John Carney, Understand That David Sokola Is NOT At The Forefront Of Public Education

Tonight, Delaware Governor hopeful and Congressman John Carney opened his Newark campaign office.  He introduced Senator David Sokola as someone who “is at the forefront of public education.”  He praised Sokola for his many years as the Chair of the Senate Education Committee.  Carney went on to cite Sokola as an “expert”, and that education is the most important part of Delaware’s future.

John Carney, we need to have a very long and serious talk.  I have a few thousand people I might bring with me.  They are called Delaware teachers.  Can I bring the parents who he disrespected during the opt out movement last year?  I’ll bring them too.  They number in the hundreds.  I really hope you are listening to more than Governor Markell, the Dept. of Education, the State Board of Education, the Rodel Foundation, and the Delaware Charter Schools Network.  This is a big-time serious snafu on your end.  I know, you have to make nicey-nice on the campaign trail at these events.  But I guarantee you if certain people were there tonight they would have turned around and walked right back out.

Let me educate you on Senator David Sokola.  He is at the forefront of Newark Charter School and every single bad education legislation he has oozed out in the past 25 years.  Go to the search bar on this blog, to the right, and put in “Sokola”.  Start reading.  It would take me all night to give you a full education.  Many people have been telling me to give you the benefit of the doubt.  And I’m trying.  I really am.  But when you come out with public statements like this, I worry.  A lot.  It signals to me that you have been in D.C. and have a serious disconnect with what is really happening on the ground in Delaware.  Or, you are very much aware of what is going on with Delaware education and you don’t have much intention of changing it.  This, on top of the very troubling rumor I heard last week, horrifies me.  And many others as well.  A lot of voters.  Hint, hint…

Sokola is worried about his election.  Very worried.  But the vast majority of the people in this state feel that 25 years of David Sokola is enough.  Many are stating they will vote Republican for the first time if it means getting rid of very bad education legislation with his name behind it.  Backing David Sokola is political dynamite in this state.  This is a guy who blasted the Senate on June 30th for not backing his University of Delaware FOIA bill (how ironic that is where his opponent works), but fails to provide minutes of his own education committee meetings.  This is the same guy who is put on every education task force and committee under the sun and fails to show up to 3/4 of the meetings.  But he shows up to all of the backdoor meetings.  That I can promise you.

Seriously John, and I’m being very real here.  I talked to Cerron, your campaign manager, last week.  Please fill out the survey I gave you.  All the other candidates are doing it.  Cerron has my phone number.  You need to hear the truth.

Judge Sends A Dangerous Message In Carr Ruling For Amy’s Murder & The District’s Role In The Events

While a judge’s ruling in how Amy Joyner-Francis’ murderer will be tried sparks controversy, the role the New Castle County Vo-Tech School District may have played has been silent and ignored.

According to The News Journal last Friday, Delaware Family Court Judge Robert Coonin made a ruling in how Trinity Carr will be tried in the murder of Amy Joyner-Francis, the high school student who died after an assault at Howard High School of Technology.  Carr will be tried as a juvenile, not an adult.  In most likelihood, the maximum sentence Carr would receive, if found guilty, would be “community supervision and treatment until age 19” as per the News Journal article written by Jessica Massulli Reyes.

Judge Coonin also ruled Amy’s fingernails were more likely ripped out trying to fend the attack as the video showed her grabbing Carr as her murderer was being pulled away from her.  Coonin said there was insufficient evidence to suggest Carr lacked remorse because she did not know she had killed Amy after the fight.

None of this will likely give Amy’s family any feeling of justice.  I am very uncomfortable with Carr essentially walking the streets.  Her actions, and I don’t care what anyone says about a pre-existing condition that is suspect at best, led to the death of a sweet teenager.  Carr’s Sunday School activity doesn’t erase her actions that day.  No, I don’t think Carr should get the death penalty, but this sends a bad message to the youth of Delaware.  A very dangerous and bad message.

The heart of the ruling deals with Carr’s age.  She is sixteen years old.  Technically, she is a minor.  The Delaware Attorney General’s Office had extreme issues with the planning that went on before the assault on Amy.  The length of the assault, the viciousness of it, and the physical results of the attack were foremost in their mind in issuing charges.  Revealed at Carr’s first hearing on the matter was the unrevealed pulling out of Amy’s fingernails.  Coonin ruled they were a result of Amy trying to protect herself based on video footage.  While this could be true, it also points out a desperation on Amy’s part to save herself.  Which swings back around to the viciousness of the attack.

We have heard the tales of “bloodlust” in people.  Where they go beyond the point of reason and brutal savagery takes over.  I have to believe that most people make a conscious choice to cross that line in their mind.  What Carr did is not a normal choice unless she made certain decisions during the timeline of events.  This was planned in advance, the day before.  But there are situations where she may not have been able to make that final choice where rage took over.  Coonin’s ruling gives teenagers a very false idea that they could get away with something like this.  While it is my fervent hope it would not, the minds of teenagers are very different than those of an adult.  I highly doubt this would come out even if it were the case, but what if Carr has a disability?  What if she was on medication that had an adverse affect on the neurology of her brain?  I have no idea if this is the case or not, I am merely questioning a possibility.  While this would not justify her final actions in my mind because of the premeditation behind it, this could potentially lead to important questions that need to be addressed.

How aware was the school of the feud between Carr and Amy?  Should they have been aware?  As part of our bullying laws in Delaware, social media is addressed in those laws.  But how much monitoring of that social media takes place?  No one can see everything at once.  That would be impossible.  But one thing I haven’t ever heard is the possibility of having a school narc to monitor things like this, especially in schools where there are higher incidents of fights and inappropriate touching.  Someone who could keep abreast of things like this.  Hearing the buzz so to speak and acting on it.  There have been narc’s for drugs in schools.  Why not bullying or threats that result in vicious fights or, as an extreme, a student’s death.

What is the school’s role in this tragedy?  I’ve reported before that many teachers at Howard High School of Technology were involved in professional development that morning.  While not completely verified, the role of hall monitors has been very spotty at this school according to several sources wishing to remain anonymous.  Yes, testimony has come out that a teacher did get to the bathroom and heard Amy’s final words.  But how much time elapsed between the point when a bunch of students were running into a bathroom, Carr confronted Amy, pulled her by the hair into a bathroom stall, Amy resisted, and Carr was able to punch and kick Amy over twenty times?  This is something the school would know.  But they aren’t talking.  Some of that could be because this is a criminal investigation and they simply can’t talk about it.  But I have to believe that if teachers were present, and not in professional development at 8 or 8:30 in the morning, this tragedy could have been averted.  I don’t blame the teachers for this, I blame the administration.  While the true fault lies with Carr, the school’s actions, while intentional or not, did lead to Amy’s death.  And this is the thing no one else is talking about publicly.  If this were outside of school, this wouldn’t even be an issue.  But this happened inside a school building, filled with adults.

While I tend to doubt the New Castle County Vo-Tech School District would ever publicly address this aspect to Amy’s death, I sincerely hope this evolves into discussions with their board and district staff.  It may have already happened.  There is a public task force on school safety happening in Delaware.  I hope changes occur that would allow for something like this to never happen again, not only in their schools, but all Delaware schools.  We owe it to Amy, and all those who have been victim to any kind of vicious assault or murder, to try.  If anything like this could be in any way prevented by the local school authority, we need to look at all scheduling aspects, how much security we may or may not need in our schools, and some type of apparatus to watch student’s actions to see if a crisis could happen.  This is something our schools should have always been doing.  It should not take the death of Amy to finally make our students the safest they can possibly be.

The School Safety Committee is meeting tonight at the Friends of Woodlawn Library, 2020 W. 9th St., in Wilmington, Delaware, at 6pm.  While I am unable to make it, and I know this is late notice, but I would try to attend if you can.  Don’t be afraid to give public comment.  Someone’s life could very well depend on it.

A Back To School Note Regarding Acceptance

This has been floating around Facebook.  I don’t know who wrote it originally, but it brought a tear to my eye.  Many parents of special needs children see this going on with their kids.  It is heartbreaking when it happens.  Please, please, please, let your children know we all have differences and those differences are what makes each of us special in our own way!

I would just like to put this out there! If your kids are not around special needs kids at school and have never been taught that not everyone is the same then maybe you could take 10 minutes tonight to explain this to them because even though they may not be around these kids at school, they may see them at church, at the mall, at the grocery store or even at the park. In light of recent events on the exclusion of a child who has autism from participating in a school trip and a Down Syndrome child being kicked out of dance class because she couldn’t keep up, I felt the need to share this. There are boys and girls that nobody invites to birthday parties, for example. There are special kids who want to belong to a team but don’t get selected because it is more important to win than include these children. Children with special needs are not rare or strange, they only want what everyone else wants: to be accepted!!