Ever since Regulation 225 hit the Delaware Registrar of Regulations, I’ve been scratching my head over it. I’ve gone back and forth on it a few dozen times. To be crystal clear, I support any anti-discrimination measure for ANY student. No questions asked. Some of the Facebook comments I’ve seen from some who oppose the bill are filled with hate and misunderstanding. I’ve wondered what the purpose behind all this was, and today I may have received an answer.
First, a little background on this regulation. In 2013, the Delaware General Assembly passed a transgender anti-discrimination bill that included everything but schools. The families that pushed for that bill were upset schools weren’t included in it but wanted the bill to pass. They were very angry at former Governor Jack Markell for not demanding schools be included. So after John Carney became Governor this year, the same families approached him and demanded the General Assembly draft a new bill or have the Delaware Department of Education issue a regulation on it. As a result, Carney issued his memorandum to Secretary of Education Dr. Susan Bunting which led to a group and the public sessions and all that. From there came a draft that circulated prior to the Registrar of Regulations, and then it was published in early November.
As a supporter of parental rights with opt out, I support the rights of parents when it comes to education. With this regulation, many parents are concerned about the use of the word “may” as opposed to “shall” when it comes time to notify the parents about the gender change request by the student. The fear is that if the school tells a parent who is not supportive, there could be a potential of abuse or the student getting kicked out of the home. This is where I get stuck. While I have not known anyone in that potential situation, I do know of a student who was told something by a guardian that had to be the cruelest thing ever said to a child. Because this student was transgender. In that type of situation, which probably has occurred more than I’ve seen, I would have to believe the school would want to protect that student. But, and this is the big thing, if a school suspects abuse of any sort at home, they are already required to notify authorities immediately. No questions asked. But what really gets me about the regulation is allowing students to choose their own race. It is completely unnecessary and makes the regulation seem very bizarre.
I’ve never been a big fan of the Delaware DOE. They have done some idiotic things over the years. They got rid of many of those people who did idiotic things. So why in the world would the Delaware DOE put themselves in the line of fire with this regulation? I’ve long suspected it was a distraction. To turn eyes away from the Wilmington situation. Or something worse. And my theory has played out. This has become very big news in Delaware, even nationally. But what if there was an ulterior motive at play here?
Today, the Delaware State Education Association came out with a statement in support of Regulation 225. Last night, their Executive Board voted and the majority voted in favor of the Regulation. Each member of that Executive Board is elected by their counties. The President of DSEA, Mike Matthews, is elected in an election. He doesn’t even sit on their Executive Board. It is similar to the Delaware Secretary of Education being at State Board of Education meetings, but she can’t vote on action items. No sooner did DSEA approve the regulation than Facebook exploded with incendiary comments about DSEA. On Rick Jensen’s radio show, DSEA won the “Weasel of the Week” award this afternoon because of their support.
This is just a theory of mine, but remember I questioned why this one Regulation would be put out there that would be sure to create a ton of controversy? For this theory, we have to go back to June of 2016. House Bill 299 was one of the “hot” education bills that legislative session. The original bill allowed for a teacher and principal to choose what assessment was a part of their Component V on their teacher evaluation. Before that, it was only the Smarter Balanced Assessment. The bill passed but not without a lot of changes. The Component V could still be decided on by the teacher and principal but the principal would have the final say. As well, amendments added on by Senator David Sokola included language about parent surveys being a part of the evaluations. One of Sokola’s biggest letters of support came from then Superintendent Dr. Susan Bunting of Indian River. At this time, it was largely assumed John Carney would be the next Governor of Delaware. No one knew what his education stances would be. Bunting not backing the original bill was a huge blow to teachers in Delaware. What if she was rewarded for that loyalty? Six months later, even with a major financial scandal going on in HER district, John Carney picked her for his Secretary of Education. I could easily picture Sokola whispering in Carney’s ear to pick Bunting, touting her loyalty. I remember being very disturbed by Bunting’s letter not backing that bill, wondering why in the world she would want such a flawed test to be a part of a teacher’s evaluation. Because she is a yes woman. Plain and simple. The Governor wants, the Governor gets. And she is a vessel they can use to make sure their agendas move forward. Markell, Carney, doesn’t matter. Different person, same agenda.
Flash forward to now. We still have the Smarter Balanced Assessment. It is still a very flawed assessment, but it is still used by the Delaware DOE and even Governor Carney to measure the perceived success of our schools. DSEA has never been in favor of the test. They wanted it included in the Assessment Inventory that went on a few years ago. Parents supported the opt out bill in droves and even DSEA, sometimes sheepishly, supported the opt out bill. Because of Smarter Balanced.
When Mike Matthews was elected as President of DSEA last winter, it gave some legislators pause. Matthews has been very vocal about the test, label, and punish scheme against schools over standardized tests. Many Republican legislators knew Mike to be very liberal in his thoughts. What if, and once again, this is just a theory, what if Regulation 225 was worded on purpose to create such controversy and angst with so many Delaware parents? What if the Delaware DOE and Carney KNEW that DSEA would support the regulation based on their Executive Board’s make-up? What if, they predicted (and which played out today) that angry crowd would shift their focus to DSEA once they approved their support? Why in the world would Carney and the DOE risk creating such a conflict among so many teachers in our state?
For those who haven’t been following this blog until recently, I’ve often written about corporate education reform. Which is essentially the privatization of public schools. Think school vouchers or charter schools, but it goes much deeper than that. It is the actual infestation of our schools by companies. We have it now with all the technology. Common Core was actually created to dumb down students so their minds could be retrained for the digital onslaught coming their way. It is here. More schools talk about “personalized learning” like it is the next big thing. We hear more talk about “competency-based education”, where a student cannot progress until they “master” a subject. All online of course. I’ve predicated, as have many others across the country, that brick and mortar schools will become a thing of the past in the future. Students will log into their devices and earn “digital badges” like they are merit badges for school. Gone will be the face of a teacher. They will eventually be replaced by glorified moderators in the classroom. School will become a place where students are “geared” toward certain career pathways. We see it now where schools are begging students to choose a “pathway” as early as middle school. It doesn’t seem to be acceptable anymore for students to pick their own careers when they are older. Schools have to do it for them. And in the middle of all this are corporations and non-profits and philanthropic foundations coming out with their research and funding money to organizations who in turn become the vendors for all these wonderful gadgets and tests. Did you ever really sit down and think about how much money is involved in all this? Hundreds of billions of dollars. More money than you can count.
Now what group do you think would oppose this dark reality? Teachers. Or, more specifically, the teacher’s union. In Delaware, that is DSEA. And they have been a vocal group over the years. Opposing many of the bills and regulations that will lead to this dark reality. They have been the biggest opposers to standardized tests. And not just because it affects their evaluations. They see how it affects students. They see how it does nothing for them and has no true meaning. But for the corporate education reformers, it is their greatest weapon against what they like to call “the status quo”. They can’t change society as we know it into a permanent caste system until they get rid of those pesky teacher unions.
And now we come back to Regulation 225. A divide and conquer regulation if there ever was one. Look at the result? Absolute chaos across the state. People at each other’s throats and parents vowing never to send their children to public school again. For weeks they have been blasting Carney and Bunting and the Delaware DOE. For those blasting Democrats, that is kind of foolish because regulations are not created by the General Assembly. They are created by state departments, like the Delaware DOE. But now they have an even bigger target to lash their anger against: the teacher’s union. DSEA. And I have no doubt Carney and Bunting are loving this. Sokola as well. They get to sit back now and watch DSEA get the crap kicked out of them. Republican legislators will attempt to take advantage of this as well. It is the perfect storm. And guess what? You all fell for the oldest trick in the book. The smoke and mirrors of politics. The ways and means by which the powerful operate. While you were all looking up, the schemers behind this regulation were looking down into the mud and muck and knew exactly what would happen. They knew the chaos this would create. They knew DSEA would end up voting on it, and given the structural make-up of their executive board, it would pass.
So all of you spending so much fervent energy fighting a regulation that will probably not be approved, recognized when you are being used. When Bunting does NOT approve the regulation, those parents who are screaming now will be thanking her. They will see her as some hero of the day. And by default, Carney will get the same. But DSEA. DSEA will be remembered for supporting it. And the public manipulation continues. Just another brick in the wall removed. And the Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerbergs of the world will celebrate. Because this kind of chaos, which these billionaires and hedge fund and Blockchain investors love, brings them more money, higher profits, and less teachers.
Parents of Delaware: know when you are being used. You were given a spark, and you have lit an inferno. But who provided the matches? If you had this much unity behind banding with teachers to fight standardized testing and the digital invasion of our classrooms, you could promote great change. Many parents lament the loss of libraries and music and arts in many of our schools, but we never see the question of how our schools can afford computer coding in classrooms. We see our schools losing money and the first thought is teachers and administrators get paid too much. We have too many of them. But we NEVER question all this technology in our schools. Far too many parents are worried about gender identification without realizing the huge amount of data identification already going on with their children. Everything from how fast they type to how they act in the classroom to their career paths based on how well they do on a flawed assessment. They are guinea pigs and the true affront is how student data privacy is already a thing of the past. We are sacrificing all that is good in our schools by focusing on what we shouldn’t be focused on. Regulation 225? In the grand scheme of things, it is a tool for Carney, Bunting, corporate education reformers like Rodel and the Gates Foundation, and even some legislators to capitalize on stirring conflict. You will get your wish. Regulation 225 will die and in it’s place some compromise will come forth in a General Assembly bill which will appease the original families who wanted anti-discrimination measures and the families who opposed it. A watered down version. Know when you are being used.
Do I support Regulation 225? It simply doesn’t matter. I support students and to see what has been done with Regulation 225 disgusts me to no end. Know your enemy. If you REALLY want to make a difference, opt your kids out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment this coming Spring. That will create change like you have never seen before!