I was really torn on who would get the coveted Exceptional Delaware Hero of the Year Award for 2018. There were so many great choices. I covered some of them in the Movers and Shakers posts I put up. But in the end, the choice was obvious!
The Hero of the Year award belongs to someone who makes a difference in Delaware education. Someone who exemplifies what a hero is. For this year, there is not one individual hero but several! They are the students of Delaware! Heck, let’s just make that the students of America!
After the Parkland shooting in February rocked the national conscious yet again, students across the country said “No more!” And they collected their voices in a student walkout on March 14th, a month after the deadly Valentine’s Day massacre. They protested the gun laws which allow the purchase of certain guns which tend to be used in school shootings. They demanded safety in their schools. They were heard.
I salute these students, and even the ones who protested the protestors. They used their voices to enact change and that makes them heroes in my book!
Villain of the Year Award: Sorry, but this one was a no-brainer! Atnre Alleyne more than earned the Villain of the Year with his shady takedown of Mike Matthews! While he will never publicly admit it (or even acknowledge the question) that he provided old blog posts of Matthews to reporter Cris Barrish, we all know he did it. To add fuel to the fire, Alleyne “accidentally” sent emails to every single teacher in the state when he wrote a blog post about the whole thing two days later. He has yet to answer HOW he got all those emails or how he “accidentally” sent all the emails.
The “I Give Up” Award: Delaware Attorney General Matt Denn announced last year he would not run for AG again. But he still had a job to do. But where is he? He had the perfect opportunity after the Indian River financial fiasco to stand up and make his voice heard. But he was silent on the issue. In fact, he added insult to injury by having his office refuse to prosecute Patrick Miller for his laundry list of crimes. What happened there Matt?
The Legislator of the Year Award: For House Bill #287, State Rep. Kim Williams gets this award! The bill FINALLY got rid of the dreaded certificate of performance for a small population of special education students with the most needs. Despite some bizarre controversy over the bill, it passed with overwhelming support and was quickly signed by Governor Carney in a very heartfelt ceremony on April 18th. But Williams had other legislation which will bear better results for Delaware students as well.
The Catch Me If You Can Award: Patrick Miller. Hands down. The former Brandywine finance guy/former Indian River Chief Financial Officer/current Indian River Volunteer Fire Company President continued to show Delawareans his best Leonardo DiCaprio impression! How this guy avoids prosecution of any sort is a mystery. I firmly believe that if he goes down others would soon follow.
The “It’s Not 2014 Anymore” Award: I like Capital Superintendent Dan Shelton. But when the district held a forum earlier this month to talk about their upcoming referendum next year, Shelton channeled old Jack Markell talking points in discussing the need for the operating costs part of their referendum. The old “students need to compete in a global economy” was a major selling point for the corporate education reformers in selling Common Core to the masses. It stank of 40-year-old cheese then and it does now. You can do better than that Dan!
The Silent But Deadly Award: Paul Herdman of Rodel was VERY quiet this year. So much so it frightened me. For those who think the Rodel Foundation isn’t doing much, think again. They are all over the place. They just don’t announce it. I see all their emails about Social-Emotional Learning and the need for more funding for English Language Learner students. I don’t buy their corporate drivel for one second. The problem is, far too many legislators and Delawareans buy the snake oil.
The “Fool Me Twice, Shame On Me” Award: Margie Lopez-Waite- you earned this award in spades! We all know the Delaware Department of Education came swooping in at Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security in late 2017 to go over their student enrollment counts. We all know the Head of School at the time, Herb Sheldon, was doctoring those numbers. The fact you kept him on when you took over the school caused the destruction of the struggling charter school. Because he pulled the same crap again in getting the numbers up. When it became clear that ghost students roamed the halls, the school had no choice but to shut down due to financial insolvency. That was on you Margie!
The Sassy Award: Red Clay board member Jose Matthews got this award when he congratulated Charter School of Wilmington President Sam Paoli for CSW teachers and staff joining the Delaware State Education Association. It was perfect timing on his part and had to be highly embarrassing for Paoli. That’s what happens when you rule over a school with an iron fist Sam! You can’t ignore the pleas of the adults in a building and think it will have no consequences!
The “Would You Like Fries With That?” Award: Christina Superintendent is fully embracing the Rodelian model of corporate education reform in the Christina School District. So much so that the district actually recommended students use McDonald’s for WiFi access on their one to one devices. There is no amount of stupid that can accurately describe this moment.
The Big Mouth Strikes Again Award: This one goes to someone who, year after year, continues to use his mouth to create conflict and strife. This year, Earl did it twice. First in March by using the school district consolidation task force to push his State Board of Education takeover of public school district agenda. He did it again by openly talking about it in front of Christina Education Association members at one of their meetings! Jaques hates the Christina School District and he doesn’t know when to shut up about it. As a result, legislators are turned off by his constant whining. He is a water carrier for the Carney/Rodel agenda.
The Sleaze Award: John Fluharty earned this award when Kathleen Davies lost in the Primary for State Auditor. It was more than obvious Fluharty had a firm hand in bringing down Davies in 2016 over at the Auditor of Accounts office. He and another bird over there leaked false things to the News Journal not once, but twice. Fluharty used his News Journal reporter on the night of primary to quote him with this: “Don’t go away mad Kathleen, just go away.” Fluharty left AOA shortly after to the delight of Delawareans up and down the state.
The Infallible Award: Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Susan Bunting must think she walks on water! When I broke the news about her knowledge of Patrick Miller stealing district funds back in 2008, when she was Superintendent, it went over like a lead balloon. No legislator would talk about it. Governor Carney’s office refused to do anything. Nobody in the Delaware power structure would touch it. It was as if it never happened. But Susan Bunting knows it did and she knows exactly how I know. She can’t look me in the eye. She knows she is exposed. But she doesn’t really care because she is still there.
The Putting Me In The Position To Defend Dave Sokola Award: When State Senator Dave Lawson introduced legislation regarding school safety AFTER the Joint Finance Committee firmed up the FY2019 budget, he went on a social media tirade about State Senator David Sokola not letting the bill out of committee. It was too late for Lawson’s very expensive bill. I’m not one to defend Sokola but on this matter he was right!
The Corporate Giveaway Award: Delaware Governor John Carney more than earned this award when he caved in to Buccini-Pollen and made the Delaware DOE and Buccini-Pollen sign a memorandum of understanding regarding voluntary school assessments. The giveaway allowed developer Buccini-Pollen to save $1.7 million dollars that would have otherwise gone to the Brandywine School District. Bunting’s “I’m just a patsy” excuse doesn’t shield her from her role in this debacle.
The Shameless Award: For most of 2018, candidate Kathy McGuiness was all over the place. Her endorsement collection for State Auditor was legendary and not in a good way. Instead of showing off her qualifications (of which she had none), McGuiness proudly boasted of her many endorsements. Many of those endorsements caused well-meaning citizens to question her ability to be independent as State Auditor. When she obviously couldn’t go after Kathleen Davies on social media, she had family members do it. At a forum at Del State, she went after an audience member for filming the debate on Facebook Live. As if that wasn’t enough, she sneered at the audience member the rest of the night. I truly hope McGuiness thrives in the role she won in the General Election. There is far too much danger of what happens if she fails. The old adage of “doing whatever you can to get elected” may hold true for her. Her true test begins tomorrow.
The “It’s All Greek To Me” Award: The AHEPA members of the Odyssey Charter School Board of Directors get this award for their secret meetings with zero public input! When the board decided to get rid of Head of School Nick Manolakos, they went on a spending spree hiring administrators to replace Manolakos. Parents and teachers went nuts at board meetings but it didn’t stop the shady practice of certain board members and their shady cabal of secrecy! I will have MUCH more to say on this VERY soon!
The Hat Trick Award: State Rep. Mike Ramone gets this award for his hat trick of 2018! For those who don’t know, a hat trick is when one player gets three goals in a single game. Ramone did this in 2018. First with the whole nudist party thing at his swimming pool in New Castle, second with his role in getting his opponent fired from SPCA, and third when his role in a Blockchain investment and his vote on a Blockchain bill was revealed. Despite all this, he beat Stephanie Berry in the General Election. This makes him very vulnerable in 2020! Be careful Ramone!
The Poker Face Award: Former Delaware Governor Jack Markell gets this for somehow managing to keep a decade old secret away from the citizens of Delaware. When this blogger found out Markell was involved in a poker game robbery at Wild Quail Country Club back in 2008, when he was running for Governor against John Carney, many wondered how he was able to keep this out of the public eye for so long. It was an illegal poker game. Had the news gotten out back in 2008, we might have seen a Governor Carney in Delaware eight years before we did.
The Bias Award: Jessica Bies earned this one like no other Delaware journalist before! For her role as a “reporter” in the Kathleen Davies smear campaign, Bies showed a lack of journalistic ethics that puts everyone else to shame. Her insistence on writing articles to demean and shame the State Auditor candidate resulted in a collective vomit across the state. It probably cost Davies the Primary election (she lost but had 35% of the vote compared to McGuiness’ 41%). Bies was in bed with the forces of destruction at the Auditor of Accounts office and, quite possibly, the McGuiness campaign. We will probably never know for sure because that’s how Delaware rolls!