So much for sticking up for your own party Jack Markell! Delaware Governor Jack Markell not only found a way to kiss the rings of his Ponzi education reformer buddies, but also caused a rift between State Senator David Sokola and State Rep. Earl Jaques, made sure Meredith Chapman will become the next Senator of the 8th District, continued his favorite hobby of screwing over Delaware teachers, and proved he is the worst education Governor in Delaware history. Congrats Jack! You have cemented your legacy with this bonehead move!
So what did Jack do now? Multiple sources at Legislative Hall (more than 5 at this point, and from different parties and Houses) are telling me Governor Markell and Delaware Senator David Sokola are trying to torpedo House Bill 399, the teacher evaluation bill that cleared the House Education Committee two days ago with a unanimous vote. The bill is on the House Agenda for a full vote on Tuesday, June 21st. Jack just plain doesn’t like it (which is also what he said about the opt out bill last year). So he somehow got the Office of Controller General to put a fiscal note on the bill. The whopping price tag for the bill? Indeterminable. Seriously, it says so here. Why put a fiscal note on legislation that doesn’t have any costs to it? Because this is how Markell operates. If he can’t get the legislators to go against a bill, he will set it up so it sits in ed reform purgatory. But this time, Jack may have finally crossed a line.
Sokola, as he always does, supports the Governor on this action. It is why he wouldn’t sign on as a sponsor of the bill, because Jack is against it. Even though Sokola was the one who introduced the bill along with Jaques (Senate Joint Resolution #6) which created the DPAS-II Advisory Group Sub-Committee that came up with the recommendations which became House Bill 399. Jaques is very proud of the group’s recommendations and fully supports the bill. This is actually a good thing. I’ve spent a lot of time in the past 15 months railing against Jaques. I saw him as being a lot like Sokola. They are both the Chair of their respective education committees, and they both seemed to follow the every whim of the DOE. But I have seen a spark in Jaques a few times. He pushed hard for the Smarter Balanced Assessment not counting against teachers in their evaluations for this year. The US DOE granted that request last year. He went off on the DOE over their Race to the Top spending. But once opt out came along, I haven’t seen that side to him. He changed a lot by pushing for House Bill 399 and is actually showing redemptive qualities in my mind.
The very nature of this bill came as a shock and a surprise to me. When Senate Bill 51 was signed by the Governor a couple years ago, which put the Smarter Balanced Assessment Component V into law, it was sponsored by Sokola. While many states are taking a new look at VAM and teacher evaluations, I didn’t expect Delaware to jump on the bandwagon. Not with Markell in office. But we did. To get teachers to this point and have a committee based on their peers come up with the recommendations to change that very punishing factor, took courage and strength. That committee KNEW they were going to get heat from the DOE and the State Board over this. And they did. They also got it from others. But they stood firm in their convictions for what was right for ALL teachers in Delaware. To get them this far and then snatch it away over parlor games and disgusting political ploys is pretty low.
By not supporting House Bill 399, Sokola has rightfully earned Jaques’ wrath. I believe Jaques is going through the same sort of thing State Rep. Tim Dukes went through this year. Dukes was dead-set against the opt out bill and appeared to be supporting the paths the DOE put forth. But when he was put on the Assessment Inventory Committee, I believe his eyes opened to the damage the Smarter Balanced does to children, teachers, and schools. They don’t call them high-stakes testing for nothing! I think Jaques went through this process as well. I’m hoping Jaques learned a very valuable lesson here. When the opt out override was in discussion, Jaques went on record as saying he can’t go against the Governor. Jaques is a military guy. I get that. But our country began as people stood up against tyranny and oppression. That is Delaware education under Governor Markell. I truly hope Jaques emerges as a hero through all of this.
The fiscal note on this bill is a technicality. It shouldn’t even be on there. It is a political shenanigan on its best day. This is Jack’s way of keeping control through his favorite puppet, Senator David Sokola. But the ramifications on this one could (and should) cost Sokola re-election in November. I will be sure to remind everyone in Delaware, especially in his district, every single chance I get from now until November, unless the Delaware Senate passes this bill AND Governor Markell signs it. In fact, I would recommend every single Delaware Senator and House Representative boycotts voting on ANY Sokola sponsored bill until that happens. If they are already a sponsor on one of his bills, I recommend taking their names off it. Chances are very good none of them will help students in the long run. Or Sokola can actually step out of Jack’s shadow and be a REAL legislator and support the bill publicly. Cause guess what Dave? Jack isn’t going to be there in the slim chance you win (which isn’t looking good at all right now). Your peers are not happy with your games. You think you are crafty and people can’t see through your very obvious acting, but you are as transparent as Saran Wrap. Just like Jack.
What teacher in their right mind would vote for David Sokola in November? A guy who thinks it is okay for you to be evaluated based on the Smarter Balanced Assessment? What parent in their right mind would vote for David Sokola in November? A guy who doesn’t care one iota about parental rights when it comes to their child’s education. Sokola has done far more damage than good in Delaware education. He has been the Chair of the Senate Education Committee for 20 years. 20 years that brought us the advent of discriminatory charter schools, DSTP, the Neighborhood Schools Act, Common Core, Race to the Top, the Smarter Balanced Assessment, Component V, and the Pathways to Prosperity scheme. The man isn’t a legislator. He is a lobbyist with a Senator title in name only. I fully expect Meredith Chapman to give him a full and thorough defeat in November. This is your true trial by fire Sokola. This is where you define your legacy, once and for all.
And Jack… Jack, Jack, Jack… what are we going to do with you? You can’t just exit stage left with style… You have to go out kicking and screaming like a petulant child not getting his way. A wrecking ball till the very end. I have no doubt you will somehow, someway, find yourself in a good position when you leave Delaware. You have faithfully served your constituents and done what is best for them. The problem is your constituents have never been the citizens of Delaware. It has always been corporate America. Especially in the education reform industry. What is broken in Delaware education falls at your feet Jack. You could have stopped all of this, at any time. You had that kind of influence. But this latest stunt of yours shows all of us your severe lack of respect and disdain for educators, students, schools, the citizens of the state, and even those you have used and manipulated along the way. Tonight, when you look in the mirror, be sure to congratulate yourself. Be sure to feel good you did what was best for those constituents. Meanwhile, the students of Delaware will always bear the scars of what you inflicted on them for your god: the almighty dollar. I hope it was worth it Jack.