Only One More Day To Vote In DSEA Election For President and Vice-President

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.

Vote Mike Matthews & Jackie Kook For President And Vice-President Of DSEA

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I hereby endorse Mike Matthews as President for the Delaware State Education Association.

I hereby endorse Jackie Kook as Vice-President for the Delaware State Education Association.

I’m not a teacher.  Just a parent.  But I have been very aware of DSEA the past few years and their role in education.  To say that relationship has been frosty at times would be an understatement.  I do not always agree with DSEA on issues.  But when I heard Mike and Jackie were running a joint ticket for DSEA leadership, I immediately rooted for them.  And then Danny Rufo announced his candidacy as President.  So I was torn for a long time.  I’ve known all three of these educators since shortly after I started blogging in 2014.  Danny is awesome.  But Mike and Jackie bring many battle scars to these roles.  Battles fought at the Delaware DOE and Legislative Hall.  Fought in front of cameras as they loudly advocated for teacher, student, and parent rights.  To me, they are more of a voice for teachers than the current leadership at DSEA.  They know the players and they know who to watch out for.

I get that these leadership roles change people.  You can’t just say whatever you want.  I don’t know Frederika Jenner very well at all.  But I do know Mike and Jackie.  I know Danny.  Crouse and Ingraham, endorsed by Jenner, just seem to be missing something.  I can’t pinpoint it.  Maybe it’s the fact that I have never seen them before.  Maybe it’s because when I asked three of the candidates their thoughts about student data privacy, the Matthews/Kook team and Rufo genuinely and thoughtfully answered.  Crouse and Ingraham gave some robotic Facebook response.  When I asked for more, they endorsed not getting into Facebook “battles” and having off-line conversations.  Sorry, Delaware has suffered immensely from those kind of talks.  The fourth candidate, Dom, I couldn’t pick out of a line-up.  No offense Dom!

What the package of Mike and Jackie could bring to Delaware education is a dream team beyond compare.  They know the issues.  They have great ideas on how to address those issues.  I’ve heard some say they are worried about Mike’s ability to “go along to get along”.  I firmly believe Mike will bring his A-game to the role and not put aside the issues he has fought for much longer than I have.  If there were a way to have co-Presidents AND a vice-president, I would say throw Rufo on that triumvirate!  But with the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act and some crazy stuff coming up in education, Delaware’s largest teacher association needs people who will look at every angle.  Who aren’t afraid to go outside of the box for help.  Who will fight not just for teachers, but also what our students need.  The symbiotic relationship between teacher and student is a relationship like no other.  Teachers have had it rough.  But I think because of that fight, many in DSEA leadership have capitulated towards those in favor of corporate education reform to the detriment of that symbiotic relationship.

Between vouchers, personalized learning in a digital environment (which is the gravest threat to teachers in my opinion), and more charter school enrollment going up, the teacher unions have never been more vulnerable than they are right now.  They need a very strong shield, and Mike and Jackie are it!  So I urge every single member of DSEA to vote for Mike and Jackie on January 9th.  Don’t wait, vote that day.  Some will say a non-DSEA person should mind their own business and not get involved.  Too bad.  Freedom of the press baby!  Don’t like it?  Too bad.  At least I’m not making fake Facebook accounts trying to start trouble.  I will leave that right there.

Some will say I am only endorsing Mike and Jackie because I’m friends with them.  I’m friends with Danny too.  And do you want to know what drew me to all three of them in the first place?   Education.  If I never started blogging I wouldn’t know the first thing about any of this.  But this is the world I live in.

Earl Jaques Tries To Silence And Censor John Kowalko On Email Chain

Earlier this evening, Delaware State Rep. John Kowalko sent an email to over a hundred people about his thoughts on the latest round of NAEP scores, which are showing a downward trend.  Several folks responded, including State Rep. Earl Jaques.  What Jaques did is symptomatic of what is wrong in Delaware politics.  Follow the email chain, and let me know if you agree or disagree with Jaques.


From: Kowalko, John (LegHall)
Sent: Wednesday, October 28, 2015 6:06 PM
To: Bennett, Andria (LegHall); acherry@wdel.com; aloudell@dbcmedia.com; al@wdel.com; Bohm, Adriana L (K12); albydm@aol.com; “alan@greendel.org”; Alyssa Van Stan; amywroe@gmail.com; Volturo, Andrew (LegHall); Bradley, Juanita V (K12); Short, Bryon (LegHall); Baumbach, Paul (LegHall); Townsend, Bryan (LegHall); Hall-Long, Bethany (LegHall); Mike Begatto; Bentz, David (LegHall); Torbert, Betty (K12); “Graves, Bianca”; Bolden, StephanieT (LegHall); Bush, William (LegHall); Potter, Jr, Charles (LegHall); cciferni1972@gmail.com; Thompson, Cathy (K12); Carson, William (LegHall); Collins, Richard G (LegHall); Yvonne; downwithabsolutes@gmail.com; Rufo, Donato (K12); “dresler@verizon.net”; Sokola, David (LegHall); Lawson, Dave (LegHall); Wilson, David L (LegHall); “delawaregrapevine@comcast.net”; Hudson, Deborah (LegHall); Nelia Dolan; john_allison@comcast.net; Mitchell, John L (LegHall); Viola, John (LegHall); kevino3670@yahoo.com; Keeley, Helene (LegHall); kempskim@comcast.net; kenhaas@udel.edu; Osienski, Edward (LegHall); eve.buckley@gmail.com; Minnehan, Harrie E (K12); Paige, Elizabeth (K12); Henry, Margaret Rose (LegHall); hegedusfamily@comcast.net; frederika.jenner@dsea.org; Polaski, Fred (K12); Newton, Faith (K12); “flally@council81.org”; Frank Sims; Katie Gifford; Brady, Gerald (LegHall); gerri.coble@dsea.org; george.evans@christina.k12.de.us; Godowsky, Steven (K12); hegedusfamily@comcast.net; McDowell, Harris (LegHall); Kenton, Harvey (LegHall); Jackie Hilderbrand Kook; Hudson, Deborah (LegHall); jdf0000@aol.com; jyd1988@gmail.com; james.dawson@wdde.org; Jaques, Jr, Earl (LegHall); Spiegelman, Jeff (LegHall); Bradley, Juanita V (K12); Williams, Kimberly (LegHall); Peterson, Karen (LegHall); kavips2006@yahoo.com; kempskim@comcast.net; Lynn, Sean M (LegHall); lehman@bgisolutions.com; lpkaplan@comcast.net; Lindell, Matt (K12); Lawson, Dave (LegHall); lewis@udel.edu; Lindell, Matt (K12); Longhurst, Valerie (LegHall); Matthews, Sean (LegHall); Matthews, Michael J (K12); malbright@delawareonline.com; Nancyvwilling@yahoo.com; Tyler Nixon; Braddock, Nicole (K12); Marshall, Jayne O (K12); Piccio, Mike (K12); Sedacca, Paul A (K12); Paradee, Trey (LegHall); Puffer, Richard (LegHall); Johnson, Quinton (LegHall); rick@wdel.com; Marshall, Robert (LegHall); Ramone, Michael (LegHall); Zoe Read; Rivera, Brie E.; robgiff@gmail.com; BriggsKing, Ruth (LegHall); Thompson, Seth (LegHall); Frank Sims; tbarchak@nea.org; tobinpolitics@yahoo.com; “terri.hodges@delawarepta.org”; Williams, Freeman (K12); Walsh, Lynn (NBCUniversal); andy@pasenate.com; Yearick, Lyndon D (LegHall); Young, John (K12); Yvonne
Subject: Reflections on NAEP score declines and who’s/what’s responsible

 Dear all please read and seriously consider the harmful effects foisted on our children by these “education reform” salesmen. The NAEP test is one of the most widely used, highly respected and proven (over decades) accurate assessments of education results. If this latest development doesn’t strike a warning chord in any of you that consider themselves as advocates for children and public education than I’m afraid it’s time for an introspective look we all should take.

Representative John Kowalko

Here is part of my response to a media interview regarding my feelings as to why NAEP scores went down and my conclusion why that occurred.

Very simply put Markell’s, Arnie’s, RODEL’s, Gates’, and all of the other (for personal profit) “education reformists” have foisted a failed system on our children with a horribly harmful result under the guise of a “common core” system that is ruining America’s and Delaware’s public education structure and willfully hurting children. Brief statement follows:

Scores down for NAEP
They’ve changed the curriculum. When they are now teaching algebra and geometry (under common core) in 3rd grade what are they not teaching or no longer teaching. If kids don’t truly understand and know multiplication, how are they going to perform the higher level skills required?
The NAEP is a generalized test given to kids all over the world. It is a consistent and reliable measure of comparison. You can’t “study” for it. So when we look at countries that do well (i.e. Finland/New Zealand) and see that their curriculums are nothing like what we have just adopted/imposed we should ask “what are we doing”?
Common Core is not a curriculum but it is so specific in its standards that it becomes a de-facto curriculum. Covering those prescribed “standards” forces teachers to teach only those skills. This presents two significant problems. There is no time for anything else and teachers are being handed a curriculum and much like the “Balanced Assessment Test”, it is being written (and profited from) by the same people who wrote common core who are (in most cases) not qualified teachers in these fields.


Editor’s note: to save space, I’m not going to keep copying the to: part of the email.


From: Jaques, Jr, Earl (LegHall) <Earl.Jaques@state.de.us>
Sent: Wednesday, October 28, 2015 6:39 PM

John,

Your personal views shouldn’t be part of our email system.  Your email isn’t based on any facts but filled with innuendoes and bias against people you dislike.  Please take your postings to the blogs – not on the state email system!!

Earl Jaques


On Oct 28, 2015, at 6:58 PM, Rufo Donato wrote:

Hey earl
I like john and what he is doing…. He cares… Seems like your email is the snippy one….
When your in politics you have to learn how to deal with things….

Perhaps you should start to blog…. Maybe then people will know who’s side your on….

Donato C. Rufo

Social Studies Teacher

NCCVTEA President

From: Matthews Michael <michael.matthews@redclay.k12.de.us>

I have no problem with Rep. Kowalko’s email because, in essence, it directly calls out the leaders of the failed, multi-billion dollar policies at the state and national level that have most assuredly contributed to the embarrassing drop in NAEP scores.
We’ve had 15 years of education reform policies under Bush/Obama/Markell.  Those policies have includes — but are not limited to — more charter schools, more testing, most consultants, RttT, fewer reading and math specialists, more bloated bureaucracy at the Department of Education, more threatened school closures and turnaround, PLCs, “deep data dives,” “rigor,” “grit,” Teach for America, priority schools, focus schools, focus plus schools, Charter School Performance Fund monies for schools who a) don’t show a financial need for it or b) have shown no track record to deserve it, data coaches from FOX News’ Wireless Generation…need I go on?
The same policies and ideologies towards which millions of dollars have been ostensibly wasted all in the name of student achievement and heightened teacher accountability that could have been used to provide immediate supports to our neediest of schools. These are the policies of the last 15 years that have attempted to corporatized and privatize our schools.
And you know what? They’ve failed. Miserably. The gold standard of assessment — the NAEP — tells us we’ve failed. And you know who takes this stuff the hardest? The classroom teachers and specialists who’ve been saying for years that failed policies under two presidential administrations and this governor have given many cause to quit well before they’ve hit their peak.
It’s too late for the kids who’ve already gone through the system these last 15 years. Will we have the courage to stop the insanity NOW so we don’t risk the future of the next generation of kids?
Mike Matthews

From: YOUNG JOHN
Sent: Wednesday, October 28, 2015 7:45 PM

Earl,

Your email epitomizes the problem. The state system is the peoples’ system. Why are you so concerned with stifling it? Why do you deign to denigrate John’s email as if it not informed by taxpaying constituents? Who are you to silence opinion and debate? Who elected you Governor? Our tax dollars pay for this, so you should probably consider it an EXPEDITED FOIA request.

I echo Mike Matthews sentiment completely.

Why don’t you show up to another CEA meeting and berate them over Opt Out again after it passed out of your committee and overwhelmingly by your colleagues after you declared the possibility of such as ZERO.  This is the peoples’ bully pulpit and I am deeply offended that an elected official, fresh off of calling my son a quitter over his parents’ reasoned decision to opt him out of high stakes tests would dare stifle dissent in such a brazen, callous manner. Tests imposed by this Governor, with your overt, glowing approval that have clearly been ineffective by the way. That was John’s point, and it is not only true, it resonates.

Why don’t you go read the Race to the Top Grant Application: https://transparentchristina.wordpress.com/delawares-race-to-the-top-grant-application/and check the goals with the results. Get back to me when you realize the depth of failure you have chosen to embrace.

We need more John Kowalko’s and less Earl Jaques’. We need elected representative who actually understand representative republics and know that the House they do their work in is only on a visitor’s pass and at the exclusive behest of the people they represent.

Lastly, you are free to denigrate the blogs, but know this: we are the last line of truth in a free society, free from corporate influence.  Feel free to attack bloggers all you want, but we are not going away. We live to hold ill informed, power hungry, tin-eared politicians like yourself accountable.

John, thank you for speaking truth to power. Everyone does not have to, nor should agree with you at times, but they should never ignore you or denigrate your motives.

Earl, thanks for confirming what we already knew about your iron-fisted, bullying and intimidating style. It went out of fashion in 1985, but thanks for keeping it alive. (sarcasm intended)

John Young


Editor’s note: I sent a reply but I couldn’t reply to all with Yahoo, so I asked Rep. Kowalko to forward it to the recipients.


From: Kevin Ohlandt <kevino3670@yahoo.com>
Sent:
Wednesday, October 28, 2015 6:57 PM
To:
Jaques, Jr, Earl (LegHall)
Cc:
Kowalko, John (LegHall); Schwartzkopf, Peter (LegHall)
Subject: Re: Reflections on NAEP score declines and who’s/what’s responsible

Earl,
I applaud Rep. Kowalko for getting the word out on these matters.  It shows courage and conviction that some legislators won’t dare to show for fear of opposing Governor Markell.  The only reason I am not including everyone on this email is because my yahoo Email won’t allow me to respond to that many people.  Just my two cents: I would listen to John.  I’m sorry you don’t see the inherent danger with what Governor Markell and others have done to education, but this path is clearly not good for Delaware students.  My best suggestion for you Rep. Jaques: You can either sink with the ship or grab ahold of a life-jacket as soon as possible.
Furthermore, by not personally sending John a reply with just him, you are using the very same email system you don’t want him using.  That seems odd, but putting a fellow State Rep. down over something and accusing him of bias without any facts is completely false.  I believe he is showing facts based on data from the NAEP scores that education reform isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
I saw you battle John during the House Education Committee meeting over House Bill 50, and it was almost like you had a personal grudge against him.  There is no place in Delaware politics for that and I hope we don’t see that kind of behavior again come January.
Thank you,
Kevin Ohlandt

Earl, Earl, Earl, when are you ever going to learn?  You can’t silence people like that.  You need to let the people speak, whether it’s through opt-out or public comment.  Legislators are not exempt from public comment.

Delaware Educator Brings Down The Roof On The State Board and the DOE!

I got the inside scoop on the biggest mystery of the Delaware State Board of Education meeting from yesterday.  At the end of a video the State Board aired on the Smarter Balanced Assessment for parents, a teacher who is also the President of the New Castle County Vo-Tech Educators Association let out a strange noise.  It was funny, but no one knew exactly what the noise was or where it came from.  Last night, Danny Rufo emailed several people in Delaware to share the origin of the noise.

Sent: Thursday, September 17, 2015 9:47 PM
Subject: Parent questions about SBAC scores

Hello everyone,
I was able to attend the Delaware State Board of Education meeting today in Dover.  They presented a video prepared by the State, used to explain student test scores to parents.  At the end of the video parents are directed to “contact your students teacher if you have any questions regarding test scores”.  This is not cool!  When I saw and heard the message I made a deep, “soul in pain” sound.  It was truly an alarming message.
Why should a Delaware teacher avail themselves to questions concerning students they no longer teach, and a test that they did not make, or grade, centered on the “common core standards”, of which they were never properly trained, and test scores that are being used improperly?
Delaware teachers should not have to answer questions that parents have about the Smarter Balanced test, but the Board of Ed. The Dept. Of Ed. And the Sec. Of Ed. Should! 

-Danny

Donato C. Rufo
NCCVTEA President



I complete agree with Danny’s assessment of the assessment!  I sent out a reply to the more than 60 folks included in the email that said:
Sent: Thursday, September 17, 2015 9:56 PM
Subject: Re: Parent questions about SBAC scores

 
And if I could add, Delaware teachers don’t see the answers either, so how in the world would a child’s current teacher be able to help with parent questions based on a test from last year with a different teacher who can’t see the answers either?  Furthermore, parents should consider these results recyclable material or save it for the winter and the firepit, in my humble opinion.
Kevin Ohlandt

I’ve met Danny a few times. He is a good guy who cares about education. He is very critical of the current administration and the DOE. He is like most of us! When I first saw this insane video I had the same thoughts. It’s like the DOE lives on a different plain of reality than everyone else. Come back to our world DOE!