David Bentz Beats Eileen O’Shaunessy-Coleman In 18th District State Representative Special Election

In a special election today, former legislative aide David Bentz won the vacant slot left by former State Rep. Mike Barbieri when he resigned at the end of July.  While the count is not official yet, it looks like Bentz beat his opponent by a 56.7% of the vote.  This gives House Democrats continued control of the coveted 3/5ths of the House majority, which is the amount needed to pass certain bills like tax increases.*

I contacted both of the candidates for their stance on education in Delaware, but nothing came of it.  It will be interesting to see if Bentz sticks to his campaign promises in supporting the override of Governor Markell’s House Bill 50 veto.  Parents who advocate for opt-out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment are growing by the day, and they want this to happen.

O’Shaunessy-Coleman ran a good campaign, and for a while there today she was tracking ahead in the polls.  She is a special education advocate, so I wouldn’t have minded seeing her win the slot.  I am confident we haven’t heard the last from her.  Part of me is torn on this.  I liked both the candidates, but I’m not sure the House Dems having that much control is a good thing. It doesn’t allow for a great deal of balance in Delaware.  I’m sure this will anger many of my Democrat friends, but with the way certain legislators have been behaving the past few months, a balance is very much needed to counter certain egos.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am in the middle.  I follow the dictates of what I believe and my own conscience when it comes to politics.  Both sides have valid issues, and both have some things I am fundamentally against.  I don’t choose to get into non-education matters too often, but that may change in the future as I am learning there is a lot of politics that goes along with education, especially in Delaware.

But for now congrats to State Rep. David Bentz.  As I wrote on his Facebook page, he will assuredly be hearing from me quite a bit, and I reminded him to stay true to his constituents.

*This article has been updated as of 9/14/15 to reflect that the 3/5 majority is needed for tax increases, NOT state budget approval.

School’s Never Out | Town Square Delaware #netDE

John Young, of Transparent Christina, wrote this four years ago. It doesn’t look like things have changed at all in the First State…

**UPDATED** Looking To Become A Board Certified Special Education Advocate? Here’s Your Chance!

I can no longer endorse this program at all since Fox29 in Philadelphia showed a video of their investigation into this company. Do not, I repeat, do not take this course. The owner has fake doctorate credentials. For more information, see my reaction to the Fox29 story.

Poverty Matters! Smarter Balanced Impact: The Sussex Academy Effect

Sussex Academy, the only Delaware charter school in Sussex County, was one of the best Smarter Balanced scoring schools in the entire county.  This is not an accident, nor is it an indication they are the “best” school in the county.  Like the Charter School of Wilmington, Sussex Academy was named in the ACLU lawsuit against the State of Delaware last December for discrimination against minority and special needs students.  Or what the blogosphere collectively calls “cherry-picking”.  The school is smack dab in the middle of Sussex County.

SussexAcademyMap

On the Delaware Department of Education school profiles part of their website, it shows the school’s demographics.  Sussex County has a very large population of Hispanics.  Western Sussex County is considered one of the poorest sections of the state and that trend is expected to increase over time.

SussexAcademyProfile

In previous articles, this blog and Delaware Liberal have focused on New Castle County, Capital School District, and all the Delaware charters.  Our graphs have shown the effect low-income and poverty has on Smarter Balanced performance.  Unfortunately, this trend continues in Sussex County as seen below. Since Sussex Academy is primarily a middle school (although their high school is increasing, with 9th grade added two years ago, 10th grade last year, and 11th grade this year), I ran the graph with just the middle schools surrounding the school.  Sussex Academy appears to be siphoning away the “better” students from their surrounding districts.

SussexCountyPLISBAC

To put this in perspective, Laurel Intermediate School is currently a Priority School in Delaware, which slipped under the radar of most bloggers until recently.  Meanwhile, Sussex Academy is praised by Governor Markell and the Delaware DOE as a great success.  All schools would be considered awesome if they were allowed to do what Sussex Academy does with their application process and mythical “lottery”.  Like Charter School of Wilmington and Newark Charter School to some extent, the veil has been lifted and these schools are not superior schools.  They have merely placed themselves on that stage by picking who they want, and more importantly, who they don’t want.

While their Hispanic population seems high, 9.6%, compared to many of the other schools, it is very low.  Sussex Academy is in Georgetown, the same as Georgetown Middle School.  Watch what happens…

SussexHispanic

In theory then, does the same hold true for the percentage of English Language Learners in Sussex County?  Not exactly.  Even though a few schools have less Hispanic students, Sussex Academy has the lowest percentage of English Language Learners.

SussexELL

How does Sussex Academy compare to the other schools with special education?  I’m sure you know the answer already, but there is a very wide margin between the school and the others.

SussexSpecEd

In fact, they are in the low single-digits compared to the schools surrounding them.  When I see this, it always reminds me of the scene in Forrest Gump, when young Forrest tries to find a seat on the bus and the one kids says to him “Can’t sit here.”  This is what Sussex Academy does with their blatant discrimination against low-income students, Hispanics, and students with disabilities.  But I’m sure they will be recognized as a “reward” or “recognition” school for their exemplary performance…

Charter School Laws are they legal or not? Part 1

DelawareFirstState

I was reading an article in The Washington Post titled: A perfect education storm in Washington state. In the article, they published a post on what is going on in Washington state by Wayne Au, an associate professor at the University of Washington Bothell and an editor for the social justice education magazine, Rethinking Schools. He was also a  plaintiff in the charter school legal challenge, along with organizations including the Washington Education Association and the League of Women Voters.

There are many great points in Wayne Au’s post which I have pointed out below.

The key issue is this: Washington State’s constitution has a provision that only “common schools” receive tax dollars allocated for public education. The law in Washington State is structured so that charter schools are governed at both the school level and state level by an appointed board, not an elected one. As such, charter…

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Big Brother Isn’t Just Watching, He’s Gearing Up For A Hostile Takeover

If this is the plan, it is very troubling.  Especially since Regulation 103 seems to be something embedded in Delaware state code in order for this to happen.  I normally read this stuff with a grain of salt but with a watchful eye.  But read this with an open mind.  Read it and think of everything going on in education right now.  When we have out-of-state education reform think tank guys writing in the News Journal out of the blue, something is up… When we have education surveys given to teachers asking a lot of the same questions as what is described in the below article, something is up…