2018 had some colorful characters here in Delaware. I covered some of them in Part 1 and Part 2. As we close in on the final cast of players it is important to know that 2019 will continue some of these sagas. Here there be heroes… and villains!
Mike Matthews had one hell of a year in 2018! As he settled into his role as President of the Delaware State Education Association, his enemies were circling around him. It culminated in a coordinated attack against him in October. Over a decade ago, Matthews ran a blog called “Down With Absolutes”. It was salty and, at times, an offensive blog. It was satirical in nature and everyone knew it. But that didn’t stop DelawareCAN’s Atnre Alleyne from leading the charge to use it against Matthews. He didn’t do it alone. He had help. From those who saw Matthews as a very real threat against the charter school movement in Delaware. PH, KM, AR, SB, and others helped to pull the plug. As a result, Matthews resigned from his leadership role at DSEA the same day the story hit. At present, Matthews is going through a fight with the Delaware DOE. They want to take his teaching license away even though he was not a teacher when he ran his blog. 2019 will tell the outcome of that battle. As for Mike, they may have brought him down, but he is far from out. His enemies may have poked the bear a little too hard. Matthews’ brief tenure as DSEA President will have long-lasting implications. Two charter schools in Delaware, Charter School of Wilmington and Odyssey Charter School, both joined DSEA in 2018. This masterful move was most likely the major motivation in bringing down Matthews.
The Delaware Secretary of Education had a somewhat quiet first half of 2018. She could be seen regularly at Legislative Hall as legislation passed left and right. But do not be fooled for one instant that Bunting is a quiet and unassuming Secretary. She has her hands in every pot. A major red flag to her character went down last March when Earl Jaques announced his intention to have the State Board of Education vote for the state to take over “failing” school districts. Bunting turned white as a ghost during Earl’s announcement. She knew. It was probably her idea. If not, she was given those orders to let it happen by a man who will appear further down on this list. It wasn’t until late July that the ghosts of Bunting’s past began to surface on this very blog. It turns out the former Superintendent of Indian River was holding on to long-buried secrets involving their former Chief Financial Officer, Patrick Miller. The district’s assertion they had no clue Miller was committing financial fraud with their funds was an outright lie. They also claimed Miller never had any complaints. Another lie. As I wrote over the summer, Miller had a major complaint when he went off on a parent during an election for a board member. Bunting also knew Miller was siphoning funds for himself from grant money all the way back in 2008. It didn’t stop there with Bunting’s shenanigans. When Governor Carney wanted Buccini-Pollen to save $1.7 million dollars in a Voluntary School Assessment sham, Bunting was all too willing to do her master’s bidding in signing onto an illegal Memorandum of Understanding between the Delaware DOE and Buccini-Pollen. Bunting will assuredly make waves in 2019. People need to know she is not the person she seems to think she is. She will stab you in the back in a heartbeat.
The newly-elected State Auditor had one hell of a year in 2018! She began the year with a formal announcement of her intention to run for State Auditor on the bandstand down at Rehoboth Beach. Her primary battle against Kathleen Davies and Dennis Williams was vicious at times. It became the hottest election in Delaware because of this. The off-and-on Republican who vowed independence for the Auditor of Accounts office collected endorsements from many major power players in Delaware. She defended those endorsements as if they were a testament to her character but many found that character very lacking. With no experience in actual auditing, McGuiness waved her independence flag as many laughed. When the News Journal was viciously attacking Davies, McGuiness stepped back and let Dennis Williams attack Davies at forums. But McG had some type of relationship with some of the architects of Davies’ downfall at the AOA office. No doubt she helped Andrena Burd get a job at Del State (since McG is on their Board of Trustees). Eventually, after winning the Primary, McG won the General Election against Republican James Spadola. After winning, she became Tom Wagner’s Deputy at AOA to transition to her new role. The AOA office is moving to a new building on Water St. in Dover. She will spend the first day of 2019 at the Old Statehouse in a somewhat vain swearing-in ceremony. She could be the State Auditor Delaware needs. Or she could be the worst thing ever to happen to that office.
Shockwaves swept through the Smyrna-Clayton community the day after the Super Bowl when news got out that Providence Creek Academy gym teacher Mike Rice passed away the night before. In a bizarre situation with a gun, Rice died from a gunshot wound. My article about it became the most-read story of the year. It was a sad time for the PCA community and my heart went out to them.
The Christina Superintendent had a busy year in 2018. The Memorandum of Understanding between the district, Governor Carney’s office, the Delaware DOE, and the Christina Education Association grabbed a ton of headlines. The plan, to lift up the Christina Wilmington schools through consolidation and a longer school year, was met with justified criticism by some members of the Christina Board of Education and members of the community. Time will tell if the plan does what Governor Carney wants. During all that, Gregg turned Christina into a marketplace for vendors by becoming the Rodel poster boy for corporate education reform. His latest plan to have the district give one-to-one tech to all Christina students is controversial. The biggest reason is because he is using Title I funding to pay for it and he is doing it without ANY board approval. As the district prepares for a referendum in 2019, Gregg will have to answer for that.
The former Red Clay Superintendent bid a fond farewell to not only Red Clay but also Delaware as he took a job in Virginia to lead a school district. The announcement, which came at the beginning of the school year, led to Daugherty’s final farewell in the beginning of November. As the district continues their search for a new Super, Daugherty’s stamp on the district will be felt for a long time.
Governor John Carney
When you meet John Carney, he seems like a quiet and unassuming man. But, like Susan Bunting, do not be fooled. The man holds a grudge like no one I’ve seen before. He has no qualms about pissing off legislators or those who cross him. He will step away from the Democrat party to make sweetheart deals with Republicans. But his biggest downfall (which will haunt him come 2020 Primary season) is his unethical loyalty to Delaware’s corporations. Like Buccini-Pollen. Like Rodel. Like DelawareCAN. He alienated members of his own party by doing a desk-drawer veto on legislation in the fall. He protects his hand-picked even when enough evidence surfaces shows they are corrupt. He made Delaware less transparent than any before him. The whole Rodney Square bus thing up in Wilmington showed his true colors and got advocates wondering if he truly cares about the citizens at all. As those around him wonder if the Governor can retain power in the next election, expect controversy to follow Carney like a fly at a summer barbecue.
Who will be the Exceptional Delaware Hero of the Year for 2018? And will we have an Exceptional Delaware Villain of the Year for 2018? Coming soon!