Happy New Year! 2018 began with freezing temperatures. Anyone who ventured up to NYC to watch the ball drop is crazy in my book! But you only live once. This is going to be a big year. So what’s coming? A LOT!
In Delaware education we have the following:
Governor Carney’s big plans for Christina: Will the plan go through? Will the Christina Wilmington schools consolidate into two schools? How much will the Christina Board of Education try to stick a fork in it? Will the General Assembly approve funding for it if it does go through? This will be a big story in the first six months of 2018!
Regulation 225: It will come back to cause loads of controversy, completely false comments, rude people attacking those in favor of it, and a big presence at public meetings. What I think is important for this process is those who are in favor of it showing up at meetings and publicly tell why they are in support of this regulation. It is about transgender students and I want to hear from them! I think it would be excellent for them to talk about their experiences to support this. Perhaps those who oppose it may have a different stance when they hear from those directly affected by it. We all know those who oppose it will show up in droves!
The “Baumbach bills”: These two pending bills concerning school boards will be controversial. One would lower school board terms from five to four years (already filed) and another would give the State Board of Education the 60% authority to remove local school board members if an allegation of misconduct pops up. The latter has not been filed and I imagine it is going through some serious rewording after it exploded shortly before the holidays.
Special education: It will become a major discussion point in 2018. The Special Education Strategic Plan committee will give presentations to the State Board of Education and a joint session of the House and Senate Education Committee on January 10th.
SBAC & Opt Out: In a few months, the Smarter Balanced Assessment will rear its ugly head for year four. I would hope questions arise as to the usefulness of this horrible test. Our legislators have effectively ignored this crappy standardized test. I believe they see it as toxic but because of the pressure coming down from Carney’s office and the US DOE, they turn a blind eye to it. Is it time to get the opt out train going again?
DSEA: I expect DSEA will be in the public spotlight a bit due to Regulation 225 and the General Assembly coming back next week. I tend to be in sync with a lot of the bills they support with very few exceptions. With the mid-term elections and the Delaware 2018 elections right around the corner, the subject of Right To Work will be a major debate. It has been brewing for a while now, but I think it will blow up this year. President Mike Matthews will push for what is best for teachers and students. It’s just who he is. Many will disagree with him but I anticipate he will do some surprising (and good) things this year.
Money: Education funding will be big, especially since there were so many cuts last year. With an unexpected windfall showing up in Delaware revenue (or is it?), many advocates will want the funding restored to what was cut. Others are already wanting to put earmarks on those funds. The General Assembly is going to have a huge amount of lobbying at Legislative Hall in the next six months! Many are already talking about English language learners so I expect some type of extra funding for those students. Will we see a weighted funding system in 2018? Will Kindergarten to 3rd grade students in basic special education finally see their share of the spec ed funding? As far as the District Consolidation Task Force, I do not expect any school districts will actually merge. I expect a final report recommending shared services such as transportation and things like that.
Election Day: Speaking of those Delaware elections, I expect many filings in the next few months. No matter what, there will be plenty of new faces in the House and Senate chambers come January 2019. While I usually want a lot of new faces, I expect the incumbents will (for the most part) retain their seats. Maybe an upset or two, but Delaware generally looks to stick to the status quo. I will predict now that the Dem House will keep their power. The Senate is another story. With an 11-10 majority in favor of the Dems, that could change. I’m already getting bombarded with campaign funding e-mails. A little bit too much too soon. Just a head’s up! I know money wins many elections but it can get annoying after a while. Even for those I may support! Tom Carper’s U.S. Senate seat is up for re-election. I’m going to predict a Carper vs. Boyce showdown now!
Charter Schools: I haven’t seen any new Delaware charter school applications showing up on the Delaware Department of Education website. I believe Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security will go under formal review for low enrollment and financial issues. Otherwise, I anticipate a somewhat quiet year in charterville. I really wish certain members of our General Assembly would get their heads out of the clouds and recognize certain enrollment preferences at the usual culprits but I also wish for world peace. Doesn’t mean it is going to happen.
Where’s Melanie?: I haven’t seen any changes to the House and Senate Education Committees. We don’t tend to see these shift in the middle of a legislative session. Will Melanie Smith actually attend these meetings? Sokola and Jaques will continue to lead these committees. Expect the usual drama and flair at these meetings. I still think it is a sin John Kowalko isn’t on the House Education Committee.
The Technology/Blockchain/Personalized Learning/Competency-Based Education/Social-Emotional Learning/Rodel/Public & Private Partnership agenda/Career Pathways: All of these will be in full swing in 2018. The Rodel Foundation will be at the forefront of the discussion pimping out report after report showing why corporations should lead education policy and reform. Yawn. Teachers and parents need to open their eyes to what is going on in schools. It is easy to look the other way oblivious to what is happening to their children in the classroom. I wish districts and charters would show more hesitation to jumping on these bandwagons. I’m not against progress if I think it is good for the long-term. When companies are calling the shots in education, we all have reason to worry. I took a backseat to a lot of these things in 2017 due to personal issues. But I expect a comeback on my end this year. I will be watching every piece of legislation and regulations to see how these tie into the corporate web of public school destruction.
In non-education matters, these are the things I am looking most forward to in 2018:
Music: new albums from Awolnation (2/2), Fall Out Boy (1/19), Lissie (3/23), Dashboard Confessional (2/9), Franz Ferdinand (2/9), Moby (3/2), Manic Street Preachers (4/6), and Echo and the Bunnymen (5/18). Those are the confirmed releases. I also expect new material from Muse, Bastille, MGMT, Chromatics, Modest Mouse and Travis Barker (from Blink-182). What I want the most is a new Struts album! I hope to get to the Firefly Music Festival this year. I’m eagerly awaiting the line-up for the four day event this year. I’m sure I will be listening to a lot of the later releases from 2017: U2, AJR, Tori Amos, Beck, The Bleachers, Dirty Heads, J. Roddy Walston & The Business, Jack Johnson, The Killers, Manchester Orchestra, The National, New Politics, and Weezer.
Movies: Black Panther (2/16), A Wrinkle In Time (3/9), Chappaquiddick (4/6), The New Mutants (4/13), Avengers: Infinity War (5/4), Solo: A Star Wars Story (5/18), Deadpool 2 (6/2), The Incredibles 2 (6/15), Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (6/22), Ant-Man & The Wasp (7/6), Scarface (8/10), Venom (10/5), The Girl In The Spider’s Web (10/19), X-Men: Dark Phoenix (11/2), and Aquaman (12/21). As I’m sure you noticed, there are a lot of superhero movies coming out this year. I’m a comic book nut and have been for over forty years. So the past 18 years or so have been awesome for me in that department! There are a ton of other movies coming out and I’m sure I will want to see them when I hear more! I’m going to go out on a limb here and predict the top five box office for 2018: 1) The Incredibles 2, 2) Avengers: Infinity War, 3) Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom, 4) Solo: A Star Wars Story, and 5) Deadpool 2.
TV Shows: The X-Files (returns this Wednesday 1/3), (Homeland 2/11), and Jessica Jones (out on Netflix 3/8) all have confirmed return dates. Returning shows from the fall include Walking Dead (2/25), Flash (1/16), Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (1/5), The Gifted (three episodes left including one on tonight), The Good Doctor (1/8), and This Is Us (1/9). Series coming back in the Spring/Summer include The Americans (final season), American Gods, Better Call Saul, Billions, Feud (centering on Prince Charles and Princess Diana), Legion, Ozark, Preacher and of course, Westworld. Game of Thrones final season won’t be out until 2019. I desperately need to know when Season 3 of The Man In The High Castle is going to air on Amazon Prime! I binge watched the first two seasons last winter and thought this was one of the most brilliant series to ever come out.
Entertainment: This is largely dictated by finances but the aforementioned Firefly 2018 is big on my list. I plan on spending a lot of time at the beach in the summer. I enjoyed seeing Love Seed Mama Jump at The Rusty Rudder a couple of times last year so look for a repeat of that this year. I spent a good deal of time at Fraizer’s Restaurant in Dover on Wednesday nights last year for Trivia Night. My two-person team needs to grow. We tend to get our you-know-what kicked so I need some trivia fans on my team. If you want to join, the fun begins at 8pm and lasts until 10pm. Send me a message if you want to join! I plan on attending more local events in Dover. Even though I’ve lived here for over thirteen years, I haven’t fully taken in all that Dover has to offer. And there is a lot! I’m looking forward to my 30th High School reunion in September. I haven’t been to New York in years so I plan on making the most of that and getting back to NYC!
I sincerely hope 2018 is better than 2017. I plan on widening my perspectives and fully embracing all that life has to offer. No one is anything without friends and I hope to spend a lot of time with them this year. I also want to have as much fun with my son as humanly possible!