You Have Two Choices Next Tuesday: Vote For Sean Goward Or Pray For Delaware

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John Carney…no.  Colin Bonini…no.  Sean Goward…YES!  Next Tuesday, do the right thing and vote for Sean Goward for Delaware Governor.  There isn’t another choice.  It is essential.  If you want to hear another four years of useless sound bites coming from a Governor that is just following the script and Delaware students losing out even more, then I suggest you begin praying for the future of Delaware.  I think Bonini and Carney are nice guys.  But Governor material?  No.  Politicians?  Yes.  But we desperately need something different in Delaware.  We need someone who will take the bull by the horns and really shake things up.  Someone who will clear the rot in the foundation of this state.

I’ve met Goward a couple of times.  I’ve had long conversations with him.  Back in September, I posted an article where I asked 32 really tough questions on education to the Governor candidates.  All but Carney responded.  He wanted to wait to come out with his “education platform”.  I read that document.  It was a love song for the Delaware Dept. of Education and Rodel and their big plans for the Every Student Succeeds Act.  Bonini’s responses to my questions were okay in some areas, but his schtick about failing schools based on standardized test schools is unacceptable given everything he should know by now about Delaware education.

But Goward?  He gets it.  He understands the absolute crap being foisted on Delaware students and teachers.  He knows about all the corporate education reform going on.  He accepts that Delaware has a lot of issues as a whole and we need to clear out the rot.  When I hear people complaining about things in this state, and not the usual political/corporate jargon thrown around, but the real issues and problems, I see Sean Goward as being the best person to lead this state.  We need radical change.  Our two-party system just plain doesn’t work anymore.  I would love to see a come from behind third-party candidate like Sean Goward actually win next Tuesday.  He is Libertarian.  Who cares?  In the end, does the label matter more than the person behind the label?  What that person stands for?  Their inner integrity?  Labels aren’t getting Delaware anywhere.  Party loyalty is crippling this state, as well as our country, more than anything else.

I’m asking you to take a chance on Sean Goward.  I’m asking you to take a chance on a better Delaware.  A more transparent state that people can actually be proud of.  We need someone who won’t bend to lobbyists and corporate interests.  Someone who will lead this state based on the will of the people, not those who throw pies in the sky with ten year visions.  Our children deserve better than the other two guys.  Our families do.  Our state does.  Vote for Sean Goward on November 8th.  Vote for a leader of the people.

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.

How The Delaware General Assembly Got Away With Not Needing A 3/4 Vote To Pass The State Budget

Last summer, many folks took notice the Delaware Senate did not pass the state budget with a 3/4 majority vote as required by Delaware state code.  There was a specific reason they needed a 3/4 vote.  That was because the universities and charter schools they have appropriations for are considered corporations.  The law states the 3/4 vote is needed to appropriate money to corporations.  If they didn’t give any money to those entities, they only need a majority vote.  At the end of the legislative session in 2015, State Senator Colin Bonini introduced Senate Concurrent Resolution #39 which formed a working group to determine if the universities and charter schools were indeed corporations as defined in state code.

The group met twice and quickly issued a letter to Governor Markell which determined charter schools, the University of Delaware, and Delaware State University are not “corporations” as was originally written in the law because they have many key relationships with state government.  So therefore, that was why the 3/4 majority vote was not needed, based on a legal opinion which came out of all this.

 

Colin Bonini Would Not Have Vetoed House Bill 50, The Delaware Opt Out Bill

On the Rick Jensen show, Delaware State Senator Colin Bonini just told Jensen he would have signed House Bill 50, Delaware’s opt out bill that Governor Markell vetoed last year.  He agrees with many people in this state that the federal government is too involved in education and decisions are best left to the state and local districts.  Bonini said he doesn’t agree with getting rid of testing altogether, but the high-stakes involved are too much.  He thinks there needs to be some type of measurement to compare students and how they are doing.

He mentioned he will have a Delaware State Education Association interview next week but he doesn’t expect their support since he is a Right To Work guy.  Jensen joked that he could agree with everything they said but would still endorse a Democrat even if that Dem disagreed with them on different things.

Bonini said the recent bill passed by the Feds (ESSA) is a healthy thing, but I would encourage all candidates for any public office in Delaware to read up on the nasty regulations U.S. Secretary of Education John King is trying to roll out.  Which basically gives the feds a lot of the accountability power the bill was meant to get rid of.  This WILL be a major thing during the next four years, guaranteed!  I would also urge the candidates to look into the Delaware DOE supporting those regulations and their already shameful Delaware School Success Framework which was custom-designed for this legislation and the regulations King introduced.

All four Gubernatorial candidates in Delaware need to read between the lines on some of this stuff.  They will be facing whatever comes out of the Every Student Succeeds Act when it is implemented into law next year.  Wrong answers could, and most likely will, come back to haunt them.

Senator Colin Bonini Has The Best Idea I’ve Heard From Any Of The Candidates Running For Governor

Yesterday, Delaware State Senator Colin Bonini responded to a constituent via email about an initiative he wants to create in Delaware.  It is an idea that is so simplistic, but it makes perfect sense.  He wants to create a “Does It Work?” program which would lead to the creation of an Inspector General in Delaware.  This is exactly what Delaware needs.  Our budget is out of control.  Education funding has little to no oversight.  Our State Auditor seems to be asleep at the wheel as he put his chief investigator on leave for the most bogus of reasons.  With Markell leaving his post in January, the education mafia in our state will lose a lot of power.  They know this.

Bonini just shot way up on my interest list.  Carney has been relatively mute with actual ideas.  He is too busy planning for his assumed reign to actually get out and talk with the people in a public forum.  Out of all the candidates for Governor, Carney is the only one that has not reached out to me.  Colin has, Lacey Lafferty has, and so has Sean Goward.  Sorry Carney, your response form letters don’t count.  The invite to talk is still there, but if you want to squander that opportunity, don’t get mad when I write about you like this.

Bonini needs to get his ideas out now.  He needs to be very vocal as of yesterday.  This is an excellent idea, and I am looking forward to hearing more about it.  Now some might say this was in the planning stages already by the Joint Finance Committee.  The same JFC who knew this year would be a tight budget year, but kicked the can down the road another year to take a “serious look” at things.  I don’t have faith in the JFC led Democrat tag team of State Rep. Melanie Smith and State Senator Harris McDowell that others may have.

This is what Bonini wrote:

Reality is that it’s very difficult to get reliable information from the bureaucracy. One of the main reasons I vote no on the budget, in addition to the growth in spending, is the lack of accountability in our state government. I am rolling out an initiative in the next several weeks called the “Does it work?” Initiative which will call for the creation of an Inspector General’s office and the requirement that each program in State Government, large or small, be evaluated every year as to efficiency, and most importantly, effectiveness.

We have the right to know where our money is going and whether it is being used for what it’s supposed to be used for. We also have a right to know whether the expenditures are actually producing results.

Way to go Colin!

WEIC Needs To Make Sure Current Education Funding Is Legit First & A Message For Candidates

As I plow head-first into Delaware education funding, I am finding inconsistencies galore!  Now that the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission has “officially” voted to suspend the timeline based on the Delaware General Assembly crafting legislation which essentially kicks the can for just another year, they have also been charged with taking another look at the fiscal impact.  The News Journal came out with an article on this today.  My advice to WEIC: make sure the education funding we already have is being used properly before you dive into weighted funding formulas for Delaware at-risk students.

Dan Rich, the policy advisor for WEIC from the University of Delaware, had this to say about weighted funding:

“That’s a key piece,” Rich said. “The top priority for funding is not for redistricting, per se, but for providing funding for the kids at greatest risk.”

It is a key piece of a puzzle that has thousands of pieces and no one has made sure the pieces fit together.  Some districts and charters are not spending money wisely, or even ethically.  We all know this, but in Delaware we have become a “hear nothing, do nothing” state.  With the simple art of just not listening and ignoring the people of the state, our leaders in Government look the other way.  They don’t want to deal with the corruption and fraud, and not just in education.

But according to Rich, he wants to bring outside organizations into this convoluted mess in our schools.  Saranac Hale Spencer from the News Journal wrote:

While the commission examines the fiscal impact of the plan in the coming months, it will also be working on other things, Rich said, explaining that it has begun mapping out the kinds of educational services offered by Wilmington institutions. A number of organizations offer resources to students and schools, but they aren’t necessarily in communication with each other.

It will also be looking to other communities to see how they have connected those assets to support schools and, in a similar project, it will be looking at the various state and local policies that affect poor families and children to see how they align and how they are funded.

Let me be crystal clear: I am all for better schools.  I think every student deserves a chance at success, even the most at-risk students.  But when the system is already broken, through federal, state and district mandates, and a funding system that has no checks and balances already, why the hell would we try something new and unproven (for Delaware)?  If we can’t control education funding now with proper oversight and audits of our districts and charters, why would we add to the existing mess?  We can’t guarantee funding is going to the right places now.  And some (many in power) want to add more funding to that?

This is the biggest problem in Delaware.  Everyone always has a solution to move forward, but they leave the old wreckage behind and try to cover it up.  It’s still there, rotting under the surface.  If the foundation is rotten, nothing anyone says or does will fix anything.  We all know this, but nothing changes.  Until we take the current system apart and find the cracks in the foundations and fix them, no new funding mechanism is going to change anything.  I know what it means if this happened.  It takes courage for this to happen.  It takes courage for enough of us to step up and demand this from our state.  Sending emails with everyone and their mother cc’ed on it doesn’t work.  We know this.  We need to take this to the next level.  Some of us are taking those next steps.  But if you are reading this, comment.  Come up with ideas.  Beyond the “request a meeting and talk about it behind closed doors when nothing ever gets accomplished”.  Beyond the next task force that will come up empty-handed.  We need to start asking the big questions, but more importantly, the right questions.  This is not a teacher issue.  This is not a student issue.  These are administration issues.  Financial issues.  That go way beyond a miscoding here and there.  We can pretend this isn’t really going on, but it is.  Our state knows about it.  The DOE knows a lot of this.  And our State Auditor most certainly knows about it.  It isn’t just a district or a charter thing.  It is all of it.  It is time to rip the Band-Aides off the rotting flesh and expose.  Who is in?

In the meantime, John Carney weighed in on the whole WEIC thing with what amounts to his usual hum-drum responses with absolutely no backbone behind anything.

His likely successor, U.S. Rep. John Carney, who is running on the Democratic ticket for governor, hasn’t committed to keeping that money in the budget.

He said in a prepared statement, “I am, however, committed to doing whatever is necessary to give every child the quality education they deserve, particularly those facing the kinds of obstacles WEIC is most concerned about.”

I’m sorry Mr. Carney, but at this point in the game, you should be coming up with ideas of your own and not relying on others to come up with them.  You are running for Governor!  Not the school student council.

So with that being said, I am offering an invitation to all the candidates running for Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Congress.  I am inviting you all to an education forum on The Green, in front of Legislative Hall.  There will be no admission for the public.  Please commit a few hours for this.  I’ll do the legwork and get the people there.  We need to hear from all of you about what your plans are for education in our state.  My email address is kevino3670@yahoo.com.  Let’s all coordinate a date so ALL of you can make it, before the primary.  And let’s do this soon.  Let’s also do this before school starts.  Do your homework, formulate your positions.  And know that we are going to ask the tough questions without any easy answers.  You won’t know what they are beforehand.  Education is too important to have your staff come up with the answers for you.  If you want to lead, then know what you are leading.  If any of you email me and say “I can’t make it but I would love to sit down with you and discuss education with you”, then in my mind you aren’t willing to go that extra step for the people of this state.

So if the following candidates could email me with five possible dates, in the early evening, between now and August 19th.  Yes, time is short.  It is less than two months before the primaries.  And less than four months until the General Election.  But I want to hear from ALL of you.  The people do as well.  And Mr. Carney, please do not ignore this.  As the front-runner for Governor, you are who I want to hear from the most.  We need to know you won’t be a rubber stamp for Jack Markell’s very damaging policies.  We also don’t want you thinking this is going to be an easy ride for you.  And Jack Markell, I would respectfully ask you to please stay out of this.  You had your time.  It’s ending.  It is time for new and better ideas.

John Carney

Colin Bonini

Lacey Lafferty

Sean Goward

Lisa Blunt Rochester

Mike Miller

Bryan Townsend

Elias Weir

Hans Reigle

Scott Gesty

Sherry Dorsey-Walker

Brad Eaby

Greg Fuller

Bethany Hall-Long

Kathleen McGuiness

Ciro Poppiti

La Mar Gunn

I can tell you right now, weekends and Mondays are out.  This could be your chance to truly leave a mark on this election.  Your audience will want to hear what you are going to do, not what you have done.  Yes, your many accomplishments are important.  But we need a change for the future.  This is your chance to shine.  Not in front of a group of wealthy people who can afford an expensive plate.  This is you getting real, with real people.  This debate is not sponsored by anyone.  It is a grassroots gathering, outside.  No microphones.  Just people talking.  I encourage as many Delaware residents who can make it to attend.

I won’t assume all of you read this article, so I will be emailing you and contacting all of you tomorrow.

 

The Next 55 Hours Will Determine WEIC, HB399, HB30, The Budget, The Bond Bill, & Possibly The Election Season

We are down to the homestretch on the 148th General Assembly.  It is the bottom of the ninth with two outs.  The next batter is up.  This will be Delaware Governor Jack Markell’s last sphere of influence with Delaware legislation as Governor of the First State.  For that, we should all have reason to celebrate.  As of July 1st, all eyes will turn towards elections in Delaware and the USA.  But there is a bit of unfinished business in Legislative Hall.  We will know by about 4am on Friday, July 1st what happened.

The Wilmington Education Improvement Commission’s redistricting resolution is ready for a Senate vote.  The Executive Committee will clear it for a full vote.  But then, it gets very interesting.  I reported a few days ago that one Senate Democrat was a no and another was on the fence.  Now we can make that three Senate Dems as a no.  And the Senate Republicans which gives Senate Joint Resolution #12 a vote of 9 yes and 12 no.  But, I’m also hearing from the cracked walls of the basement of Legislative Hall that there might be new legislation kicking the can on this down the road into the 149th General Assembly.  Will Red Clay and Christina say “Enough” and get out of the whole thing?  Or will we have another year of “will they or won’t they” speculation?  In the chance SJR #12 does pass, the question then becomes “what happened to $6 million dollars”?  The Senate passed the budget today and WEIC was not in it.  I did find out the answer to this.  The funds are in reserve but they don’t want to put it in the budget without an affirmative vote on SJR #12.  What happens to the $6 million if SJR #12 doesn’t pass?  It goes to the Bond Bill.  For those who don’t know what the heck a bond bill is, in a nutshell it is a capital improvements bill.  Here is an example from FY2013.  We should see the FY2017 bond bill in the next 24 hours.

The Basic Special Education Funding for K-3 students, House Bill 30, has not received the full House vote yet.  I hope we will see it, and then a rush to the Senate, but I am not optimistic.  I did hear today that the Education Funding Improvement Committee may ask for an extension, but then that they may not.  We will know if a final report is issued to the General Assembly in the next 27 hours.

House Bill 399, the teacher evaluation bill, has become a very odd bill with a great deal of power.  As the story goes, State Rep. Earl Jaques and Senator David Sokola’s tiff is still going on.  Today in the House Education Committee, Jaques pulled Sokola’s teacher certification legislation, Senate Bill 199, from the agenda.  House Bill 399 is on the Senate Education Committee agenda for tomorrow.  Apparently a deal was reached whereby House Bill 399 will get to be heard in the Senate Education Committee and will most likely be released for a full Senate vote.  In exchange, Jaques will “walk” Senate Bill 199 for signatures from the House Education Committee members.  But then House Bill 399 has to go before the full Senate.  Which is a toss-up for how it could go there.  I’m hearing different things from different people.  Honestly, if anyone is still concerned about defying the will of Governor Markell, I would think twice before using that empty-handed justification.  Did you hear that quacking sound?  It is the sound of a lame-duck desperately grasping for power in a vacuum.

There is more at stake here than current bills.  Election season is coming fast and broken alliances and grudge matches could make things real ugly for the Delaware Democrats.  I’m pretty sure if WEIC fails in the Senate, Senator Margaret Rose-Henry and State Reps. Charles Potter, Stephanie Bolden, and Helene Keeley will have a lot to say about that!  They say Wilmington wins elections for state-wide positions in Delaware, but the reality is that Jack Markell would not have become Governor if he didn’t win crucial votes in Kent and Sussex County when he beat John Carney in the primary in 2008.

Speaking of Carney, it looks like he is finally getting around to reaching out to different groups and state agencies in Delaware to firm up support for the Gubernatorial election in November.  He still hasn’t officially filed for the 2016 election yet, but he has until July 12 to do so.  We also have filings from Republican Lacey Lafferty and Libertarian Sean Goward.  Nothing from Republican and current State Senator Colin Bonini.  Goward and Lafferty have been the most visible on Facebook.  In my mind, you have to work for my vote and get your name out there.  I want to know your original ideas, not more of the same-old I hear now.  Many Delawareans are in this mindset.  If I had to vote today, Carney would not get my vote.  The only candidate who has reached out to me and presented many ideas I agree with is Sean Goward.  And not just about education either.  I would reach out to him and hear what he has to say!

The Congressional race in Delaware is going to amp up big time as well.  The News Journal declared Townsend as the “front-runner” a couple of weeks ago, but it is still a long ways off.  Townsend has massive support over at Delaware Liberal with some calling him one of Delaware’s best legislators.  He does certainly get a plethora of bills passed.  But Lisa Blunt-Rochester also has a great deal of support from the African-American community which could change this tale.  In terms of signage, I can’t speak for what is popping up in New Castle or Sussex County, but I can say Hans Reigle signs are all over the place in Kent County.  And not just roadside ones, but also property signs as well.  I have seen Mike Miller and Sean Barney popping up a bit more on the Democrat side.  While Townsend may have amassed the biggest war chest thus far, how much of that will be spent on the primary between five candidates?  I’m sure some will drop out between now and then.  This will be a contest between Townsend and Blunt-Rochester when it comes down to it.  Assuming no one else files on the Republican side, Hans Reigle will have an all-clear until the General Election.  After the primary, we will see massive competition between Reigle and the Democrat candidate.  With a growing feeling of disillusionment with the Democrat party in Delaware, especially in an environment with more in-fighting among themselves, I wouldn’t count Reigle out.  Delaware might be a “blue state”, but this year could change things.  Look at how much traction Trump has gotten in the past year.  I would like to hear more from Scott Gesty as I think he has some very interesting ideas as a Libertarian candidate.

In terms of the State Rep and State Senate races, we may see a mad rush of filings in the next couple weeks.  While some are already saying the Republicans don’t have a chance of changing the power structure in Dover, I wouldn’t be too sure.  At least in one House of the Delaware General Assembly.  People don’t like what is going on.  They see a lot of the egregious glad-handling and deals being made in Dover and they don’t like it one bit.  This is becoming a more vocal community, especially on social media.  I’m going to go ahead and predict many new faces in Dover come January.  I think the citizens of Delaware deserve a more balanced legislature.  Too much on one side has not been a good thing for the middle-class and lower-income families of the state.  I don’t like the assumption that certain people should win office because they are Democrat, or that certain bills will pass because they have Democrat support.  I like to hear both sides of the issues, but all too often some voices are drowned out by the high-fives and fist-bumping going on.  By the same token, there are some Republicans who need to realize they could be on the cutting line as well come November, or even September.  They should stop thinking of this as a frat club.  If you want respect, you have to show respect.  Especially as an elected official.  For those who are about to call me a hypocrite, bloggers don’t count!

Things are going to get very interesting over the next 55 hours and in the next four months.  This is Delaware.  Anything can happen!  The crazy action will take place on Thursday night in the General Assembly.  I’m not sure about the Senate yet, but the House begins their legislative session at 7pm.

Oh yeah, what about House Bill 50?  And the Autism bills, Senate Bills 92 and 93 with their assorted amendments?  To be continued…

How The Most Unlikely Of Candidates For Delaware Governor Could Win The Whole Thing!

SeanGoward

Delaware citizens are not happy these days.  Between our children’s education, more corporate tax gifts for companies getting passed, an economy that is losing big time, and a list of candidates for Governor who no one is really sold on.  But then, out of nowhere, comes the Libertarian candidate, Sean Goward.  A voice of reason in an otherwise uneventful race.  Sean will be filing in late April as the Libertarian candidate for Delaware Governor.  I’ve followed what he has to say, along with the other candidates.  If the election were held today, Sean would get my vote in a heartbeat!

US Rep. John Carney sounds like Governor Markell’s mini-me on education, I really haven’t heard from GOP frontrunner Colin Bonini about much of anything, and Lacey Lafferty seems too far right for my liking.  But Sean Goward, he just gets it.  He is just a regular guy who is not embedded in the Delaware politics power circles.  As Delawareans, we really need to think outside of the box this election.  We need to mix it up and make some major changes.  You can’t complain about the status quo if you don’t change it.  We have become so used to voting with our party that the results tend to be a train wreck.  Markell sold us a litany of lies and the majority of us bought them.

Sean Goward just wrote this on Facebook, in reaction to an article I wrote yesterday about a Congressional hearing on student data:

Race to the Top, NCLB, ESSA, Common Core and Smarter Balanced have all been sold to us on faulty assumptions that the US has fallen behind the rest of the world in education. Now, the same people who sold us those programs are trying to use our own children’s metrics to continue selling bad curricula and even worse evaluation. I have no problem with competing curriculum and testing companies developing and selling their wares. Competition breeds improvement and drives down cost, but what we are given when the federal and state governments give a monopoly to specific companies on what to teach, how to evaluate, and parents are coerced or forced into subjecting our children to these programs, our children lose. This is the foundation for the same kind of social engineering China uses to plan the lives of their citizens. We need to return not only to the fundamentals of education, but the fundamentals of liberty that have created one of the most prosperous civilizations in world history. Elect me and allow me to help you and your child take control of their own future.

Like I said, Goward gets it.  Every single public education teacher in Delaware needs to vote for Goward!  Every single parent of a child in public education should vote for Goward!  Check out his official campaign page on Facebook.  See his views on the issues.  As well, Sean is very accessible.  You won’t have to wait long for an answer.  You won’t have to wait for an “event” to ask the questions.  You won’t hear his name as a candidate and then hear crickets.  Let’s make a startling change this election year and elect those who deserve to win based on the issues.  Not because it is “their turn”.  John Carney thinks he has this in the bag.  And he will if people don’t start thinking about the things that really matter to them.  We have become so “politicized” in Delaware that we continue to make many of the wrong choices.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some great politicians in Delaware.  But we have many bad ones.  Anyone who has read this blog for a while knows who I support and those I don’t.  And they are on both sides of the aisle in some cases.  I will continue to support those legislators.  But we can not continue to ride down the same path and expect things to change.  We need a new car!

John Carney is Jack Markell 2.0!!! Who Will Save Our Children And Schools?

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With the Delaware gubernatorial election coming in less than eight months, the candidates have been very slow to speak about the issues.  Especially about education.  Congressman John Carney, long considered the favorite for Governor, finally talked about education in Delaware.  His response to my question on a Facebook q&a today showed he is nothing more than a Governor Markell wannabe.  As well, he didn’t answer a very important question on the minds of many Delawareans in regards to the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission.

Since things like this have a tendency to disappear on social media, I took screenshots of my questions and Carney’s reply.

CarneyQ&A5

Notice how Carney did not answer anything about opt-out, Smarter Balanced, Common Core, personalized learning, data mining, or special education.  In short, he didn’t answer anything!  He merely pulled the corporate education reform bible out and read their introduction.  In Delaware, that “flexibility” is killing education and morale in schools.  No one likes the Smarter Balanced and this mad rush to standardize every single child into a collective drone is causing major issues in our schools.  Teachers are held to higher “standards” so they can get pushed out, slowly but surely.  Personalized learning will turn the once proud teaching profession into a moderator for the machine.  Carney really doesn’t have a clue about any of this and it showed today.  Send him an email, any email about education, and you will get a similar response.

I was really hoping, as the supposed frontrunner for Governor, that we would hear something different from Carney.  But it is obvious he is more concerned with the campaign donation crowd than everyday parents and students.  I really wish someone would step up and mount a serious campaign against them.  Apparently, all you have to do is just a bit of research and you are already ahead of him with this game.

Carney didn’t answer a key question about the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission’s redistricting plan.

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To keep things in perspective, Laura and I were some of the first to ask questions.  While I appreciate Carney’s willingness to give me non-answers, he ignored Ms. Nash’s questions entirely.  Several other folks posted questions well after the q&a started and Carney took the time to answer them.  Why wouldn’t he answer a question about WEIC when he sent a rep from his office to their meeting last night?  It’s obviously on his radar if he sent someone to the meeting.  Very curious!  But really, what’s the point of asking again if he is just going to evade the question which he did on many of them.

Those running for office: this is exactly the kind of campaign strategy you don’t want to utilize.  Ignoring questions or ducking around answering real questions is not someone I want to vote for!

For that matter, where is State Senator Colin Bonini?  Why isn’t he doing events like this?  To at least show an illusion of transparency?  As the Republican frontrunner for Governor, I can count on one hand how many times Bonini has been front and center on the issues a Delaware Governor will have to face.  I hear more from Lacey Lafferty on issues, even though I don’t agree with many of them.

Even Sean Goward has more to say than Carney or Bonini.  Who is Sean Goward?  He is the Libertarian candidate for Delaware Governor:

SeanGoward

Can’t say I agree with everything he has to say, but I would vote for him over Carney or Bonini based solely on this introduction.  We need more headstrong pissed-off citizen dads running the show!  And headstrong pissed-off citizen moms as well!

Obviously, education will be a major stumbling block for Carney in a Governor election yet again.  Markell trounced him on this back in 2008 and it helped Carney to lose in the primary.  Now he is just doing a copy and paste of Markell’s Rodel tainted agendas.  Don’t believe me?  The Godfather of Delaware education blogging said so:

KilroyCarney

16 To Watch In 2016: State Senator Colin Bonini

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For the past six months, I have heard the entire state of Delaware talk about how John Carney is the heir apparent to the Governor’s mansion.  Because he is a Democrat.  Because he should have become the Governor in 2008.  On the Republican side, the leading contender is State Senator Colin Bonini.  For the past 21 years, Bonini has been a Delaware State Senator, winning every election.  He did run for State Treasurer in 2010, but lost to Democrat Chip Flowers.

Bonini will definitely be one to watch in the coming year.  Many Delawareans are not happy with the “one-party rule” that has existed in the First State for many years.  With education a complete mess, a looming budget deficit, and a general feeling of unhappiness with our state government, it may just be a time that is ripe for change.  There have been no Republican governors in Delaware since 1993.  Many feel that John Carney will just be “Jack Markell light”.

Bonini has been preparing for the election drumming up support from many different areas of the state.  As recently as December 1st, Bonini sent a letter to the leadership of the Delaware House of Representatives and Senate to request the creation of a standing Civil Rights committee in the Delaware General Assembly.  I think this is an excellent idea!

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In terms of voting history on crucial education matters, Bonini voted yes on the very controversial charter school bill, House Bill 165 and yes on the equally controversial Senate Bill 51, concerning teacher educator licensure.  On the flip side though, Bonini voted no on the Smarter Balanced Assessment bill, House Bill 334, and voted yes for House Bill 50, the parent opt-out legislation Governor Markell vetoed last summer.  His primary opponent, John Carney, voted yes for the Every Student Succeeds Act.  Last summer, Carney voted no for an opt-out bill introduced earlier in the year.  I think it would be foolhardy for everyone to assume Carney has this in the bag.  While Carney has been strolling around the corridors of Washington D.C., Bonini has been in the first state tackling a lot of the issues.  His loss to Flowers in 2010 was very narrow, with Flowers carrying 51% of the vote for State Treasurer.

Both candidates need to speak openly and candidly about education in Delaware.  This conversation needs to start now.

 

16 To Watch In 2016: John Carney

John Carney

When US Congressman John Carney announced he was running for the Governor of Delaware, nobody was really shocked.  Everyone assumed he was the rightful heir to Governor.  Many felt he should have already been Governor, back in 2008.  He was ahead in the polls, and in a shocking defeat he lost to Delaware Treasurer Jack Markell in the Democrat primary.  The very close vote caused Carney to lose the race by 1,737 votes.  Markell won, 51% to 49%.  Carney went on to become the Delaware Representative in Congress.

To many Delawareans, Markell should have never been Governor and felt Carney was robbed.  Imagine, if you will, what could have happened if Carney won that primary.  Would Delaware still be the Common Core cheerleader for the nation?  Would Carney have vetoed House Bill 50?  Would our DOE have become the bloated cow it has morphed into under Markell’s reign of terror?

So what happened that day, September 9th, 2008?  Carney had the backing of almost the entire Democratic caucus, and Senator Tom Carper told Markell he should “wait his turn” and not run.  Of course Markell did anyways.  Carney’s loss that day did not come from New Castle County.  He only lost by 51 votes there.  It was Kent and Sussex County that opted for Markell over Carney.  Even though 2/3rds of the votes came from New Castle, it wasn’t enough to defeat Markell.  Did Markell get help from an unexpected source to turn the tide?

2016 will be a different story.  With no challenger in the Democratic race, it is a surefire certainty Carney will lead the Democratic Gubernatorial ticket.  By all indications, Delaware Senator Colin Bonini will be the Republican frontrunner.  As I’ve said before, I would love a challenge with this race.  Both of these candidates need to get out there and make their presence known.

As for education, Carney voted for the Every Student Succeeds Act along with his brethren in the US Senate, Carper and Coons.  He needs to start talking about education real fast if he wants to be taken serious.  This is one of the number one topics in the First State, and he needs to let his stance on all the damage his usurper wrought upon Delaware be known.

House Bill 50 Update And Other Education Legislation That Passed In The Wee Hours Of The Morning Yesterday

House Bill 50 is waiting.  No action has been taken by Delaware Governor Jack Markell on the parent opt-out legislation.  Matt Albright with the News Journal spoke with Jonathan Dworkin, the spokesman for Governor Markell, and wrote yesterday:

“Markell has not asked for H.B. 50 to be delivered to his desk yet, Dworkin said. Once he receives the bill, he has 10 days to veto it; if he doesn’t, it becomes law with or without his signature.

That means the Legislature would have to wait for a veto override vote until next year unless they call a special session, which is unlikely.”

I checked Delaware state code, and found the following:

“Section 18. Every bill which shall have passed both Houses of the General Assembly shall, before it becomes law, be presented to the Governor;”

The key part concerning this seems to be “presented to the Governor”.  Whose job is it to present a bill to Markell?  The last place House Bill 50 sat in was the Delaware Senate and they passed the bill a week ago today.   I contacted Markell’s office, and they indicated he has ten days to take action on a bill, but when I asked specifically about the bill being “presented”, they did not have an answer but did indicate they would check on that aspect as well as the status of the bill and would get back to me either later today or Monday since their offices are closed tomorrow.

Meanwhile, other education bills passed both the Delaware House and Senate and are also awaiting a signature from Markell.  In no short order:

House Bill 91, passed 7/1, Sponsor: Rep. Sean Matthews, Synopsis: This bill involves the public school immunization program. Currently, the Affidavit of Religious Belief does not expressly alert parents or guardians who file for the religious exemption from the program that the child will be temporarily excluded from school in the event of an epidemic of a vaccine preventable disease. This bill amends the required affidavit so parents or guardians are directly made aware of the possibility of the child’s temporary exclusion from school. The bill also adds that the asserted cause of a medical exemption may be subject to review and approval by the Division of Public Health. Additionally, the bill would require the Division of Public Health to declare an outbreak, rather than the current language of an epidemic throughout the State or a particular definable region thereof.

House Joint Resolution #6 w/House Amendment #1, passed 7/1,  Sponsor: Rep. Earl Jaques, This House Joint Resolution directs the DPAS II Advisory Committee to review and make recommendations to the current educator evaluation system. This Resolution also limits the State Department of Education’s ability to propose changes to certain sections of the Administrative Code.

Senate Bill #61, passed 7/1, Sponsor: Senator David Sokola, This Act clarifies that school buses are not exempt from the requirement to stop at railroad grade crossings regulated by a traffic-control signal or at railroad grade crossings protected by crossing gates or flashing lights. Section 4163 currently is contrary to best safety practices requiring that school buses stop at these types of crossings to ensure optimal safety for students.
This Act also makes additional changes to § 4163 in keeping with the grammar and style guidelines of the Delaware Legislative Drafting Manual.

Senate Bill #62, passed 7/1, Sponsor: Senator David Sokola, This Act updates the minimum insurance coverage requirements for school transportation to reflect current industry standards.

Senate Bill #94, passed 7/1, Sponsor: Senator Brian Bushweller, This Act requires the Department to develop a regulation for the identification of a “military-connected youth”. The Act further provides that this identification is not a public record, is protected by the federal Family Educational and Privacy Act and shall not be used for purposes of determining school achievement, growth or performance. The purpose of this identification is to ensure the necessary individuals at the school level are aware of any military connected youth for services and supports.

Senate Concurrent Resolution #29, passed 7/1, Sponsor: Senator Bethany Hall-Long, This concurrent resolution establishes the Behavioral and Mental Health Task Force to examine mental health in the State of Delaware and make recommendations for the improvement of services and the mental healthcare system. *editor’s note: while this is not a direct education bill, many students would benefit from a better mental health care system in the state

Senate Concurrent Resolution #39, passed 7/1, Sponsor: Senator Colin Bonini,  This Concurrent Resolution forms a working group to make a recommendation as to whether or not the Budget Bill should continue to be treated as a simple majority Bill.  *editor’s note: this working group will take a hard look at funding for charter schools, University of Delaware, and Delaware State University.  Since they are considered corporations under state law, and corporations need a 3/4 majority vote for passage, and currently the budget bill only needs a majority vote, this group will examine this legal anomaly.

Senate Joint Resolution #2 w/Senate Amendment #1, passed 7/1, Sponsors: Senator David Sokola and Rep. Earl Jaques, The amount of testing required of our students and educators has grown significantly in recent years. While the General Assembly recognizes the need to administer assessments that provide valid and reliable data about how Delaware’s students are growing academically, it is also committed to maximizing time in the classroom for our educators to teach, and our students to learn.
The Department of Education is already coordinating an inventory of all assessments required at the state, district, and school level. This Joint Resolution requires the Department of Education to report the inventory results, and any assessments that districts or the state propose to eliminate, to the public and to the House and Senate Education Committees of the General Assembly. It also requires the Department to convene a group, consisting of members of the General Assembly and the public, to conduct an in-depth review of the inventory results and make recommendations for consolidation or elimination of assessments. 

Senate Joint Resolution #4, passed 7/1, Sponsor: Senator David Sokola, While Delaware is deeply committed to preparing every child to reach his or her full potential and succeed in the new economy, the State will not be able to build a world-class education system for its children without modernizing the 70-year-old education funding system. This Joint Resolution establishes the Education Funding Improvement Commission to conduct a comprehensive review of Delaware’s public education funding system and make recommendations to modernize and strengthen the system. The Commission will include stakeholders from across the education system and will submit a report and recommendations to the Governor and General Assembly no later than March 31, 2016. 

House Bill #184, passed 6/30, Sponsor: Rep. Deb Heffernan, This bill establishes a mechanism for persons receiving special education services pursuant to an active Individual Education Plan until the age of 21 to receive license to drive.

House Joint Resolution #7, passed 6/30, Sponsor: Rep. Kim Williams, Recognizing (1) that many of our educators are assuming greater levels of responsibility and demonstrating leadership in their classrooms and schools, (2) that our current educator compensation system does not reflect the work we value in our educators or provide them with a meaningful career pathway or ability to earn additional compensation for assuming additional responsibility, and (3) that we must retain and attract great educators to ensure that our students are prepared to compete in an increasingly global economy, this bill re-establishes the Committee to Advance Educator Compensation and Careers in addition to establishing two sub-committees: the Educator Work Group and the Technical Advisory Group. The Committee will continue its work in developing a plan for an alternative compensation structure and career pathway for educators aligned with the parameters set forth in Senate Bill No. 254, including providing educators with a meaningful career pathway, including higher starting salaries and recognition for working with high-needs students, and significant leadership opportunities for career advancement that keeps talented educators in the classroom.   The Committee must submit updated recommendations to the Governor by March 31st, 2016 with sufficient detail for implementing legislation, and will continue to meet thereafter to issue subsequent recommendations for consideration. 

I will be updating the page on this blog entitled “Education Bills in the 148th General Assembly” over the next week and as Markell makes decisions on these as well.  I also intend to go through all the legislation that was passed over and is left in limbo until January 2016.