Podcast of DE PTA Yvonne Johnson on WDEL, Hear A Caller Call Mark Murphy A Sycophant

House Bill 50, Parental Opt-Out of Standardized Testing

The Rick Jensen show on WDEL today had Rick interviewing Delaware PTA’s very own Yvonne Johnson.  The two discussed House Bill 50, standardized tests, common core and more.  And then John Young called in and things got very interesting!

Even I called in at the end to announce the publishing of Part 31 of the priority school FOIA series I’ve been posting for the past few weeks to give a clear example of what the Delaware DOE is doing with all this important “data” they receive from standardized testing.

Delaware Senator Sokola Introduces Student Data Protection Legislation

Student Data Protection

Delaware Senator David Sokola introduced Senate Bill 79 on May 1st.  This bill would force school districts and the Delaware Department of Education to effectively govern the use of student data in conjunction with existing state and federal law.  I would have thought most of this was part of state law already.  Certainly, federal FERPA law already trumps state law, and even they have allowed student data and information to get out to contracted vendors for “educational benefit”.

DSEA Reveals Governor Markell’s Flexible Funding Pilot Buried In FY 2016 Budget Bill

Flexible Funding Pilot, Governor Markell

This information, sent to me by a VERY concerned Delaware citizen, is not good for Delaware schools.  What is the game plan here Markell?  Why do you want to destroy education?

Gov. Markell has proposed budget language that could cost educators their jobs and eliminate well-rounded educational programs for students and cost educators their jobs.  The program is the Flexible Funding Pilot found at the end of the FY 2016 Budget Bill.  The program, if enacted, would give districts the flexibility to save money by eliminating programs and positions that are not innovative, lead to student achievement, or are deemed too costly.  The Flexible Funding Pilot is a deliberate move away from funding programs and positions based on student population.  DSEA believes that Delaware’s school funding system needs to be re-examined in a responsible manner that is inclusive of current practitioners, experts in the field, and elected officials.  We do not support changing the funding system by hiding a new system in the 230+ paged budget bill.  We are asking you to contact members of the Joint Finance Committee- the committee responsible for voting on this language and express the following:

  • Delaware students need a well-rounded education, not one focused on budget constraints or test scores! Do not vote for the Flexible Funding Pilot in the budget Epilogue.
  • The Flexible Funding Pilot means loss of jobs for: Arts and Social Studies Teachers, School Psychologists, Guidance Counselors, Speech Pathologists, Secretaries, Custodians and Food Service Workers.
  • The Flexible Funding Pilot is an irresponsible approach to addressing Delaware’s school funding problems. We want a comprehensive review and plan put together by current practitioners, experts in the field, and elected officials.

We need to lobby JFC Members over the next few weeks. Please contact these legislators and share this message with colleagues that may not have access to a home email!  Please note: If the program gets the votes it needs, then this becomes a local organizing issue. Your local school board will have to approve a Flexible Funding plan in order to take part in the pilot.

Joint Finance Chairs · Senator Harris McDowell Harris.McDowell@state.de.us (302) 744-4269 · Representative Melanie George Smith melanie.g.smith@state.de.us (302) 577-8473 Joint Finance Members · Representative J.J. Johnson- New Castle jj.johnson@state.de.us (302) 577-5312 · Representative Debra Heffernan- Brandywine Hundred debra.heffernan@state.de.us 302) 744-4030 · Representative Bill Carson – Smyrna william.carson@state.de.us 302) 744-4193 · Representative Harvey Kenton- Kent/Sussex County Harvey.Kenton@state.de.us (302) 744-4267 · Representative Joe Miro – Pike Creek/Newark joseph.miro@state.de.us (302) 577-8723 · Senator Brian Bushweller- Dover brian.bushweller@state.de.us (302) 744-4035 · Senator Bruce Ennis – Middletown/Smyrna bruce.ennis@state.de.us (302) 744-4035 · Senator Cathy Cloutier – Brandywine Hundred catherine.cloutier@state.de.us (302) 744-4197 · Senator Karen Peterson- Newport Karen.Peterson@state.de.us (302) 577-5305 · Senator Dave Lawson –Lower Kent County/Sussex County Dave.Lawson@state.de.us (302) 744-4237

Delaware Priority Schools: The Truth Revealed Part 31 ***MUST-READ EMAIL FROM MARK MURPHY***


Part 31.  The announcement will take place in less than 12 hours.  Delaware  Secretary of Education Mark Murphy sends out a very late email to Governor Markell’s Chief of Staff, Mike Barlow.


This email shows many things.  Mark Murphy’s line about “FYI-you certainly don’t need to be talking details, but wanted you to see this…” raises many questions.  Who designed the whole priority schools initiative with these six schools in mind?  Why would the Secretary advise the Governor’s Chief of Staff, who advises the Governor on matters like this, not to discuss how the schools were chosen?  Penny’s comments about the methodology show the DOE created formulas just to get to these schools.

I reached out to Mark Murphy, Governor Markell and Mike Barlow for an explanation of this email.  No response was provided by any of the parties involved.

This series about the priority schools will go on, because there are more emails after the fact, and a few more revelations and bombshells.

#SupportHB50 Send and Email: MASS E-MAIL list here, just copy/paste!


Delaware Priority Schools: The Truth Revealed Part 30


This was included to anyone who asked for it from the DOE with their exact methodology for the six priority schools selected.  I love how the DOE spins this.  They state it is a part of the Federal guidelines, but the ESEA waivers are designed to the states write the rules.  The US DOE either approves or rejects these.  We will see this come into play in a huge and major way in Part 31.  This will be the part that everyone will be talking about.  Everyone who was involved and had an active interest in the priority schools will want to read Part 31.  This will go up later today.


Delaware Priority Schools: The Truth Revealed Part 29


As we inch ever closer to the September 4th announcement by Governor Markell at Warner Elementary Schools, the emails keep happening at the DOE.  In Part 29, we see a night before email exchange between Christina Superintendent Freeman Williams and Penny Schwinn.  She advises him of important meetings coming up with the priority schools.



For those who may have forgotten, there was a very heated discussion between Williams, Red Clay Superintendent Merv Daugherty and members of the DOE at a meeting in September a few weeks after the announcement.

In Memory Of Gil Freeman, A Teacher Like No Other

Gil Freeman


Growing up in the 1980’s, school was very interesting.  We were a generation raised by the baby boomers, and they wanted more for their kids than what they had.  A lot of our teachers were baby boomers as well.  In Cross River, NY, if you went to John Jay High School, everyone knew who Gil Freeman was.  Gil was the Choir teacher, the Drama teacher, and ran the plays as well as the high school variety show.

Gil died last week from a horrible accident that shocked the alumni of my high school.  As I went through his Facebook page and saw all the messages to Gil, many memories came flooding through my mind.  I first met Gil when I was in 7th grade.  I was in the choir, and I remember having to walk up this mountain of stairs to get from the junior high to the high school.  And of course Gil’s “Annex” as it was called, was on the other side of the high school campus, diagonally at that!

Gil and I didn’t get along back then.  I was an obnoxious almost-teen who didn’t care about school.  I recall getting kicked out of Gil’s class often.  When I got to the high school in 10th grade (at the time in my district high school started in 10th grade), I reconnected with Gil.  He would catch me smoking behind his annex, but he never ratted me out. I tried out for the Spring play, which was a series of short plays.  I was to play the King from Tim Stoppard’s parody of Hamlet.  My mom and I made the costume, and God bless her, I looked like the Burger King from the old commercials.

But when Gil and I got along the best was when I was given the stage hand position for the high school variety show.  I was the cloaked figure running around changing props between skits.  I remember hanging out under the table in front of the stage while Gil played a piece on the piano.  I can’t remember what it was, but I was right in front of him.  I watched his fingers move.  And his face, I will never forget it.  It became one with the music.  His very soul was completely entwined with the beautiful sounds he made those nights.  I always respected him for that.  One night when he was playing, he opened his eyes and looked at me and just smiled.  This was a man completely at peace with the world.  The piano was his sanctuary, his place where the talents God gave him shined the brightest.

I was in his drama class the next year, but Gil seemed different.  He could always get angry, but there was a sadness in his eyes.  His mother was very sick.  Gil loved his mom more than anything.  When someone has a long illness, it can numb the soul, but the sadness can always be seen in the eyes.  I empathized with him, but I could never truly understand until many years later when I watched my own mom go through a long illness.

I think the best memories I have with Gil are from that drama class.  The times when he would give us improvs to do, and all of us would be rolling on the floor laughing by the time it was done.  It was in these rare times where I would see Gil smile a little bit more than normal.  My high school years had some of the best memories because of Gil Freeman.  I couldn’t tell you a damn thing about the music he taught, or how to sing.  What Gil did best was bring people together.  As individuals, many of us were a mess.  We were teenagers.  We were jocks, drammies, nerds, cheerleaders, weird, crazy, and confused.  When we were on Gil’s stage, none of that mattered.

Twenty years later, I reconnected with Gil on Facebook.  He retired in the early 1990s and he was enjoying the hell out of life.  He was blessed as one of those teachers who was friends with his former students the rest of his life.  I remember one time Gil’s Facebook account got hacked and he was sending messages about investment.  I knew in a heartbeat this was not Gil Freeman.  I notified him right away.  That was the last time I remember having an active role with Gil.

While Gil may have had an impact on myself, it was far greater with so many others and I know their worlds are a little bit less without Gil in it.  Some of the faces we see on our tv and movie screens had Gil’s touch.  There will never be another Gil.  Please feel free to share your thoughts and memories of Gil on here as a tribute to a great man.