Over the past few weeks, I’ve written several articles about Patrick Miller and Dr. Susan Bunting. As sources continue to give me more information, the news from Governor Carney and the Delaware Department of Education in response to this have been non-existent. Half the state knows about this but the state agencies involved with this are on mute. Continue reading
In the shot heard round Delaware teachers email yesterday around 4:00pm, the Delaware State Education Association election results came in for President and Vice-President. Shock followed shock. Mike Matthews and Karen Crouse tied for President at 862 votes each. Stephanie Ingram (not Ingraham) won the Vice-President position. Some (including myself) are crying foul. Matthews and Kook ran as a ticket as did Crouse and Ingram. Logic would dictate that Matthews and Kook’s votes would align more with Matthew’s total. But this was NOT the case. Ingram won with 400 something votes while Kook had 300 plus.
First off, with 12,000 teachers in Delaware, why did only 2,100+ vote in this election? That is my biggest concern. Second, how the actual hell do you get a tie? Off the record, I have heard DSEA did not want the powerhouse of Matthews/Kook ruling the teacher union halls in Delaware. Did things happen? Of that I am certain. When an obvious fake Facebook account with the not-so-genius name of Sam Muskrat showed up at the same time as the election went into full swing, I paid very close attention to the writing style of the you really aren’t fooling anyone Mr. Muskrat. I’ve seen that style before. With another anonymous commenter somewhere else. I won’t out the person, but I can promise you it is NOT Publius from Kilroy’s Delaware. That guy is probably sucking down some Shirley Temple’s in his batcave.
The next big question surrounds the ballots. There were mentions on social media of teacher’s getting the ballots in their spam folders. While the plausibility of that is suspect if it was coming from DSEA (do all DSEA emails go to spam?). If it was an outside company, such as Intelliscan, based out of Phoenixville, PA, I could somehow see that. Some teachers reported not receiving any ballots. Some did not know who was running, or actually know some of the people running (to them I would say “Hello! This is the future of your teaching profession calling, wake up!”).
I’ve heard that campaign literature was suspect in certain situations. While there is nothing against the DSEA rules about the President endorsing a candidate, Frederika Jenner made it transparently obvious who she wanted. And that person wound up tying and is not a man. And her VP choice won as well. Crouse would not have won if it weren’t for Kent County. Which I find ironic considering her popularity in certain places. I don’t mean to bash her. I’m sure she is a fine person. But there is something VERY shady with this election. I’m sure the current DSEA crew will get offended I posted this. First off, too bad. Second, you can sit there and say it isn’t my business but I choose to make it my business and you can’t stop me. We live in a country where Donald Trump is President so I think any rules went out the window last November!
So what happens next? Some more ballots could come trickling in by Monday (since it is soooooo possible for something postmarked 1/23/17 or earlier to take a week to get to Dover in our huge state). There could be a run-off election if it remains a tie, in which case Presidential candidates Danny Rufo and Dom Zaffora’s votes would go to either Matthews or Crouse. Or another option could be the tie remains and the Executive Board at DSEA would vote on a winner. Which would, in all likelihood, be Crouse. Since these election results are not part of an official state or county election, DSEA is under no obligation to release the full results to the public. A teacher’s union is a private organization. If I were Matthews or Kook, I would be issuing a challenge right away. Something doesn’t smell right. I could, of course, be wrong. But I would err on the side of caution in just blindly accepting these results.
While this potential mystery starts to get some heat, feast on the famous Samuel Muskrat posts, from an anonymous person whose Facebook account was created the VERY same day Matthews and Kook had a live Facebook feed answering questions. And disappeared the next day.
Yes, I am the Kevin this Samuel Muskrat is referring to. This kind of makes it my business now! I will fully admit I am not the most popular person in the executive offices of DSEA. Once upon a time the stars were in alignment around the time I wrote a huge article on the Rodel Foundation of Delaware, but I burned that bridge with them during the whole House Bill 50 veto override fiasco when I called out DSEA (very strongly I might add) with a twinge of regret. I don’t regret calling them out on their non-support of the override but rather how I did it. I apologized, but while some accepted that apology, some were less than cordial with me. In fact, one of them decided to viciously attack me many times somewhere else. That person knew I knew that when I commented on the above Facebook comment bringing me into it. I dropped a couple of words in my comment which vanished as soon as it appeared. Muskrat knew I had them and ran for the hills. Muskrat seemed to know a lot of things about Mr. Matthews. Things your average teacher would not know unless they were really involved with DSEA. But the tone and attitude, and especially the reference to me, shows a personal beef. Trolling is one thing. Going on Facebook during a candidate forum and disguising yourself when they are potentially a staff member of DSEA is another thing entirely. Like I said yesterday, shenanigans with this election.
Both Mike Matthews and Jackie Kook are well-known in Delaware as teachers who will really fight for their causes. This doesn’t mean they won’t sit down with you, but it also doesn’t mean they will swallow the Kool-Aid which happened so many times in teacher matters involving the Delaware Dept. of Education, the General Assembly, and yes, even DSEA. Most recently, Kook ruffled feathers with the teacher evaluation bill last Spring. It wound up getting Senator Sokola amendments attached to it. A large part of that was the insertion into the process of former DOE employee Atnre Alleyne, now promoting his role as Executive Director of DelawareCAN which is an offshoot of the corporate education reform company 50CAN. Another big part was a letter from the DPAS-II Advisory Committee Chair Dr. Susan Bunting. Bunting was confirmed by the Delaware Senate three days ago as the new Delaware Secretary of Education. But neither of them are Sam Muskrat. In Delaware, if you aren’t calling out legislators here and there, than democracy really isn’t taking place. And some really shouldn’t throw stones like that because the hypocrisy involved is astounding! But I guess many wrongs make a right?
The voting for the Delaware State Education Association leadership officially ends tomorrow, January 23rd. All ballots must be in as per the DSEA election website. Initial results will be shared with the Executive Director and Business Manager of DSEA on Thursday, and preliminary results will be announced on January 27th. If there is a challenge based on the preliminary results, that would have to be in by February 3rd. At the DSEA Executive Board meeting on February 16th, the results will be officially ratified.
There are four races for the President slot and two for the Vice-President. For President, there is Karen Crouse, Mike Matthews, Danny Rufo, and Dom Zaffora. For Vice-President, there is Jackie Kook and Stephanie Ingraham. Two are running on a “ticket” per se, but that ticket could be divided pending the results. Those “tickets” are Matthews/Kook and Crouse/Ingraham.
What is at stake with this election? The teacher’s union in Delaware would have a lot to contend with in the coming years. The three-year terms would usher in the new Every Student Succeeds Act in Delaware along with mounting budget issues that will almost assuredly result in education cuts along the way. Add on the new Carney administration and a promise from Governor John Carney to make the Delaware Department of Education less of an accountability factory and more of a resource center for districts and charters. However, much of that will depend on the final approved ESSA state plan. Even though ESSA was meant to eliminate a lot of the federal oversight, accountability regulations won’t change things that much. And if history is an indicator, the Delaware DOE loves accountability. The role of teacher evaluations will always be a major issue with DSEA. Other potential factors affecting them, depending on the state budget, could be the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission redistricting plan or the possibility of consolidating districts around the state becoming more than a discussion point.
“Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.”
Sorry for not posting much today. I woke up at 4:30am to see if the Level 2 State of Emergency alert was still in effect for Delaware. I saw something about it being lifted at 10am, and I fell asleep again. At 9:00am, I woke up again.
I shoveled some yesterday and a good neighbor came over with his snow blower. After he finished, I began shoveling our porch when I found the above picture. One lone flower, buried underneath the snow, still alive in the harsh winter. I had to get a picture of it. For some people, they would think “Big deal, it’s just a flower.” But I am a deep philosophical kind of guy and I look for meaning in even the smallest things.
To me, this was a symbol of hope. I haven’t had much reason to hope lately. The battles have gotten harder, and longer. They are more time-consuming. For the longest time, I’ve been scared. Scared there is no hope for education. That no matter what some of us do or say, no one is listening. But I think they are, cause our enemies are speaking louder and trying to carry out all they can in a hurry. These reformers have been patient for well over a decade, sinking their teeth in wherever they can and thrusting the knife into public education. But because of those like myself who are fighting them, every chance we get, we are making a difference. They are getting a bit sloppy. Actually, they left a lot of tracks uncovered, and many of us are finding them in the oddest of places.
I’m not giving up. Not by a long shot. I may be quiet at times. Those are the times they need to worry the most. That means I’m doing lots of research that is already bearing fruit. I will post a lot about this research… when I’m ready. In the meantime, keep opting out. Keep asking the questions. Challenge them. Call them out. Write letters to the editor. Whatever you do, don’t let nagging questions gnaw at you. Let them out. Take a risk, be daring. Be vocal. We can’t get there alone. We need all of you who are willing to rise up to the challenge. These are children we are fighting for, never forget that. They need us to be their voice.