Delaware Senator Bryan Townsend, considered by the News Journal to be the front-runner for the Delaware United States Representative seat in Congress, received a disturbing letter from the Chair of the Delaware Democrat Party today. Chair John Daniello urged Townsend to drop out of the race. The day after Hillary Clinton was the spotlight of controversy concerning her emails. Even though the FBI is not recommending charges against her, it put a huge spotlight on the situation and put Hillary in a bad light. What does this have to do with the letter Townsend received today? Probably nothing. I would just look at the banner!
And Townsend issued the following message to his followers on Facebook:
Senator Bryan Townsend had a big year! Not only did he introduce tons of legislation that actually passed, he also announced his run for Congress. He has many running against him, but the slot John Carney filled as the US House Representative will have a new person come January 2017. Will it be Townsend? This is really a guess at this point. His main opponent appears to be State Rep. Byron Short, also a Democrat. This will be one hot primary!
On the education side, Townsend introduced legislation that would increase the requirements of the Delaware Secretary of Education. This was done as a result of former Secretary Mark Murphy’s severe shortcomings in the Delaware Department of Education. On the data side, Townsend sponsored a few bills that would protect student data. He did vote yes for the controversial opt-out bill, House Bill 50, but not without a introducing a potential stumbling block along the way.
When House Bill 50 hit the Delaware Senate the first time, Townsend introduced a legislation to allow high school juniors to opt-out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment. By the time it went back to the House of Representatives, many Republicans felt this could cause a slew of problems with parents who might want their teenager to take the test. Eventually, the House voted the amendment down and House Bill 50 passed the House again, and then the Senate again. As we all know, Governor Jack Markell vetoed the bill, but it may come up for an override when the legislators come back in January. How will Townsend vote if that happens?
Recently, Townsend has been supporting Governor Markell’s decision to allow Syrian refugees into Delaware. Following the Paris attacks and the recent shooting in San Bernardino, California, many folks in Delaware oppose this. Will Townsend be able to overcome this on Election Day? It will be interesting to watch. What do you think? Does the newer Senator have what it takes to beat the established State Rep? Or will one of the Republicans running come from behind and do the unthinkable?
The only other Senator at the Senate Education Committee meeting who spoke on House Bill 50, aside from Senator David Sokola, was Bryan Townsend. He left shortly after the beginning of the meeting, but did give a very passionate speech about the whole issue. I am not putting the timestamps on this one he is a member of the committee.
I really wanted to be here today, but I can’t stay, unfortunately. Personally, I’m not sure what the fate of the bill will be, but I want to note that it’s extremely disheartening to see the people who are so passionate for our school kids warring this kind of way. I do think that- although I understand why many of my colleagues are sort of skeptical about the impact of this bill and why it’s become such a flashpoint- I think I understand why parents are as passionate as they are about the issue. Last year, I asked the Markell administration, very politely, to embrace the opportunity afforded to us by the Gates Foundation which had been instrumental in the development of recent education reforms. The Gates Foundation announced support for the position that we should have multiple years of results before we try to introduce these tests live. We try to make responsible decisions, we try to say we’ve got it all figured out, but what’s unfortunate is the approach that has been taken. Part of the problem is that people hear threats in the name of a test which really is not familiar, but part of the problem also is the reaction from others that misses what the parents and educators are saying. And I think the idea now comes down to opponents of HB 50 saying “you don’t care about accountability, you don’t care about improving education for our kids.” But that’s not the case for most parents. I think most of us want to see a test that works, a test that’s proven. Educators I think are the same way. It’s not that they don’t care about accountability. I wish we could all work together, and kind of get to the heart of issues and not throw grenades across a battlefield by a line drawn inaccurately regarding people’s positions on those issues. I wish I could stay much longer and hear the passionate testimony on both sides. I’ll be signing the bill out when its circulated later on. And I just hope that this please can finally be the end to the war that happens in Delaware public education.