16 To Watch In 2016: John Carney

John Carney

When US Congressman John Carney announced he was running for the Governor of Delaware, nobody was really shocked.  Everyone assumed he was the rightful heir to Governor.  Many felt he should have already been Governor, back in 2008.  He was ahead in the polls, and in a shocking defeat he lost to Delaware Treasurer Jack Markell in the Democrat primary.  The very close vote caused Carney to lose the race by 1,737 votes.  Markell won, 51% to 49%.  Carney went on to become the Delaware Representative in Congress.

To many Delawareans, Markell should have never been Governor and felt Carney was robbed.  Imagine, if you will, what could have happened if Carney won that primary.  Would Delaware still be the Common Core cheerleader for the nation?  Would Carney have vetoed House Bill 50?  Would our DOE have become the bloated cow it has morphed into under Markell’s reign of terror?

So what happened that day, September 9th, 2008?  Carney had the backing of almost the entire Democratic caucus, and Senator Tom Carper told Markell he should “wait his turn” and not run.  Of course Markell did anyways.  Carney’s loss that day did not come from New Castle County.  He only lost by 51 votes there.  It was Kent and Sussex County that opted for Markell over Carney.  Even though 2/3rds of the votes came from New Castle, it wasn’t enough to defeat Markell.  Did Markell get help from an unexpected source to turn the tide?

2016 will be a different story.  With no challenger in the Democratic race, it is a surefire certainty Carney will lead the Democratic Gubernatorial ticket.  By all indications, Delaware Senator Colin Bonini will be the Republican frontrunner.  As I’ve said before, I would love a challenge with this race.  Both of these candidates need to get out there and make their presence known.

As for education, Carney voted for the Every Student Succeeds Act along with his brethren in the US Senate, Carper and Coons.  He needs to start talking about education real fast if he wants to be taken serious.  This is one of the number one topics in the First State, and he needs to let his stance on all the damage his usurper wrought upon Delaware be known.

Governor Markell Tells WEIC Funding Will Not Come From Red Clay Residents

At the WEIC meeting tonight, the surprise visit from Governor Markell had a big surprise!  The Governor told WEIC and the crowd that the funding for redistricting WILL NOT COME FROM RED CLAY RESIDENTS.  The commission previously said they were going to ask the Governor for $6 million in the Fiscal Year 2017 which the Governor will unleash at the end of January.  I’m already wondering where this magical $6 million is going to come from when we are already facing a potential budget deficit north of $200 million.  Just getting this out there.  Remember this, bookmark this.

Governor Markell Shows Up At WEIC Meeting

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Apparently, he felt the only way the commission could prove themselves worthy is if they took the Smarter Balanced Assessment.

The only way to see if this works is to see your proficiency.  If you can’t cut it, we will have to wait another year and see what your growth is.  If you show some rigor and grit, we will take a look at it then.

But seriously, he did show up for about ten minutes.  He thanked the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission for all their hard work.  The Governor emphasized the redistricting should not affect Red Clay residents and the funding will not come from them.  He reminded the Commission this is going to be a very tough budget year.  There were no questions, and Jack left.  That is the heart of it.  Thank you to my “reporter-on-the-fly” and my “photographer-on-the-fly” who submitted this information to me!  Not the Smarter Balanced stuff.  That was a complete lie on my part.

 

Family Foundations Investigation Released By State Auditor, The Damage: $141,000 Verified, $1.2 Million “Unverifiable”

Delaware State Auditor Tom Wagner’s office released the Family Foundation Academy full inspection report a year after it was revealed their office was investigating them.  The biggest finding: Ex Head of School leaders Sean Moore and Dr. Tennell Brewington, as well as other employees of the school, racked up $141,000 in personal purchases with over $1.2 million unverifiable whether it was business or pleasure.  The report talks about the settlement agreement Moore and Brewington and the Board of Directors for a little over $85,000.  There is a mountain of abuse and violations in this report!  Even some that occurred well after East Side Charter essentially took over the school at the end of last year.  This is really, really bad.

AOA’s inspection revealed the administration at Family Foundations Academy  (the Academy) seemingly operated in its own universe during the period July 1, 2011 through January 31, 2015.

Updated, 3:45pm: with the press release from State Auditor Tom Wagner’s office:

FFA

Breaking News: US Senate Passes Every Student Succeeds Act, President Obama Will Sign The Death Knell Of Public Education

The United States Senate just passed the Every Student Succeeds Act.  The controversial reauthorization of the Elementary/Secondary Education Act (ESSA) is now going to President Obama who is expected to sign the legislation.  The US Senate has not released the roll call on this historic vote, but I will update this as soon as it is released.  Meanwhile, Rep. Kline had this to say about today’s vote:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) issued the following statement today after the Senate passed a bipartisan, bicameral bill to replace No Child Left Behind and improve K-12 education:

Senators Murray and Alexander are to be commended for their leadership on a vitally important issue. They were the partners we needed in the Senate to get the job done. After years of delay, Congress is finally sending a bill to the president’s desk replacing No Child Left Behind with a new law that will reduce the federal role, restore local control, and empower parents. Those are precisely the kind of reforms parents, teachers, and state and local education leaders deserve, and I am grateful for all of the hard work of our House and Senate colleagues for helping to make these reforms a reality.

Known as the Every Student Succeeds Act (S. 1177), the bipartisan, bicameral bill will reform K-12 education by reducing the federal role, restoring local control, and empowering parents. The bill was approved by the House last week with overwhelming bipartisan support and will soon head to the president’s desk for his signature. To learn more about the Every Student Succeeds Act, visit edworkforce.house.gov/k12education.

And so it begins, again.  Education is a very different world now, and we all know who we can thank for this.  Welcome to the future of education, otherwise known as the death knell of public education.

Delaware DOE Reveals The Common Core Loving Truth Of Standards Based IEPs

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In education tradition, the term “Standards-Based IEPs” meant something very different from the current bastardization of the words.  Nowadays, it means Common Core.  As in aligning a student with disabilities IEP to the Common Core State Standards.  I challenged the DOE on this a year and a half ago.  Their response: that it was a myth.  That this had more to do with the IEP than Common Core.  They lied.  They lied to me, and they lied to the IEP Task Force.  It is all about the Common Core.  This isn’t my first rodeo in writing about standards based IEPs.  Cause I was really ticked off here, even more than when I first figured out what they were.  I know this because the DOE put it on their own website, as seen on the last paragraph of this picture:

DOE StandardsBasedIEPs

 

So what is this WRITES initiative the DOE speaks of?  It is the “ACCESS Project”, and it comes from the University of Delaware’s Center for Disability Studies.  Yet another program where the DOE is spending tons of money to “fix” our education with their top vendor: University of Delaware.  The University explains what this project is here.  The key words from the DOE website are “aligning student IEP goals and assessments to the Common Core State Standards.”  When did special education ever become about the curriculum and standards and not the individual student?  They will try to make parents of these children think it is all about the individual, but this is the biggest lie.  Because Markell and the DOE want these students to fail…

What really ticks me off with special education in Delaware is the fact that students with disabilities in Kindergarten to 3rd grad who qualify for basic special education services based on their IEP receive no extra funding. Delaware State Rep. Kim Williams took aim at this inequity last winter with House Bill 30, and has now been tied in with the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission. I think it was one of the most important education bills in Delaware right now. But why did we even get to this place to begin with?

To find the answer to this, we have to go back almost five years ago to January 6th, 2011.  This is the day House Bill #1 was introduced to the Delaware General Assembly.  The bill made into law the needs-based funding formula that is our current method of funding schools based on units and special education.  This legislation was rushed through the House and Senate in 20 days and passed both by 1/26/11.  Governor Markell signed the legislation on 2/17/11.  The bill was more a technicality than actual groundbreaking legislation.  The needs-based funding formula pilot actually started out in Brandywine and Seaford back in 2003.  12 more districts were added in 2004, and then all districts and charters were included in 2009.  This was accomplished by use of epilogue language in the budget bill.  House Bill #1 solidified this by making it part of Title 14, the section that covers education in Delaware code.

Since 2009, all public school students in Delaware have been a part of the needs-based funding formula, but basic special education students in K-3 received no extra funding.  I have to wonder why.  Look at these students now.  Children who were in Kindergarten when Governor Markell signed this bill in February 2011 would now be in 5th grade.  If they were in 3rd grade then, they would now be in 8th.  What assessment do students take from 3rd to 8th grade?  The Smarter Balanced Assessment.  While this bill was rushed through the General Assembly, no one could have predicted the monstrosity that is the Smarter Balanced Assessment four years later.  But Governor Markell was well aware of this.

Almost a year before this, Delaware was one of two states to win the first round of Race To The Top.  As part of the funding received from RTTT, states were required to create state assessments aligned with Common Core.  Markell knew this, the DOE knew this, and the General Assembly knew this.  The students who were denied special education funding through House Bill #1 eventually became the students with disabilities guinea pigs on the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  We all know how they did on this test statewide.  19% proficiency.  They were destined to fail.  I believe Markell wanted this.  After all, to justify more contracts and companies coming into Delaware to fix our education, doesn’t there have to be a problem?

We are now seeing this with the contract the DOE is currently picking a vendor for.  According to the DOE and Markell, we have a literacy problem that needs to be fixed, but there is so much more wrapped into that contract proposal.  It is all tied into US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and his bon voyage gift as he leaves his position.  Which brings us back to standards-based IEPs.  How many contracts and vendors will it take to get Delaware students with disabilities from 19% to 59% proficiency in six years?  Quite a few I imagine!  It is and always has been about the money.  But as always, it is the students who pay the price.  As well, I have no doubt House Bill 30 will become law, whether WEIC passes or not.  Because the extra money and funding that these students should have never been denied, will help to get that proficiency rate up!  But for the students with disabilities from 2009-2016 who went through Kindergarten to 3rd grade in Delaware without this essential funding, what happens with them?  Their very foundation in education stolen from them because of a jacked up funding formula designed to make them look bad.

This issue is at the heart of this blog.  Because my son was one of those students.  Because the funding isn’t there for those students, getting an IEP for them can be very difficult at some schools.  Why would a school implement an IEP and provide services for these students if they aren’t getting any extra funding for them?  And these children have suffered immensely for Jack Markell’s hubris.

Christina Board of Education Shoots Down Joining BRINC With 4-2 Vote!!!!

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The Christina School District Board of Education had an action item on their agenda to enter into a contract with the BRINC Consortium and a company called Modern Teacher.  I wrote a bit about it a few days ago.  With a third referendum attempt facing the district and a huge loss of students this year due to school choice, as well as a $49,000 contract that would have been implemented with joining, it sounds like wiser minds prevailed on the board.  The no votes were President Harrie Ellen Minnehan, Elizabeth Paige, Shirley Saffer and John Young.  The yes votes belonged to Vice-President George Evans and David Ressler.

In a change of pace, last night’s board meeting lasted for an hour and a half.

Civics lesson: FOIA filings ARE indeed FREE!