Governor Carney Brings Family Services Cabinet Council Back To Delaware

On Tuesday, Delaware Governor John Carney signed Executive Order #5.  This order reestablishes the Family Services Cabinet Council.  From the press release:

Governor Carney Reestablishes the Family Services Cabinet Council

Date Posted: Tuesday, February 28th, 2017

WILMINGTON, Del. – Governor John Carney signed Executive Order Five on Tuesday, reestablishing the Family Services Cabinet Council to help coordinate public and private services for Delaware families.

Delaware families continue to face significant challenges – including the high cost of child care; violence and poverty in their neighborhoods; the impact of caring for an aging family member; and the challenges of navigating an economy in transition. The Family Services Cabinet Council will be charged with coordinating public and private services that are often fragmented, and proposing changes to current programs to make the delivery of state services more effective.

Governor Carney will serve as chair of the Council.

Reestablishment of the Council, which was first established under Governor Tom Carper, was an action called for by Governor Carney’s Transition Team in their Action Plan for Delaware. The Council also will work closely with the Government Efficiency and Accountability Review Board (GEAR), which Governor Carney created this month to identify cost savings and efficiencies in state government, and to more effectively operate state programs and services.

“Our challenge is to determine whether the programs and services we offer are effective in moving families out of poverty, improving our system of education and creating opportunities for all Delaware families to succeed,” said Governor Carney. “That requires all of us – government agencies, nonprofits and private business – to work together. That also requires that we measure our progress. The reestablishment of the Family Services Cabinet Council will help us do just that, and make a meaningful difference in the lives of Delaware families.”

The Council will be tasked with implementing innovative tools and strategies for addressing a series of specific issues, including: breaking the school-to-prison pipeline; improving access to early childhood education; increasing the availability of affordable housing; improving access to substance abuse treatment; reducing recidivism in Delaware’s correctional system; expanding job training opportunities; and reducing violence in Delaware’s neighborhoods.

The Council will include eight members of Governor Carney’s Cabinet – the Secretary of the Department of Services for Children, Youth, and Their Families; the Secretary of the Department of Health and Social Services; the Secretary of the Department of Education; the Secretary of the Department of Labor; the Secretary of the Department of Safety and Homeland Security; the Director of the Delaware State Housing Authority; the Director of the Office of Management and Budget; and the Commissioner of the Department of Correction.

“It is our duty to ensure that our children and our families have the necessary tools to be healthy, prosperous, and safe,” said Lieutenant Governor Bethany Hall-Long. “The reestablishment of this Council will break down silos in state government and allow for a more collaborative and coordinated approach to address some of the most critical issues we face, so that every Delawarean has a fair shot.”

 

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What Matters If We Have Hate In Our Hearts?

When I was running for the Capital School Board, one of the questions my two other candidates and I received at a debate was “Do black lives matter.”  It threw me off.  I prepared myself for a lot of questions beforehand.  That one threw me for a loop.  My two opponents, who happened to be African-American, almost seemed offended at the question.  One of them said “Of course black lives matter.  All lives matter.”

This is how I answered.  It isn’t verbatim, but this is the essence of what I said.  I agreed with my opponents that all lives matter.  But we need to understand where those words are coming from.  I explained how there has been an inequity and disproportionality in respect to how African-Americans have been treated in this country for centuries.  I said we’ve come a long way, but we still have a long way to go.  We have a school to prison pipeline in many places in America.  Too many African-Americans don’t have the same opportunities white people do.  I concluded with the statement that the Capital Board would be remiss not to understand where those words are coming from.  I meant every single word of it.

Afterwards, a gentleman in the audience clapped.  He happened to be African-American.  I thought it was a bizarre question for a school board debate, but it was important to him.  I later found out he asked that question in an attempt to trip me up.  Why?  Would the wrong answer have given him the impression I would have been a bad school board candidate?  Did the answers my opponents gave matter?  Given what happened yesterday, I can no longer support the idea of black lives matter if it brings more death.

We are at a crossroads today.  The situation got very serious in Dallas when snipers decided to shoot eleven police officers, four of which have died at this time.  The police officers were assigned to a protest where people were speaking out against the police shootings of two black men on Wednesday, one in Louisiana and one in Minnesota.  I can’t process death well.  Especially deaths that don’t have to happen.  I don’t know enough about law enforcement procedures to say if what they did was within their authority.  I can’t even figure out my own state, Delaware, and events that have happened here.  Some believe that our cops have the authority to do whatever they want based on court rulings and attorney general opinions.  Some say the cops were justified with their actions.

This is what I do know.  I am seeing a lot of crazy talk on Facebook.  I’m seeing people talking about how they have their guns ready when “they” come for them.  I’m seeing a lot of sadness too.  From all sides of diversity.  The hopeful side of me wants to believe this is a wake-up moment for all of us.  The fearful side says this is just the beginning.  I want to believe we can find peace out of all this.  I really do.  But that is going to take a monumental shift in thinking.  It takes both sides to listen.

I was in McDonalds a couple months ago.  I had just gotten off work and I was starving.  I just wanted a quick bite to eat and go home.  I work long days at my job and it is very physically demanding.  As I sat there, peacefully eating a cheeseburger, I see two African-American teenagers laughing at me.  I asked if everything was alright.  They said I had food around my mouth.  I thanked them for letting me know.  They kept standing there, laughing at me, talking about the food around my mouth.  Meanwhile, an adult, who I presumed was their mother or caregiver watched them do this.  She didn’t say a single word.  I asked them to stop.  They kept laughing.  Finally, and with a bit more assertiveness in my voice, I asked them to show some respect.  Only at this point did the adult intervene by saying “Come on boys,” and she gave me a nasty look.  The boys walked out with their mother.  This wasn’t the first time this kind of situation has happened to me, and something similar happened another time since.  I can say I have never treated a human being like that before.  It made me angry.  Not because they were black.  But the fact that they felt they could treat another human being like that and think it was okay.  That an adult, someone who should be teaching these young men the difference between kindness and cruelty, stood there and did nothing.  I could let situations like these harden my soul.  I could let it change my thoughts and apply the actions of a few to an entire group of people.  I could make false labels about black people based on this.  But I choose not to.  I understand, at the end of the day, that for some reason they don’t trust me.  They don’t know who I am and by taking the offensive they are actually being defensive to whatever happened to them to make them think that was okay.  Discrimination and racism goes both ways.  We may not be allowed to talk about that, but I am talking about it.  It’s real, and it happens.  We all know it.

This is my plea to African-Americans like the two teenagers and their mother in McDonalds that day: stop blaming white people.  Stop thinking it is okay to taunt us, to intimidate us, to bully us.  Stop thinking we aren’t worthy of the same respect you want for yourselves.  Stop telling us there is no way we could possibly understand unless we’ve lived it.  Stop saying that’s just how we are when one on one you talk to me just fine but when you are around your friends it is something completely different.  You are whatever you choose to be.  It isn’t the situation that makes you who you are.  It’s how you deal with the situation.  And to the adults who are too wrapped in years of hatred over their own circumstances, you need to turn those bad memories into something positive.  Don’t let what hardened your soul mold the life of your children.  Teach your children right from wrong.  Let them know that whatever happened to you was horrible, but they have the power to embrace the future and practice forgiveness.

This is my plea to white people with obvious race issues: Stop thinking it is okay to refer to black people as animals when something bad happens.  Stop looking down on them as if they are from another planet.  Stop with the twitchy fingers if you are a cop and don’t fully understand a situation.  Stop  using black people for your own political ambition or warped sense of greed.  Stop thinking every time a killing happens it will be the advent of martial law in our country and President Obama will finally take away all our rights.  I’m pretty sure if this was Obama’s plan, he wouldn’t wait until his eighth and final year to get that going or he is paving the way for Hillary to do it.  Stop putting up pray for Dallas pictures on Facebook unless you are prepared to put up a “Pray for…” every single time someone dies in this world.  I will pray for Dallas along with every other city and town in America until this stops.

This my plea to all Americans: stop the hating.  Stop the killing.  Stop the labeling and false accusations and the paranoia.  Take responsibility for your own life, for your own actions.  Don’t put the weight of history on your shoulders and think you have to live it.  Be someone new.  Every day is a new day.  Every day is an opportunity to be better than the one before.  I’m not saying it’s easy.  I’m not saying it isn’t hard work.  What I am saying is this: if you don’t have love, for your neighbors, your co-workers, your classmates, your enemies, or anyone you encounter in life, but most of all yourself, you won’t ever be able to see the light in each and every heart.  Some shine bright while others are turned off.  But you can make a difference.  You can help others to turn their light on.  It may just be a smile, or a hello, or a helping hand, or saying “I care.  I understand.”  Teach your children.  Let them know that our differences are what makes us unique.  None of us are the same.  We all have one thing in common though.  We are all children of God.  In times like this, and in times of happiness, I pray.  I pray to God that we can do what He wants for us.  We can go through the Bible and pick apart this verse and that verse and apply it to every situation possible.  Many do.  But I believe the message is very simple.  Love each other.

It comes down to respect when you really think about it.  Respect for others.  For their circumstances, their situations.  Words have power.  But only as much power as we choose to give them.  But words really don’t mean anything if the tone behind it is hostile.  Which is ironic given the very nature of this blog and what I write about.  Something I have been guilty of on more occasions than I can think of.  I can sit here and say it is all out of love.  But I let my anger get the best of me.  We all do.  But I can change that, and so can you.  Before a hand-held device was smaller than our hands (they were bigger than a toddler’s head).  There were race issues, and most of them probably weren’t talked about the way they are today.  We glossed over them in the face of the Russian threat and the fear of nuclear war.  We honored Martin Luther King Jr. and made a national holiday.

Back in 1986, something called Hands Across America happened.  The goal was to create a line across America of people holding hands.  I don’t remember what is was for or if they accomplished the goal.  I would like to think it would have been impossible with the presence of rivers and high mountains and whatnot.  But the spirit was there.  We had issues back then, but not like today.  This was in the days before a gangster lifestyle was glorified in our culture.  Before the internet and social media took over our lives and gave us all transparency beyond what we could have dreamed of.  We need to somehow incorporate what we now know, what is talked about everyday with very real statistics, and stop talking about it and start acting.  We need to come together, lay down our walls of mistrust, hatred, fear, and suspicion, and work it out.  Our future, our children’s future, depends on it.

I’ve heard a lot about the Black Lives Matter movement over the past two years.  They are right.  Black Lives Matter.  White Lives Matter.  Hispanic Lives Matter.  Oriental Lives Matter.  Criminal Lives Matter.  Baby’s Lives Matter.  Children’s Lives Matter.  Muslim Lives Matter.  Christian Lives Matter.  Gay Lives Matter.  Lesbian Lives Matter.  Disabled Lives Matter.  Jewish Lives Matter.  Native American Lives Matter.  All Lives Matter.  Your life matters.  But do you want to know what doesn’t matter?  Hate doesn’t matter.  In the end, only love matters.

Which Songs Best Describe Delaware Governor Jack Markell’s Education Policies?

Delaware Governor Jack Markell loves education. He loves it so much he vetoes bills that go against parental rights, makes sure teachers are evaluated on faulty data, and loves high-stakes tests. He also loves money! And the money pouring out of his state into Education Inc.’s grabby little hands is very transparent! Out of the songs in this poll, which songs do you think best exemplifies Jack Markell’s education policies and agendas? For this special poll, I am allowing up to four answers, so you can pick four songs!

The Political Allegiance of Exceptional Delaware

I’ve written many articles over the past two years pointing out inconsistencies and downright violations of Delaware and Federal law.  I have called out elected and state officials countless times.  I care about education.  I care about transparency.  I care about due process.  I care about the law.  There are many who I believe, and others constantly agree with me, that talk the talk but their actions speak otherwise.  They are the Governor, the Delaware DOE, the Delaware State Board of Education, Delaware Congressmen, and several of our State Senators and Representatives.  They are district and charter leaders as well.  They are lobbyists and special interests.  They are non-profit corporations.

But there are also those that desperately care, that stick their neck out to do the right thing.  People like Kim Williams and John Kowalko.  Those that defy the will of their party in favor of the will of the people.  Who listen to their constituents and act.  People like Mike Matthews and Jackie Kook, who do everything in their power to make things right for teachers in our state.  People like Dave Lawson, who I don’t always agree with, but is willing to call out our DOE and attempt to make changes to our education system even though it is an exercise in futility.  People like Jennifer Nagourney, who I also don’t always agree with, but made sure transparency was a top priority for our Delaware charter schools.  People like John Young and Liz Paige, who aren’t afraid to question and call out the actions of the Christina School District.  There are countless others.  Those I don’t always agree with, but I know they are trying to do the right thing.

When it comes to kids and education, there is no right and left.  There is no liberal and conservative.  There is no Democrat and Republican, blue or red.   There are children and teenagers.  With disabilities, different skin colors, talented, gifted, poor, who come from environments of trauma and violence.  All across the state.  Who don’t speak our language.  Who don’t understand the machinations of adults who do not have their best interests at heart.  They are my political allegiance.  Over 130,000 children who don’t have an allegiance.  Who aren’t getting what they rightfully deserve.  Who are the pawns in a game of corporate interest and profits.  They are who matters.

So when I call out a collective body, such as the Delaware General Assembly, it is not to insult those whose hard work I admire.  It is the group as a whole.  I am angry.  I show it and I know it.  And I truly don’t care.  I am constantly told to calm down, or to temper my thoughts, or to compromise.  Sometimes I do, but more often than not, I blast.  I lash out.  I act.  Why?  Because if I don’t, who will?  I’m not trying to martyr myself here.  But every thought, every word I write, is about kids.  It is about our future who we, as a collective country, are throwing to the wolves.  It’s about my own son, who was violated and discriminated against.  Who is just one of many in our state who experienced the same thing.  They dominate my thoughts and my words.  If it isn’t good for them or their future, I write.  I don’t care who I tick off along the way.  I don’t care if my articles offend those who have a vested interest that will not ultimately benefit the students of Delaware.  I don’t care if politicians treat me like dirt or laugh at me or ignore me.  I don’t care if I am called a conspiracy theorist or that I wear a tin hat.  They are not why I do this.  I am not here to appease or compromise.  I am here to teach, and educate, and inform.  I am here to point out the issues and the situations that will lead to a bad outcome for students.  To catch the cracks in the dam before they explode.  View this is arrogant all you want.  I don’t care.  If I get something wrong, I’ll fix it.  I will edit or update.  But what I will not do is compromise my integrity or morals over the best interests of children.  What began as a fight for special needs children evolved a long time ago into all students.  I will always befriend both sides of the aisle and those who don’t pledge to those two sides.  I will engage with my enemies as well.  I will take the awkward or angry stares and conversations.  I will put myself into the den of the lion and roar.  But that does not mean I will tolerate violations of the law.  I will not tolerate interpretations of the law that have no justification.  I will not hide behind a black curtain covering up the truth.

There is a dark and festering rot in this state.  It isn’t going away any time soon.  As long as it is there, taking away from children and benefitting adults, I will continue to piss off many.  I will speak for those who aren’t able to or don’t know how.  For the parents of these children who are struggling in their own way who may not have the means or ability to speak.  For teachers who truly care about students and just want to do their job, who are threatened and demeaned by many.  I almost caved and joined the system by running for the Capital School Board.  In hindsight, I am very glad I lost.  It would have forced me to be in a position of compromise and to not always act in the best interest of children.  It would have tainted me.  It would have forced me to look out for a corporation, a school district, instead of the students that are the heart of the district.  This is who I am.  Take it or leave it.  Like it or hate it.  Accept me or not.  I’m here to stay.

 

Why?

After 19 months and a couple of days of posting an article on this blog every single day, I broke that streak yesterday. It was intentional.  First off, it got me out of that “have to post something every day” mindset.  Second, what else is there to say?  I’m not saying this to be obtuse, but there are several reasons why I am now limited in what I can do or say. Continue reading “Why?”

The Dead Heart

We have not had a major world war in over seventy years.  There are very few alive who fought in World War II.  But the modern war is the companies.  The huge corporations.  Companies have more say than people.  They infiltrated education and took over.  Do you we the people have what it takes to take it back?  How loud do we have to get?  If we miss our chance, which is pretty much right now, our children will never be the same.  All the things we take for granted will be gone forever.

The Winter Flower

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“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.

Arne Duncan Leaves Nuclear Bomb Parting Gift For Students With Disabilities

One year ago tomorrow, I wrote my biggest article ever.  Entitled US DOE & Arne Duncan Drop The Mother Of All Bombs On States’ Special Education Rights, it generated numerous hits from across the country.  I imagine just about every engaged parents of children with disabilities read that article.  It was a warning shot.  It impeded on the ability of IEP teams to accurately and correctly formulate an IEP.   The latest “Dear Colleague” letter from the United States Department of Education is actually striking the hammer into the coffin of IDEA.  The letter, written by Melody Musgrove, the Direct of the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), demands all IEPs be written with the state standards as part of the goals for an IEP.  I find this to be incredibly offense and this spits on the whole concept of IDEA.

In Delaware, where I live, our Department of Education released their Annual Measurable Objectives last week based on growth and proficiency of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  While overall they want the proficiency rate to go from 50% to 75% in six years, for the sub-group of students with disabilities, they want them to go from 19% to 59% in six years.  So students with disabilities will have to work harder than every single one of their peers.

The combination of these two announcements shows that those in power in education truly don’t understand neurobiological disorders and disabilities.  It almost seems as if they want to get rid of the whole concept of special education in favor of personalized learning.  As well, it appears they want parents to pull their kids out of public education.  Is this some twisted voucher program that no one has told us about, or do they just not care about the well-being of these students?  I’m all for progress and improvement, but there comes a point in time where every long-distance runner hits a wall.  When they hit that, their body literally breaks down.  Students with disabilities are going to hit that wall and it won’t be pretty.

The Herdman Problem

Right now, a Herdman problem is running amok in our education system and causing chaos.  The Herdman problem is not the only issue.  Our classrooms are changed because of this.  We don’t know why this is happening, just that it is.  Students don’t want to go to school.  It is very hard for them to learn in this environment.  How can we solve the Herdman problem?  Parents, teachers, and principals are upset.  The community is outraged.  How did we allow the Herdman problem to invade our schools?  Each year the problems only get worse.

If you think I’m talking about Dr .Paul Herdman with the Rodel Foundation, then you have been actively reading this blog but that is NOT what this article is about.  It’s about reading.  Right now my son is reading a book called The Best Worst School Year Ever by Barbara Robinson.  This is a sequel to a story many children have read called The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.  It’s about six siblings, known as The Horrible Herdmans.  These kids are monsters!  They steal, they lie, they cheat, they burn, they kidnap, you name it, they have done it.  There doesn’t seem to be one honorable bone in their bodies.  Yet, at the end of the day, you find they capture your heart in a weird way.

As my son reads this, cracking up throughout, I am relieved.  Reading and my son don’t always get along.  But he is fully engaged in this book and he is loving it!  This is what reading is meant to do.  To suck you in and bring you new worlds of joy and creativity.  To expand your brain in ways you can’t imagine.  To see my son this into a book is awesome!

I read a lot.  All the time.  I refuse to let my mind go stagnant.  I am of the belief that children need to read everyday.  It doesn’t always work as planned, but that is my goal for my child.  But some kids don’t even know how to read.  They need to be taught.  Their future depends on it.  Our future depends on it.  They may not even know words, or they may have a learning disability.  I think we can all agree this is a huge issue, and we all need to work together to solve it.  For our toddlers and really young ones, parents need to read to them all the time.  Go out of the box and see if they can actually read.  Show them the words and ask if they can say them.  Point to the words as you are saying it.    It probably won’t happen, but one day you just might be surprised!

Thomas Fordham Institute Data Guy Went On Rick Jensen, Listen To What Happened!

One of my favorite talk-show radio hosts in Delaware is Rick Jensen on WDEL.  While I may not always agree with him on every issue, we stand united in our hatred of Common Core and both actively advocate for parent opt-out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  Or as Rick calls it, the “Not So Smarter Balanced Assessment”.  He had this guy from the Thomas Fordham Institute on the show today.

I love how this guy refuses to call Common Core a curriculum.  Really?  Then why is it I put an article up with a copy of my son’s math homework a year ago, and it generated 15,000 hits in less than 24 hours?  Because parents across America were Googling this homework that night, when kids all across the country had the SAME homework, with teachers teaching to that math that day.  If that is just a standard, then I strongly suggest this man buys a dictionary and learns the difference between standards and curriculum.

And let’s not forget one thing that most folks don’t know.  The NAEP test, that has been a “steady” barometer of our children’s success in America, is based on tests designed by American Institutes for Research.  Who is also a vendor for numerous states and their standardized assessment, including all the Smarter Balanced Assessment states.  Of course kids would do worse on a test they helped create against a test they helped create.  A company like that doesn’t get $38,000,000.00 from a small state like Delaware, and who knows how much at a national level, if all children are succeeding.  They need kids to fail this test, in great numbers, so they can continue their profit margins.  That’s what it’s all about.  So when these “think tank” guys talk about how much we need this data, they need that data so they can line their pockets with taxpayer money.  It’s not about the kids.  It’s never been about the kids.  It’s about greed, pure and simple.

Why are these Fordham guys showing up in the News Journal and WDEL all of a sudden?  Because folks like Dr. Paul Herdman of Rodel are asking them to.  Because they know opt-out numbers are going to go through the roof next spring, and they want to get the spin control out now.  Because these corporate intruders, and that’s what they are, are scared to death of the 148th General Assembly overriding Governor Markell’s veto of House Bill 50.  But like the Smarter Balanced Assessment itself, they will fail.  Because they are missing the crucial ingredient in all of this.  A parent’s love for their child.  There is nothing greater aside from the Almighty Himself!  So Jack, Paul, Mark, all of you, listen up.  We will not give up.  We will not surrender.  We will not stop.  We aren’t idiots who believe whatever lines you throw our way.  We are parents.  We are our children’s voice.  You all need to stop before you embarrass yourselves even further.

The Constant

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This past weekend I’ve been going through pictures from the time my son was born until the present.  It brings back a lot of memories all at once.  But most of all, I remember the joy.  Every single thing he did was brand new for him when he was a baby.  Learning everything, starting with how to breathe on his own.  All those sleepless nights when he had colic in the first couple weeks were worth it.  All the diaper changes, his impeccable aim, and the messy food.  I wouldn’t trade any of it for a minute.

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As parents, we see everything.  We watch our babies crawl, sit up, and then walk.  And talk.  It’s like watching evolution in fast motion.  The term “they grow up so fast” is very true.  You blink, and they look older the next day.

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And after they get out of that terrible toddler time, they start to think on their own enough and they are ready for school.  And they have no idea what to expect, but they soon learn Mommy and Daddy aren’t the only teachers.  Things they do at home aren’t necessarily the same as what is expected of them in school.  But they have fun…

Jacob John Dickensons Museum

They start to meet more and more kids, and they start picking up things.  Their minds expand, and curiosity becomes a game of “What happens if I do this?”

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You start to see them do things you never thought they would do, and at times you can only laugh.  It’s what makes them unique, God’s gift to the world.  None of them are the same.  They try new things and stretch their boundaries of what they are familiar with…

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Speed Star 1.1452384 00

They learn how to be part of a team.  But sometimes they have things going against them, and they have to work even harder.  Things don’t always work, but they keep going.  It’s all they know how to do.  But it’s hard for them to keep the smiles going…

Speed Star 1.1417443  00
Speed Star 1.1417443 00

They aren’t always happy, and you can see it more and more as they get older.  The constant smiles disappear more and more, and you have to reach out harder.  But that’s okay, cause that’s why parents are here.  We are here for them during the good times…

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and the bad, when they need us the most…

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And the sometimes, when they aren’t even watching us, we have to fight for them…

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and you meet strange people along the way…

Governor Markell, Kevin Ohlandt and Jacob Ohlandt, 5/14/15
Governor Markell, Kevin Ohlandt and Jacob Ohlandt, 5/14/15

But that’s okay, life is full of surprises and twists.  It’s what makes it so complicated and unpredictable.  What is very hard for parents is to see your child and you view them differently.  You start to realize, they are getting old fast.  It isn’t going to be long now, they are going to be an adult.

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But one thing is constant, and that is a parent’s love for their child.  That doesn’t go away, ever…

Bleeding Hearts

I went to bed last night at 8pm.  This is very unusual for me, but I think I know why.  I was exhausted, emotionally and physically.  For months now, I’ve been writing non-stop on here, hoping for change.  I woke up at 2:10am this morning, came downstairs, and caught up on some reading.  I go to work at 6am, and I knew I wouldn’t be falling back asleep.  There was something more to all of this though.  My subconscious was well aware of something.

Two years ago, I woke up to the phone ringing.  It was 3:30am in the morning.  I knew exactly why the phone rang and what it meant.  I wasn’t at my house, I was up at my parents house in Pennsylvania.  That phone ringing meant only one thing.  My mother passed away.

She was on hospice in her home, and my father was taking care of her.  She didn’t want to pass anywhere else, with machines and tubes.  She had been ill for a very long time.  I knew the end was coming, which was why I went up there a few days prior.  I’ve always had a sense for this type of thing.  I’ve never been sure if that was a blessing or a curse.

I went downstairs and my oldest brother just looked at me and said “She’s gone.”  I heard my father on the phone talking to the hospice nurse who would soon be coming over.

I went outside about fifteen minutes ago, and I watched as the blue-green-orange hue started to come up in the east.  Above me, the stars were shining bright in the night sky.  It was quiet and peaceful.  These are the times when I think of my mom the most, when there is nothing else distracting me.

My mom and I are a lot alike.  We both have a very deep passion for the things that bother us.  We also fight like hell for our kids.  She taught me that.  But she also taught me it isn’t just about your own home, it’s about the world that we live in.  We all have a responsibility in this world, to be what we are supposed to be.  We fail at this constantly.  And we never know what this purpose is, I guess, until we drift into the afterlife, into the arms of whatever we believe in the most.

Sometimes I can feel my mom watching over me.  I remember over a year ago when I was going back and forth whether to tell my son’s story on Kilroy’s Delaware.  I knew it would be a bold thing to do, and once I did it I could never go back.  I wrestled with this thought for weeks.  It was at one moment, when I looked over and saw it.  The sign.

A few weeks after my mom passed, I was at Lowes.  I wanted to get a particular plant my mom always loved, bleeding hearts.  I remember as a child my mom showing me how to open them up and see what’s inside.  I always thought it was one of life’s more interesting tricks.  I bought the plant, came home, and put it in a corner near my house.

The bleeding hearts didn’t fare too well that summer.  I watered them all the time and made sure they didn’t suffocate from the weeds.  By the end of the summer, the plant dried up and I saw the stem start to brown.  The bleeding hearts died.  As the summer warmth faded to fall’s crisp embrace, I mowed the lawn one day and accidentally ran over the withered corpse that had been my connection with my mom.

Seven months later, one May morning, I sat on my porch.  I hadn’t been in my backyard too much and I knew I had to mow the lawn soon.  I walked past my fence and that was when I saw it- the bleeding hearts, in full bloom.  What the plant had gone through was just the natural ebbs and tides of life.  but I took it as a sign.  I emailed Kilroy with the first part of my son’s story that evening.

I can’t explain why I do what I do.  I wrote last week about synchronicity and fate.  But what if it’s more than that?  What if this is my thing?  I will never know, but even when I am criticized and blasted by my critics, when things seem at their lowest, I still believe.  I still think things can change.  I think there is more to all of this than what we know.  We can change, we just have to come together.  We need to do this for the kids.  Not for ourselves, not for our own advancement or personal glory, but for them.  They need us.  That’s why I can’t accept all these things going on in education.  If it’s not good for kids, than it really shouldn’t be there.  We just have to find common ground to work from and really turn education into what it is meant to be.  Not just for my own son, but all of Delaware’s kids.  It’s what my mom taught me.

As the seasons pass, and the dawn leads to the day, my heart bleeds for the lost kids in our state.  I pray that we can do right for them and carry them out of the darkness.  It’s always been about them, not ourselves.