The Year In Polls

Delaware Education Polls

Survey Says

Exceptional Delaware had many polls this year.  While these are by no means an official record on the entire state’s feelings on education issues, they are indicative of the thoughts of many Delaware readers of Exceptional Delaware.  The voter numbers on these polls varied from thousands to less than 100.  I don’t care what the “margin of error” was.  I did not base any policy or agendas on the results of these polls although I completely agree with many of the answers!  I’m sure the regular readers can figure out which ones I support and those I don’t.

In March, I asked readers if they opted their child out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  31% said not yet but they would this week, 26% said they already did, 14% said they would if they had kids, 9% said they wanted to see how their kids did on the test, 9% said no because they believe in Smarter Balanced and Common Core, and 6% said “I was googling balance polls cause I want to get one for the gym when I go back to being a gym teacher”.

In June, in response to a poll if the Smarter Balanced Assessment was a good test, 75% said no and 22% said no.

Also in June, when asked if pollsters believed parents have the right to opt their child out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment, 79% said yes while 21% said no.

In July, the subject of naming the Dover High School football stadium after Capital School District Superintendent Dr. Michael Thomas, who had recently retired, was a good idea or not.  85% said no and only 15% said yes.

September was a big survey month.  The phrase that best described the Delaware Department of Education, as picked by readers, landed in a 1st place tie, with 44% each of the results going to “Mobius Strip of Bullshit” and “You know who needs great leaders? The DOE needs great leaders”.  12% of survey takers thought “If they had one more brain cell it would be lonely” was an apt description.

40% of readers taking a poll on Jack Markell’s life after Governor felt he would open up the “No Excuses” chain of charter schools, 23% felt he would retire when he cashes in his ed-stock portfolio, 11% thought he would become the next US Secretary of Education, 11% felt he could do prison time, and 6% believe he will move to Israel to work for a tech company.

For DOE buzz words that drive people crazy, over half the survey takers, 51%, hate the word “rigor”, followed by 25% hating “college & career ready”, 9% hating “data dive”, 6% hating “grit”, 6% hating “robust discussion” and 3% hating “Dear Educators…”

The Wilmington Education Improvement Commission had some interesting results.  51% think they will create more of a mess in Delaware, 29% felt it would not result in any true lasting change, 11% thought it would actually improve education in Delaware, and 9% felt it would cause Red Clay to go bankrupt.

When asked which organization would openly revolt against the DOE next, the Delaware Association of School Administrators was the hands-down favorite, with 47% of the vote.  Oddly enough, 20% thought DOE employees would revolt, followed by 18% for WEIC, 9% for the Rodel Foundation, and 6% for the Wilmington Metropolitan Urban League.

The next poll actually showed a dog beating a couple legislators for the top spot in Delaware education!  55% of pollsters though State Rep. Kim Williams would be an excellent choice for Delaware Secretary of Education.  20% thought State Rep. John Kowalko could do the job, followed by 13% for Senator Brian Pettyjohn.  State Rep. Trey Paradee’s dog Belle actually received 8% of the vote over Senator David Sokola’s 3% and State Rep. Earl Jaques received NO votes at all!

The worst torture for readers was sitting through a State Board of Education presentation on teacher effectiveness.  48% of voters really didn’t want that in their lives!  24% didn’t want to take the Smarter Balanced Assessment, and 22% didn’t want to have a staring contest with Mark Murphy.  Only 6% didn’t want to eat glass, which proves for many that eating glass would be a better option than the above three.

For the House Bill 50 Veto Override, 32% said it will pass in the House and Senate, 25% said the override will take place but it won’t pass, 20% were really hoping there would be something in the Every Student Succeeds Act that would wipe out the necessity of House Bill 50, 18% thought the veto would stick and there would be no override, and 5% thought the General Assembly would return early and pass the bill in Special Session.

Over half the poll takers, 52%, thought there would be “one too many” charter schools in Delaware in 2025, 20% thought my dream from The Last Exceptional Delaware Story would come true, 17% said 40, and 11% said 50.

When asked which charter school would get a formal review for financial mismanagement, 48% felt Providence Creek Academy would be next, 28% said Thomas Edison, and 24% said Odyssey.  The answer was none of the above!  Providence Creek actually escaped that by doing the right thing, Thomas Edison was cleared of any wrong-doing by the Delaware State Auditor’s office in an investigation into multiple charter schools, and Odyssey’s cryptic board meeting minutes in reference to potential financial issues were actually in reference to bond issues for their high school.  But Delaware Met, in addition to actually being the first charter school in the state to be closed in the middle of their first year, is under investigation by the auditor’s office.

October saw the weakest poll I have ever done.  I stepped way outside the education arena and asked readers which musicians would get voted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame based on their nominations.  Six whole readers took the poll, with 33% saying The J.B.’s were in, and vote tallies of 16.66% each for The Smiths, The Spinners, Deep Purple, and Yes.  This includes my vote for The Smiths.  Lesson to self…don’t expect a lot of readers when I step too far away from the central themes of my own blog!

In November, I asked readers what their current thoughts on opt-out were.  38% said they don’t have kids but they support it, 23% don’t believe in opt-out, 21% said they already opted their child out next Spring, and 17% said they will opt their child out.  This poll mistakenly caused some to believe support for opt-out was dwindling because of the 2nd place rating.  But that left the other 77% supporting opt-out.

64% of readers taking a poll on the next Governor think Republican Colin Bonini will win the election as opposed to 36% thinking John Carney will win.  This shocked me immensely as I underestimated the number of Republican readers on Exceptional Delaware!

Delaware Governor Jack Markell’s approval rating on Exceptional Delaware is horrible!  92% of readers were not satisfied with him, while 8% were.

When asked if State Rep. Earl Jaques should be removed as the Chair of the House Education Committee, an astounding 80% said yes and 20% said no.

47% of readers support personalized learning and competency-based education, which actually surprised me.  40% didn’t support it, and 13% didn’t know what it was.

Delaware Secretary of Education Godowsky’s approval ratings for his first sixty days were as follows: 35% said okay, 33% said bad, 22% said awful, 7% said good, and 4% said great.

87% of the vote-takers felt the State Board of Education should consist of publicly elected officials while 13% think it is okay that one person picks them, the Governor.

In terms of how readers thought about how students are with the implementation of Smarter Balanced this year, 60% said they are further behind, 32% said the same, and 8% said they are better off, praise the Lord!

December saw the State Board of Education voting whether or not to shut down a charter school in the middle of the year.  Before their vote, I asked readers what they thought.  83% said shut them down while 17% said leave them open.

When asked who they felt would win in the knock-down fight of the year, 94% of readers felt Santa Claus would whoop Jack Markell in a fight.  Only 6% thought Jack could win that fight.

But the granddaddy of all the polls on this blog actually started on the last day of the year in 2014 and ran for the next several weeks into the new year.  In the infamous “Who Shot The Blogger” contest, it came down to Governor Jack Markell vs. the DOE’s Penny Schwinn.  Jack won 68% of the vote versus Schwinn’s 32%, besting 31 other contenders in the tournament.  The biggest battles came down to DOE Public Information Officer Alison May who beat Deputy Secretary David Blowman, Penny Schwinn who wiped out Pencadermom (a much-missed commenter from over at Kilroy’s Delaware), Mark Murphy’s annihilation of Chris Ruszkowski (the teacher/leader guru at the DOE), and Jack Markell vs. Paul Herdman with the Governator besting his Rodelian friend.  From there, Schwinn beat May and Markell beat Murphy, setting up the grand championship!

In the final set of polls, which only ran for one day, the best moment in Delaware education in 2015 was when the Delaware House and Senate passed House Bill 50 with 41%, 32% felt Mark Murphy “resigning” was the best, 16% thought the Christina Board of Education holding the DOE back from taking their priority schools was a top moment, Penny Schwinn’s DOE resignation collected 7%, and horrible Smarter Balanced Assessment results had 5% of poll-takers looking at that as a crowning moment.

34% felt Delaware education’s darkest moment was Governor Markell’s veto of House Bill 50, 23% thought the outright theft of school funds from the school leaders at Academy of Dover and Family Foundations Academy was very dark, 17% thought the State Board of Education passing the opt-out penalties for the Delaware School Success Framework was horrible, and 13% each voted for President Obama signing the Every Student Succeeds Act and the State Board revoking Delaware Met’s charter in the middle of a school year.

Here there be villains in education with 56% giving Governor Markell the villain of the year award, the soon to be departed US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan got 14%, followed by 9% for Mark Murphy, 7% for Donna Johnson, 5% each for State Rep. Earl Jaques and Rodel CEO Paul Herdman, and 2% each for current Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Steven Godowsky and the also soon to be departing from the Delaware DOE Penny Schwinn.

But there were also heroes for Delaware Education.  State Rep. John Kowalko nabbed the top spot with 30% of the vote, State Rep. Kim Williams got 21%, I humbly accept 12% of the vote in the other category, State Rep. Mike Ramone got 9% for saving House Bill 50 from the brink of defeat in the House Education Committee last April, Red Clay Educators Association President Mike Matthews and Jennifer Nagourney from the Delaware Charter School Office each collected 7% each of the votes, Capital Superintendent Dr. Dan Shelton and WEIC Chair Tony Allen each got 5% of the vote, the dynamic due of Terri Hodges and Yvonne Johnson with the Delaware PTA got 2%, and last but definitely not least, Christina Education Association Vice-President Jackie Kook received 2% of the votes.

The last poll of 2015 saw 23% of readers taking the poll viewing an out of control Delaware DOE and State Board of Education as the biggest issue in 2015, the opt-out movement had 21%, 15% felt legislators listening to the Governor over their constituents was a big issue, 13% thought the Smarter Balanced Assessment was controversial, 11% felt charter school fraud grabbed the headlines, 6% thought lobbyists affecting education legislation was a hot issue, the impact of choice and feeder school patterns bothered 4% of pollsters, followed by 2% each for underfunded schools, priority schools, and teacher evaluations.

While these are in no way scientific conclusions, it is always interesting to get the results on these.  Sometimes I can predict how they will go, and others I can’t.  Some surprise me!  I do set it up so no one can vote twice from the same computer to prevent potential cheating.  What will 2016 bring?

16 To Watch In 2016: The Seans

DE State Rep Sean Lynn, DE State Rep. Sean Matthews


Both of the Seans in the Delaware House of Representatives have a lot in common.  They are both Democrat, they are both named Sean, they both voted against the budget last June, and they both began their first terms as State Representatives this year.  They both supported House Bill 50 in a big way.  They brought in a much-needed amount of fresh young blood to the General Assembly.  They are both up for re-election this year.  Both of them dealt with some controversial issues in 2015.

Sean Lynn’s biggest moment came during the debate of Senate Bill 40, the legislation designed to repeal the death penalty in Delaware.  According to Delaware Liberal, Lynn plans to attempt a suspension of House rules to bring the bill back from its own form of death: not coming out of the Judiciary Committee.  This could happen as early as January according to the article.  The death penalty is one of those issues in Delaware that keeps coming back, draws the ire of both sides, and doesn’t move forward.  Will Lynn’s attempt to reanimate the bill be the difference?  Time will tell.

Sean Matthews sponsored or co-sponsored many education bills in the General Assembly.  He enjoyed moderate success with these bills, which helped to land him a slot on the assessment inventory task force stemming from Senate Joint Resolution #2.  As one of the key players in this group, Matthews will be the voice of reason in a group filled with many who lean toward Governor Markell’s way of thinking with state assessments.  Time will tell if this group can get rid of the Smarter Balanced Assessment, but I doubt it.

Both of the Seans will have their hands full with the rest of their own party.  As part of the “Six” who voted against the budget last year, along with State Reps. Baumbach, Bennett, Kowalko and Williams, many in their party felt it was a mighty bold move for two legislative rookies.  It was.  I would rather see legislators vote with conviction and belief than going along to get along.  I fear there could be retribution of a political sort this year by the House leadership.  The easiest targets are the new guys.  But both Seans are a mighty stock and I have faith they will deal with any fallout from their decision last year with grace.

With an election year looming, many are assuming no matter what the Democrats will keep their power in Legislative Hall.  But there is a growing feeling of discontent in Delaware.  After years of questioned policies and agendas coming from Governor Markell and the leadership in Legislative Hall, many Delawareans are willing to vote out of party this year.  I predict both of the Seans will be safe because they are among those questioning what is really going on in Delaware.  The key to all of this will come in January when Governor Markell releases his budget proposal for Delaware.  We will get a very firm idea on where Delaware stands in terms of a budget deficit.


Does Delaware Met Have The Audacity To Try And Fight Their Closure?

Delaware MET

Very interesting!  The Delaware Met is having a “special” board meeting tonight.  Oddly enough, their initial agenda had an action item entitled “Discussion on Halting the Closure of the School”.  Now that action item is gone from the agenda.  For a board that meets so often in “special” board meetings, they sure don’t take the time to update their board minutes!  And having NO board meeting in November, in the middle of their formal review, has to be the stupidest idea I have ever seen in my life!  Unless they were counting their formal review meetings and public hearings with the Charter School Accountability Committee as board meetings…

Here is their updated agenda which does not reflect what was on the original: