RIP Greg Mazzotta

GregMazzotta

I was just informed Greg Mazzotta passed away on February 3rd.  For those who don’t know who Greg Mazzotta was, I first met Greg a year and a half ago at the first IEP Task Force meeting.  But I had seen many comments Greg wrote on Kilroy’s Delaware.  He was always promoting the Baldridge Program for Leadership, Management and Performance Excellence.  To be honest, I never quite knew what exactly he was promoting, but he was very diligent at getting the word out.

After I met Greg, he became a source for information.  He sent me many, many emails about education happenings in Delaware and across the country.  I would see him at education meetings in Dover, whether it was at Legislative Hall or the Delaware DOE.  My fondest memory of Greg was when he went off on the DOE at a Town Hall meeting about the upcoming school report cards.  I remember meeting with Greg one morning at Governor’s Café.  He was very knowledgeable about Delaware education history and he filled me in on a lot of the players.  From time to time, I would give him a call to get more detailed information.  The last time I talked to him was in January.

I noticed a few weeks ago I stopped getting emails from him.  He was always telling me if he didn’t get the Baldridge program going in Delaware he was going to take up offers from other states.  I assumed that was what happened.  I brought it up to a friend today who informed me he passed away.  In the Delaware education arena, Greg just wanted to be heard.  That is what so many of us want.  Unfortunately, there are too many who don’t want to listen to different ideas.  With that in mind, Greg was very excitable and did not like getting rejected on any level.  He was a very interesting man with a lot of quirks.

I will always remember his words of encouragement and advice.  While I didn’t always agree with everything he said, he had a passion for what he believed in and I respect that.  At heart, he was a good guy.  I used to feel bad when commenters would go off on him over at Kilroy’s Delaware.  Like I said, he wanted to be heard.  While he chose the exact same words most of the time, many of us beat on the same drums.  He was a very in-your-face kind of guy which intimidated some, but I would take a Greg Mazzotta over some of the major education players in Delaware any day of the year.

There will be a memorial service for Greg this Saturday, March 12th, at Christ Episcopal Church on 501 S. State St. in Dover at 11am.

If you would like to leave a tribute or condolences for Greg, please sign his Tribute Wall.

Interesting House Education Committee Meeting Today With Wellness Centers And University of Delaware

The Delaware House Education Committee held their first meeting today after the long Joint Finance Committee break.  On the agenda was one bill, House Bill 234, sponsored by State Rep. Kim Williams.  As well, the University of Delaware gave a presentation on their overall enrollment trends.

House Bill 234 concerns wellness centers in three traditional school district high schools: Appoquinimink High School, St. George’s Technical High School, and Conrad Schools of Science.  These three are the last remaining high schools in the state (not including charters) which have no wellness center.  A wellness center is not just a school nurse.  They also provide counseling services as well.  The bill was unanimously released from committee.  Several folks gave public comment in support of the bill: Red Clay Superintendent Dr. Merv Daugherty, Brandywine Superintendent Dr. Mark Holodick, President of DSEA Frederika Jenner, and a representative from Red Clay.  Rep. Williams read a letter she received from a high school student.  The young man was going through a depression and he credited the wellness center at his high school for getting him through this very troubled time.

There was some debate about which schools would get a wellness center first if the bill passes.  Rep. Williams felt it should be the oldest school first, but State Rep. Charles Potter felt it should be needs-based.  Rep. Williams indicated the JFC would determine this in the budget as the bill calls for each of the schools receiving the wellness centers at one per year for the next three fiscal years.

Dr. Nancy Targett, the Acting President of the University of Delaware gave a long presentation on enrollment trends and a general overview of the university.  She showed many slides about minority enrollment, retention rates, and graduation rates.  Afterwards, during a question and answer with the members of the House Education Committee, things got a bit more tense.  State Rep. Charles Potter was very concerned about minorities being placed in the Associate program at the University of Delaware.  This program is for students who need more help when they enter college.  When asked about what may be holding these students back by Rep. Williams, Dr. Targett was unable to give a clear answer but did promise the committee she would get more information.  Many civil rights advocates feel the University of Delaware under-enrolls African-Americans.  Dr. Targett did say this is her number one priority and many universities across the country are dealing with these issues.

Dr. Targett felt the recent announcement about the pilot program concerning SAT scores not counting towards admission credentials could allow for more minorities to be accepted at University of Delaware.  She said the University understands not all students do well on tests like that and a student could just have a bad day.  They want to focus more on students’ actual Grade Point Average and other activities.

After the meeting adjourned, I asked Dr. Targett about an omission in her presentation: students with disabilities.  She said she didn’t know the numbers offhand but gave me her email address so she can find out.  Which I will certainly take her up on!

Appoquinimink Taking The Hard Line On Opt Out! General Assembly, You Could Have Stopped This…

An Appoquinimink parent just told me they received the Appo opt out threat letter I wrote about last year.  Two parents from Appo have informed me their child would not receive academic instruction when their peers took the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  The Delaware General Assembly could have stopped this nonsense in January by overriding Governor Markell’s veto of House Bill 50.  Now they are going to have to deal with ticked off parents.  I personally sent each and every one of them an email letting them know this would happen.  The vast majority of the Delaware House of Representatives ignored this.

One parent was very confused by the wording of the letter and was very upset.  Is this really a repeat of last year?  Speaker of the House Pete Schwartzkopf, I demand you put House Bill 50 off of the ready list and let the Delaware House give it a vote.  Let’s see how these “representatives of the people” vote when they can’t hide behind a suspension of rules!

Meghan Wallace Is Governor Markell’s New Education Policy Advisor

MeghanWallace

Governor Markell picked a new Education Policy Advisor.  This was announced today by State Rep. Earl Jaques at the House Education Committee.  Markell’s former Education Policy Advisor, Lindsay O’Mara, recently left the position and is now at the United States Department of Education.

Wallace’s background with education is quite extensive.  She attended the University of Delaware receiving a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science concentrating on Women’s Studies.  At George Mason University, she attained a Masters Degree in education concentrating on special education.  During her time at George Mason, she also taught special education in D.C.  Since May of 2013, she was a legislative aide at Legislative Hall, serving State Representatives such as Kim Williams, Earl Jaques, and Helene Keeley.

Wallace will serve as the Governor’s Education Policy Advisor until the end of his second term in January of 2017.  Initial sources who wished to remain anonymous had informed me the position would be divvied up among different Delaware Department of Education employees, but it looks like Governor Markell may have changed his mind.

Wallace also served on the Wilmington Education Advisory Committee, the precursor to the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission.  Legislative Aides can and do move up in Delaware Government.  Former legislative aide David Bentz was elected as a State Representative last fall when State Rep. Michael Barbieri stepped down.

Congratulations to Meghan Wallace.  I have met her quite a few times and she is very personable and intelligent.

Parents Hold The Key To Ending Destructive Education “Reform”

AbeLincoln

I just saw a tweet from EdWeek about three states participating in a web-based seminar on competency-based education.  This webinar will include Michael Watson, the Chief Academic Officer and Assistant Secretary for the Delaware Department of Education.  Also participating are representatives from the Florida and Tennessee Departments of Education.

There is no stopping the destructive train barreling into the destruction of public education teaching.  It is so embedded into our state and federal governments with vast amounts of money and lobbying twisting the tale so Wall Street investors and hedge fund managers can make tons of money.  I’ve been warning everyone about this for almost two years now, with each new initiative becoming more insidious than the next.  But far too many people either just don’t care or think all of this is really great for students, teachers, and schools.

The Seminar will be led by Karen Cator with Digital Promise.  While putting this under the guise of professional development for teachers, it is becoming more than obvious this is the future of education.  Or at least what the corporate education reformers want it to be.  Parents need to wake up fast because their children’s personal data is going out like the Hoover Dam just burst wide open.  There is nothing holding it in check anymore.  This is the future with hints thrown all over the place:

  1. The Data Consortium
  2. The Tentacles Of Corporate Education Reform
  3. The Marc Tucker Letter To Hillary Clinton
  4. Assessment Inventories And Data Bills
  5. Clinton-Hickenlooper-Markell
  6. Social Impact Bonds
  7. Delaware State Rep. Earl Jaques, Governor Markell, & John King

The future is here.  Opt out is the only way to stop the whole reform movement designed to put children in the same box and carve out their future career paths.  Opt out is the best recourse.  It prevents the massive amount of data about your child from falling into the greedy little hands of Education Inc.  Only parents can stop this train.  We can’t rely on anyone but ourselves.  The “stakeholders” who are supposed to serve as the guardians of the gate are hand-picked by those with the power.  It is all a lie.  Our legislators who truly care are outnumbered.  Our state Departments of Education are stacked with ed reformer employees.  Most of our Governors are all in on these “career pathways”.  The national PTAs, teacher unions, and civil rights groups are all in bed with the Every Student Succeeds Act knowing full well the dangers that lurk within.  Our school boards are infiltrated by those who wish to continue the corporate education reform movement.  Teachers, for the most part, are powerless for fear of retribution or getting fired.  No child in public education is safe anymore unless parents rally and take back the conversation.  We need to do this as a unified front.  We need to do this en masse.  We need to do it now.  We need to be the heroes and be a warrior for education.  We need to cut them off at the knees and the most powerful way to do that is with opt out.