16 To Watch In 2016: Senator David McBride

Delaware Liberal wrote about this half an hour ago.  I woke up and wasn’t sure what to write about today (yes, there are days like that).  And then I read their article.  Senator David McBride has colorectal cancer.  This is a man who has faithfully served in the Delaware legislature since 1978.  Ever since he defeated former State Rep. Robert Byrd, McBride has represented Delaware.  To give some perspective here, I was eight years old when he was elected.  That was 37 years ago.

Senator McBride wrote a letter to his friends and constituents on his Facebook page about his diagnosis.  It was very intimate and personal, but he wants to get the word out.  I admire this long-standing Delaware State Senator for his conviction and courage in what will be a difficult time.  No matter what your politics are, we will all be praying and rooting for Senator McBride in the year ahead.

Friends and Colleagues,

“How are you doing?”

“I’m great, thanks.”

It’s a simple greeting and reply – so automatic it’s almost rhetorical.

And, if you’d asked me that two months ago, it’s exactly the reply you would have gotten. I was exercising, eating well and never felt better.

Then last month, came the words no one ever wants to hear: “Dave, you have cancer.”

Fortunately because my colorectal cancer was detected during a regular screening, I was able to receive prompt treatment. And there’s a road to recovery that my wonderful doctors have put in place. I just have to follow it.

And in some ways, that’s the biggest challenge – dealing with the mental and physical toll of cancer treatment. In part, that’s why I’m writing you today, to ask for your encouragement and your prayers.
Most of you know that I tend keep my private life just that – private – so getting to the point where I could tell you this has been tough. At the same time, I’ve spent my career being honest and forthright. It’s who I am as a Senator and as a man, and it quickly became apparent to me that I must be true to those values, even in the face of this new challenge.

You deserve the truth, but even more than that, you deserve to hear the truth from me.

The truth is, I can’t help but smile at what I see as some real irony in all of this. During my Senate career, I’ve been proud to count myself as a leader in Delaware’s war against cancer. I sponsored the indoor smoking ban and supported efforts to use money from our share of the national settlement with Big Tobacco to fund the state’s Health Fund. Among other things, that fund helps provide money to support cancer screenings for people who couldn’t afford them otherwise. I also sponsored the legislation setting up the Delaware Cancer Consortium, which helps coordinate and guide our state’s ongoing battle with cancer. I really believe those efforts have saved some lives here in Delaware.
And it’s my hope that sharing my story with you today might save some more.

Early on, the Cancer Consortium decided to make colorectal cancer a priority not only because it’s so prevalent, but also because if it’s caught soon enough, it’s treatable and beatable.
Like most of you who are old enough to start the screening process, it’s not something I look forward to. Anyone who has had to take those two doses of the laxative from hell before screenings can easily think of a thousand other things we’d rather do.

In my case, three years ago, it was determined I would undergo annual screenings.

That decision saved my life.

As many of you know all too well, cancer begins as a stealthy disease. Until I heard those words from my doctor, I had no clue I was ill. I thought I was in incredibly good health and was doing all the things I usually did.

Thank God I followed my doctor’s advice and had my screening. And in turn, I hope you’ll take my advice and do the same.

As I write this, I’ve had surgery to remove the cancer and am about to embark on a regimen of chemotherapy to ensure that the disease has been fully defeated. I know that means I’ve got a fight on my hands. It’s a fight I’m ready for now.

I wasn’t so sure just a few weeks ago. As many of you know from first-hand experience or by being at the side of a family member or friend who’s had cancer, the pain has been beyond description. And as upbeat as you all know me to be, the discomfort, coupled with the mental anguish of coming to terms with my experience had plunged me into some real despair.

But I’ve really turned the corner over the last several days, and it’s because of the outpouring of love and support I’ve received from so many.

My wife, Margaret, and my family have helped bolster my spirits, as have the amazing staff at Christiana Care. Words cannot begin to describe the care and support that everyone – from the doctors and nurses to the technicians (who always seem to be checking your vital statistics) and even the friendly cleaning staff – has offered.

Then, there’s all of you.

Serving you as your senator has been one of the great privileges and passions of my life. I care deeply for all of you and my desire to continue serving you and doing the important work that lies ahead has, more than anything, picked me up and pushed me forward.

To be sure, I have a journey ahead of me. There’s six months of chemotherapy to come. But, come Jan. 12, I’ll be on the Senate floor, ready to go to work. There are big challenges ahead of us and I want to be a part of the solution. I look forward to:

• Continue my work with Chief Justice Leo Strine to revise and modernize our criminal sentencing laws as we’ve done over the past couple of years with a wide range of environmental crimes;
• Continue my work as chairman of the Senate Natural Resources and Environmental Control Committee to preserve and protect Delaware’s fragile and scarred environment;
• Lend my experience and leadership to our state’s efforts to create jobs and grow our economy, while overcoming some tough financial challenges;
• Continue my tireless and passionate advocacy for you, my friends and neighbors in the 13th Senatorial District.

While I intend to continue my record of perfect attendance at regular Senate sessions and to keep up my community involvement, there may be times when my treatment will necessitate sending a member of our amazing Senate staff out to community meetings in my stead. They’ll give me full reports and will be able to reach out to me electronically on the spot if there’s something they think demands my immediate attention. Be assured that my resolve to serve you and my energy are undiminished.

In closing, I want to thank my friends for their well wishes and prayers of support.

More than anything, your support will be the thing that helps me beat this. And down the road, we’ll all get together for one heck of a victory party when I beat this disease.

I may be an old Air Force guy, but I’ve always loved the Navy SEALS creed: “I will draw on every remaining ounce of strength…to accomplish our mission. I am never out of the fight.”

With gratitude,

David McBride

16 To Watch In 2016: Jack Markell

Seems rather obvious, doesn’t it?  He is always one to watch!  But 2016 will be very telling for Jack.  His legacy will be defined, one way or another.  We should find out what his post-Governor plans are.  I’m hoping he just goes away, but something tells me Jack has VERY specific plans.  I will watch very closely for how much he tries to hang out with Hilary Clinton.  If you thought Arne Duncan was a nightmare, you haven’t seen anything yet.  Trust me, you do not want Delaware Governor Jack Markell as the Secretary of Education for the United States Department of Education.

Jack will also have to deal with a mounting budget deficit in his state, projected to be well over $200 million.  While that is chump change for many states, Delaware has a population of less than a million.  That is a big deal.  His precious Delaware Department of Education will most likely not get their requested $87 million in Fiscal Year 2017.  Everyone will want a slice of the pie, and it will be very interesting to see who votes in the Delaware 148th General Assembly on what legislation.  I imagine the side deals with Markell will be at an all-time high, and he will play the veto card a lot in the next year.  Education has always been Markell’s baby, but many legislators said enough is enough when they voted for House Bill 50, the parent opt-out legislation.

Whatever Jack does next, I’m sure he will do it with his usual smile and charm.  Walking around like he didn’t wreck Delaware education and continue Delaware’s god-awful cycle of segregation.  Jack talks a lot about how much he does for people with disabilities.  However, he really hasn’t done a heck of a lot for special education.  Think about it.  He committed himself to make sure people with disabilities get jobs when they transition to adulthood, but he truly doesn’t help out students with disabilities.  In fact, when he set the Delaware DOE’s recent annual measurable objectives, he wants kids on IEPs to go from 19% proficiency on the Smarter Balanced Assessment to 59% in six years.  And Congress must be okay with that, because they just passed a bill allowing state’s more authority in education!  Something our potential future Governor John Carney just voted for as well…

Under the reign of Governor Jack Markell, we have seen more cronyism in Delaware than should be allowed anywhere.  He pimps our children out to the Rodels and other corporate education reformers that flock to Delaware.  They must love us and go crazy when they see our DOE put up a contract bid.  We pay top dollar for…what?  What are the results of Jack’s gigantic education agenda?  Are students doing better?  Not really.  51% proficiency on anything is still failing.  And failing bad.  Markell would tell you all about the growth Delaware has experienced.  Do you really want a national Secretary of Education who is proud of 51% proficiency?  Not that I think anything should be measured in terms of success on a standardized assessment, but since everyone in DC laps it up like it is important, is that really someone we want leading education in America?

Jack brought Mark Murphy to Delaware.  We all know what a resounding success that was.  And now history is repeating itself with Secretary Godowsky who really should know better, but he is just another one of Jack’s puppets, dancing on the string.

Jack is one of those guys you can never quite pin anything on.  You may come close, but he covers his tracks very well.  In terms of skating on the thin ice and getting to the other side, Jack is 100% proficient.  Try to find something on Jack, and the results will be inconclusive…

16 To Watch In 2016: Bob Andrzejewski

As the acting Superintendent of the Christina School District, Bob Andrzejewski will certainly have his hands full in 2016.  He was voted in by the Christina School District Board of Education back in September with a 4-3 vote, and he has been working hard for the district!  As a new face for the district, Bob A (as he is known in many circles) has been trying to get Christina to the top of their game!  With the pending and potential move of all Christina’s Wilmington schools to the Red Clay Consolidated School District, as well as a potential referendum next year, Bob A will have his hands full!

I have heard mixed things about Bob A since he came aboard the Christina train.  But one thing he does have is fans!  This one appeared in The News Journal as a letter to the editor on September 11th of this year:

Andrzejewski good choice for Christina

Kudos to the Christina School Board for selecting “Dr. A” to lead the district while Dr. Freeman Williams is on leave. Bob Andrzejewski has been around the block a time or two, but has not lost his passion for education or for seeking the best for educators and students. He is a strong leader and his past successes working with parents, elected officials, business leaders and the Delaware State Education Association will serve the Christina District well. He also knows the “Delaware Way” of working together to make good things happen for students.

Michael Walls

Former Superintendent

Christina School District

Newark

That was super nice of Michael Walls to write that about Bob A!  It really helps to have your peers recognize you like that.  Bob is actually hard at work getting the Christina School District to join the BRINC Consortium.  This blended learning-personalized learning group of Delaware school districts already has Brandywine, Indian River, New Castle County Vo-Tech, Red Clay, Appoquinimink, and Caesar Rodney.  I imagine Bob A has no other ulterior motives for joining this initiative!

michaelwalls

Wait one darn minute!  How did that picture get in here.  This is about Bob A, not Mike Walls!  He already had his moment in here.  He isn’t affiliated with Christina anymore.  He is working for some company called Modern Teacher now.   You can look on their website, just click on the lower left-hand corner!  Wait, is that…the same as the above picture?  Bob A wants the Christina School District to sign a $49,000 contract with a company that has the former Christina Superintendent working for them?  How did that happen?  It could be a coincidence, right?  It’s not like Walls endorsed the Christina board’s decision to hire him, so there is no conflict of interest there!  Oh wait…he did…  But let’s be real here.  It’s not like Andrzejewski has any ties with personalized learning, right?  Right?  Oh no.  Say it ain’t so…

 

InnovativeEducationalAssociates

What in the world is Innovative Educational Associates?  Any relation to Robert Andrzejewski?  And where did that picture come from?  Oh yeah, here.  But there surely must be many Andrzejewskis in Delaware, right?  Okay, I’ll check the Delaware Chamber of Commerce.  Maybe they have something.  Okay, but all they have is an address for this Innovative Educational Associates.  It’s probably some office complex or something.  I’ll check block shopper! They always know this stuff! Uh-oh spaghetti-o’s, not only does it list the same address but it shows the owners of the property to be Robert and Kathleen Andrzejewski!  But maybe it’s a quirk and Bob A has nothing to do with the company… Wrong again!!!!  I was really hoping I was wrong about this…

So not only does Bob A want Christina to enter into a contract with this Modern Teacher that deals with blended learning that a former superintendent of Christina now works for, but his own company also deals with blended learning, the same as the BRINC Consortium that also is big on blended learning.  I’m blended out Bob A!  Yeah, I’ll definitely be watching out for Bob A in 2016!

16 To Watch In 2016: State Rep. David Bentz

Back in September, Democrat David Bentz won in a special election that determined who would take over from the resigning State Rep. Michael Barbieri.  Both candidates ran a clean campaign.  Since he won the election to serve the 18th district of Delaware, Bentz won some plum assignments with the various House committees in the 148th General Assembly.  He will be serving on the Education, Energy, Labor and Natural Resources.  But a big surprise was his assignment as Vice-Chair of the Health and Human Services Committees.  Barbieri served as the Chair of that committee, a role which State Rep. Deb Heffernan will take on.

I am very curious how Bentz will do in the General Assembly.  As a former legislative aide to Barbieri, I’m sure he gained a great deal of insight on the legislative process.  What kind of legislation will he introduce?  How will his votes land in the Education Committee?  If the General Assembly attempts to override Governor Markell’s veto of House Bill 50, what vote will Bentz cast?  He will definitely be a legislator to watch in the 2nd half of the 148th General Assembly.

In looking at various issues he has written about, I think we can expect to see some definite education, criminal justice, student loan defaults and issues with the homeless in Bentz’s future.  As the only “rookie” legislator introduced this term, I expect a learning curve but I think Bentz will rise to the challenge.  The most important thing for him to do will be to emerge out of Barbieri’s shadow.  He will need to become his own legislator.  Which means I certainly hope he won’t follow in Barbieri’s footsteps on House Bill 50!  I look forward to seeing what the “rookie” does during his first, albeit shortened, term.