Wilmington Education Improvement Commission Passes Their Plan, 20-2-1

At tonight’s Wilmington Education Improvement Commission, the committee passed their final draft which will be presented to the Delaware State Board of Education at their meeting on Thursday.  The State Board is expected to vote on the plan at their January meeting.  The no votes belong to State Rep. Charles Potter and Wilmington City Council member Nnamdi Chukwuocha.  One of the students representatives was absent from the meeting.

The sole public comment belonged to yours truly.  To summarize, I told WEIC “I hope you guys know what the hell you are doing!”  I advised them if this winds up making students with disabilities lives harder, they will all hear from me.  I let them know Red Clay is already having issues with their inclusion program, and putting more students into the mix could make it tougher.  I advised them I am resigned to this going to a higher power at this point and I hope the best decision is made for the students.

As the only legislator present at the meeting (Senator David Sokola had a proxy vote of yes in his absence), State Rep. Potter’s vote surprised me.  I’ve heard from many that the true battle for the future of the redistricting effort and the WEIC plan will be in the General Assembly.  The wild card is not that we will have a budget deficit in Fiscal Year 2017, but how much it will be.

WEIC will continue after this into the new year.  It is a five year plan and the redistricting is just the first step.  Chair of WEIC Tony Allen wished everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy Kwanza!

Impeaching Governor Markell This Late In The Game Is Still A Great Idea

impeach

Impeachment.  The word carries a great deal of weight.  It is not an easy thing.  But in Delaware, with a tyrant like Governor Jack Markell, it is necessary.  Yes, he is a lame duck with only a year left.  But what he has done to Delaware while he wears the crown has been abusive, egregious and unacceptable.  It is not too late to impeach him.  It is not too late to send a message that the very same people who give you power can just as easily take it away.  This needs to happen so we can rebuild Delaware from the ground up.  We really have no choice.  The children are the future of this state.  If we lose them now, we lose our future.

Our economy is in dire straights.  We are now on the cusp of losing a company that has operated in Delaware for over 200 years.  Governor Markell has no clue how to fix it.  Instead, he is sending the smartest kids to China for a couple of weeks each summer to that country’s biggest auto plant.  We are going to lose DuPont, or at the very least the company’s identity as THE Delaware company.  We have lost more than we gained during Markell’s two terms as Governor.  He came in like a lion during the greatest recession this country experienced since the Great Depression.

Since day one, it has all been about “education reform” with Jack.  We have seen how Jack Markell and the Rodel Foundation have tried to “fix” education in Delaware.  He meticulously set up his House of Cards with his hand-picked State Board of Education and Secretaries of Education in Delaware.  He has strong allies in the Delaware General Assembly who seem to exist to do his bidding and not those of their constituents.  He is a master of distraction and manipulation.  He has the uncanny ability of turning crap into gold.  But for all the lies and propaganda coming from Jack Markell, how are things really different then they were seven years ago?  I would argue they are far worse.  But I would hazard to guess those who profit from education, the “privateers”, the investors, the hedge funders… they have done remarkably well based on Markell’s actions.

It hasn’t worked, and that’s all you need to know.  So how does the Delaware Governor get into a place where the legislators would want to impeach him?  Doesn’t there have to be some evidence of wrongdoing on his part?  Absolutely!  Which is why I am calling for someone in power to demand a FULL investigation into the personal finances of Governor Markell, as well as an investigation into how his allies and friends have financially benefitted from every single education decision he has made in Delaware.  Going back to his time as Treasurer of Delaware.  I believe he has played most of his cards and set up most of what he wants on his road to power, so going back even fifteen years based on what is happening now is prudent.

This needs to happen.  Because if you think Governor Jack Markell is bad, wait until he attempts to get a Cabinet position for the next United States President.  Our children cannot afford any more power for a man who has already abused the power he has.  We have allowed this up until now.  But we also have the ability to change this.  Not tomorrow.  Now.

16 To Watch In 2016: Ashley Sabo

AshleySabo

 

Ashley who?  That might be a question many of you are asking.  But for those who know her, I’m sure they can contest that Ashley Sabo is a force to be reckoned with.  The first encounter I had with Ashley was during the Vision Coalition annual conference at the end of October.  For the past two years I have made it a point to “crash” their Twitter hashtag party.  I usually instinctively know where someone stands on Delaware education, but Ashley stood out.  She responded on many of the tweets, and it went from there.

Ashley is, first and foremost, a mother and wife.  One of her children is special needs.  Ashley became very involved in the Red Clay Consolidated School District to make sure her child was getting the best education possible.  Red Clay recently adopted a massive inclusion push for students with disabilities and their regular peers.  When the initiative started, Ashley knew she had to become involved right away.  As a result, Ashley was the co-chair of the Red Clay Secondary School Inclusion Committee.  She is now the co-chair for the District Inclusion Oversight Committee.

Her other volunteer activities are as follows: President of the Meadowood PTA, Secretary and member of the advocacy committee for the Delaware PTA, and she is working on becoming a trained Educational Surrogate Parent.  The last position is where someone acts as a parent in the special education process for children with disabilities in the Delaware foster-care system.  As well, she is also working on becoming a Court Appointed Special Advocate, which is a court-appointed position which helps abused or neglected children find a safe and healthy environment in a permanent home.

Back in March of 2014, Ashley and her husband were very involved in the feud between Nemours and United Healthcare.  For parents of special needs children, there is usually some catalyst that forces them to act.  For Ashley, this was that moment.  Once a special needs parent becomes involved in advocating not only for their child but others, it is very hard to put that fire out.  Shortly after I started this blog, another Delaware blogger left a comment on an article that always stuck with me in his accurate description of parents of special needs children:

I’ve always felt that God picks his greatest works and gives them special needs children, knowing full well that through their advocacy, care, and love, the envelope will be stretched enabling others who are weak, tired, and poor to be able to slip in and have their causes addressed too……. Meaning that if someone forces you to address an issue due to their advocacy, it is an easy next step to widen the breadth of the process to include the others as well. But the latter effort would be deemed totally impossible to attempt, were there never those advocates who initially force one to start the process. Across many states, there is a high preponderance of those who are considered the doers of good for society, who themselves are parents of special needs children. It is those parents, whose work keeps all of society human… That of course is my humble opinion. But it has become my explanation as to why all parents of special needs children seem to be, again in my opinion, bordering superhuman…

I wouldn’t say we are “superhuman”, but very dedicated to doing everything we can to make sure our children have the best life possible.  If that means going against authority or even state agencies in the attempt, so be it.  For Ashley Sabo, a life-long resident of Delaware with two masters degrees, she is well-armed for this.  There are many Ashley’s in Delaware and across America.  But Ashley has that extra fuel to keep the conversations going AND to make a difference.  I would strongly urge any district officials in Red Clay, state legislators, and those in power who have the capability of making true and lasting change for our special needs kids to truly listen to Ashley.  She is wise beyond her young years and this is clear when you meet her.  I have no doubt Ashley will be a force for change in the coming years.

As recently last night, I published an article about Red Clay’s inclusion push.  While it is certainly a very noble gesture, it won’t work if the resources and staff are not able to meet the needs of the students.  This is Ashley’s biggest fight at the moment, getting those in the district to listen to what is glaringly obvious.  Should the redistricting proposal from the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission pass, Red Clay will have even more students.  If they can’t get this now, how are they going to do this with a large influx of new students?  Whatever happens, I have faith Ashley will be at the front of the debate.  While she lists Delaware Attorney General Matt Denn and State Rep. Kim Williams as an inspiration, I can say she is a light in the darkness for all the special needs children in Delaware.

Why Are Delaware Met Parents Oblivious To The Police Activity At The School?

In the public hearings and public comment for Delaware Met, I have yet to find any parent going nuts about all the police activity there.  I have to believe at most schools parents would be up in arms about this stuff.  If I were a parent of a Del Met student, I would be asking some serious questions.  Instead, they are acting like the school is the victim.  I’m sorry, but if the school doesn’t know how to act in certain situations, whether they just opened or they have been around for twenty years, than they are the ones at fault.  They KNEW exactly what their student population looked like over the summer and they failed to adequately do something about it until AFTER the fact.

The school’s explanations for the police visits are good, in the sense that they acknowledge what was going on.  But they failed to prevent it.