The upcoming special election for the 10th Senate District just got very interesting. As we all know, Bethany Hall-Long will vacate her Senate seat when she is appointed Lieutenant Governor of Delaware. In February or March, a special election will take place for her seat. I put up some possible contenders for the seat in an article last Friday. I assumed the Delaware GOP party would pick John Marino as the Republican frontrunner for Hall-Long’s seat. But from what I’m hearing today, a new name is being given serious thought on the Republican side…Michelle Wall was elected to the Appoquinimink School Board in 2015. She was selected as the Delaware and National Mother of the Year by a company called American Mothers Inc. Now it seems she might be the Republican pick to run against Democrat State Rep. Earl Jaques. No names have been confirmed by anyone, but the general consensus is the Republicans will throw John Marino overboard in favor Walls.
Let me be very clear and up front on this: having Michelle Wall in the Delaware Senate could be VERY dangerous. She is on a school board for a district that lives by the word “rigor”. Appo, under the leadership of Superintendent Matt Burrows, has gone all in on the Common Core Kool-Aide. They are very big on the Leader In Me program which comes with data walls. The district is always picked on DOE task forces and committees. Burrows is the Chair of the Governor’s ESSA Advisory Committee. I’m still not completely satisfied with their defense of my articles on their tuition tax increase last summer. Their middle schools all have one-to-one technology which means they are all in on the Rodel/Personalized Learning/Competency-Based Education bandwagon. The last thing we need in the Delaware General Assembly is someone who subscribes to the points of view that corporate education reformers have tried to beat over our heads for the past 15 years. I don’t trust Appo and their intentions with education.
Now if you look at her question and answer with the Delaware PTA for her 2015 school board election, she supported opt out. But when questions have come up about the very bad letter the district sends to parents when they opt their kid out, I don’t see the Appo board discussing this at all. It was an Appo letter that led the Delaware PTA to request a legal opinion from Delaware Attorney General Matt Denn on the legality of the communication. Granted, Wall was not on the board when this came up, but it came up again last year with Appo parents.
Marino, however, came very close to beating Hall-Long in the 2014 election. She won with 51% versus Marino’s 49%. Why wouldn’t you go with what worked before? I get it, Wall is the Mother of the Year and a school board member. But the things she stands for, or at very least openly supports, are in sharp contrast to Marino who is pro opt-out and loathes the Smarter Balanced Assessment. I’m sure she would get along great with Senator Dave Sokola. They have that in common. But we don’t need both of them running around the Delaware Senate preaching the same crap we’ve heard from Jack Markell for the past eight years.
Out of all the districts I’ve written about in the past two and a half years, Appo has been the one that was most resistant to opt out, loves their data walls, praises their test scores, and causes parents a lot of anxiety with student data privacy issues. Wall sits on the board at Appo and she could be in a position to voice her opinion on this stuff, but she doesn’t. She appears to be very pro corporate education reform.
On her Facebook school board member page, she recently wrote that the district is in the process of putting out a Request for Proposal for a vendor to build a “natorium” at their Fair View campus. That seems a bit presumptuous considering they won’t have their referendum until late December which would determine if they even get the funds to build this pool. She also pushed the Delaware Dept. of Education surveys for the Every Student Succeeds Act. These surveys, as put out by the DOE, tend to be lopsided and don’t give enough options, only the best of all possible worlds for what the DOE wants. She reposts a lot of Delaware DOE stuff on her school board Facebook page that just seems to advance all that is wrong with Delaware education.
I’m sure the Republicans may think they have their “golden ticket” in the form of Walls, but I have to wonder who is calling the shots on this one. There are many in this area who do not think Wall would be a winnable choice and want Marino for the race. We shall see. As much as I may want to see more of a balance of power in Dover, I could never support Michelle Wall in this election. We are on opposite ends of far too much in education. We need less Rodelian influence in Dover, not more. If Wall wants to help Appo be that kind of district, that’s one thing. But bringing more of that cash in the trash to Dover is the last thing Delaware students need.