Uncommon School Video Really Makes Me Think Of The Third Reich

I hate to go there, but if you watch the videos from Nazi Germany with kids being taught how to behave and what to do and say and then watch this video, some of the parallels are uncanny.  I’ve never been a big fan of treating kids like they are in some behavior school or a Miss Manners type of situation.  The kids in this video are in Kindergarten.  They are 5 years old.  What is frightening is this video doesn’t show what happens if they are not in compliance.  I’m sure it happens, and I hate to see that video.  My apologies for the very dark comparison, but it truly was the first thing I thought of upon watching this.

This video went up in May, and I’m sure it has been replayed quite a bit, but for those just seeing this the first time, is this truly what you want for our children?  There is choice, and then there is this:

A Year And A Half Of Blogging

It has been a year and a half since I started this blog.  18 months today.  Over 2,000 posts.  Only three days where I didn’t write something: 6/16/14, 7/14/14, and 8/31/14.  There has been an article on here every day since 9/1/14.  Without fail.  Some days I’ve put tons of stuff up.  This should tell you something: how jacked up Delaware is with education.  The very fact that I could find over 1,000 things to write about proves this.  Some of the articles have common themes: Special Education, Opt-Out, Delaware DOE, Charter Schools and Governor Markell are the most obvious ones.  Today, I’m just going to free write, say what is on my mind.  No theme, no clear topic.  Just writing.

I never thought I would get involved in pending legislation, but I’ve learned it is very important to know what is coming.  Not just for yourself, but for your kids.  If I’ve learned nothing in the past 18 months, it is that every single voice does matter.  Don’t be afraid to use it.  You never know when it will make a difference.

I still remember that first night when I picked the name.  That nervous anticipation.  Picking my “header image”, which graced the front of this blog most days and nights until very recently when someone wrote to Warner Brothers about my use of their image.  Its not like I profited over it.  Just someone being bitter and resentful I’m sure.  Whoever you are, let me just say this: you suck!

The one question I am asked constantly is how I have the time to do this.  The easy answer: I don’t.  I’ve spent far too many late nights and early mornings on this blog.  It is exhausting.  And for a while there, I was going to every meeting under the sun.  I’m spent.  Tired.  Exhausted.  I’ve said this before, announcing I was going to slow down, only to come back roaring and writing more than ever.  But like any long distance runner, you eventually hit that wall.  Where your body just gives.  I’m pretty sure I’m at that point.  But I am resilient and bounce back fast, so any pause will be short-lived I’m sure.  Or the DOE or Markell will do something to tick us off and that gets the blood boiling again.

There are days where I feel like nothing I do makes a damn bit of difference.  Special education in Delaware is still a mess.  Jack is still messing things up.  The DOE will do as they please as long as Jack is protecting them.  Charters still have big issues.  I never dreamed there could be so many issues with education that would warrant daily articles.  It really is crazy.  I’m just tired of being mad all the time.  I’m tired of seeing the same people do the same things over and over again and nothing seems to stop them.  And I see others blindly following them, ignorant of what is right in front of them.  I’m sick of charter parents arguing the whole choice argument over and over like it is their kids God-given right to attend “great” schools and screw the other kids.  Is it right to be mad at them?  I don’t know.  I can explain it until the sun sets in the east, but until you have a child that has experienced the painful art of not being included somewhere or not given services they are legally entitled to, it is probably hard to imagine.  But then I see something like House Bill 50 passing the General Assembly, or schools like Family Foundations Academy or Delaware Met and their stories being made public when most of the mainstream media aren’t touching on a quarter of the issues going on in these schools.  Someone has to tell the tales.

I don’t write much about my son on here any more.  Its not because I don’t want to, but I feel his stories are his to tell.  I could write stuff every single day about him.  But he knows I blog, and he knows what I blog about.  I’m cool with that.  Some days he wants to hear about stuff, but most days he just wants to be a kid.  Nothing wrong with that at all.

I got a hair cut the other day.  For men getting older, do you ever just watch as your hair falls and you notice as the years go by how much is grey or white?  I saw that today.  Usually it is brown with bits of grey here and there.  On Friday, it was a lot more.  It makes you think.  Not about how long you’ve live, but how fast it goes.  You blink, and time is gone.  If this is my “time capsule”, so be it.  There are much worse things I could be doing!

16 To Watch In 2016: Tony Allen

Wilmington_Delaware_skyline

Tony Allen wears a lot of hats these days.  First and foremost, he leads the Corporate Communications for Bank of America’s Consumer Banking.  He sits on the Board of Directors at the Rodel Foundation.  But his biggest role in 2015 was the Chairman of both the Wilmington Education Advisory Committee and the Wilmington Education Commission (WEIC).

Unless you’ve been living in a hole, the WEIC’s job is to formulate a redistricting plan to get the Wilmington schools in the Christina School District shifted to Red Clay Consolidated School District.  Originally, the Wilmington schools in the Colonial School District were to be a part of this initiative, but their board said no.  They are still a part of the commission, but the most recent draft isn’t calling for their less than 300 students to move over.

WEIC has been controversial since day one.  Their biggest hurdle will be how to fund this long-term plan.  Ideas have surfaced over the past few months regarding raising property assessments to current day levels over time.  Many in Delaware oppose this, especially those in Sussex County around the beach towns.  Property values have increased dramatically in this area, and any change in property assessments will hit those homeowners very hard.  Recently, WEIC called for $6 million from Delaware’s General Fund in the budget for Fiscal Year 2017.  Delaware Governor Jack Markell promised members of WEIC at their most recent full commission meeting that Red Clay citizens will not have to pay for this.  So who will?  This is the question on everybody’s mind.

WEIC will present their draft to the Delaware State Board of Education on 12/17, next Thursday.  At that point, it is expected the State Board will vote yes on it in January and it will go the Delaware General Assembly for a vote.  This is where WEIC will face its greatest challenge.  With Delaware projected to have anywhere from a $150-$200 million dollar deficit for FY2017, many are guessing WEIC and the redistricting will be dead in the water once it hits the House and Senate floors.

For Tony Allen, he sees this as a “once in a generation” action.  Others feel this is being rushed through for various reasons.  I have always been suspicious of the overall motivations of the redistricting.  Kilroy’s Delaware thinks it is revenge against the Christina School District.  But there is one thing Red Clay has which none of the other districts do: they are a charter school authorizer, the only one of its kind in the state aside from the Delaware Department of Education.

As recently as last summer, Governor Markell was overheard, when asked about where the Wilmington students would go to high school, as saying “The Community Education Building”.  If WEIC is not all it claims to be from its leaders, expect a lot of heat put on Tony Allen and Dan Rich.  There are many who would benefit from Wilmington eventually becoming an all-charter district.  I pray this isn’t the end result.  I sincerely hope this is not the intentions of Tony Allen.  But I often ask if he has been used in this initiative, if he is one of the chief architects, or if the fears of many are just that.

At the end of the day, it should always be about the students.  Will the students of Wilmington truly be better off under one banner so to speak?  This is the question that all decision-makers will face in the coming months.  These children are the most vulnerable of all Delaware’s children.  The bulk of them come from poverty and low-income, are minorities, and many students with disabilities.  They are the ones that matter.  They are trusting the adults are doing the right thing.  If that trust is broken, how many generations will it take for that trust to be restored?