You Have Two Choices Next Tuesday: Vote For Sean Goward Or Pray For Delaware

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John Carney…no.  Colin Bonini…no.  Sean Goward…YES!  Next Tuesday, do the right thing and vote for Sean Goward for Delaware Governor.  There isn’t another choice.  It is essential.  If you want to hear another four years of useless sound bites coming from a Governor that is just following the script and Delaware students losing out even more, then I suggest you begin praying for the future of Delaware.  I think Bonini and Carney are nice guys.  But Governor material?  No.  Politicians?  Yes.  But we desperately need something different in Delaware.  We need someone who will take the bull by the horns and really shake things up.  Someone who will clear the rot in the foundation of this state.

I’ve met Goward a couple of times.  I’ve had long conversations with him.  Back in September, I posted an article where I asked 32 really tough questions on education to the Governor candidates.  All but Carney responded.  He wanted to wait to come out with his “education platform”.  I read that document.  It was a love song for the Delaware Dept. of Education and Rodel and their big plans for the Every Student Succeeds Act.  Bonini’s responses to my questions were okay in some areas, but his schtick about failing schools based on standardized test schools is unacceptable given everything he should know by now about Delaware education.

But Goward?  He gets it.  He understands the absolute crap being foisted on Delaware students and teachers.  He knows about all the corporate education reform going on.  He accepts that Delaware has a lot of issues as a whole and we need to clear out the rot.  When I hear people complaining about things in this state, and not the usual political/corporate jargon thrown around, but the real issues and problems, I see Sean Goward as being the best person to lead this state.  We need radical change.  Our two-party system just plain doesn’t work anymore.  I would love to see a come from behind third-party candidate like Sean Goward actually win next Tuesday.  He is Libertarian.  Who cares?  In the end, does the label matter more than the person behind the label?  What that person stands for?  Their inner integrity?  Labels aren’t getting Delaware anywhere.  Party loyalty is crippling this state, as well as our country, more than anything else.

I’m asking you to take a chance on Sean Goward.  I’m asking you to take a chance on a better Delaware.  A more transparent state that people can actually be proud of.  We need someone who won’t bend to lobbyists and corporate interests.  Someone who will lead this state based on the will of the people, not those who throw pies in the sky with ten year visions.  Our children deserve better than the other two guys.  Our families do.  Our state does.  Vote for Sean Goward on November 8th.  Vote for a leader of the people.

Other Ex FFA Leader Tennell Brewington Arrested And Charged By State of Delaware

It sounds like Delaware Attorney General Matt Denn is finally clearing up the lingering messes from the charter school financial scandals.  Dr. Tennell Brewington, the co-director of Family Foundations Academy, was arrested and charged on October 24th according to Jennifer Flueckiger with WMDT.

A Public Information Officer from the Delaware DOJ told 47ABC that Brewington was arrested on October 24, 2016, and charged with two counts of theft greater than $1500, two counts of unlawful use of a credit card greater than $1500, one count of unlawful use of a payment card less than $1500, and one count of official misconduct.

Yesterday, the United States Department of Justice dealt with a guilty plea from the other co-director of FFA, Sean Moore.  He faces a potential prison term of thirty years.  If I had to guess, Brewington’s charges from Delaware couldn’t come until she was cleared of any potential federal charges.  Or perhaps they were waiting on Moore to give information when he was arrested in another state.

There is no word yet on Noel Rodriguez from Academy of Dover and Shanna Simmens from Providence Creek Academy.  State audit investigations found they too stole money from schools.  Justice may be slow at times, but it does happen eventually!

 

High Five Park For Children With Autism Opens In Newark! Preston’s Playground Coming Soon!

Newark is taking care of kids!  One park for children with Autism opened up last week and another park for special needs children is on the way!

Rob and Elizabeth Scheinberg have a daughter with Autism.  Two years ago they found out there were no playgrounds for children on the Autism spectrum.  As the Newark Post wrote today, the parents contacted the county and after two years, their dream became a reality: Delaware’s first playground designed exclusively for children with Autism.  Located at Glasgow Park, the park has many features that help children with Autism in what are otherwise sensory unfriendly environments:

Every piece of the park has meaning, from the large mirrored sphere at the entrance to the music area with chimes, xylophone, drums and interactive sound boards.

Elizabeth Scheinberg said children with autism love mirrors because they are visually and sensory stimulating, and playing music encourages kids to work with their hands and learn how to grasp. She said they also like circles and circular movements, so the never-ending paths that meander throughout the park and around the perimeter really appeal to them.

“The lines in this park don’t end,” she said.

The paths are made of squishy artificial turf, which helps children learn to maintain balance, as do the stand-up spinners, hammocks and basket swings throughout the playground.

Another inclusive playground for special needs children in Newark is under development.  Preston’s Playground will open at The Reservoir.  They are still looking for donations, so if you have the means, please consider donating for this excellent cause!  They are shy of their goal for this so every bit helps!
I think it is really awesome folks are getting together and making awareness around having playing areas for kids with disabilities.  Every child wants to feel like they are part of something.  But for many of these kids, the existing structures are not conducive to their needs or abilities.

1,000,000

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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:

https://kilroysdelaware.wordpress.com/?s=a+father%27s+cry+for+his+son

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!

 

 

 

Indian River Goes On The Defense In Reaction To Anti-Referendum Ads

Indian River has a referendum coming on November 22nd.  Before that happens, the Delaware Auditor of Accounts office will issue an audit inspection report.  A citizen in the district paid for ads in the Sussex County Post with allegations against the district and how they are spending money.  In response, Indian River Superintendent Dr. Susan Bunting, Board President Charles Bireley and Board Vice-President Rodney Layfield submitted a letter to the editor at the Sussex County Post.

Many of the ads attacking the referendum and the response from the district center around the former Chief Financial Officer, Patrick Miller.  Miller resigned earlier this year without any public knowledge of the events which led to his resignation.  He was put on paid administrative leave the month prior.

As a result of the letter from the district, there is some clarity around the hiring of Miller in Indian River:

It should be noted that Mr. Miller was hired by the Indian River School District in September 1998, approximately six weeks before the state auditor’s office began its investigation of Brandywine’s finances. The final auditor’s report was not issued until September 2000 and Mr. Miller’s criminal case was not adjudicated until November 2000, more than two years after he was hired by IRSD.

As it turns out, the district is claiming they requested an audit, even though no prior audit report suggested a problem:

The public should know that the district requested the audit that is currently being conducted by the state auditor’s office. This request was made based upon information received in April by the administration and Board of Education. Therefore, any accusation of a “cover up” is unfounded, misleading and unfair.

One item in the letter puzzled me greatly.

The district is committed to being a good steward of our taxpayers’ dollars. This is evident in the property tax reductions implemented by our Board of Education during the past three years.

If the district knew they had all these future costs coming and a student population growing by leaps and bounds, why would they lower property taxes?  Were these for things like tuition tax or because prior referenda increases ran out?  For example, the capital costs for a school building do not last forever.  Eventually those increases end.  If that is the case with Indian River, it doesn’t show the board just deciding to lower taxes but rather they are following what was naturally supposed to happen.

While I have posted what amounts to rumors (although told to me by many different people not associated with each other) regarding Miller, I will wait to see what the audit investigation reports.  I believe that when taxpayer dollars are at stake in the operation of a school district which has over 10,000 students in it, the privacy of one employee should not be given greater weight than everyone else involved in the district.  There needs to be some type of legislation allowing a school district or board of education to release information when something happens that triggers an investigation from the auditor’s office.  When there is very little transparency surrounding serious issues, especially during a referendum campaign, the public needs to know exactly what is going on.  If this were a charter school, they would be forced to reveal what is going on through a formal review process.  We need that type of mechanism for our local school districts as well.

Believe In Miracles: The Cubs Win The World Series

I used to watch baseball all the time.  I stopped doing that, along with a lot of other things, a few years ago.  Things that used to make me, well, me.  But tonight I decided to watch the end of the World Series.  Game 7, tied in the 9th at 6-6.  Baseball doesn’t get better than that!  I was hoping the Cubs would win.  They had an awesome season and they needed to end their own curse.  There is nothing better than watching the joy and happiness these guys feel at that last out.  Nothing can take that moment away from them.  And they did it.  In the bottom of the 10th, final score, 8-7.  Watching the first baseman put that game winning ball in his pocket after he tagged the guy out at first.  The players hugging each other.  The fans cheering, even though it was at the Indians ballpark.  This is November baseball.

Maybe next spring I will watch more baseball.  I can’t keep doing this education fight forever.  Something is going to have to give sooner or later.  But I’m not at that point yet.