Bethany Hall-Long Supports TFA, Colin Bonini Hates The Priority Schools, and John Carney Says “See My Plan”

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I attended a Delaware Governor and Lieutenant Governor debate tonight at Delaware State University.  It felt like it should have been an episode of The Gong Show.  In a night where Colin Bonini said he felt like Delaware’s apology for slavery was a crutch and Lamar Gunn talked to the audience about discrimination and how they don’t have to vote blue or red but rather the person.  There was a lot of talk about discrimination tonight, yet no one addressed the point that the Libertarian and Green candidates were not invited to the debate.  Candidates who I’m sure would have had a lot more to offer than the ones I saw tonight.

Yes, in a reply to a question about a lack of minority teachers in Delaware, Senator Bethany Hall-Long took it upon herself, a DSEA supported candidate, to publicly support Teach For America.  She said why do we have to wait that long when we have Teach For America ready to come into our schools.  So let me get this straight Bethany: you would rather have minorities go through a six-week crash course on teaching Delaware students and throw them in schools than go through the actual degree process to become a Delaware teacher?  Would you have come out with that statement before you were endorsed by the Delaware State Education Association?  This was after she gave a very bizarre “Take A Look At Me Now” opening statement like she was auditioning for a 21st Century Shirley Temple movie.

Colin Bonini decided to throw the six priority schools under the bus.  And then go in reverse and run over them all over them again.  By calling them “six failed schools” because of their test scores, he bashed the schools for only hiring assistant principals.  But then he went that next step as only Bonini would by saying they should have been converted to charter schools.  When asked about why he voted no on the resolution for Delaware to apologize for its role in slavery, Bonini actually told the over 90% African-American crowd he thought slavery apologies were a crutch.

And John Carney.  If I heard “if you take a look at my plan” one more time I was probably going to have to yell “Do you even know what is in your plans?”  Because it was obvious in many areas he didn’t.  When asked about criminal justice he said his campaign was coming out with a plan on that subject in a few days.  As he smugly sat there and said “When I become the next Governor,” Bonini retorted back with his I know I’m going to lose face with a similar comment about how Carney would work in his administration.  In fact, Bonini made it a point to tell the audience he likes John Carney even though his campaign manager keeps telling him to stop saying that.  Carney went a step further and told everyone he and Bonini are friends, and “that’s how we get things done in Delaware.”  Yes, the rotting and festering wound we call “The Delaware Way.”  In some respects, Bonini almost looked like he was prepping for continued life as a Delaware Senator who will have to work with Governor Carney.  It was the only logical answer I could find as he tried to mesmerize the audience with the magical word “Prosperity” throughout the night.

When Lieutenant Governor candidate Lamar Gunn wasn’t trying to eviscerate his opponent every chance he got, he did make some good points about race in Delaware.  But it got lost in his newly created powers he wants for the Lieutenant Governor role.  Carney, Bonini, and Hall-Long all talked about college and career readiness.  And this legislation and that legislation.  Bonini answered many questions with one word, “Prosperity”, before he attempted to explain why prosperity is the answer to life.  Both Hall-Long and Carney couldn’t seem to reconcile how Delaware needs all these 21st Century jobs starting real soon and how we need the bottom rung jobs as well.  It almost seemed like they were telling the audience, “Don’t worry, we will create jobs for you if we can’t get you into those Pathways To Prosperity jobs.”

It was a dismal night.  After the Carney-Bonini debate, someone asked me if I liked what I heard.  My only response was “I never like what I hear.”  This is Delaware.  Everyone wants a seat at the table, but as Gunn put it, you aren’t being invited to the table, you are a dessert on the table.”   Two words I didn’t hear from any candidate’s mouth were special education.  They all seem to forget that for some students, it isn’t just being a minority, it is also being a student with disabilities.  But Carney told the audience how we have been going from one education reform to the next, but whatever we come up with next, we have to make it stick.  Like we haven’t heard that before.  As the Delaware DOE gets ready to unleash the first draft of their ESSA plan that will be a boon for outside providers and will pretty much give schools the same sucky accountability standards they had before.  But both Carney and Bonini said they believe in local control.

In response to the upcoming report coming out on discrimination in Delaware State Government, Carney wants to take that role out of the Office of Management and Budget and give them their own brand new cabinet position in Delaware government.  As he talked about the huge deficit we will face in the next year.  When asked if that would be separate from a Civil Rights office, Carney quickly chimed in that he could roll that into it.  Bonini spoke about a letter he wrote wanting to create new committees in the House and Senate for civil rights but added it would have been hard to do in the middle of a General Assembly.  But Gunn went after Hall-Long for not voting on it even though it was never legislation.

Like the picture of John Bonini and Colin Carney above, my brain felt very blurry as I left the auditorium and walked to my car on this crisp and cool Autumn evening.  It is an epidemic during this 2016 election season.  Brain cells crashing into each other as we continue to ask ourselves why the future sounds so important but those guiding the way are oblivious to so much.  If I walked away from this with any support for any of the four candidates, it would have to be Gunn for Lieutenant Governor.  Only to watch him preside over the Senate while Bethany Hall-Long fake smiles the whole time.  I would have loved to have seen Carney and Bonini react to Libertarian Gubernatorial candidate Sean Goward’s awesome ideas.  But that’s the Delaware Way…

So what should I expect in the next four years of Delaware?  John Carney purposely avoiding eye contact with me, which would make tonight the hat trick for this kind of behavior since I met him at one of his Spaghetti meet and greets earlier last month.  But that’s okay, I’m sure he has a plan…

The Week That Was And The Week To Come With New Information About The Old

As Christina and Newark Charter School head into a showdown of sorts, new information about Chartergate 2016 is coming to light.  But first, a week in review with all the news from the first week of school in Delaware.  And what a week it was!

It has been one hell of a week.  Make that ten days!  Hogging up the headlines was the (still) ongoing district-charter funding issue.  Things got ugly with Newark Charter School parents and the News Journal articles.  Sometimes you have to look to the past to figure out why this happened to begin with.  Christina made an official announcement that became not so official hours later.  I believe I figured it out in the end but new information will be revealed below.

But to me, the most important post I put up was the one about the Smarter Balanced Assessment and some schools not letting kids take AP classes over SBAC scores or if their parents opted their child out of the test.  I should have added honors classes because that came up a bit too.

The Indian River financial mess (meltdown?) is going to get bigger.  I felt it was important to let folks know there are some serious problems going on there.  This won’t be good for the state for several reasons.

Doing the education interviews with three out of the four Governor candidates was awesome.  I liked hearing their different views on education.  I endorsed Scott Gesty for Congress.  I’m still bummed Carney didn’t want to play.  Milford School District is having tuition tax woes.  Senator Sokola plagiarized wrote a letter to the editor in the News Journal.

Governor Jack Markell had a busy week when he wasn’t riding around with Batman.  He had an interesting weekly message (this was not an audition for U.S. Secretary of Education…that was the joke) and he got an honor.  Jack signed an Executive Order for ESSA collaboration with stakeholders.  An afterschool task force had a meeting in the morning.  The Delaware DOE was called out for ignoring allegations of fraud at the College Board over the revamped SAT.

On Wednesday, at 7:30am, there will be a Legislative Briefing at the Eden Hill Center.  This is open to the public, but not for public comment.  In attendance will be Acting Christina Superintendent Bob Andrzejewski, CFO Bob Silber, State Reps. John Kowalko, Kim Williams, Paul Baumbach and Earl Jaques that I know of so far.  Christina will present their side of the story to the legislators.  This is NOT a done deal.  Despite what you may have heard, that the local cost per pupil won’t change this year, that statement in and of itself is the misnomer not too many people have caught.

The Delaware DOE saying that means they were going to change the formula.  This isn’t just about the exceptions that charter kids don’t get choice money for from the districts.  The DOE was actually going to change the formula, without any input from anyone.  The charters already sent out their bills to the districts.  When Secretary Godowsky said he wasn’t going through with that, I assume that means those payments are on hold or they will revert back to what it always was.  But from what I’m hearing, they aren’t budging with Christina and their exceptions.  As I wrote on Friday, those exceptions were approved by the Delaware DOE.  They can’t go back now and say they weren’t.  That will be Christina’s case in all this, and I have to say I agree with them.

I also wrote that I wanted to know how Greg Meece all of a sudden came up with this brilliant idea of going after Christina for this.  I have a few suspects with this.  I will reserve names until I know for sure who did it.  But rest assured, I will find out.  They can ‘fess up to me now if they like, or I can write when I know for sure.  Your choice (see, I do support choice).

One thing that did bother me over the weekend was a State Representative’s Facebook page.  This rep wanted to call me out for saying I will have to apologize to Newark Charter School if it turns out they were in the right.  It’s called sarcasm, but the state rep obviously didn’t get that.  This rep went a step further to admonish blogs and not to believe everything you read.  Sorry, what did I get wrong so far?  I clearly stated in the original article I didn’t have specifics or that I knew what the exact items were that will be taken away from the district’s restricted funding part of their local funds.  Perhaps that part didn’t dawn on the State Rep.  But I gave enough information for that rep and several others to make frantic calls and emails to Secretary Godowsky.  And it changed the course of their original intention, which was to change the formula.  So while this state rep wants to call me out as a blogger, I feel it is necessary to remind this state rep they had no clue about any of this until I wrote about it.  By telling people on one hand the DOE isn’t going to take any action only to find out a few days later they will take some sort of action against Christina, who isn’t really sure about their information?

What concerned me even more was a post about the legislative briefing on Wednesday.  This same state rep told people it was a legislative briefing and wouldn’t be open to the public.  Even though the Christina School District wrote a letter publicly announcing this meeting.  The President of the Christina Board, Elizabeth Paige, pointed out that the district was making it open to the public.  I commented that closed-door meetings were what started this mess to begin with.  The state rep never responded to this.  I find it ironic that this state rep would want this meeting to be a closed-door meeting.  In other posts the rep put up they mention working with the DOE and getting it all sorted out.  If I have learned one thing in Delaware, the DOE does what the DOE wants.  There isn’t any compromise unless those are things the DOE throw out as bait to get what they want all along.  We all know who runs the DOE, and it is NOT Secretary Godowsky.  Remember, he serves at the pleasure of the Governor.

There was one final thing the state rep did that ticked me off.  The rep wrote about my articles a few times over the week.  The rep kept referring to me as “the blogger” as if we had never met before.  I’ve talked to this state rep several times.  We are on a first-name basis when we see each other.  But somewhere along the way I must have become “toxic” to this state rep if he can’t address me in a public post by my name.  I suppose the state rep is upset with me about a few things lately.  The rep is more than welcome to engage in an actual conversation with me without resorting to passive-aggressive potshots at me on social media.  But I can promise the rep one thing: I will blog as I please and you can either deal with it or not.  I truly don’t care.  I’m sure I could write the “correct way” about a few things pertaining to this state rep, but I’m taking the high road here.

Speaking of closed-door meetings, what many of you may not know is that district Superintendents attended a meeting at the DOE last week.  And there was a swap-out so to speak of different exclusions.  It worked out so that it would basically be a draw for the districts.  Well, almost all of them.  Not so for Christina.  By the DOE doing this, they have effectively targeted Christina with all this and pitted the other fifteen districts against them.  And the charters?  I hear there was a meeting with Secretary Godowsky as well at Newark Charter School (such an impartial place to have this kind of meeting).  The charter leaders were told the formula change wasn’t going to happen this year.

So this boils down to Newark Charter School (and other charters Christina gives local funding to) versus Christina School District in the immediate future.  They are going after Christina money in what I suspect will wind up being an illegal move.  I also predict Christina will take legal action if they push this.  This is not an area for compromise.  It is petty.  What remains to be seen is what the original plan looked like.  Remember, Godowsky found out about this after the charter bills went out to the districts.  So how can the DOE do anything like this without the Secretary’s approval?  That is the burning question every one should be asking.  Whoever our new Governor is, he or she is going to have one royal mess on their hands!

32 Questions: Delaware Candidates For Governor On Education

I sent education surveys to all four of the candidates running for Delaware Governor.  Three responded.  I want to thank all the candidates for responding.  Many of the questions I asked deal with the issues I write about on this blog.  The survey was sent a few weeks ago, so recent events such as the district-charter funding issue and Blockchain aren’t in here.

These were tough questions in many areas and I challenged the candidates to do some research with some of them.  In some areas, all three were in agreement and in others not so much.  There were 32 questions overall, dealing with issues concerning teachers, special education, Common Core, Rodel, Markell, FOIA, the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission, the Every Student Succeeds Act, and more. Continue reading

Delaware Governor Debates Show Interesting Perspectives On Education

Last week, Delaware Public Media released videos with the four candidates for Delaware Governor.  With issues ranging from education to the budget to jobs to healthcare to violence, this was an excellent way to hear what Colin Bonini, John Carney, Sean Goward, and Lacey Lafferty truly believe.  I think John Carney may have some severe competition, and not from the corner you think.  Goward delivered excellent responses to the questions.  Bonini was very vague with a lot of his answers.  Both Carney and Bonini played up their past job titles.  I did not agree with some of the education aspects Bonini and Lafferty support.  The only candidate who even touched on special education was Goward.  Failure to address special education while talking about behavior in the classroom makes me very worried if Bonini or Lafferty won.  I heard a lot of talk from Carney about getting kids ready for college.  All but Bonini said they want to reorganized the Department of Education.  All seem to think education funding is a big concern.

I don’t like how Carney just wants everyone to mend fences and get along.  That isn’t a solution, that’s the Delaware Way.  Education is very divisive because the most important sides to education have been ignored for years in favor of corporate education reform.  I do respect how Carney wants to recalibrate the DOE into a liason between the feds and the local school districts.  But he seems a little bit too embedded in the Delaware Way.  By ignoring the issues, he is setting himself up to be ineffective.

In my eyes, and I listened to all the issues, Goward won this hands down.  He has some very interesting ideas.  He isn’t bought by the system and he has unique perspectives on a lot of issues that actually make sense.  Thank you to Tom Byrne at Delaware Public Media for putting these videos up.  I still want to hear more from all the candidates on their ideas for education, but any candidate who mentions the OECD is already way ahead of the game!

Colin Bonini: Republican

John Carney: Democrat

Sean Goward: Libertarian

Lacey Lafferty: Republican

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