Sounds and Silence of April

Love this blog. I have to get up there one of these years!

Outside Ittoqqortoormiit

April usually is a very good month for seal hunting at the ice edge outside of Ittoqqortoormiit. This year, ice conditions have been different.

There has hardly been any open water to speak of, for a long time. It has basically looked like you can see on these two pictures (taken from the hill behind the hot springs at Kap Tobin) for many weeks.

At the same time, the store has run out for dog food! Luckily, we are able to borrow some from one of our neighbours. So, the dogs will survive until hunting conditions improve, or the store gets new supplies.

Again, I´ve put together a slideshow for you, and this time there are images from the hot spring at Kap Tobin, dog sledding around Kap Swaison (in search for open water) and Kap Tobin, and this years dog sled race! Ingkasi participated, and you can find out how it went for him, at…

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EdTech Envisioning Profits by Jumping into School Marketplace: “Don’t Call It Philanthropy”

Diane Ravitch's blog

While teachers continue to struggle for a decent middle-income salary, the edtech entrepreneurs are salivating about their success in the ed marketplace. Listen to the audio to hear the sound of happy money-makers.

Some people are getting very rich indeed by investing in technology to replace teachers and to call it “personalization.” When there is no teacher involved, it is “depersonalization.”

Here is the press release.

When Tom Davidson served as a state legislator for a small district in southern Maine two decades ago, he became intimately familiar with the byzantine, bureaucratic, and often, frankly, subpar sausage-making that goes into bankrolling education at a local level. (“There was never a shortage of good ideas, but almost always a shortage of money,” he says.)

So Davidson took his learnings to the private sector and founded EverFi, an education software startup, in 2008. As CEO, Davidson has been rallying some of the…

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School Board Candidates: Important Message!

For all the candidates for the 2017 Delaware School Board elections, I am extending the due date for the surveys until 5pm on Monday, May 2nd.  I’ve received several already so I thank those candidates.  I would love to get every candidate’s survey, but I am also realistic.  It is a great way to get your viewpoints out to a wider audience in your district.  My email is kevino3670@yahoo.com and I wish all of you the best of luck on May 9th!

Does A Critic Of Delaware’s Cursive Bill Have Something To Gain By The Bill NOT Passing?

Cursive.  Love it or hate it, I support Delaware’s pending legislation to make it mandatory.  But at the House Education Committee meeting earlier this month, where the bill was released by the committee, one opponent of the bill was very adamantly against the bill.  And she wasn’t even from Delaware.  This got my radar up, so I looked into this woman who had such a passion against the bill.  What I found shocked even me, and I’ve seen a lot of things writing this blog! Continue reading Does A Critic Of Delaware’s Cursive Bill Have Something To Gain By The Bill NOT Passing?

Live, From Delaware, It’s The Carney & Bunting Education Funding Tele-Town Hall

I will get the call at 7:45pm.

For those following, Mike Matthews is also going to live comment on his Facebook account.  I told him I was going to live blog.  He said to do it cause he won’t catch everything.  I told him that is okay because I can just screenshot everything he says.

It is 7:46pm and no call yet.  Mike Matthews hasn’t received one either.  A government function running late?  Say it isn’t so!

Out of ten people on Mike’s Facebook page, only one has gotten the call.  Just got the call!

Carney is on the line!  Thanking DASA and DSEA for getting the word out.  Vehicle he has been using since he was our lone Congressman.

Been travelling up and down the state and has participated in about a dozen town hall meetings.  Legislators helped to organize these.  Has heard from people we have a structural budget problem.  This should be a balanced solution.  People want us to run government more effectively and proficiently.  Thinks with “shared sacrifice” more people will chip in.

Most folks don’t want to see cuts in programs or tax increases. People want a balanced approach with shared sacrifice.

More kids with special needs.  Forced to deal with almost $400 million dollar shortfall.

Purpose of call is to talk about education cuts and way to bring this to General Assembly.  Thinks it will be $200 million in cuts and $200 million in new revenue.  Corporate franchise tax will give us some extra bling.

Cigarettes going up a $1.oo.

Education spending is flat.  Fund teacher units based on student growth, early childhood education, teacher step increases, professional development.  Education is $1.4 billion.  $1.2 billion goes to districts to pay for teacher salaries and other costs.  State pays about 60% of all education spending in our state.  Suggesting is an across the board cut of 1.5% and $22 million cut in educational sustainment fund.  Wants districts to cut $22 million.  When federal funds went away for math and reading specialists, state picked them up.  Doesn’t want to cut anything.  Need for Delaware to be more competitive in the long-term.

Talking about spending time at Red Clay school in 2nd grade class.  Skipped around on questions.  The moderator interrupted to hear my question.  My question surrounds tuition funding for special education.

Sandy from Newark was cut off.  Cindy from Dover asked if how long it could take the state to go from 19 school districts to 6 school districts and central supply ordering.  To cut down on everything.  Carney said the idea of district consolidation has been raised in the town halls.  He said you would have to look at actual cost saving as a result.  Was done in the 1960s down in Sussex County and in New Castle County under the desegregation order.  Difference in pay scales can result in a level-up effect.  Could be higher pay and larger cost to districts.  Looking at all expenses for state through state-wide committee.

Back to Sandy from Newark.  No Sandy.  Got my question (Wow).  Asked if they are going to look at tuition funding for special education students.  Said the numbers have grown as much as twice a regular student to eight times a regular student depending on challenges for student.  Making sure students meet that qualification is important.  Dr. Bunting got on.  If a student’s needs can’t be served in the district, tuition funding kicks in to make sure those funds are used for that child.  It is also used for gifted students in Sussex County.  There are specific allocations for those costs so they do look at them.

Carrie from Newark asked how budget cuts will affect related arts teachers.  Said a lot of the decisions will be made by local districts and school boards.  He would like to see administrative overhead cuts and not personnel cuts.  Said he would much rather see higher tax revenue than cuts.  $37 million in total cuts for education out of the total $200 million they are looking for.  More than he would prefer.

Mike from Middletown is asking about rainy day fund.  Carney said it is 5% and it is a one-time amount and if you built spending on it, it would be held inappropriated against that.  It is for downturn in middle of fiscal year.  Legislature can’t appropriate more than 98% of the budget.  Rainy day plus that 2% cushion would be against the law.  It is more for emergency situation.  Can’t use those funds from year to year.

Jerry from Cape Henlopen is on the line.  He is an ESL teacher.  Hasn’t received 2% increase in five years and has more students that don’t speak English.  Said he has no support.  They have higher special education funding but none for ESL students.  Very disappointed in Delaware with this.  Said he talked to teachers in Georgetown about their needs.  Wants more funds for these students.  Biggest problem we have is the difference in proficiency levels between lower advantaged students and those from higher income.  Wants ALL students to be able to read by 3rd grade.

Kurt from Dover asked about raising gas tax. Said we have the lowest gas in the area.  Everyone would pay equally.  Has heard this suggestion.  Said if we have two funds for budget and one is transportation trust fund.  Gas tax goes towards that.  Transportation should pay for itself.  Allows us to go to financial markets and get bonds.  Started under Governor Castle.  General Assembly refused to raise this under Governor Markell.  Said they are in good shape.   Secretary Cohen said doesn’t need a gas tax.  Deficit is in the General Fund.

Jennifer from Kent County asked about classroom sizes.  How can classroom ratios meet the needs of ALL our students.  He supports the lowest ratios the districts can provide based on their funding needs.  A lot of districts take waivers in K-3 for classroom ratios, allows 22 students to teacher.  They get these waivers to allow for other programs like art and music.  Budget would keep overall spending flat, would fund teachers, step increases, professional service days, discretionary funds like education sustainability funds.  In perfect world, would love to spend on positive things.

Cameron from Woodside.  Teacher at Poly-Tech High School.  Have the budget cuts proposed looked at how tech programs could be cut?  Looking at how student transportation funding works.  Doesn’t think is as cost-efficient as it could be.  Thinks we should consolidate in some way.  Said transportation for vo-techs is same proportionate to districts.  Asking districts to take on 5% more of those costs.

Andrea from Newark talked about school boards raising taxes without referendum.  Would what they are asking for be equal to what they are asking for in Colonial’s referendum?  Carney said $22 million is relatively small amount, would amount to $40-$50 increase.  Said we can pay for these services.  Said local district money that comes from property taxes is very low compared to New Jersey, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.  He said that is important cause people move here based on those low property taxes.  He said that doesn’t mean people willingly want more property taxes.  Said this keeps Delaware competitive.

Bob from Wilmington asked about raising property assessment values.  They haven’t been raised in 30-40 years.  Carney said he was on the property reassessment task force under former Governor Carper.  Property assessments are not current.  State law said if reassessment is done, districts are required to lower tax rates.  That can change through legislation.  Can’t be done in five months to put together budget proposal in March and then approved by June.  Thinks it is something we need to look at.

Dawn from Delmar asked about lowering number of days state employees work.  Right now she works 188 days.  Said she would be willing to work 185.  Carney said his budget director proposed lowering professional development days but he doesn’t want actual paycheck cuts.  Believes that is counter-productive.  Said half the cuts he is proposing would be recoverable from the districts through higher taxes.

Ashley from Kent County asked about after-school programs.  If those programs are cut such as 21st Century, what are the plans to keep kids off the street and keep them away from legal issues.  What do we do with those students?  Carney said he supports partnering with non-profit agencies like Boys & Girls Club.  Supports grant-in-aid funding for those types of programs.  Wants sustainable budget to cover those programs and to make sure disadvantaged background students get those needs.  Said 21st Century is federal program.  His approach to budget is to maintain programs and funding we have.

Laurie from Wilmington thanked Carney for listening to teachers.  Said we spend a lot on micro-management.  Race To The Top gave us a very irresponsible and expensive accountability system.  Said we need an overhaul of this system.  Carney said he asked Secretary Bunting to reorganize the Dept. of Education be more of a resource department as opposed to an accountability machine.  Administrative overhead costs are huge according to Carney across the state.  Said this can be done with district administrative overhead.

In a poll, 68% of callers support paying higher property taxes to support education, 32% said no.

Michelle from Dover is up next.  She asked if the solutions on the table are going to fix the structural problems.  She said another place to look at is our income taxes.  She said by raising income taxes a full 1% instead of 2/10th of a percent, it would raise $160 million dollars.  Surrounding states are about 3% higher in overall taxes.  Carney said PA and MD have sales tax.  He thinks Trump’s decline in taxes announced this week is a bad idea.  He said our tax bracket is low at $60,000.  Seven states have flat rates and no brackets, like PA.  He said one of the goals is to reduce the top marginal tax rates when our top rate was 19%.  Today it is at 6.6% and he is proposing it go up to 6.8%.  Wants to get rid of itemized deductions.  Said this benefits higher income households.  Said increasing the standardized deduction helps lower-income families.  Said it is a shared sacrifice.

Jill from Smyrna asked why step raises always occur for teachers.  He said they are contractual.  They could suspend those but it is a relationship between teachers and school districts.  He said there are other groups of employees that get steps as well, can’t recall what they were.  He said it is unusual to do due to contractual obligations.

Last question is from Devon from Wilmington.  I know that guy!  He asked about assurances that shared sacrifice won’t disproportionately affect disadvantaged students.  Carney said he thinks students will get what they need with his balanced approach.  He said the WEIC group has worked on these issues for a number of years.  He wants Bunting to take a hard look at this.  He does have a million in education opportunity grants in his proposed budget.  We still get federal Title I funding for these supports.

Governor Carney thanked everyone for being on the call.  5,000 people were on the call according to Carney.  Appreciates the dialogue we’ve had.  Encourage people to talk to their legislators about the revenue package.  To all the teachers, thank you for all the great work you do every day.  Thank you, and God Bless everyone.

With that, the Education Funding Tele-Town Hall is over.  Thanks for following along!

 

 

 

 

 

FOIApalooza At Early College High School Board Meeting Going On Right Now!!!!

At this present moment, 5:46pm, the Early College High School in Dover, Delaware is holding their monthly board of directors meeting.  But the charter school has NO sign-in sheet for public comment, the front door is locked, and a receptionist at the school told a parent there would be no ability for the public to speak at the meeting this evening.  Hello FOIA, meet Early College High School.

I’m a HUGE fan of transparency.  Real big fan.  I don’t like it when parents are denied the ability to speak at a public meeting.  Nothing gets my education flames going more than that.  Especially when it is planned in advance.  How fortunate for myself that I was able to catch this in real-time!  That takes some major chutzpah to do that.  But not only is all this going on, but they started the meeting early thus denying the public the ability to even hear everything that was discussed if they were able to get through their locked doors.

It makes me wonder why the Board of Directors wouldn’t allow public comment at this meeting.  When I went to check their website to see what is on the agenda, I found it very difficult to ascertain anything since NO AGENDA WAS POSTED!!!!  But during the meeting, there was discussion ABOUT public comment and that anyone wishing to speak has to meet certain conditions first.  Too bad the public didn’t have the opportunity to hear this discussion about their public comment procedures.  One parent went and had something to say, but she never had the opportunity so she left.  Meanwhile, the front doors are still locked.

President Trump Issues Executive Order About Federal Control Of Public Education

Hot off the press, United States President Donald Trump just issued an Executive Order concerning federal control of education.  This order gives U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos a lot of authority to remove regulations that may interfere with state or local control of public education.  It also talks about Common Core.  Worth a read…

Carney & Bunting Tackle Education Funding But The Red Herring Fooling Everyone Lurks Around The Corner

Delaware Governor John Carney and Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Susan Bunting will talk to educators, parents, and citizens tonight about education funding and the state budget tonight at 7:45pm.  To be included on the call, you had to sign up yesterday by 2pm.  I signed up on Tuesday.  I will be reporting live from the Town Hall.  What concerns me the most is not what Carney is saying.  It is what he isn’t talking about… Continue reading Carney & Bunting Tackle Education Funding But The Red Herring Fooling Everyone Lurks Around The Corner

Will The Real Publius Please Stand Up?

This just in: Henry Clampitt, a candidate for the Red Clay Consolidated School District Board of Education, just told a crowd of people at a PTA debate for the candidates, that he has been a victim of bullying by a blogger in Kent County.  He stated he is not a blogger.  The question that was asked of Clampitt was his stance on bullying.  Clampitt ran out of time but kept on talking and stated he needed to say this.

Yes, I wrote about Clampitt being Publius.  Long after someone else outed him on Twitter.  We all suspected but that was the first public confirmation of this.  Now, in the final weeks of the Red Clay board seat campaign, Clampitt addresses the issue.  Let me clarify one thing.  Publius was NOT a blogger.  He commented on a blog.  There is a huge difference.

The last time Publius commented on Kilroy’s Delaware, he said he was saying goodbye and the “sign was in the yard”.  Publius has not been seen since.  Around the same time, Henry Clampitt joined the Gateway Lab School Board of Directors.  Make of that what you will.  Publius was a bully on Kilroy’s Delaware.  He went after people with absolutely no mercy.  I will shed no tears for the consequences of those actions.  But we do all owe Publius a debt of gratitude.  His stance on charter schools and enrollment preferences and school choice kept the conversation going long after most people would have drifted away.

So if Clampitt wasn’t Publius, who was?  Was it the Smoke Monster from LOST?  Was it the Candy Man?  Was it Donald Trump?  Was it Kilroy himself?  Was it Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy?  Or was it…

On “Thirteen Reasons Why”

Minding My Matters

Recently, Netflix began to air an original series called Thirteen Reasons Why, based on the novel/novella of the same name by author Jay Asher. Having read the book years ago, I pulled it back up on my Kindle iPhone app and read it again tonight, to refresh my memory. It took about 2 hours. I cried. Again.

The purpose of reading the book again, although I do intend to watch the series and include my 11 year old daughter in the viewing, was to write this blog entry. It is in direct response to all the comments I’ve seen from many, many people, and also because, like Clay, I’ve sat and done nothing until I finally was no longer able to. Now I am the person who does something, even if that something makes me unpopular or look foolish. Being wrong out loud is better than silently being right.

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Kilroy Was Here, And What A Time It Was! Bon Voyage Kilroy’s Delaware!

Kilroy wrote his last post today.  I wasn’t expecting it, but I’m not surprised.  I’m sad, for many reasons.  I will still talk to the man behind Kilroy.  Perhaps one day we can go fishing at his paradise in really slower lower.  But dammit, Kilroy filled me in on so much with Delaware education before I took a crack at blogging.  He lent me his blog for about a month and a half three years ago so I could tell a story about my son.  We talked a lot over the past few years.  Over time, he became a friend.  Not a friend I talk to every day or even see.  But a friend nonetheless.

Some of the commenters over at Kilroy’s Delaware pissed me off to no end.  That is no secret, especially that one guy.  But I loved the discussion even if I didn’t agree with the point of view.  Things got nasty between myself and a few of the commenters from time to time.  But Kilroy loved it.  He loved his virtual kitchen table.  He was the godfather of Delaware education blogs and paved the way for the rest of us fighting the good fight.

Transparent Christina, Kavips, and now Kilroy’s Delaware.  We still have other education blogs, but they are either mixed in with political blogs (Delaware Liberal and Blue Delaware) or the other blogs really don’t post that often.  They were the big three.  I get it.  Life moves on.  Blogs are not a forever thing.  I’m very surprised mine has lasted as long as it has.  I feel this insurmountable task of carrying the torch for the giants that came before me.  Someday, another irate or concerned parent will take up the mantle.  Perhaps a teacher.  Blogging is not dead.

I often consider hanging it up though.  Is Delaware education blogging needed anymore?  Things have calmed down since Governor Markell left his throne.  But there are still considerable dangers and concerns going on with education.  Perhaps bigger than all that came before.  The biggest concerns I have are vouchers, personalized learning, competency-based education, funding, digital technology, and student data privacy.  And hovering above all those issues is how students with disabilities will fit in with this new world.  I’ve seen the end goals, and any legislator, teacher, or educator can tell me that will never happen.  But they aren’t in the corporate world.  Not knee-deep in it.  That’s where Rodel comes in.  They are the middle man between the corporations and the education stakeholders, whether it is the Governor, the Delaware Dept. of Education, schools, teachers, and even parents at times.  As long as they are peddling their wares, I will try my best to stick around.

There will never be another Kilroy.  He had such a unique identity and style to his writing.  Even the best imitator couldn’t come close.  I’ll miss his cryptic hints and his crazy codes he would drop.  He had a mission, and he accomplished it.  I remember taping the Senate session when they passed his digital recording bill (finally) and sent him a copy.  I was proud of him because I knew great things don’t always come easy.  But with sweat and perseverance, change can come.

Best of luck Kilroy.  I will forever be grateful for you taking a chance on an odd parent from Kent County and getting me going in this very surreal blogging world.  Because of you, my life was forever changed.  Sometimes it wasn’t always good change, but it hasn’t been bad.  You were the gateway to my meeting a ton of people (including yourself) who have left a mark on my life, often at times I needed it more than ever.  At the end of the day, it is about friendship and trying to help people.  Even when you don’t get anything for yourself out of it.  You taught me that Kilroy, along with Kavips and Transparent Christina.

Should they ever make a movie about Kilroy’s Delaware, I want Robert DeNiro to play him!

School Board Candidate Responses – New Castle County Edition

Thanks again to Brian at Blue Delaware for getting this up. I sent out surveys to ALL the candidates through Facebook or email. If you did NOT receive a survey, please email me at kevino3670@yahoo.com and I will get one out to you. Thanks!

Blue Delaware

As we (sort of) wrap up our 2-part post about our School Board candidate questionnaire, again I want to thank each candidate who took the time out from their hectic campaigning schedule to compose thoughtful responses to our questions.

Our New Castle County Districts’ races feature some quirks and notes I think should be mentioned before getting to the responses.

Appoquinimink School District

Charlisa Edelin, Trevor Tucker, and Keinna McKnight are running for the At-Large seat on the Board of Education. None of the candidates responded to the questionnaire. Charlisa Edelin is the incumbent and current Board Vice President.

Brandywine School District

Both candidates for the District D seat, A. Melina Gillis and John A. Skrobot III did not provide email contact information with the Department of Elections, we reached out to the school district administration and they kindly forwarded our request for contact to the candidates. Melina Gillis was the only candidate to…

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Amy: One Year Later

Today marks the first anniversary of the death of Amy Joyner-Francis.  Students around the state are enjoying their last day of Spring Break before the weekend kicks in and they go back to school on Monday.  The leaves are popping out and flowers are in bloom.  It’s a foggy and overcast morning, just like the one on April 21st, 2016.  Those who contributed to Amy’s death have gone through the legal sentence and two out of three await sentencing.

I still think about Amy’s death quite a bit.  It was a shock to all of us in Delaware that students could be so vicious.  We learned the details of Amy’s death after.  We know there was a sharp increase in the number of fights at Howard High School of Technology.  We know social media played a huge role in the events leading to her death.  We know the perpetrators planned the fight ahead of time.  But nothing prevented Amy’s death.  It should have.

I can’t imagine what it must be like to be Amy’s family.  No parent should ever lose a child.  But this case was very public.

I look at it this way, based on my beliefs.  Amy has spent a year in Heaven with God our Father.  She doesn’t know pain or suffering and I have no doubt she has shared her love with her family and friends.  Her grace could be the feeling of calm and peace some of them felt in odd moments over the past year.

I hope we have learned some lessons from Amy’s death.  I hope her death meant something and it contributed to something bigger.  I hope we have learned to be a little bit kinder to people and to be a little more forgiving.  I hope we have learned that sometimes words of healing are better than hands of violence.  It won’t take away the heartache and grief so many still feel for her, but we all get a lifetime.

Jack Markell Is The Modern-Day Forrest Gump

According to an article from Cris Barrish over at Newsworks, former Delaware Governor Jack Markell is going on a journey across America!

Markell is going on a bike ride across the USA in an effort to raise funds for a charity.

Markell has no official role with Motivate the First State Group, but by riding across the United States he is “simply offering his help” to get more people “engaging in healthy behavior” to assist charities, spokeswoman Lauren Golt said Thursday.

Out of all the things I predicted for Markell in his life after office, this was the last thing I would have predicted.  I could have sworn he would have gotten involved in something with education.  But I like this better.  He leaves from Astoria, Oregon on June 18th.  I can think of several people he can take with him but some of them will be very busy trying to pass a state budget.  But Markell can pull a Forrest Gump and keep going back and forth, back and forth.  Isn’t State Senator David Sokola big on bicycling?

On April 26th, Markell will give details about his cross-country ride and also something called the “Training With Jack Challenge”.  I have to wonder what the standards for his initiative will be?  Will he accept rigorous standards in the evaluations based on his training?  Will there be standardized tests to measure the worth of the program?

In all seriousness though, it is no secret Jack and I didn’t see eye-to-eye on education.  But I do see this as a worthwhile cause and I wish him safe travels on his journey.

The Rodel Teacher Council Policy Briefs & Why Delaware Teachers Need To Be VERY Concerned

I’ve heard from more than a few teachers in the past hour since I posted about the Rodel Teacher Council’s presentation to the State Board of Education.  Many were unaware of what this very small group of Delaware teachers have been up to and how it could impact the future of their profession.  I wanted to follow-up on that article with this set of “policy briefs” created by this teacher council.  What could happen is this corporate education reform hocus-pocus is all of a sudden written into Delaware state code without anyone the wiser.  This would be done by our General Assembly who Rodel has been making nicey-nice with in the past year.  I would strongly urge all the local teacher unions and the Delaware State Education Association to get on top of this as soon as humanly possible and find out what the hell some of the teachers in their districts are doing with all this in the name of Rodel.  I’ve been warning about these possibilities for a long time.  But it will take much more than me to stop this from becoming the new reality.

For months, I’ve heard Delaware Governor John Carney talk about “public and private partnerships”.  Funny how the Rodelians mention this very same thing in their policy briefs issued last November.  If you think for one second John Carney is not under Rodel’s thumb, think again!

I’ve written about “Social Impact Bonds” before.  Where companies come in and essentially make bets on student outcomes.  Now we see “Innovation Funding”, also known as crowdsourcing, where communities “invest” in schools so someone can make a whole lot of money.  As well, the state won’t have to pay for it.  But all that comes with a price.  The future generation of students who will be fully immersed in this nonsense will become nothing more than drones to the corporations as true local decision-making becomes a thing of the past.  Meanwhile, all the “smart” and “wealthy” kids will be attending private schools paid for, in part, by school vouchers.

The below documents were created last November but they are making their rounds with the decision-makers in Delaware education.  This is Paul Herdman’s ultimate vision folks.  Everything else has just been a sideshow compared to this.  They can come out with all the pretty and colorful presentations they want.  But as long as people keep swallowing their pills, this will continue.  It will never change until people demand our Department of Education, our legislators, and our schools stop adopting Rodel’s corporate greed-driven drivel.  And for the love of all that is holy, will education stakeholders who really should know better please get off the Vision Coalition?  All you are doing is prolonging the existence of Rodel.  DSEA, DASA, and DSBA need to inform all those who pay dues to them of every single aspect of these policies and let their members decide how to deal with this.  Decisions like this should not be brought forth by 22 Delaware teachers speaking for the entire teaching force in Delaware.

The Rodel Teacher Council Scares The Living Hell Out Of Me

Today, the Rodel Teacher Council gave a presentation to the Delaware State Board of Education with policy recommendations for their Personalized Learning Blueprint.  I’ve written about them before and actually received a bit of heat from a few of their membership.  These aren’t bad people or bad teachers.  I truly believe they have been brainwashed into the corporate education reform movement.  Some may not even realize it.  But what they came out with today for their State Board presentation literally frightens me and makes me wonder more than ever where public education is heading.  I have to wonder if the State Board of Education would ever allow those who are against this kind of thing to give a presention to them.

This presentation has all the education reform buzz words in it: Personalized Learning, Blended Learning, Competency-Based Education, Micro Credentials, Seat-Time, Social and Emotional Learning, Waivers, Assessment, and Standards.  To break it down, under these models the eventual goal is what is known as “stealth assessments”, the state assessment broken down in chunks at the end of each unit.  The student can’t move on until they “master” the material provided to them from their digital technology.  Predicting the future here, I imagine Delaware will eventually incorporate some kind of “digital badge” the student would get once they “master” the material (Colorado is at the forefront of this ridiculousness).  Meanwhile, all the data from this ed tech is going to vendors galore.  Personal and private data, every single keystroke.

So why are Delaware educators jumping on this bandwagon when it will eventually lead to the demise of the public school teacher?  Your guess is as good as mine.  Special standing, power, incentive for future mobility in their profession?  Perhaps they are blind to how their actions today will lead to the end of their professional world as we know it.  The fact that ANY Delaware school district teacher would get behind something with the Rodel name in it makes me suspect.  Very suspect.  The fact this council is going before the State Board of Education after they went to some legislators earlier this month makes me very worried.  Worried that legislation is coming that will allow this Rodel Vision of Educational Paradise.

Make no mistake.  This has been in the planning stages for years.  And it will get a huge push in states once Blockchain Technology really gets going.  And Delaware will be at the forefront of that initiative.  People read stuff like this from me and some say I am wearing a tin hat or engaging in conspiracy theory.  Let them.  They said the same thing when I said Delaware’s Assessment Inventory Committee was just a big distraction from opt out and would produce nothing worthwhile.  I said that before the legislation even passed which created that committee.

What is Governor Carney’s role in all this?  I don’t think he has an original thought on any of this.  I think his staff tells him what to do.  Many of those staff members are fully aligned with this Rodelian future and have been for quite a while.

To read what the Rodel Teacher Council (aka Rodel) wants policy-makers in Delaware to subscribe to, please read the document below.

No Formal Review For DE Academy Of Public Safety & Security Or Delaware Design-Lab? What’s Up With That?

Two Delaware charter schools are in violation of Delaware state law.  The Delaware Department of Education is not putting them under formal review as they did two years ago when a few charter schools did not have 80% of their student enrollment for the next school year by April 1st of that calendar year.  Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security and Delaware Design-Lab High School are under the 80% enrollment.  Why no formal review?  The Delaware State Code, under Title 14, is very clear about this type of situation:

(c)(1) On or before April 1 of each school year, a charter school shall have enrolled, at a minimum, 80% of its total authorized number of students, and the administrator of each charter school shall, pursuant to the requirements below, provide a written certification of that enrollment to the Department of Education and to the superintendent of each public school district in which 1 or more of the charter school’s students reside.

So what gives?  The answer can be found in the State Board of Education agenda for their meeting today.  The Charter School Office gives a monthly presentation to the State Board on all matters surrounding charter schools.

The law is the law.  If they did the same to other charter schools, why are these two not going under the same scrutiny with their enrollment numbers?  Is that fair to the charters that had to go through the formal review process two years ago?  DAPSS numbers have been down for years.  Had they not submitted a modification last year to decrease their enrollment numbers (which passed), they would have gone under formal review last year.  Delaware Design-Lab was one of the schools under formal review two years ago for low enrollment numbers.  Fair is fair, no matter what.  While these numbers are not a train-wreck, they are in violation of what our legislators passed and was written into the state code.

School Board Candidate Responses – Kent & Sussex County Edition

Thanks to Brian Stephan for getting this out there. I just sent out surveys to all the candidates myself this morning. Like Brian, some of them did not have contact information. Mine will go up the first week of May. Looking forward to the New Castle County post tomorrow!

Blue Delaware

Before we begin, I want to take this opportunity to thank the candidates who responded to our questions. My hope is that the questions were not simply softballs but that they challenged the candidates to provide meaningful answers and provided real insight into those seeking election to some of the most important positions in the State.

We all know School Board elections do not get the attention they deserve. Hopefully our questions and the candidates’ responses generate more interest

In all, there are 37 candidates still running for election, of those: 15 chose to respond to at least 1 question and there were a few candidates we were unable to reach due to missing contact information and/or requests to their School Districts for assistance going unanswered.

Part I of the responses will include Kent and Sussex County School District Candidates. New Castle County Candidates’ responses will post Friday morning, so keep an eye out!

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Missing The Friend I Never Met

It has been five months since my friend disappeared.  That is a long time.  I haven’t seen a trace of my friend ever since.  What black hole swallowed up my friend never to been seen or heard from again? Continue reading Missing The Friend I Never Met

Homeowners Set To Get Screwed With Governor Carney’s “Shared Sacrifice”

Yesterday, the Delaware Economic Forecast Advisory Committee (DEFAC) projected Delaware’s budget deficit for Fiscal Year 2018 to be $395 million dollars.  This is up ten million from the last time the committee met.  Tonight, the Christina Board of Education will discuss the impact on taxpayers.  Governor Carney is suggesting school boards raise what is known as the match tax (the portion the state matches certain funding) by having the district school boards levy the tax without a referendum.

Christina’s Chief Financial Officer, Bob Silber, created an impact budget for how this increase would hit taxpayers.  In the below example, a home that just sold for $224,000 would see their property taxes raised $46.50 with the match tax scenario.  Keep in mind, this is based on the property assessment value of $63,700, which is almost a quarter of the home’s actual value based on the sale price.

This is not the only sting homeowners, as well as all Delaware citizens, will feel starting July 1st.  State taxes, collected from paychecks, will go up for most.  State employees will see higher insurance rates.  Salary raises for state employees will most likely disappear.  Services will be cut.  It is all rather bleak.  Our General Assembly has utilized every single benefit to state funding, such as the proceeds from the tobacco lawsuit, without realizing those perks were eventually going to disappear.  State revenue does not match state expenses.  Companies, such as DuPont and soon Barclays, left Delaware for the most part, causing a severe lack of revenue and jobs.  Delaware has, and will continue to, spend more than it makes.

With the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission, there was a request to raise property assessment values.  While Delaware’s assessment values are still far lower than most states, it also created an influx of senior citizens moving to The First State because of that.  But the ability of school boards to raise property taxes, already through the special education tuition tax and soon the match tax, could have a negative impact on the desire of the elderly to move to Delaware or even stay here.

Meanwhile, there has been no action on the Governor’s part to institute the basic special education funding for students in Kindergarten to 3rd Grade.  State Rep. Kim Williams introduced two bills in the last two General Assemblies to take care of this but neither bill has moved forward due to the state funding issues.  Oblivious to all the future costs by not having this essential funding in place, our state continues to bumble through special education with this very real omission to the foundation of special education students who are just beginning to manifest their disabilities.  The projected amount to fund what should have always been there is a little bit less than $13 million a year.  By not providing that funding, the state relies on the school districts or charter schools to pay for these services.  Either way, it has a negative effect.  If the school does provide those services, it results in more of a drain on local funding.  If the school doesn’t, they are not only breaking special education law if the child qualifies for an Individualized Education Program, but they are also looking at higher costs for that student in the future by not providing that foundation.  So that $13 million a year mushrooms to much higher costs for these students down the road.

Just this morning, State Rep. Earl Jaques announced a new bill on Facebook creating a fund in the Delaware Dept. of Education budget for an Educational Support Professional of the Year award.  Delaware has 16 school districts, 3 vocational districts, and over 20 charter schools.  This bill would allow each district (20, which includes one award for all the charters) to give their winner an extra $1000.00.  The overall winner would get $1,500.00.  While $21,500 in the DOE budget doesn’t amount to much, it is symptomatic of the mindset of far too many of our legislators.  Instead of finding solutions, too many of them find ways to spend even more money.  If our state was swimming in money, I would be okay with this bill.  But not now.

Delaware’s legislature is going to have their hands full when they return from Spring Break next Tuesday.  This budget deficit is not the result of a national recession like what we faced in 2009.  This is Delaware created.  We spent our way out of the recession and now we are paying the piper.  Governor Carney looks like a deer running towards headlights with his reactions to this ever-increasing budget deficit.  I predict he will have a very tough time getting re-elected in 2020 if this trend continues.