I reached a million hits on my blog today. For this one, I am going to brag. I am also within days reach of passing the number of hits I had in 2014 and 2015 combined and the year isn’t even done yet.
I’m not bragging cause I think I’m something special. I’m doing it because of something someone said to me a long time ago, a couple of months after I started this blog. It was a comment meant to disparage me. To belittle me. The person tried to make it as though the News Journal was the only media people cared about in Delaware. And how they get 300,000 readers daily. How my little blog didn’t matter. And that no one really cares.
The News Journal has a much bigger staff than I do. I have a staff of one. My staff is unpaid and does this during their own time. I don’t tend to get the “official” word ahead of time on news because I don’t have the access mainstream media reporters do. This blog is a grassroots effort at the soul of it. And lots of reading. Tons of reading. It is listening and going with my gut. Going by instinct in the dark at times. Comparing and contrasting. Listening, searching, looking, and very recently, actually smelling. Some of it is pure luck and just being at the right place at the right time. A lot is opinion which is based on various facets of information. I can say that I have always attempted to deliver the truth or my perception of the truth. Sure, I occasionally come out with my outlandish “fan-fiction” stuff but I would be stunned if anyone gets through the first paragraph and thinks it is the real deal. I don’t have sponsors or advertisements. Social media is a huge boost, sure, but there has to be interest. We are inundated with material on social media.
I’ve watched my readership steadily grow since June 13th, 2014. Eleven days after I started this blog, the U.S. Dept. of Education came out with their state determinations for special education. Delaware was rated “needs improvement”. Before that, my eye was on the DOE but not a full stare. That woke me up to look deeper into them. I wrote a huge article about Delaware’s special ed rating that day and I got 424 hits. I remember the 4th of July ten days later I got 28 hits that day. I was averaging 100 hits a day prior to that and I thought my readership had suddenly left me. I really cared about my stats back then. My first article that went viral concerned my son’s 5th grade Common Core division homework. It was confusing as hell and both of us were really struggling with it for hours. I put the homework up on here. It must have clicked because apparently moms and dads around the country were struggling with the same assignment that night. That article had over 14,000 hits. Every year since, I watch that article breathe life again around the same time of year as new parents of 5th graders wonder what the heck that assignment is all about.
This blog would be nothing without the readers. I would like to think anyone bothering to read a blog about education in the 2nd smallest state in the country already has an interest in education. Or perhaps a headline brought them here. Or a Google search. The numbers don’t matter to me though, it is what people do with it. My goal has always been to open people up to different lines of thought. To lift the veil of non-transparency that happens in education. To expose the prophets who profit. To let people see what is going on behind the campy jargon coming out of a certain Governor’s mouth. Letting people see that numbers don’t always tell the tale and they can be abused greatly. But if there is anything I would want people to take from this blog it is my unwavering belief that it should always be about the kids. This gets me in trouble sometimes and some feel I am overreaching on something or going to extremes. Or that I’m wearing a tin hat. They are certainly free to feel that way. I will always argue my side. No one has ever changed hearts and minds by keeping quiet.
People tell me all the time they don’t know how I do this blog and where I find the time. I make the time. I think it is that important. Some articles just happen very fast and I can do it in five minutes. Some stay in the drafts folder until I get more information or it is very research-intensive. If there is one thing I’ve learned about education it is that no one is going to agree on everything. Sometimes I offend people and I think to myself, “where did that come from?” It isn’t intentional in those situations. I don’t know it all. Let me be very clear on that. I get stuff wrong. I like to think I get more right though. In a culture of vague ambiguities coming out of state agencies and whatnot, the smoking gun is not that easy to find. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve found something, put it up, and thought this was going to change everything. It just doesn’t happen. That was a hard reality for me to accept. I always hope, but realism has to creep in after a while.
I’ve made the promise in the past that I wouldn’t throw grenades at public figures. I own that I can be seen as attack first and ask questions later. It’s who I am, or at the least, who I’ve become. Hate it or love it, but until the shroud of secrecy concerning education and the satellites that revolve around it disappear, I’m going to be the rake at the gates of Hell when it comes to this stuff. As an example, I’m working on an article now. I have been for over two weeks now. And it is so big, I reached out to many people on this: parents, teachers, districts, and even the Delaware DOE. No one from a school district will return my call. Not one. So do I go with what I have and draw conclusions on what others are telling me, or do I wait around for some magic moment when some district bigwig or school administrator decides to pick up a phone? If they even have the answers I’m looking for? Other times I definitely go for the “shock and awe” approach. The best way to expose something is to lay it out for all to see. Let people reach their own conclusions.
I’ll fully admit, blogging can get lonely sometimes. I’ll hear from people who want to provide information. People want to hear more about something or they want my help. And then they disappear. Oftentimes, someone reaches out to me with “I can’t be seen talking with you, so I’m reaching out to you like this”. I see people very sheepishly dancing around me at meetings, trying to watch what they say or how they say it. Or those meetings when I know I’ve pissed people off about something and they won’t even look at me. Then there are those very dark times when I feel like nothing I do on here matters, that no matter what happens, nothing will change. Those are usually the times I look at my son and remember how all this began. And that gets me back in the fight. There are those who will say education shouldn’t be a fight. That the problems is adults talking and talking and never getting anywhere. That is actually a valid point. But all too often, the actions taken are what causes the fight. Policy is set in place but those very same policy-makers want us to shut up and just take it. I’m that voice that says “Hell no, I don’t think so.” If John Carney wants to deal with me, he can choose how that is done. It is entirely up to him. He can take the Jack Markell approach and deal with daily or weekly onslaughts against his decisions, or he can sit down and have a conversation with me. Not some thirty-second question at a fund-raiser. But a real, honest-to-God frank discussion. I have no doubt he has the “other side” whispering in his ear all day long.
I can’t save education. No one person can. I wouldn’t even want to be burdened with that. We will probably never get it exactly right. There have been many before who have tried and there will be many long after me. There will be cycles and ebbs and flows. It started with special education on here, but I soon realized all Delaware students were getting screwed over with bad laws, policies, and a crap-load of people making money off education. I will never be a Diane Ravitch who has close to 30 million hits on her blog. There are blogs out there that get 100,000 hits a day based on subject matter I wouldn’t even think to look at. But for a little blog about education in the First State, I’m kind of proud of hitting the million mark. Today, I celebrate. Tomorrow, it’s back to the grind…
Over a million hits ago, it began with this…
Hello everyone, and welcome to the latest blog to hit the First State: Exceptional Delaware!
I am a father of a special need’s son, and you can read all about my family’s journey with a Delaware charter school here:
Everything that happened with my son inspired me to want to do more, not just for him, but all the children in Delaware who have some sort of disorder or disability that gives them special education. I know a lot about Tourette’s Syndrome, ADHD, OCD, ODD, and Sensory Processing Disorder, but I need to learn about things like Autism, Asperger’s and other disabilities.
This blog will be a mix of news, interviews, spotlights, investigations, and more! I believe every single parent in America should know their children’s rights when it comes to special education. I will be doing features on IDEA, IEPs, 504 Plans, Manifestation Determination, FAPE, Child Find and more. If anyone has anything they would like to see on here, please feel free to comment or shoot me an email, and I will do my best to make it happen.
I have several ideas for potential legislation that will force all public schools in Delaware to become more transparent about the special education they have in their schools. I will go into great detail on my ideas in future posts.
To get the best and most truthful education news here in Delaware, I highly recommend you check out Kilroy’s Delaware, Kavips, Transparent Christina, theseventhtype, Children & Educators First, and Parents Of Christina. If you’re looking for the joys of Common Core, Standardized Testing and Race To The Top, you’ve come to the wrong blog. I can’t stand any of them, and I will go to great lengths to explain why.
Thank you for visiting, and I hope to see you again soon!