In the “October Surprise” for the 2017 Delaware School Board Election season, Atnre Alleyne of DelawareCAN dropped a huge bomb all over Christina Board candidate Jeff Day’s campaign with less than a week before the election. When a former News Journal reporter jumped in on the controversy, it fanned the flames…
In a Facebook post on a page called Media Takeout from March 19th, 2016 (the link was just provided as an update to this article), a physical conflict was shown in a video between an African-American student and an African-American teacher. Day responded to the post on March 24th with the following:
…how do you deal with all these kids? They outnumber the teachers and they “rule” over the schools. How do you propose dealing with them honestly?
A commenter responded with the following:
The reason these kids act like this is most likely due to the fact they were hit as a kid. Teaching “respect” by hitting a child makes no sense. Physical punishment leads to aggression- you know this Jeff.
I have spanked my kids, they don’t act like this. Most people who interact with children say they are the most well behaved. Kids need to understand accountability and respect, they are being taught neither.
It could have ended there, but Day shared the post on his own Facebook page and wrote the following:
Sometimes kids need to have their ass beat… Period. If you raise children without consequences, without respect, I don’t care what race, color, or creed, someone ONE DAY is going to put them in their place. Better a teacher than some other kid with a gun. Hopefully he learned something.
Alleyne wrote a blog post on The Urgency of Now about this today, with screen-shots on both of the Facebook posts. But he did reach out to Day for a comment.
To be fair to Jeff Day, when asked for a comment/context on this post, he said: “I may not have been as tactful in the moment as I should have been” and that “the message behind it is this, we as parents, and as a community must ensure before our kids are ‘grown up’ that this is not a world they can freely move through expressing every thought and opinion, and acting however they wish without facing consequences.”
To be completely honest, I was going to endorse Day for the election. That was before this information came out. I do not endorse corporeal punishment in schools. Nor do I think the student had “their ass beat” in the video. Upon watching the video a few times, the teacher gave the student several chances to do something and the student refused. The student got in the teacher’s face and pushed the teacher down. At that moment, the teacher did restrain the student as best he could in what I viewed as an impossible situation. A more ideal way for the teacher to handle the situation would have been to contact administration before continuing to ask the student to comply when the situation was building. But I wasn’t there. I don’t know the background of the teacher, the school or the student. I do not know if perhaps the student could have disabilities and his actions were a manifestation of those disabilities. I also don’t condone students cheering the situation on. But in no way possible do I think anyone should have “their ass beat”, especially by an adult. In rare circumstances, when a student could pose an immediate danger to himself or others, I think restraint can be used but only under extreme circumstances. That is allowable under Delaware law in very extreme situations.
The situation could have died down again based on Alleyne’s blog post, but former News Journal and current Hechinger Report writer Nichole Dobo flat-out asked Day on his Facebook campaign page for his side of the story. That turned ugly rather fast. More with other commenters than Day’s response. Fair warning, in the below screen-shots, there are cuss words thrown in (not by Dobo or Day):
In a district like Christina, there have already been issues surrounding race and discipline. So much so that the Office of Civil Rights had to step in years ago because they ruled the district was suspending and/or expelling minority students at a rate much more than white students. That OCR order is still in effect with the district.
I have met Day, and while I don’t believe he thinks children should be beat in schools, the optics on this certainly look bad. Had he not run for the Christina school board, I highly doubt this would have ever come out. But words said on the internet are hard to take back and once a screen-shot is taken, it is harder for those words to disappear. I found out about this yesterday morning. I was given the option to write about it since Alleyne would be heading out of town and had a lot on his plate yesterday. But I told him it was his discovery thus his story to do with as he pleased. I knew this would not be good for Day’s campaign so I opted at that point not to endorse him. I knew I would be publishing the surveys I received from the Christina board candidates later that day as well, including Day’s survey.
I know Day is wildly popular among many Democrats in New Castle County but I can’t endorse a candidate that would write the words “sometimes kids need to have their ass beat”. Spanking a child is very different than beating a child, no doubt about that. While I do not spank my own child, I would not consider that the same as having their ass beat. So why would Day use those words? And not really tackle his choice of those words? In my opinion, his explanation for that choice did nothing to take away the actual words. I am not trying to spin his words out of context, the words speak for themselves. I could have not written this post but I felt it was important since 1) I knew about it, and 2) far too many people asked if I would. I think Day is spot-on with a lot of issues. We agree on a lot of things regarding education and politics. But to me, this is a huge thing, especially for a potential school board candidate. Especially while running for a district with as many issues as Christina. School boards vote on expulsion issues all the time and Christina probably more frequently than some other districts in Delaware. I question how Day would vote on those kinds of issues based on his public comments about it. While the discussion around these expulsions are done in executive session, the votes are public. Yes, it is one issue, but it is also a major one. In an ideal world, I would have asked 100 questions on my survey I sent to candidates, and this would have been a topic.
I believe Day is a good person at heart. He cares about a host of issues. I first “met” Day on Facebook last summer. When you are involved in Delaware politics, you tend to run across people all the time on social media. We united for Christina against the charter school lawsuit against them over the local funding formula last fall. I first met him face to face down in Dover last November at a rally against the North Dakota pipeline. I didn’t even know about the rally until I saw Day’s post about it on Facebook. His children were in attendance with him and all was good. Having talked to him, I do not believe he has a racist bone in his body. He cares about all Delaware citizens. I have no doubt some will attack me for writing this. I am certain many of his supporters did not want me to write about it. But in good conscience, I write about these kind of things all the time. I can’t pick and choose based on what others expect out of me. That is my own personal coda. This won’t be the first time and it certainly won’t be the last time I have gone against the grain in certain circles.
For this district race in Christina, I am hard pressed to endorse any of the candidates. I can’t, in good conscience, back Meredith Griffin Jr. based on his prior ties to the Rodel Foundation. Coupled with the fact that he did not put any of his ties with them on his survey I published yesterday. I haven’t heard enough from Kimara Smith to endorse her either. She did not send a survey back to me. I liked a lot of what both Day and Griffin wrote in their answers. But surveys don’t always give the entire picture. For this race, the picture is fuzzy and blurry for me.
There is also the matter of Alleyne’s involvement in this issue. While I don’t know who originally found the Media Takeout post, it was obviously either found by Alleyne or someone else. Day writes constantly on Facebook. More than a few times a day in most cases. For someone to find this, there had to be a great deal of digging through his posts. Alleyne and Griffin both tend to lean toward the corporate education reform movement in many ways, moreso Alleyne. While it is certainly within the public right to dig around in public comments made on social media, I have to wonder about the motivation during a campaign for any office. While I don’t condone Day’s comments, I have to wonder if the intent was to smear Day so another candidate could win. All too often in elections, it is the people behind the scenes who get information like this out. Usually the candidates are far too busy campaigning while also performing their daily functions. As someone who has many “gotcha” moments on this blog, this is something I have been guilty of. But I think Alleyne and I can both agree on one thing: this was not a good situation Day put himself in. I try to be careful about what I write on social media. Things can come back and bite you later on. I have no doubt this is an important lesson for any potential candidate running for public office.
Alleyne and I have a very odd history. I’ve written about him more as a former Delaware Department of Education employee than when he was actually employed by them. I usually reserve my ire for his former boss there, Christopher Ruszkowski. But Alleyne has certainly come into the spotlight since he resigned from the DOE. Between his Urgency of Now blog, his massive what I see as extreme interference with what was great legislation in House Bill 399 before he stuck his nose in it, his signing on as the Executive Director of DelawareCAN (an offshoot with 50CAN, a corporate education reform company with serious ties to the DeVos Foundation and Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education), and his Rodelian spin on Delaware’s State Plan for the Every Student Succeeds Act, there isn’t much we agree on. I’ve met him personally and he is a very nice person, just like Jeff Day. But on education policy, we are at extreme opposites on that pole. I am a blogger that questions everything and Alleyne is easily in my top five of those who I don’t trust to serve the best interests of children rather than corporations. Perhaps he is being used by those companies far more than he realizes and has fallen for the corporate education reform brainwashing that so many millenials seem to fall prey to. Had this information come out from anyone other than him, I most likely wouldn’t have questioned the motivation behind it.
I will be endorsing candidates in the days ahead, but for Christina District “F”, I can not endorse any of the three candidates. I don’t have to endorse any candidate in any election. It is my own personal choice. It is something I like to do. Whether it makes a difference or not I can’t say. The final votes determine any election. It is important to vote in school board elections, another rare thing Alleyne and I agree with each other on. School boards can affect communities in a very large way. I find many people lose the right to complain about property taxes and referendums when they can’t even bother to vote in their local school board election. So next Tuesday May 9th, I encourage all Delaware citizens to vote in their local school board election if they are able to. But before you do, take the time to seek out the candidate’s positions on education within your district. It is very important.
Updated, 9:05pm: I just updated the article with a link to the actual video from Mediatakeout’s Facebook post. While I could easily see someone finding this post on Day’s Facebook feed (after what I assume would have been an extensive search for over a year’s worth of posts), the Mediatakeout comment thread had over 77,000 comments. Alleyne provided the screenshot from Day’s post AND the Mediatakeout post. That is A LOT of digging to weed through that to find one comment. Just sayin…