Bethany Hall-Long Supports TFA, Colin Bonini Hates The Priority Schools, and John Carney Says “See My Plan”

johnboninicolincarney

I attended a Delaware Governor and Lieutenant Governor debate tonight at Delaware State University.  It felt like it should have been an episode of The Gong Show.  In a night where Colin Bonini said he felt like Delaware’s apology for slavery was a crutch and Lamar Gunn talked to the audience about discrimination and how they don’t have to vote blue or red but rather the person.  There was a lot of talk about discrimination tonight, yet no one addressed the point that the Libertarian and Green candidates were not invited to the debate.  Candidates who I’m sure would have had a lot more to offer than the ones I saw tonight.

Yes, in a reply to a question about a lack of minority teachers in Delaware, Senator Bethany Hall-Long took it upon herself, a DSEA supported candidate, to publicly support Teach For America.  She said why do we have to wait that long when we have Teach For America ready to come into our schools.  So let me get this straight Bethany: you would rather have minorities go through a six-week crash course on teaching Delaware students and throw them in schools than go through the actual degree process to become a Delaware teacher?  Would you have come out with that statement before you were endorsed by the Delaware State Education Association?  This was after she gave a very bizarre “Take A Look At Me Now” opening statement like she was auditioning for a 21st Century Shirley Temple movie.

Colin Bonini decided to throw the six priority schools under the bus.  And then go in reverse and run over them all over them again.  By calling them “six failed schools” because of their test scores, he bashed the schools for only hiring assistant principals.  But then he went that next step as only Bonini would by saying they should have been converted to charter schools.  When asked about why he voted no on the resolution for Delaware to apologize for its role in slavery, Bonini actually told the over 90% African-American crowd he thought slavery apologies were a crutch.

And John Carney.  If I heard “if you take a look at my plan” one more time I was probably going to have to yell “Do you even know what is in your plans?”  Because it was obvious in many areas he didn’t.  When asked about criminal justice he said his campaign was coming out with a plan on that subject in a few days.  As he smugly sat there and said “When I become the next Governor,” Bonini retorted back with his I know I’m going to lose face with a similar comment about how Carney would work in his administration.  In fact, Bonini made it a point to tell the audience he likes John Carney even though his campaign manager keeps telling him to stop saying that.  Carney went a step further and told everyone he and Bonini are friends, and “that’s how we get things done in Delaware.”  Yes, the rotting and festering wound we call “The Delaware Way.”  In some respects, Bonini almost looked like he was prepping for continued life as a Delaware Senator who will have to work with Governor Carney.  It was the only logical answer I could find as he tried to mesmerize the audience with the magical word “Prosperity” throughout the night.

When Lieutenant Governor candidate Lamar Gunn wasn’t trying to eviscerate his opponent every chance he got, he did make some good points about race in Delaware.  But it got lost in his newly created powers he wants for the Lieutenant Governor role.  Carney, Bonini, and Hall-Long all talked about college and career readiness.  And this legislation and that legislation.  Bonini answered many questions with one word, “Prosperity”, before he attempted to explain why prosperity is the answer to life.  Both Hall-Long and Carney couldn’t seem to reconcile how Delaware needs all these 21st Century jobs starting real soon and how we need the bottom rung jobs as well.  It almost seemed like they were telling the audience, “Don’t worry, we will create jobs for you if we can’t get you into those Pathways To Prosperity jobs.”

It was a dismal night.  After the Carney-Bonini debate, someone asked me if I liked what I heard.  My only response was “I never like what I hear.”  This is Delaware.  Everyone wants a seat at the table, but as Gunn put it, you aren’t being invited to the table, you are a dessert on the table.”   Two words I didn’t hear from any candidate’s mouth were special education.  They all seem to forget that for some students, it isn’t just being a minority, it is also being a student with disabilities.  But Carney told the audience how we have been going from one education reform to the next, but whatever we come up with next, we have to make it stick.  Like we haven’t heard that before.  As the Delaware DOE gets ready to unleash the first draft of their ESSA plan that will be a boon for outside providers and will pretty much give schools the same sucky accountability standards they had before.  But both Carney and Bonini said they believe in local control.

In response to the upcoming report coming out on discrimination in Delaware State Government, Carney wants to take that role out of the Office of Management and Budget and give them their own brand new cabinet position in Delaware government.  As he talked about the huge deficit we will face in the next year.  When asked if that would be separate from a Civil Rights office, Carney quickly chimed in that he could roll that into it.  Bonini spoke about a letter he wrote wanting to create new committees in the House and Senate for civil rights but added it would have been hard to do in the middle of a General Assembly.  But Gunn went after Hall-Long for not voting on it even though it was never legislation.

Like the picture of John Bonini and Colin Carney above, my brain felt very blurry as I left the auditorium and walked to my car on this crisp and cool Autumn evening.  It is an epidemic during this 2016 election season.  Brain cells crashing into each other as we continue to ask ourselves why the future sounds so important but those guiding the way are oblivious to so much.  If I walked away from this with any support for any of the four candidates, it would have to be Gunn for Lieutenant Governor.  Only to watch him preside over the Senate while Bethany Hall-Long fake smiles the whole time.  I would have loved to have seen Carney and Bonini react to Libertarian Gubernatorial candidate Sean Goward’s awesome ideas.  But that’s the Delaware Way…

So what should I expect in the next four years of Delaware?  John Carney purposely avoiding eye contact with me, which would make tonight the hat trick for this kind of behavior since I met him at one of his Spaghetti meet and greets earlier last month.  But that’s okay, I’m sure he has a plan…

Will Stakeholders Be Able To Stop The Delaware DOE With ESSA? And What Delaware Entity Is Already Cashing In?

The Delaware Every Student Succeeds Act Discussion Groups held their third meeting on October 17th.  Below are the minutes from those meetings.  The next meeting will be on November 7th at the Collette Center in Dover from 6pm to 8pm.  Big topics like Special Education, Opt Out, the infamous “n” number, and the “whole child”.  As well, a major Delaware entity is holding a non-transparent event with some mighty big players and charging for it to boot!

essasssdiscgroupmembers

The Student and School Supports group found the following items to be priorities in Delaware education:

  1. Schools are the hub of the community so they need more services brought to them.
  2. Schools need more psychologists as well as psychiatrists and neurologists on call to assist with special education.
  3. Schools need more realistic ratios of guidance counselors.
  4. More trauma-informed schools.
  5. Funding for the “whole child” approach.
  6. Greater funding for high-needs schools.
  7. Invest in Birth to 8 with weight put on social and emotional learning (this also included discussion around providing basic special education funding for students in Kindergarten to 3rd grade).

This group is top-heavier than the other discussion group with folks from the services side of education, and it definitely showed.  I don’t mind more services in schools.  But the key is in the eagerness.  It was my perception that some were very pushy with what they would like to see.  These very same people would also benefit financially from more of the recommended services in schools.  Are they a stakeholder at that point or a benefactor?

 

essamssprdiscgroupmembers

The most popular items brought for by this discussion group were as follows:

  1. Not having the 95% participation rate penalty in the Delaware School Success Framework.  Since participation rate in state assessments is beyond a school’s ability to control, it should not be used as a punishment.
  2. English Language Learners accountability needs to look at factors in access for these students, how much formal education they had prior to coming to Delaware schools, age, how proficient they are in their native language, if they live in a city or rural environment, and how well they are able to read in their own language.
  3. The “n” size, which is the lowest number a school can have for reporting populations of sub-groups so they are not easily identifiable, was 30

The “n” number is always a tricky beast to tackle.  I support a high n# for student data privacy.  But on the other side, schools with small populations in their subgroups (charter schools) aren’t obligated to provide information on those students and it can make them look better than they really are.  This helps to perpetuate the myth that certain charters provide a better education.  I think the notion of being able to easily recognize a student who has disabilities or is in a sub-group is somewhat ridiculous.  I have never believed special education should be a stigma.  I think schools should celebrate every single child’s uniqueness.  By not reporting the results of those students (even if they are based on very flawed state assessments) does those students a disservice.  It makes it look like they don’t matter when they most certainly do.  It doesn’t look like too many people in this group were in favor of keeping the opt out penalty in the state accountability system.  Obviously, I echo that sentiment!

Last week, the Delaware ESSA Advisory Committee held their first meeting.  You can read the highlights here.  As well, Delaware State Rep. Kim Williams, who is also on the Advisory Committee, had some thoughts on the meeting, the US DOE’s pending regulations around Title I, and how they could affect Delaware schools.

The first draft of Delaware’s ESSA plan comes out at the end of this month.  From there, the discussion groups and Advisory Committee will reconvene.  As well, the Delaware DOE will be hosting more Community Conversations in each county.  Those groups will meet on the following dates from 6pm to 8pm:

11/16: Community Education Building, 1200 N. French St., Wilmington

11/21: Cape Henlopen High School, 1200 Kings Highway, Lewes

11/29: Seaford High School, 399 N. Market St., Seaford

12/1: John Collette Education Resource Center, 35 Commerce Way, Suite 1, Dover

12/8: Newark Charter School, 2001 Patriot Way, Newark

I find it VERY interesting they are holding the Wilmington meetings at charter schools.  The Community Education Building is the home of Kuumba Academy and Great Oaks.  Sussex County also gets two meetings while Kent County only gets one.

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to the general public, the University of Delaware Institute of Public Administration is holding a 5 1/2 hour event tomorrow at the Outlook at the Duncan Center in Dover.  This event is called the School Leader Professional Development Series: The Opportunities and Challenges of Implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act.  This event is NOT on the Delaware Public Meeting Calendar nor was it mentioned at the discussion groups or the Advisory Committee.  I was able to get my hands on what is happening at this not-so-transparent event.  The event is described as the following:

This workshop is an additional forum for multi-stakeholder district teams to interact and discuss the opportunities and challenges introduced by this new legislation.

Major players are coming to Dover at 9am tomorrow morning.  Folks like the American Association of School Administrators, the National Association of Secondary-School Principals, the National Association of Elementary School Principals, the National Education Association, and the National School Boards Association.

Presenting on Delaware’s ESSA plan will be Deb Stevens from DSEA, Dr. Terri Hodges from Delaware PTA, Executive Director from Delaware State Administrators Association Tammy Croce, Executive Director John Marinucci from Delaware School Boards Association, and a rep from the Delaware DOE.

Working groups will also be formed to discuss ESSA.  Another one of the workshops will focus on state accountability systems will be led by Robin Taylor with R²  Educational Consulting (never heard of them, time to start digging), one on school interventions led by Director of State Assessment and Accountability Joseph Jones from New Castle County Vo-Tech and Director of Elementary Schools Amy Grundy from Red Clay.  Finally, Laura Glass with the Delaware Center for Teacher Education and Jackie Wilson of the Delaware Academy for School Leadership/Professional Development Center for Education will lead a workshop on Teacher and Leader Training and Evaluation.

Will the Delaware DOE use what is said in this non-transparent event to help in the creation of their first draft?  Why is this event not public?  Shouldn’t those outside of education be able to hear what is being said about what could happen in their local schools based on this act?  One of the biggest challenges of ESSA is the perception that the Delaware DOE already knows what will be in their state plan and all of this is just details.  I suppose someone could crash this event if they registered, but they would have to fork over $85.00 to go.  But if you got in with a local school district or charter school with four or more members that price would jump way down from $85.00 to $75.00.  Cashing in on ESSA!  Gotta love the University of Delaware.

If you are not informed about the Every Student Succeeds Act and Delaware’s proposed plans, you won’t know the future of education in this state.  Period.  I have been imploring parents and citizens to get involved with this for a long time now.  I understand people are busy and they have their own lives.  But this one is really big.  It has not escaped my notice that they are doing all this during a major election cycle and around the holidays.  That is how the Delaware DOE rolls.  Either they plan stuff in the summer when no one can show up (or even knows about it) or they cram it in during very busy times for families, teachers, and citizens.

When the first draft comes out, I will be dissecting every single word and punctuation mark in the document.  I will break it down for you.  I will filter through what they think the public will see and what it really means.  That’s how I roll.  But it can’t stop there.  YOU must lend your voice.  Whether it is in person or email.  Keep a copy of what you say at all times.  Make sure your voice is not only heard but recorded as well.  We will get exactly what they submit.  If you don’t make your voice heard now (or when the drafts are released), it will be far too late.  It comes down to trust.  Do you really trust the Delaware DOE to do the right thing for students without selling them out to Education Inc.?  I don’t.  We need to upset the apple cart.  Are you in?  Or will you lament not speaking up later?

A Little Ditty About The Negan & Lucille Of Public Education: Jack & Dave

neganlucille

Senator Sokola.  You need to get a Governor to try to win an election.  The Negan and Lucille of public education.  I would quote their silly little letter to the News Journal, but it is all rubbish.  Nothing you haven’t heard before.  It appears desperation breeds laziness in these two.  When they can’t come up with anything new, they resort to the same old every single time.  It is a broken record trying to be heard when the record player stopped working years ago.  Yawn…

God help us if David Sokola is re-elected.  Which means Meredith Chapman has to win!  We don’t need Governor Markell’s right-hand man destroying public education for another term.  Markell wouldn’t have been able to get 3/4 of his initiatives through without his Lucille.

This is the second time in the past two months we have been subjected to Sokolaness in the opinion section of the News Journal.  The last time was Sokola taking credit for the Council of State Legislatures big report on public education.  As if education would just stop working unless David Sokola wasn’t involved.  You have seen the videosDSEA did not endorse him.  But he is fine with endorsing a bogus lawsuit against Christina School District.  John Carney has the Sokola blinders on.  He screws over teachers every chance he gets.  He helped Newark Charter School get away with financial invisibility.  He serves on the Joint Finance Committee with this fellow Newark Charter School cheerleader.  He keeps his knife sharp so when he betrays his peers in the General Assembly it has the sharpest cut.  He brought the DSTP and Smarter Balanced Assessment into our schools.  He does not support parental rights.  He has a very bizarre partnership with the 2016 Genghis Khan of teacher evaluations.  When he lost his political prowess last Spring, the Governor had to issue an Executive Order to do the job Sokola couldn’t do.  He rips on blogs while providing the ammunition they hurl at him.  He chickened out on a vote to put the State Board of Education under Sunset Review.

Sadly, Delaware being what it is, his fellow Democrats are forced to support him.  As the Lucille to Jack Markell’s Negan, Sokola smashes Delaware public education constantly.  And then Jack takes all the credit.