The 2016 Anti-Endorsements

I see so many endorsements these days based on nothing but vapor.  I thought I would do the opposite.  An anti-endorsement.  Those who I wouldn’t vote for even if they were in my district and they were the only ones running.  These are candidates who have either done some really dumb things or are very clueless about what is going on.  And then there are the elite candidates who think their name is sufficient enough to stay in office.  Sorry, but I see right through you on many issues.  As for my Presidential anti-endorsements, it is a matter of choosing evil either way.  While we can certainly argue all day long about who is more evil, evil is as evil does…

David Sokola, 8th Senate District, incumbent, Democrat: If ever there were someone I would want to disappear from Legislative Hall, it would be Sokola.  It seems like every day I find out more about the damage Sokola has done over the past 25 years.  Enough.  If the 8th Senate District votes this guy in again, they are making a very big mistake.  I will be coming out with something in the next few days that will even cause Newark Charter School parents to rethink any support they may have for him.

Melanie George Smith, 5th Rep District, incumbent, unopposed, Democrat: She is a slippery one, this co-chair of the Joint Finance Committee.  Using that kind of pulpit for dubious allocations of state funds is a big no-no in my book.  She has power down at Legislative Hall… too much.  Her recent home purchase in the Newark Charter School 5 mile radius is an transparent as Saran wrap.  I have to wonder what else she has done in the past couple of months in regards to that 5 mile radius…

John Carney, Delaware Governor, Democrat: I’ve heard John is a really nice guy.  He speaks from the heart, but what I worry about is his mind.  In a come from behind primary victory in 2008, Jack Markell beat John Carney.  I believe Carney remembers that very well.  Instead of looking at how bad Markell has been for Delaware over the past eight years, Carney is embracing the Markell mindset and forming the very same allegiances Jack had.  Carney’s “we all have to get along” doesn’t work for me.  It is easy to say that AFTER things have been set in place.  Stacking the deck with certain people and then saying “Let’s get together and talk” is pure politics and that is NOT the change I’m looking for.

Donald Trump, U.S. President, Republican: I lived in New York growing up.  Trump has been around a long time.  I still remember the controversy and shenanigans this guy has pulled going back to the 1980’s.  How he got this far is something I will always wonder about.  He is a bully, pure and simple.  A clown in a suit.  I firmly believe, should he win, he won’t sit long in the Oval Office.  And that will give us a President Mike Pence.  Another corporate education reform lover.  No thanks!

Hillary Clinton, U.S. President, Democrat: When Hillary was running for the New York Senate, an incident happened at Westchester County Airport.  It was covered up.  Someone died.  I wasn’t a big fan of her before that, and I’m not now.  She is the embodiment of all that is wrong with this country.  Corporate interests rule the day for her.  The will of the people will be sapped and broken if she wins.  Not right away.  But it will happen.  She knows damn well exactly what she is doing.  While not as transparent an evil as Donald Trump, it is the snake that is coiled up and hissing behind a rock you have to watch out for.

Colin Bonini, Delaware Governor, Republican: He ran for Governor but every time I hear him talk it sounds like a concession speech to John Carney.  He pretends to hate standardized test scores, but he blasts traditional school districts while thinking charter schools are a worthy replacement.  He forgets that test scores are the apparatus that damages high-need schools in Delaware.  And Colin, slavery apologies don’t change history, but it is a gesture of good faith.  It is not a crutch.

Harris McDowell, 1st Senate District, incumbent: You have long outlived your purpose in Legislative Hall Senator.  I wasn’t a big fan of McDowell before I saw this old post on Delaware Liberal the other night.  He was one of the four flippers on House Bill #334 which made the wretched Smarter Balanced Assessment the law of the land in Delaware.  He also voted no not once, but twice on House Bill 50, the parent opt out bill.  As the Senate co-chair of the Joint Finance Committee, it is more than obvious he has used that pulpit for his own purposes.  Shady as shady gets…

Anthony Delcollo, 7th Senate District, candidate, Republican: This candidate did one thing to earn an anti-endorsement.  I attended a fund-raiser for State Rep. Kim Williams and Senator Patti Blevins a couple of weeks ago.  Kim Williams will always have my support.  That is a no-brainer.  But Delcollo actually thought it was a good idea to ride around the restaurant where the fundraiser was being held with smears against Blevins on his truck.  This is extremely bad taste and gave me a gross feeling about him.  No thanks…

Pete Schwartzkopf, 14th Rep. District, incumbent, Democrat: A Jack Markell water carrier thick and thin.  It wasn’t just his appalling tactics with his desk-drawer veto of House Bill 50.  It was the disrespect he showed to members of the House.  As Speaker of the House, he has abused that role to further certain interests while using the big chair as a bully pulpit.  But all that pales to his behavior in caucus…  There is a very good reason many in Delaware refer to him as “Sneaky Pete”.

Joe Miro, 22nd Rep. District, incumbent, Republican: The one who brought the VERY WEAK opt out legislation forward when the House could have suspended the rules and overturned Jack Markell’s veto of House Bill 50.  Nothing happened with that legislation and it was a way for Miro and other House Republicans make it look like they supported parental rights but instead brought it a crushing defeat that actually made parents feel like legislators don’t care about their rights.

Mike Ramone, 21st Rep. District, incumbent, Republican: See above.  But add to that, his telling me he can’t support the override because of John Kowalko…  not a good thing to tell me at all.  Add in his fervent support of charter school legislation that would have benefited charters for nothing but pleasing the charter crowd.

Bethany Hall-Long, Lieutenant Governor, Democrat: When I saw Hall-Long at the Del. State debate the other night, I saw someone who was pandering to a crowd.  I know, that’s what politicians do in many cases.  But it was thick as mud.  She was overdoing it.  She talks and talks and I don’t know if she truly understand what is coming out.  Her very quick plug for Teach For America the other night, after getting an endorsement from DSEA, spoke volumes.

Lisa Blunt-Rochester, U.S. Congress, Democrat: Her refusal to support parental rights in regards to standardized testing is a big reason I can’t support her.  But her Delaware Way of thinking, where everyone has to hash it out, hasn’t worked for Delaware.  And it is not going to work in Congress.  None of our Delaware reps in Congress have done anything really good for Delaware the past few years.  All of them voted no on an opt out amendment prior to the ESEA reauthorization.  I don’t see her supporting public education the way I would expect her to.  She seems far too connected with the Rodel crowd.  Those connections have been very bad for Delaware education.  While I think it would be great to have a female African-American Delaware Representative in Congress, I don’t think it should be her.

There are a few others who, a year ago, would have easily made this list.  But they earned some points for me in the last year.  It doesn’t mean I’m not watching them like a hawk though.  Some who I easily supported a year ago actually took a turn for the worse but they haven’t completely fallen into the pit.  Their conduct in the 149th General Assembly will tell the tale.  Not every anti-endorsement means I am 100% behind their challenger if they have one.  But my real endorsements are coming soon.

Appoquinimink Taking The Hard Line On Opt Out! General Assembly, You Could Have Stopped This…

An Appoquinimink parent just told me they received the Appo opt out threat letter I wrote about last year.  Two parents from Appo have informed me their child would not receive academic instruction when their peers took the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  The Delaware General Assembly could have stopped this nonsense in January by overriding Governor Markell’s veto of House Bill 50.  Now they are going to have to deal with ticked off parents.  I personally sent each and every one of them an email letting them know this would happen.  The vast majority of the Delaware House of Representatives ignored this.

One parent was very confused by the wording of the letter and was very upset.  Is this really a repeat of last year?  Speaker of the House Pete Schwartzkopf, I demand you put House Bill 50 off of the ready list and let the Delaware House give it a vote.  Let’s see how these “representatives of the people” vote when they can’t hide behind a suspension of rules!

House Democrats Letter To Governor Markell To Remove Smarter Balanced For 11th Grade

Today, ten Delaware House Democrats signed a letter to Delaware Governor Jack Markell asking him to remove the Smarter Balanced Assessment for high school juniors.  The letter also mentions Senate Joint Resolution #2, the assessment inventory task force.

We recognize that, by your order, the Department of Education is in the midst of creating an inventory of standardized tests administered throughout the state. Pursuant to Senate Joint Resolution 2, signed into law in July, the department will share its findings with legislators and the public, as well as a special work group that will make recommendations regarding possible elimination of redundant tests. While opinions will differ among stakeholders, we believe there is universal support for eliminating the Smarter Balanced test for juniors in lieu of the SAT.

I fully accept that this is Governor Markell’s order.  He came up with the “assessment inventory” idea back in March.  It is a red herring though.  I firmly believe it will get rid of many assessments that give immediate and crucial feedback for teachers in how best to instruct their students.  I also predict it will see an increase in “prep” and “interim” Smarter Balanced Assessments.  The move towards personalized learning will allow for the eventual elimination of the nine-hour test (or longer depending on the individual student’s needs).  But it will not get rid of the basic flaws in SBAC, nor will it eliminate the time taking the test.  Instead it will eventually be in shorter doses but will be just as harmful to students.

There should be universal supporting for eliminating SBAC for ALL grades.  I would caution parents not to be fooled by this letter.  This is not a direction where the Smarter Balanced Assessment will gradually be removed.  It does not address the fundamental and core issues of what is wrong with Smarter Balanced.  I fear this is another attempt to sway legislators from voting for the House Bill 50 Veto Override.  This does not get rid of the issue of parents opting out except for those who have 11th graders.  The SAT is on a downward slope in many states, and now that they are “aligning” it with Common Core, that trend may increase.

Do Not Be Fooled by this Delaware parents!  The DOE has been planning this for over a year IN RESPONSE to the opt-out movement.  They knew 11th graders would have the highest opt-outs.  But it is still implemented in 3rd to 8th grade.  The assessment inventory task force is also stocked with many who will align with the Governor’s flawed logic about standardized assessments.  It wouldn’t shock me if the DOE already wrote the report on it and they are just waiting on the group to tweak it here and there.  I will still fight for the House Bill 50 Veto Override and support parents who choose to exercise their choice to opt their child out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  I have been calling out the “assessment inventory” ruse since the Governor first started talking about it last March.

15 Who Made An Impact On 2015: The Charter Thieves

The biggest Delaware charter school news this year definitely belonged to the three charter bandits: Sean Moore, Tennell Brewington, and Noel Rodriguez.  The first two were the heads of school at Family Foundations Academy while Rodriguez belonged to Academy of Dover.  Altogether, the trio managed to abscond over $300,000 of school funds for personal purchases.  And that was just the verified amount.  Over $1.3 million could not be verified as school or personal purchases by the Auditor of Accounts in Delaware.  That is some serious coin!

Luckily, none of them are currently employed by the schools.  *Brewington surfaced at Christiana in the Emotional Therapeutic Support classroom as a one-on-one teacher.  Shortly before Thanksgiving she was no longer there.  Moore and Rodriguez have been very quiet.  Rodriguez was last seen at the Amazon Distribution Center in Middletown but he was let go around the same time the auditor investigation into Academy of Dover came out last June.

Many are wondering why the three are not in jail.  Delaware Senator Greg Lavelle, a huge supporter of charters in Delaware, was wondering the same thing.  Delaware Attorney General Matt Denn said his office is looking into the matter.  This is why State Rep. Kim Williams House Bill 186 needs to pass, which would make all charter school audits go through Delaware State Auditor Tom Wagner’s office.  Resistance from the Delaware Charter Schools Network reached a fever pitch last Spring, even resulting in the non-profit recruiting parents to fill out an online form on their website which automatically went to the Delaware legislators.  The bill passed the House on June 30th, but every single House Republican voted no along with Speaker of the House Pete Schwartzkopf and Chair of the House Education Committee Earl Jaques.  When the legislators return in January, this bill will be in the hands of the Senate Education Committee.

In October, Wagner’s office released a report that showed some other charter schools that had very suspect incidents of financial abuse.  Kuumba Academy and Delaware College Prep’s incidents were not as egregious as those of Family Foundations Academy and Academy of Dover, but they are still a pattern that needs to change at Delaware charter schools.  In years past, Pencader Business School and Delaware Military Academy were also investigated for misuse of state funds.  While this is certainly not indicative of all charters in Delaware, it is far too many.  Education is about students, not a personal ATM machine!

*This article has been corrected to give a more accurate read on where Dr. Tennell Brewington wound up.  Apologies for the error!

15 Who Made An Impact In 2015: State Rep. Earl Jaques

I have to be honest here.  Until 2014, I had never heard of Earl Jaques.  That all changed in 2015, and everyone knew who he was then!  Earl started the year as the Chair of the Delaware House Education Committee.  He took over the slot from former State Rep. Darryl Scott who chose not to run again in 2014.  Many assumed the position would be held by State Rep. Kim Williams since she was the Vice-Chair since 2012.  Before the General Assembly even convened in 2015, State Rep. Pete Schwartzkopf booted Kowalko off the education committee.  State Rep. Kim Williams remained as the Vice-Chair.  Why Jaques was assigned the Chair position was baffling, but it soon became apparent.

Jaques role as Chair of the Education Committee defined his year in the 148th General Assembly.  He went head-to-toe with the Department of Education over Race To The Top.  An epic battle played out on the House floor between Kowalko and Jaques over House Bill 50, the opt-out legislation.  Jaques allied himself with Governor Markell over opt-out, which led to Jaques very unfortunate comments about opt-out which appeared in Delaware media.  Referring to those who opt-out as “failures”, many parents of children with disabilities jumped on Jaques’ comments and slammed him for it.  He told a group of Christina teachers that House Bill 50 would never pass.  He helped create very controversial legislation with Senator David Sokola in the form of Senate Joint Resolution #2, the assessment inventory bill that was meant to be a cure for opt-out.  He fought a charter school audit bill created by Kim Williams which led to more angst in the House due to Jaques not releasing the bill from committee to give it a full House vote.

By the time House Bill 50 came up for its first House vote, Jaques and two other lone wolves were the only nay votes for the legislation and it passed 36-3.  It still passed overwhelmingly by the time the Senate added amendments to the legislation causing it to bounce back to the House for a vote.  Jaques still voted no.

Even after the General Assembly went into recess for the recess for the rest of the year, Jaques still caused some controversy.  He was overheard talking negatively about parents at a State Board pizza party in early October.  At the end of October, Kowalko sent out an email to tons of people about the falling NAEP scores.  Jaques tried to hush Kowalko up by telling him not to use the state email system and his facts were biased.  This caused many people to defend Kowalko, including radio-show host Rick Jensen with WDEL.

Jaques will continue as Chair of the House Education Committee in 2016, even though most folks don’t take him seriously at all.  They understand he will do whatever Governor Markell instructs him to do.  As well, the Delaware DOE seems to know exactly how to maneuver Jaques with controversial legislation.  There is SO much more I could say about Earl Jaques, but for those who want to know more, just write Earl Jaques in my search bar and all can be found on here!

What I’m Truly Thankful For On This Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to all the readers of Exceptional Delaware.  It’s been a crazy year, and we all know what the issues are.  But today, I want to give thanks for what we do have and some of the accomplishments brought forth by others this year.

Thank you to State Rep. John Kowalko and Senator Dave Lawson for listening to parents of Delaware and introducing House Bill 50!

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Thank you to John Young for his passion and words of wisdom!

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Thank you to the victories! Like when House Bill 50 cleared the House by a 36-3 margin!

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Thank you to State Rep. Pete Schwartzkopf for letting my son Jacob play with your gavel!

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Thank you to Delaware Governor Jack Markell for signing House Concurrent Resolution #36 recognizing “Tourette Syndrome Awareness Month” in Delaware!

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

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

Thank you to beautiful summer days and the beach!

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Thank you to the Progressive Democrats of Delaware for an honor!

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Thank you to the friends I’ve made along the way during my sojourn into Delaware education!

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Thank you to the world for reading my crazy blog!

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Thank you the legislators and stakeholders who fight for our kids and schools!

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Thank you to my dog Bella who helped take care of me after my hernia operation!

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Thank you to my son Jacob who is the inspiration for all I do!  He is becoming an amazing young man who, despite everything, has a heart of gold!  As well, thank you to my awesome wife who puts up with more than anyone I know!

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Thank you once again, to all my readers and those who are allies and enemies, and those in-between!  We will prevail, somehow, someway!

I Thought I Should Actually Honor Jack Markell

Schwartzkopf & Blevins: Call For Emergency Session To Override Markell’s Veto Of HB50 BEFORE 10/17/15

We are at crunch time Delaware!  In the US DOE approval letter for Delaware’s 2015 ESEA Flex Waiver request (seen below), it explicitly states Delaware must approve their School Success Framework by October 31st.  The Delaware State Board of Education is the approving authority, and they meet on October 17th.

I need EVERY willing and able citizen of Delaware to email Delaware Speaker of the House Pete Schwartzkopf and President Pro Tempore of the Delaware Senate, Patricia Blevins, to call for an emergency session to override Governor Jack Markell’s veto of the parent opt-out legislation and give it enough time to make sure it is approved by 10/16/15 with the condition that it goes into effect immediately.  If the House overrides the veto, it would go back to the Senate, but they cannot do the same in the same legislative session day.  So the latest this could happen for the House would be October 15th, and for the Senate, October 16th.

To email Schwartzkopf, please email: Peter.Schwartzkopf@state.de.us and his phone number is (302) 744-4351.

To email Blevins, please email: Patricia.Blevins@state.de.us and her phone number is (302) 744-4133.

If the State Board of Education passes this, our schools will be penalized for their participation rate on standardized assessments.  As I wrote yesterday in great detail, the Delaware Department of Education is trying to pull a fast one on parents and schools.  This is their final attempt to prevent a veto of House Bill 50 by inserting an opt-out penalty into state regulations without any legislative approval.  This was done with very underhanded and sneaky methods until I lifted the veil of transparency on this earlier this week.

Our schools deserve more than this.  They deserve who will work with our schools, not against them.  Penny Schwinn with the Delaware DOE needs to offer proof of her claim that the penalty rate portion of the Delaware School Success Framework, otherwise known as the School Report Card, is mandatory.  Otherwise she has pressured school district superintendents, admins, the Delaware PTA, and DSEA into setting up something that will be detrimental and dangerous to all our schools, students, teachers, and Delaware itself.  Please email or call Schwartzkopf and Blevins today!

State Rep. Pete Schwartzkopf Will Not Vote For HB50 Veto Override, Cites SJR #2 As Reason

In an article today by Melissa Steele in the Cape Gazette, Delaware Speaker of the House Pete Schwartzkopf emphatically said no to any type of veto override for House Bill 50.

On the House side, Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf, D-Rehoboth Beach, said he will not support an override attempt. He voted yes for the bill in June, but he said he would call no special session to override the veto, and he will vote no for the override if it comes up after the legislative session resumes in January.

How does that song by Cyndie Lauper go, “I’ll see your true colors, shining through…”.  It sounds like he swallowed the poison pill that is Senate Joint Resolution #2 as well.  This is the statewide assessment inventory resolution that was always meant to counter House Bill 50.  Schwartkopf even said so in the article:

Schwartzkopf said based on the joint resolution, a task force is being established, and a lot of concerns of over testing may be resolved by its recommendation.

“Let’s give the task force a chance to look at this,” he said.

For those who may not recall, I was livid when SJR #2 was introduced, and even beforehand.  Once Markell announced his “overtesting” initiative, I knew this would be his huge attack against parent opt-out.  I even called allies out in their support of SJR #2, because I knew what it was meant to do.  And here we are, with a veto of an opt-out bill and a push for SJR #2.  If ANYONE thinks Smarter Balanced will be a major discussion point in the assessment inventory, in terms of eliminating that test, they are going to be fooled.  The talk will last for five minutes until someone says “We can’t get rid of it, it’s a federal requirement.”

Perhaps the day has come where Schwartzkopf shouldn’t be able to run the show anymore on the House side in Dover.  Maybe the House Bill 50 veto isn’t the only thing that needs to change down  there.

Meanwhile, Delaware State Senator Ernie Lopez is very much in favor of overriding the veto.

“Smarter Balanced has been the culmination and been on the receiving end of frustration on all levels,” he said. “All of us are disappointed in the governor’s response.”

Now that is a legislator quote I can agree with!  Once and for all we will see which legislators side with parents and which side with Markell in any veto override attempt in January.  And yes, as Senator Bryan Townsend said during the final senate vote on House Bill 50, legislators are being tested with this vote.  And with 11 out of 21 senate seats and all 41 of the House Representative seats open for re-election in November 2016, you better believe it!  Parents are watching what our legislators do like never before.

House Bill 186, Charter School Post-Audit With State Auditor Legislation, Passes Delaware House!

Delaware State Rep. Kim Williams just presented House Bill 186 to the full Delaware House of Representatives, and it passed the House in a 23-17-1 vote.  Every single Delaware House Republican voted no on the bill, along with Earl Jaques.

Rep. Daniel Short brought Academy of Dover’s independent auditor Ms. Baker to testify against the bill, but she gave no compelling reason why the bill shouldn’t pass.  When Rep. Williams asked her how long she has audited Academy of Dover, she couldn’t answer.  Williams asked: one, two, three years?  She still couldn’t answer.

After some back and forth about “interrogating” the witness, backed up by Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf, the bill went to a roll call.  All the Republicans voted no, along with Democrats Earl Jaques and Schwartzkopf.  The bill still has to go through the Senate Education Committee, unless the rules are suspended, and it is allowed to go to a vote with the Senate tonight.  The Senate has yet to put their agenda up for tonight’s last day in this legislative session…

I guess Republicans are dead set against charter schools being held accountable.  Not sure why they are on the side of the Delaware Charter Schools Network.  This will be very interesting going forward…

Kilroy Is Going To Go On The Warpath Over The Hat Trick…Hide Schwartzkopf and Hudson, Hide Well!!!!

I warned them, numerous times.  Get House Bill 61 to a vote.  Allow school board meetings to be recorded and put them on public web sites 7 business days after.  I told them this was the third year in a row it was on the ready list but never got to a vote.  Do they listen to me? Hell no!

In hockey, if someone gets three goals, they call it a hat trick.  Well, State Rep. Schwartzkopf and State Rep. Hudson are both the hat trick recipients for NOT getting Kilroy’s bill to a vote.  For three years in a row.  And he is NOT happy!  Hudson sponsored the bill three years in a row, and Speaker of the House Schwartzkopf let it sit there,  gathering dust, three years in a row.

I would not want to be on the receiving end of whatever comes next.  And I’m guessing he will leave no stone unturned.  I get a lot of information from people and I’ve only been doing this for a little over a year.  Kilroy has been doing this for 10 years…fair warning once again…watch out!

My Email To Rep. Pete Schwartzkopf & Senator Patricia Blevins About House Bills 186 & 61

After seeing the stunts pulled by the Earl Jaques with House Bill 186, the Academy of Dover State Auditor report, and the very deliberate attempts by the Delaware Charter Schools Network to kill the bill, I decided to start digging into charter school board minutes yesterday which is how I found out the information on Odyssey Charter and Thomas Edison Charter School.  By the time I published that information, I was pretty livid and disgusted, so I emailed the Speaker of the House and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate to get both House Bill 186 AND House Bill 61.  This is what I wrote:

Good Evening Rep. Schwartzkopf and Senator Blevins,

I wrote two articles on Exceptional Delaware tonight about two Delaware charter schools, Odyssey and Thomas Edison.  All my information was obtained from their own board minutes.  These charters, along with Academy of Dover, Family Foundations Academy and Providence Creek Academy and two other unnamed charters are all having huge financial issues as well as investigations by Tom Wagner’s office.

Rep. Kim Williams has been monitoring these situations since last December when Family Foundations Academy was revealed to have fraud and waste going on with spending by their two heads of schools.  She very wisely introduced House Bill 53, then House Bill 154, both of which were folded into House Bill 186.  After a week of being in limbo, the bill was finally released from committee today.  I am asking you both a huge favor here, and I know I have no position to make this request.

I am asking Rep. Schwartzkopf to place this, as well as House Bill 61 (allows for recording of all school board meetings) on the agenda for a House vote tomorrow, and if it passes, that Senator Blevins suspends Delaware Senate rules and petition these bills out of the education committee and have them on the agenda for a Senate vote before midnight on June 30th. 

While we are cutting funds from services that desperately need funds, our charter schools are running amok.  And these are only the ones we KNOW are doing stuff to warrant an investigation by Wagner’s office.  For some reason, they are protected by organizations like the Delaware Charter Schools Network who may or may not know about many of these financial improprieties. 

If we truly want to make Delaware education a top priority, it starts with oversight of our schools.  This is beyond the point of absurdity.  Thank you very much for your consideration on this matter and I pray you will make the right decisions here for the good of Delaware students.

Kevin Ohlandt

If you would also like to see this action taken, please call Schwartkopf at (302) 744-4531 or email him at Peter.Schwartzokpf@state.de.us and call Blevins at (302) 744-4133 or email her at Patricia.Blevins@state.de.us and let them know you want votes on both of these very important bills.  And I strongly recommend doing this prior to 2pm today!

The Exceptional Delaware No Response List

Over the past year, I’ve reached out to several people and organizations either for information on articles or to advocate on issues.  I usually get a response, but some flat-out ignore me.  Especially after I publish something in opposition to their stance or actions.  That’s fair.  But at least respond!  And no, anonymous comments made on here with different names do not count as a response!

The biggest one would have to be Dr. Paul Herdman with Rodel, which I made very public on here.  After he blasted me on my Rodel article in an email last November, I emailed him back and asked him to meet at any of the six priority schools.  I never got a response back from him.  I did introduce myself to him at the Senate Education Committee meeting a couple weeks ago…

I reached out to the Delaware Charter Schools Network last summer quite a bit in regards to special education and why they never really talked about it.  They did respond: by blocking me from their Twitter account.  I am not holding out hope they will respond to my latest email to them…

The DOE can be infamous for not responding, but I have to give credit where credit is due.  Penny Schwinn reached out immediately when I had questions about the whole Smarter Balanced/SAT debacle a couple months ago.  But I did call them out on a FOIA response a few weeks ago.  I requested one specific email that I know they sent regarding Senate Joint Resolution #2.  I was told they couldn’t find it but I could pay DTI $300.00 to search for it.  I emailed back and said they were lying.  No response.  I’ve reached out to the Exceptional Children Resources Group a few times and they are hit and miss…

I will say Donna Johnson with the State Board of Education is very quick to email me if I get something absolutely wrong.  I respect that and I will correct things in those situations if I see proof or it just makes logical sense.  With that being said, she has not responded to requests for meetings either…

Lindsey O’Mara, Governor Markell’s Education Policy Advisor, hasn’t responded two weeks later to an email.  After Jack gave a big speech at New America, I asked who pays for this and if the Governor gets any compensation for these speeches.  Zippo from Lindsey on this…

Even last weekend, I emailed the head of the charter school office at the DOE about their part-time charter school monitoring job.  I advised them my blog does about 3/4 of that work anyways, and if they added special education monitoring onto it and made it a full-time job with benefits, salary could be negotiable.  Updated: Just got a response!  And I will add that Jennifer Nagourney is very good about returning emails, even late at night or on weekends!  The charter school monitoring job email I sent was more of a feeler and not an official application.

I’ve sent a couple emails to Delaware Speaker of the House Pete Schwartzkopf to get House Bill 61 on the agenda, no response.  But I have to say, most of the legislators do respond if it is very specific…

The blogger Kavips NEVER responds to any email anyone sends.  This is a blogger that is so anonymous I don’t think he/she knows who he/she is anymore…

The biggest no responder is none other than Governor Jack Markell himself.  I’ve emailed him numerous times about issues and requested meetings.  Nada.  Nothing.  Not even a “my people will get back to you”…

Will this trend continue?  Absolutely.  I’m not the News Journal, so they are under no obligation to get back to a spitfire blogger who doesn’t get paid to publish information.  However, it is always in their best interest to do so, because it makes it look worse for them when I do publish information and their lack of response becomes part of the issue.  In fact, I’m going to email someone at the DOE right now and see what happens…

House Bill 61 Needs A House Vote! My Letter To Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf and Why You Should Email Him Too!

House Bill 61 would make all public school boards, including charter and  vocational, record their board meetings and publish them on their website within seven business days.  This bill is very important, and it operates in the same vein as House Bill 50, the parent opt-out bill.  It would give parents and citizens major transparency into the workings of our schools.  There has never been a more urgent call for transparency in Delaware schools and parents have a right to know what is going on.  This bill just codifies this transparency right.  Please email Delaware Speaker of the House Pete Schwartzkopf at peter.schwartzkopf@state.de.us and ask him to put this on the agenda as soon as possible!

  • Today at 9:29 PM
To
  • Schwartzkopf Peter
Dear Representative and Speaker of the House Schwartzkopf,
I am writing you this evening to bring House Bill 61 to a full House vote.  This would be the third legislative session this bill has sat on the ready list with no action taken after committee.  I think this year it is essential this bill moves forward.  We have many charter schools who are or who have been under formal review.  It is very important the people of Delaware have the ability to hear what is being said at board meetings.  As I’m sure you know, the State Board of Education and many school district boards already record their meetings and make them available to the public. 
This fiscal year alone, we have serious financial mismanagements at several charter schools.  Three of them are currently under investigation at State Auditor Tom Wagner’s office, and I’ve heard there are more charters yet to be named as well as at least two school districts.  It is imperative parents know the full scope of what is going on in our schools so we can make the best possible choices for our children.  Unfortunately, most parents are not able to attend board meetings, but this bill would allow them the capability of making the time to listen to the decisions being made at all of our schools.  
I attend many meetings where they are recorded, and it is often necessary to go back and listen again to understand the full scenario on certain issues.  Parents want this.  Some don’t even know they want this yet.  But the day may come when their child’s school is under investigation, or parents just want to know what happens at this level, and with the passage of House Bill 61, it would be a reality.  You already impressed many with your yes vote for House Bill 50, now it is time to give more to parents through transparency.  Thank you for your time,
Kevin Ohlandt 

Numerous Parents, Delaware PTA, and DSEA Support Parent Opt-Out…Will The Senate?

Opt-Out.  It’s here, it’s real, and it may soon become law in Delaware.  What started out as a resolution in DSEA last year has morphed into one of the hottest topics during this legislative session.  We all know the House of Representatives voted 36-3 to pass a bill designed to codify parental rights to opt out.  Will the Delaware Senate show similar gusto in the face of harsh opposition?

We will find out, but not the full effect, on Wednesday at the Senate Education Committee meeting.  Sources are telling me House Bill 50 will be heard first in the committee.  With numerous schools already done for the summer around the state, I expect a hearty crowd.

Meanwhile, the House will be voting in full for quite a few education bills on Tuesday.  House Bill 82 w/Amendment #1 is about the Secretary of Education and his ability to rule on collective bargaining while giving authority to the Public Employment Relations Board.  House Bill 146 is in regards to teacher educator license fees.  And House Bill 148 would create the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission.  Across the hall in the Senate, they will vote for SS1 for Senate Bill 79, which would create a task force to go over education data and privacy around it.

Meanwhile, House Bill 61 sits on the ready list, as it has the past three years.  Speaker of the House Pete Schwartzkopf needs to get this bill to a full vote.  Maybe he isn’t aware how much the people do want a bill like this.  Perhaps it’s time to make him aware of that…

Who Stands For Parents In Delaware? Fall-Out From House Education Committee Meeting

Yesterday, by a vote of 8-6, the Delaware House Education Committee released House Bill 50 which would allow parent opt-out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment to become a part of state law if passed.  I have received the exact votes from the members of the committee:

Yes: Kim Williams, Sean Matthews, Edward Osienski, Charles Potter, Michael Ramone, Sean Lynn, Kevin Hensley, and Harvey Kenton

No: Earl Jaques, Deborah Heffernan, Michael Barbieri, and Stephanie Bolden

Absent: Joseph Miro and Timothy Dukes (was at meeting but must have left early)

The following organizations were NOT IN SUPPORT of House Bill 50 and parent opt-out:

Delaware Department of Education, Delaware State Board of Education, Delaware Business Roundtable, Delaware Chamber of Commerce, Metropolitan Wilmington Urban League, First State Montessori Charter School, One Parent, A special education teacher in Milford School District, four legislators, Brandywine Superintendent Dr. Mark Holodick

The following organizations SUPPORT House Bill 50 and parent opt-out:

Delaware PTA, Delaware State Educators Association (DSEA), Delaware Parents & Teachers for Public Education, Several Parents, Several Teachers, eight legislators, Exceptional Delaware, Delaware Parents & Teachers for Public Education

The following school district boards in Delaware have passed resolutions similar to House Bill 50 in the respect they will honor parent opt-out and will not penalize the opted out student: Capital, Christina, Red Clay Consolidated

Our work needs to focus on the entire Delaware House of Representatives and the Speaker of the House Pete Schwartzkopf.