Video Shows Monique Johns Or Someone From Her Campaign Stealing Kevin Hensley Flyer From Door

A citizen in the 9th State Representative district caught Monique Johns or someone from her campaign stealing a Kevin Hensley flyer from their door.  This is a very bad optic for the Democrat opponent of incumbent Republican Kevin Hensley.

The citizen has video cameras on their porch.  In the first video, from today, it clearly shows Hensley inserting a flyer into the door.  In the second video, also from today but later in the day based on shadows and the sun moving to a different position, an African-American woman wearing a red jacket and a white baseball cap comes to the door.  She takes the Hensley flyer from the door.  She looks on a list of some sort and then puts her own flyer in the door.  I have never met Johns so I can’t tell if it is her or not.  The shadows make it difficult to find out.

The citizen wrote this as a forward to the two videos and picture of the Johns flyer:

Nice Sunday for our local candidates to make house calls. In the first video is Kevin Hensley dropping by the house and putting his flyer in the door. A little later in the afternoon we got a second visitor. Monique Johns who in the video clearly steals Kevin’s pamphlet out of our door and replaces it with her own. Enjoy

The explosive Facebook video can be found here.  It has been viewed on Facebook over 4,300 times today and I have no doubt it will continue to rise.  Johns lost against Hensley in 2016.  After this, I can’t imagine any citizen wanting to vote for her.  Some may say it was an honest mistake but it looks pretty damn blatant to me!  What say you Delaware Election Commissioner Elaine Manlove?

Task Force Looking At Special Education Costs In Delaware Is Very Dangerous Ground

House Concurrent Resolution #34, introduced today by State Rep. Kevin Hensley and Senator Nicole Poore would look at the costs of special education in Delaware.  Another task force, with the usual representation.  A bunch of people sitting around a table, half of which won’t have a clue what they have jumped into.  The Delaware Way.  But here is the catch with this one: most of the spending going on with special education is based on federal mandate based on IDEA.

I have a hunch what some of the impetus for this is.  For years, districts have been complaining about McAndrews Law Firm.  Most of these cases wind up in settlements and the districts are crying foul on this.  But, if the districts and charters were doing the right thing to begin with, none of these cases would get to that point.  McAndrews won’t even take a case unless it has merit.  They won’t take a case based on a notice of meeting not going out once or twice.

Good luck with this task force trying to figure out WHY special education placements are increasing.  It doesn’t really matter why.  What matters is that they are and our General Assembly better find out how to wrap their arms around it instead of ducking the issues.  I can say most of the kids who lived in my neighborhood that were home one summer day in 2006 were subjected to nasty fumes coming from an accident at the old Reichhold Chemical Plant in Cheswold.  They all have disabilities of one sort or another.  My son is one of them.  We live in a polluted state.  I highly doubt this task force would look at things like that.

Are all special education placements valid?  I don’t know.  I know Response to Intervention is horrible.  Standardized testing should never be a measurement of whether a kid needs special education.  Autism rates have been soaring for over a decade now.  I just hope the Delaware DOE doesn’t put a gag order on district teachers and administrators like they did with the IEP Task Force.  They told districts and charters NOT to have anyone give public comment at those meetings.

Still, not one peep about giving Basic Special Education costs for kids in Kindergarten to 3rd grade.  We don’t need another task force to figure out that no-brainer.  If they really want to care, how about they allow our Auditor of Accounts office to FULLY audit every single penny in special education along with ALL of education.  We know the money isn’t always going where it needs to.  But Delaware loves their task forces to give some crappy illusion of people wanting to do the right thing.  How about just following the law to begin with?

Delaware House Education Committee Baffled By Inability Of Public To Comment On Action Items At State Board of Education Meetings

This bill is a no-brainer! DeStateBoardofEducation

At the House Education Committee meeting in Delaware today, members looked confused as State Board of Education Executive Director Donna Johnson tried to explain to them why they don’t allow public comment before any action items.  Citing regulatory laws and charter applications, which are in the synopsis of the bill, Johnson said regulations have a set period of public comment.  For charter applications, she said State Board members are required to vote on the charter file which is set up with a public comment period.  State Rep. Kim Williams brought House Bill 232 forward because of events she witnessed at State Board of Education meetings.

For a while there, the volley went back and forth between Williams and Johnson.  Williams stated she wanted to give public comment on Gateway Lab School’s formal review the day the State Board made their decision but she couldn’t because of this rule.  She also cited a recent Regulation, #616, that she wanted to give public comment on but couldn’t.  Johnson explained that Regulation 616 was a Secretary only regulation so she could have given public comment.  How anyone could ever keep track of all this stuff is beyond me.  If you are just a curious member of the public going to these meetings, you would have no clue!

Johnson went on to say the State Board could face a risk of a lawsuit if they voted on something based on a public comment after they have reviewed the entire record.  When asked if there has ever been any lawsuit in any situation like this for any state agency, the answer was no.  As State Rep after State Rep tried to figure out why the State Board wouldn’t allow public comment, it culminated in State Rep. Sean Lynn stating he felt the opposition to the bill (which only came from Johnson and Kendall Massett with the Delaware Charter Schools Network) was disingenuous and was filled with self-interests.  No one on the committee had any reason to oppose the bill and it was released from committee.

For a split second, I almost felt bad for Donna Johnson.  Not because I felt she was right, but because she has no idea how she sounds to decision-makers.  She doesn’t see how going to bat for her friends in the charter community actually hurts her in the long run.  When a fervent charter school supporter like State Rep. Mike Ramone is saying this is an excellent bill and doesn’t understand why this isn’t already allowed, you know there is something wrong with the policy.  He questioned Johnson about the ability for a three minute public comment to completely sway a vote.  He felt that an official on any board should have enough knowledge of the events to be able to make a sound decision on matters.

Massett gave public comment.  She recalled a charter application in Southern Delaware where someone gave a statement that was completely false but there was no ability for the person they were talking about to rebut the comment.  This was the only “evidence” she could give to oppose House Bill 232.  I believe it was State Rep. Kevin Hensley who stated someone could still file a defamation of character suit in an incident like that.

Both State Reps Kim Williams and Kevin Hensley talked about their time on school boards and they couldn’t fathom not letting the public speak about an action item.  Hensley explained there were times when parents or a member of the community approached him about an issue right before a board meeting.  He said he would tell them to make sure to give public comment so the whole Board could hear it.  Red Clay Superintendent Dr. Merv Daugherty said he may not always like what he hears in public comment, but he appreciates the public comment process.  As Lynn said today, “this bill is a no-brainer.”

I gave public comment before the vote.  I explained the public comment ban also happens for other charter issues, such as modifications or formal reviews.  I cited Family Foundations Academy and the Delaware Met as examples where things happened after the charter record closed and the State Board voted on something without giving the ability to the public to add new events.  I said there was an inherent danger with this.

One of the funnier moments came when Ramone kept going on and on about how the meeting room for State Board meetings was too small.  He recalled how it is standing room only and many people are forced to stand in the hall.  He suggested maybe they meet in the House chambers!  While it would be difficult to have seven state board members, an executive director and the Secretary of Education cram into the front of the House chamber, I’ve always suggested utilizing the VERY large conference room at the DOE’s other building over at the Collette Center in Dover.  While it isn’t as “official” looking as the Cabinet Room at the Townsend Building, it is certainly big enough to fit the State Board, DOE Chiefs, and at least a hundred members of the public, if not more.

It became very apparent to everyone in the audience today exactly why the Delaware State Board of Education was put on review by the Joint Sunset Committee yesterday.  In my opinion, I think this antiquated rule is something that comes from a country where dictators rule and the people are put on mute.  Transparency isn’t just being open with your records and dealings, it is also letting the public be transparent about how they feel.

One quick note: House Bill 161, which deals with Parent Empowerment Savings Accounts for students with disabilities, or as most call them, school vouchers, was taken off the agenda for today’s House Education Committee.

More Legislators Weigh In On DOE-RTTT Salary Scandal

I get newsletters from the House Democrats and the House Republicans.  In the email from the House GOP, legislators on the Republican side weighed in on the latest Delaware Department of Education stunt with the former Race To The Top positions the DOE funded out of vacancies in their budget.

With the inclusion of the eight Race to the Top staffers as part of the DOE’s permanent work force, Rep. Kowalko said the agency has added approximately 34 additional positions in recent years.  “This is not responsible shrinking of government,” Rep. Kowalko stated in his e-mail. 
“DOE officials knew the Race to the Top grants were temporary funding and yet they spent a portion of it hiring people they knew would eventually have to be paid by the state,” said State Rep. Kevin Hensley, R-Odessa-Middletown, who is also a former Appoquinimink School Board member.  “In my estimation, this casual disregard for public funding displays a disturbing level of hubris by agency leaders.”
State House Minority Whip Deborah Hudson, R-Fairthorne, concurred.  “The thing that struck me is that the DOE was able to absorb more than $900,000 in annual salaries using existing vacancies.  Any agency with that kind of excess fat built into its budget is an agency I think needs to be reviewed for its efficiency and effectiveness, especially given the funding challenges the state is likely to face in the next budget.”
January can’t come quick enough!  I hope the 148th General Assembly gives the DOE the shellacking they rightly deserve!  Can anyone say Sunset Committee?

Newsworks Interviews Legislators Over Opt Out & Mark Murphy

“Opting out is something actually that I’m concerned about, because at the end of the day we’re putting so many state resources into education you have to have instruments to measure them.”

Avi Wolfman-Arent sat down with four members of the 148th General Assembly recently to cover topics in education such as parent opt out of standardized testing, Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy, and the proposed redistricting of schools in Wilmington.

The four members, Senators Dave Sokola and Ernie Lopez and State Reps. Earl Jaques and Kevin Hensley, all seemed to agree on parent opt out.   They don’t want it.  But the above quote, attributed to Lopez, shows a glimpse of the legislators mindset.  All this money has gone into the Smarter Balanced Assessment, so they are afraid it will be wasted.  Resources = money for politicians, but I don’t think these four understand the human dynamic at play here.  Parents don’t want THIS test.

Tomorrow, school starts again after Spring Break, and many schools will either start or continue administering the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  Do not let politicians sway you one way or another over issues that once again come down to money.  It’s about what is good for your child, not funding.  If you want to opt out your child, it is never too late.

“That said, the opt out movement seems not to have penetrated the mainstream inside Legislative Hall.”

Avi is awesome, and he offers a much different slant to education news reporting, but this line he wrote is biased based on who he is interviewing.  I can name other legislators who are very much for it, but they weren’t interviewed.  We will find out how much penetration the movement has on April 22nd, when the House Education Committee meets to discuss House Bill 50, the parent opt out bill.