as I have reported before.  But it’s still the same lack of understanding of schools all over America, especially low-income urban schools.



Having attended that State Board of Education meeting, it was certainly an eye opener and shocking moment for myself, Mike Matthews (who was sitting next to me), and the African-American members of the State Board.  While they didn’t directly chastise Schwinn for saying it, their initial reactions said everything.

We also see that more people are being told about this initiative, but it doesn’t mention who.  Are these the schools? The districts?  Other employees at the DOE?  Other Delaware Departments, councils, committees, and agencies?  Or is information going out to organizations like the Delaware Business Roundtable, and Rodel, and Delaware Charter School Network?  This questions about who knew what and when did they know is a mystery…

Delaware Priority Schools: The Truth Revealed Part 16


Part 16 doesn’t get into too much about the upcoming priority schools announcement, however it does give a pretty clear indication of how indifferent the DOE seems to feel about Christina and Red Clay in terms of the disruption this announcement will cause.



What is this district classification they are speaking of?  Is it the three-tier program where they rate each district as talked about in the ESEA Waiver?  The DOE is obviously obsessed with reports and data but it doesn’t understand like they really know what they mean…

Delaware Priority Schools: The Truth Revealed Part 15


Part 15 shows the crystal clear duplicity and lack of transparency involved in the priority schools in this email from Penny Schwinn to Mark Murphy.  It is almost as if they are intentionally trying to cause confusion with this…


We really see how they mean to mislead the stakeholders on the priority schools.  We see the very strong language often heard from Governor Markell about “if they don’t do it then we will.”  This seems to be the genesis of the bravado the DOE and Markell used in many public situations concerning the priority schools.

Delaware Priority Schools: The Truth Revealed Part 14


Part 14 shows the DOE once again connecting with the company called WestEd.  It is obvious Penny Schwinn and Nawi Thalia have no clue about how to put this all together, and they are way out of their depth on these issues.



We learn from this email they haven’t even put rubrics together at all.  How this could not be included in a US DOE ESEA Flexibility Waiver is beyond me, and the US DOE signed off on it!  The most important part is the mission, and to hell with the consequences…

Delaware Priority Schools: The Truth Revealed Part 13


Unless you have triskadekaphobia, Part 13 gives more of the priority schools background at the Delaware DOE before they made the big announcement on September 4th, 2014.  These emails were all part of a FOIA request another individual received last fall.

In Part 13, we see the Delaware DOE reaching out to other states to see how this is done.


I would put up all the Colorado stuff, but most of it can be seen at the website in the email:

It’s fascinating to me that the DOE didn’t do all this work prior to knowing which schools they had.  They only knew they wanted these schools and didn’t do a bit of research to determine if priority status was the best thing for these schools.  It definitely hints at a predetermined agenda and the priority schools was a means to achieve that…

Breaking News! Governor Markell Publicly Announces He Will Veto Parent Opt-Out Bill

Governor Markell, House Bill 50, Parental Opt-Out of Standardized Testing

Delaware Governor Jack Markell just told listeners of WDEL he would veto the opt-out legislation, House Bill 50, if it comes to his office.  WDEL host Rick Jensen asked if point blank: “Would you veto the bill?”  Markell said “Yeah.  I never say what I’m going to do to a bill in advance, but I can say I absolutely don’t support that bill.”

He also said Common Core is not a curriculum and it is not federal intrusion or a takeover of American education.  He brought up the civil rights organizations opposing the bill, and said students need this.

He also explained his “Alan Jackson” email address to Jensen and said it was so he could get crucial emails and not get bogged down going through hundreds of emails.  He talked about how transparent his administration has been.  And yet I have not received an acknowledgment of my FOIA request submitted to his office five days ago.

This is a very desperate man with vast amounts of arrogance and conflicts of interest.  He needs to be impeached…NOW!

**UPDATED** 6:14pm: this has been updated to include the EXACT words Markell said on air.  The clip about this on WDEL’s website right now does NOT include the part where he said “Yeah”.

Delaware Priority Schools: The Truth Revealed Part 12


Now that their ESEA waiver is done, we see a ten day break in emails.  Now we see Penny start to get moving on how to do all this.  The Feds approved their ESEA waiver, now they have to actually do it.  And what does the DOE do when they don’t know what to do?  Let’s get some contractors in by God!






This email shows a very unwise comment by Thalia Nawi at the DOE.  The question is asked about how other states handled school CLOSURE.  Not turnaround, but closure.  It seems as if the DOE is expecting school CLOSURE.  Why would that be?  Did they think one or both of the districts would put up such a fuss they would have to choose school closure?

We all see the head of the DOE’s Teacher and Leader Effectiveness Unit, Chris Ruszkowski making his smooth intros for the formerly on the dark side publicly elected officer Penny Schwinn.  Love his “(mass) insight” pun.

We will be taking a break from the priority FOIA party.  But when it comes back, it will start getting more crazy as the DOE tries to make all the puzzle pieces fit, especially when word starts getting out…

Delaware Priority Schools: The Truth Revealed Part 10 **UPDATED**


Somehow I got Part 11 up twice and Part 10 went up before it should, so for the sake of continuity, I am deleting the old Part 10 and changing one of the duplicated Part 11s to give a rigorous and robust data filled continuity matrix to effectively flow with best processes.  This is my measurable objective.  Help me!!! I’ve been reading DOE emails so much I’m turning into one of them!!!!  This is time-consuming work, and sometimes there just isn’t enough coffee!

Part 10 is where the DOE finds themselves caught in a web of their own making…




We have Dan Weinles from the Christina School District asking the DOE about the metrics for high needs schools so they can plan ahead.  But the DOE acts like a deer in the headlights in their responses to him.  They don’t want to give him too much information that would clue him in on the upcoming moral massacre they are going to drop on Christina and Red Clay in a month and a half.  What to do, what to do…

Delaware Priority Schools: The Truth Revealed Part 11


Some of this may seem familiar, and that’s because part of this one was published last December in the famous Kowalko FOIA.  The whole part with “the schools we want” was a smoking gun.





The Delaware DOE finished their ESEA waiver request just in the knick of time.  Way to wait until the last minute!  In my opinion, this shows how very desperate they were to get a very particular priority schools initiative going that they would risk something as huge as a federal waiver program based on this.  Earlier this year, the DOE made a big spectacle about presenting their current waiver request to the public.  Where was this transparency with the priority schools part of this waiver request?  Adding stuff in at the last minute that no one would know about until it was too late without public comment… bad form DOE, bad form….

Delaware Priority Schools: The Truth Revealed Part 9


This is the one that has me completely dumbfounded.  We have Schwinn asking for a list of the Priority and Focus schools.


Does this mean she doesn’t even know which ones are the upcoming priority schools, or is it the ones that were already in Partnership Zone status but will be exiting shortly?  Brian (Touchette) was supposed to get this report to her before his vacation, but he didn’t.  We see Schwinn showing a little crankiness here.  I can only imagine the pressure she is under to get this MAJOR part of the ESEA waiver in immediately…  The previous email said Deb at the US DOE wanted this by Wednesday at the latest.  And Penny is working on a Sunday again…

Delaware Priority Schools: The Truth Revealed Part 8


In Part 8 we see the creation of the new Data & Research unit at the Delaware DOE.  Their task is to come up with all the funky calculations and formulas to fit the methodology of the DOE’s master plan.  And what’s up with the two items needed for the ESEA flex waiver?



Deb Delisle is the US DOE Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education.  She is also who Murphy talked to and she probably said “Mark, if you want this ESEA waiver approved you better get me those priority school parts.”  Since Susan Haberstroh at the Delaware DOE oversees all the ESEA stuff, it would make sense she is included in all of this.  In terms of pecking order at the DOE, I would actually rate Haberstroh higher than Schwinn.  Especially when you see what happens next…

Delaware Priority Schools: The Truth Revealed Part 7


In Part 7 we see yet another Sunday email going out from someone at the DOE, and this one is going from Penny Schwinn to the two people under her in the Accountability and Performance unit at the DOE.



We definitely see Schwinn taking on a very active role at the DOE in this email with those underneath her.  There have been many changes going on at the DOE with moves between their two buildings and it seems like some people won’t be happy about some of them.  Brian Touchette is given the task of clearing out the remaining Focus/Priority Schools before the new initiative kicks into high gear. The embargoed data Schwinn speaks of is the scores for the 2014 DCAS Assessments.  Someone has seen this already if Schwinn knows schools will be coming out of Focus or Priority status.  For point of reference, before they were called Priority Schools, they were called Partnership Zone schools.  There are still some partnership zone schools, but we all learned in the past seven months what Priority schools are…

Delaware Priority Schools: The Truth Revealed Part 6


In Part 6 we see an interesting conversation in regards to a DOE departure and who needs to be on certain phone calls…



Who is David Yi?  He is an Education Program Specialist for the Office of School Turnaround at the US DOE.  According to his linkedin profile, his main role is to “Serve as a main point of contact and strategic thought partner for states in how to effectively implement the U.S. Department of Education’s school turnaround grant programs, which since 2010 has awarded over $5 billion to turn around the country’s lowest-performing schools.”

Keith is Keith Sanders, a former DOE employee who held the title of Chief Officer School Turnaround Unit.  Susan Haberstroh announces his impending departure and indicates changes are coming to this unit of the DOE.  Ted Jarrell works with the Title I programs at the Delaware DOE.  Brian is Brian Touchette, the former Director of Assessment at the DOE.

Delaware Priority Schools: The Truth Revealed Part 5


Part 5 is a very small email between Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy and the Chief Accountability and Performance Officer, Penny Schwinn.  With that being said, this is a very important email…


Mark Murphy tells Penny Schwinn that other stakeholders have been notified.  He doesn’t name them, but this is very important in the grand scheme of the priority schools initiative.  A stakeholder would have to be someone that would be impacted by this decision.  With everything that occurred with the priority schools, this could be several people.  Murphy also states it is “all about communication.”  This foreshadowing on Murphy’s part predicts a very tumultuous reaction to this upcoming announcement.  Murphy wants all his ducks in a row, and wants to slowly ease “stakeholders” into this.  I would have to assume “MKM” is Mary Kate McLaughlin, the former Chief of Staff at the DOE.

Delaware Priority Schools: The Truth Revealed Part 4


In Part 4, we meet the infamous Penny Schwinn to the Delaware DOE. Although she is not writing this email, she has been included with the heavy hitters of the DOE.  In this document, we start to see a more formal process of how the DOE wants to implement the priority schools.



What becomes immediately interesting is the fact that the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to be given to each priority school has not even been created yet.  It also indicates the methodology, or formula, for determining priority status is based on what the DOE wrote into their Elementary and Secondary Education Act flexibility waiver, with the last one having been approved by the US Department of Education on July 31st 2014.  No new MOU was approved by the US DOE because there was none included with the waiver request.

Note on the 2nd email the sticky notes.  These notes were placed on this email in regards to the actual FOIA request.  It is not known who wrote the first sticky note and who signed off on the second one.  The second email addresses the need for the “methodology” and “exit formula” to be added to the waiver request.

Delaware Priority Schools: The Truth Revealed Part 3


In Part 3 we have a VERY interesting email between then Lieutenant Governor Matt Denn and Susan Haberstroh from the Delaware DOE, with lots of the big names included.  Once again, none of the eventual priority schools are named, but this email gives strong hints about what is going on…



Now this is where it starts to get interesting.  We have Lieutenant Governor Matt Denn, if I’m reading this correctly, acknowledging that the priority schools will be the same no matter what formula they use.  This is in March of 2o14, nearly six months before the official announcement.  He is advising the DOE to change their formula while also acknowledging no high school without an enrollment preference could ever become a recognition school under the current formula.  But telling the DOE to keep it another year.  I am reading this as Delaware DOE was able to create the formula and US DOE would have to approve it.  Out of the two formulas, both would give the same results…  six schools within a square mile of the heart of Wilmington…

Delaware Priority Schools: The Truth Revealed Part 2


For the second email from the Citizen’s FOIA, we see a very specific mention of Red Clay Consolidated School District…



It is obvious from this email there are changes coming regarding monitoring of the schools that are in Turnaround status.  Specific mention is given to Red Clay and their contribution to this new monitoring status, along with the DOE and Mass Insight, who will definitely come up later…

In the meantime, check out these monitoring documents for the turnaround schools:







And then we have the PZ-Priority-SIG Monitoring Overview Documents

PZ-Priority-SIG MonitoringOverview

PZ-Priority-SIG MonitoringOverview2

PZ-Priority-SIG MonitoringOverview3