The Delaware Education Posse Rides Again

So a bunch of guys decided to go horseback riding one night in the middle of Dover.  We will call them Jack, Paul, Dave, Earl, and Steve.  They wanted to ride all the way from Dover High School to Legislative Hall.  Jack brought a case of Zima with him.  Now, Jack being Jack, he figured three for him and two each for the other guys.  Paul called him out on it and said “Jack, your math makes no sense.  How many Zimas have you had?”  Jack cried out “For Rodel’s sake Paul, it doesn’t matter if I’m right or wrong.  I’m the king of friggin’ Dover.”  Paul, as he had so many other times over the past twelve years, just shook his head and muttered to himself, “Eight months…eight months.”  Earl turned to Dave and said, “Hey, I think I know a way to shut up those opt out parents.”  Dave gave him “the look” and said “Earl, the test is almost over.  No one is talking about opt out this year.  We killed the bill with our joint resolution, remember?”  Earl pounded his Zima down.  “Are we almost there?” Steve asked as they took a left out of the Dover High School parking lot.  To Paul, this crazy night reminded him of that other night way back when.  He prayed he wouldn’t have to deal with Jack as long as he did that night.  So much had happened since then.  Paul could think of 346,000 reasons why he had to put up with Jack as long as he did.  But Jack had changed since then.  He was no longer the puppet he once thought he was.  That puppet used to have hair.  Now Jack was the powerful one.  Always tweeting and Facebooking the same thing, how to make kids college and career ready.  Paul was also very upset it wasn’t about the charters anymore.  Now it was all v0-tech this, and pathways that.  Paul wanted to make a pathway to Jack’s ego with a Molotov cocktail, but he knew Jack’s rise to power wasn’t going to stop in Dover.  Jack was being courted by the Hill to run education for the whole damn country.  He would probably bring the whole posse with him.  The idea of Earl moving to DC drove Paul crazy.  But what drove him more insane was Steve doing the same.  He missed Steve’s predecessor, Mark.  Mark was one of those guys Paul could mold like putty.  Murphy survived the no good horrible day but stuck around for another seven months.  Paul was really hoping Jack would have picked Lamont or Kendall to lead the DOE.  Someone, anyone, who would continue the smoke and mirrors about how great Delaware’s charter schools were.  But no, Jack had to pick Steve.  Paul thought it was an odd choice.  Why pick someone people actually like and admire?  It didn’t seem like Jack so Paul knew he was up to something.  Paul knew he had to start riding the pathways train if he wanted to get to D.C. with Jack.  So here they were, Jack’s posse doing their stupid ride to Legislative Hall at 3am in the morning on a Monday night.  “#$%*&@#*&(@*#&$” yelled Jack.  “What the hell is wrong with you Jack?” Dave asked.  “It’s that damn blogger.  His name is all over the place.  Running for that local school board.  My driver was getting me out of Legislative Hall one day last week, and do you know what I saw?” Jack asked.  “The sign,” Steve replied.  “It was the campaign sign he put next to the DOE parking lot.  I had to see it every single day for a week.  Thank God they took it out for Dover Days.”  “I tried taking different roads so I could avoid it, but he was actually quite smart with his sign placement.  He made it so you can pretty much go anywhere in Dover and his name could be seen,” Earl said.  “Earl, can you do me a favor?” Jack asked.  “Sure boss, what’s up?” replied Earl.  “Can you go into WaWa down the street and get a can of shutthehellup?”  “I sure can Boss!”  As they approached WaWa, Jack saw a group of teenagers standing near the door.  “Don’t do it Jack,” Paul warned.  “I have to Paul.  I can’t help myself.”  Now Earl was having some type of issue with one of the cashiers when he kept asking where the cans of shutthehellup were.  Dave started snickering to himself.  As the four of them got off their high horses, Paul didn’t realize Earl’s horse left a gift on the ground.  Paul stepped in the gift and thought “Dammit, this is going to be a loooong night.”  By that time Jack already made his way over to the teenagers.  “So how did you guys do on the Smarter Balanced Assessment?”  One of the teenagers replied, “We didn’t have to take it, remember.  They replaced it with the SAT.”  Steve whispered to Jack, “Remember, we made that big announcement to try to stop the override of your veto on the opt out mess?”  “I didn’t know we actually went through with it.  Was it legal?”  “Got me Jack.  I just do what you tell me to do,” replied Steve.  Oblivious, Jack started chatting it up with the teens about Common Core.  “Do you like it?  I think it’s important to be college and career ready.  We have to make Delaware citizens proud to be in the workforce.  That’s why I want you to remember this when you have kids.  Kids need more rigor and less Tigger, know what I’m saying?”  The horrified teenagers ran into the store.  Meanwhile, Earl and the cashier were still going at it.  Earl didn’t know the cashier hit a panic button and the State Police were on the way.  Dave just wanted to get the hell away from this scene.  The last thing he wanted to do was ride a horse instead of his bicycle.  He could ride his bicycle from the top of the state to the bottom, but horses weren’t his thing.  Dave knew some rough months were coming.  His enemies found a young lady to run against him and he knew if this election came down to good looks he was toast.  The last thing he wanted to be doing was playing Paul Revere with Jack and his little minions.  Dave could sense Paul felt the same way.  “How’s the charter audit bill going Dave?” asked Paul.  “It’s going,” replied Dave.  The last thing he wanted to do was be seen with this motley crew.  It was then that he saw him.  The blogger.  “You have got to be kidding me!” yelled Dave.  The blogger was putting up some signs on the grass between WaWa and McDonalds.  Jack saw him too.  None of them said a word.  Then the blogger started walking over to them.  “Hey guys!  What’s up?”  Before they could answer the blogger, the State Police came roaring into the parking lot with their sirens on.  Steve, who was standing in front of his horse, fell to the ground as his horse jumped up.  Steve’s glasses fell to the ground.  Jack started walking towards the troopers who were coming out of their cars with their hands on their holsters.  Paul went to run, but he had been standing so long in the same spot the gift began to harden around his shoes causing him to trip.  Earl came running out of the store, but the troopers didn’t recognize him with his Van Halen baseball cap on.  “Put your hands up there Eddie!” yelled one of the cops.  “My name isn’t Eddie, my name is Earl!”  “Shut the hell up!” yelled the cop.  “That’s what I was trying to do in there but the cashier wouldn’t let me get any.”  “Sir,” asked the trooper, “Have you taken any drugs this evening?”  Earl thought long and hard.  Did he?  He did have some of his vitamins earlier today, but the day wasn’t the same as the night.  But he did take some arthritis medicine after dinner at Chik-Fil-A.  “Yes, yes I did officer!”  By this time, the blogger was busy taking picture after picture.  Jack approached the blogger as the police wrestled Earl to the ground.  “What are you doing here?”, asked Jack.  “Just putting some signs up Sir.  I would ask what you guys are doing but I’m afraid of the answer.”  Jack started to talk but the words wouldn’t come out.  Earl was getting arrested, Steve was knocked out cold on the ground, the horses and Dave were long gone, and Paul… he just sat on the ground smelling like crap and holding his head in his hands screaming “Why, why, why???”  All of them smelled like a Zima factory.  One of the troopers came up to Jack.  “Is that you Sir?  What is going on?  And where did that other guy go?”  The trooper was asking about Dave who followed the horses lead and decided flight was better than fight.  Especially with the University of Delaware woman starting to lead in the polls.  As Dave went around the front of the WSFS Bank next to WaWa, he felt something flat hit him in the knees causing him to lose his balance and fall down in the nearby ditch.  “What the hell was that?” asked Dave.  It was one of the blogger’s campaign signs.  The last thing he saw before he succumbed to the cold ground and the odd feeling he had from that bowl of chili earlier in Donna’s office was the blogger’s last name on the campaign sign.  Dave opted out of consciousness.  Jack approached the officer.  “I don’t know how to explain any of this.  We were doing the first of what I was hoping to be an annual tradition.”  Jack explained about the horses and the little prank he played on Earl.  How Paul tripped over himself and had a bad contact with something crappy.  Steve had been kicked in the ass by one of the horses and when his glasses fell off, he got up and walked into a parked car as the door swung open and knocked him into a trash can as the WaWa door pushed him back into the same parked car.  Dave was… somewhere.  The blogger was standing to the side with this big huge smirk on his face.  Jack gave his driver the night off when Earl snuck him out of his Dover house hours earlier.  “Do you need a ride Sir”, asked the officer.  “That would be great.  And whatever happens next, I wasn’t here!”  Jack looked at the blogger.  “Can you excuse me for a moment?”  “Sure,” said the officer.  Jack walked over to the blogger again.  “What is it you want?  A position on the State Board?  A chairmanship of a task force?  Do you want a job at Rodel?”  The blogger looked at Jack.  “I want you to override your own veto.”  Jack laughed.  “No way in hell!”  The blogger pointed to his car.  “My laptop is in there Jack.  I’ve been trailing you guys all night.”  Jack thought to himself.  How much had the blogger overheard?  He couldn’t take any chances.  Not if the Hill was going to make him king of education.  In the old days, he would have made schools in his district priority schools.  Or he would have brought the TFA into schools.  Or kicked him off a committee.  Or threatened to veto a bill.  Or called the National PTA.  But the blogger didn’t belong to any groups.  He was just… a blogger.  A pain in the ass blogger to be more accurate, but just a blogger.  Jack knew there was no wild card to trump his hand.  The blogger had him dead to rights.  By this time, the sun was coming up.  A car pulled in and she came out.  It was Jack’s friend Donna.  “Jack, what the hell is going on here?  I just saw Dave crawling out of a ditch over there.  What’s wrong with Paul?  He looks catatonic.  What happened to Steve?  He looks like he went a few rounds with Dave Tiberi.  Why was Earl in the back of the state cruiser as I was pulling in?  And why are you talking to the blogger?”  Paul was staring into the air saying “eight more months, eight more months” over and over again.  Steve started to come to and asked where his glasses were.  Jack wasn’t about to tell him he stepped on them ten minutes earlier.  “Well Jack, what’s your answer?” asked the blogger.  “Fine, you win.  I really, really hate you.”  “I know you do,” said the blogger, “probably more than Delaware hates you.”  Donna yelled at the blogger.  “You can’t talk to him that way.  This is Jack.  You have no idea what he has done for this state.  How many laws he has broken to make sure kids get a good education.  How many backdoor meetings he had to make sure nobody knew what he was doing…”  “Donna, please, shut up.”  “No Jack, you pulled me up out of the bottom of a Common Core math committee and turned me into somebody.  I run the State Boa…” “Donna, please, don’t say another word.”

Later that day, Jack stayed true to his word and overrode his own veto.  There was no press release, it just happened.  Paul found himself at a local clinic trying to find out what went so horribly wrong that evening.  Steve got new glasses and continued his job at the education building in Dover.  Dave lost his re-election bid.  He was last seen subbing at a charter school in Wilmington.  Earl eventually had the charges dropped against him by WaWa but not without a significant battle.  He dropped out of the state representative race.  Even thought the blogger never told what happened that night at WaWa, somehow the Hill found out.  Jack never became the king of education.  He was last seen at a dock in Rehoboth getting on a boat during a big storm and was never seen again.  The blogger continued to blog but found without the posse, education actually got better in Delaware.  Meanwhile, down in D.C., Donna was starting her first day as the queen of education…

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