Delaware United Video Interviews With Senate Candidate Meredith Chapman On Delaware Education

Delaware United interviewed Meredith Chapman, the Republican candidate for the 8th Senate District in Delaware. Chapman is running against David Sokola, the incumbent Democrat Senator with 26 years under his belt at Legislative Hall. As any reader of this blog is aware, I think Sokola has long outlived his purposed in Dover. So I am endorsing Chapman the 8th District in the Senate. I’m not endorsing her just because she isn’t David Sokola. I’m endorsing her because she is a young and fresh face. We need new ideas. I believe Chapman will provide many new ideas that aren’t part of the “establishment” in Dover.  I see the “newer” crowd in Dover as the future of the General Assembly.  I have a lot of respect and admiration for House Dems Kim Williams, Sean Matthews, and Sean Lynn.  As well, for House Republican Jeff Spiegelman and Senator Brian Pettyjohn.  They aren’t afraid to mix things up just enough to tweak something one way or another.  It doesn’t always succeed, and I don’t always agree with them, but I respect that trait in all of them.  I believe Chapman can bring that to Legislative Hall as well.

We also need more balance in Dover. For far too long one side has been in control in Delaware, and that is not good for the state. I don’t agree with every single thing Republicans and Democrats believe in.  But when one party is in absolute control for so long, it breeds corruption and an aura of invincibility which is not good for any state government.  I would personally love to see other parties or Independents get into the House and Senate.  That would really mix things up!

In watching these interviews with Meredith Chapman, I do want to hear more from her on Delaware education, especially on some key issues that are near and dear to me!

For many folks in New Castle County, Delaware United has been very busy this political season.  They are a new group of political activists.  The group originated as Bernie Sanders supporters who are united to carry many of the same messages Bernie had.  They tend to lean towards the progressive side of things based on their endorsements for the primary.  But many of the contests right now are Democrats.  We will see how they stand on candidates for the General Election very soon.  On their Facebook page, Delaware United describes themselves as:

We are a group of united voters and volunteers, from all walks of Delaware, that has the goal of pushing forward on a path to change our state and point it in the right direction. We are a group that is run on the basis of a well-founded democracy and listens to its members with full transparency from the top down. I would like to thank the people in this group, and ask anyone here to add members, at their discretion, to help grow our group and spread our message. There is no requirement to be a member, no party affiliation guidelines, and no exclusion based solely on the offered support to any one candidate in the past. (a current example: if you have supported Clinton, or Sanders, you are not to be judged solely on that decision, and should not be excluded from the groups proceedings) We all need to come together now more than ever to make sure that our government in Delaware represents the people of Delaware; there are far too many factions of similar groups all trying to do different things to achieve the same goal. We need to win elections to change Delaware to what we, in this group, collectively thinks it should be and to do that we need to work together. Not as Democrats, “Berniecrats”, Independents, or even Republicans, but as a united group of like-minded people who want to be involved with the candidates and local politics. We need to step up, step out, and get involved to change our local politics and make Delaware the state it can, and must become. Not through one-man activism with a megaphone (not discouraging this), but through organized political action and group founded strategies and being the feet on the ground to help make sure that the best people in our state make up our representation in Dover.

 

 

Delaware Democrats Eat Their Own

piranha

Watching Delaware Democrats go after each other during primary time is amazing to watch in real time.  It’s like watching piranha at feeding time.  They eviscerate each other.  But then when the primary is over, they stand behind the selected candidate with unswayable loyalty, for the most part.  I don’t see this as much with Delaware Republicans, but then again they seem to be more careful about having too many candidates in any given race.  I disagreed with a letter sent out by the Delaware Democrat Party Chair, John Daniello, a couple of months ago.  This letter asked candidates to consider why they were truly running.  This angered many candidates and their supporters, but after seeing some of the stuff I’ve seen, I can see where he was coming from.

This is the kind of stuff that creates decades-long resentments.  It can’t be good for the party.  I try not to get into political conversation too much unless it relates to education in some way.  But watching legislators who are usually close allies go against each other over which candidate is best is not good in the long-term.  I respect their right to back a candidate, but some of them are relentless.  We all do it in one way or another.  Party loyalty is only there when it suits someone.  The election process has to be the most cutthroat system out there.  And it’s usually not the candidates themselves who are doing it but their supporters.

In eight days, the playing field will be leveled.  And then we see the opposite: party supporters going after the other party.  I expect this to be a whirlwind next couple of months.  Things are likely to get ugly.  What is always unreal is watching those who blast a primary candidate but when that candidate wins they become the best thing since sliced bread.

I will come out with more endorsements, playing right along with this crazy election season.  I’ll talk about why I don’t think so and so is a good candidate or why that person is better.  I’ll go to some of the debates and hopefully get to ask a question or two.  I’m sure there will be some huge controversy around a candidate or eight.  It’s what we do in Delaware.  We eat each other alive and then wonder why nothing ever gets done in the state.  As I’ve said before, I don’t swear absolute fealty to either party.  I’m an issues guy, not a one or the other guy.

If I have a beef with a candidate, I will give a long and detailed explanation as to why and back it up with reference material.

Just my thoughts on what I’m seeing out there… Kevin

Dave Sokola’s Commercial For Corporate Education Reform & Money For The Poverty Pimps Will Not Sway Voters

Delaware Senator David Sokola is frantic over his upcoming election.  Meredith Chapman, a Republican in his district, filed earlier this year to run against the long-time Senator.  So how does Sokola respond to the many allegations that his actions have thwarted Delaware education for 25 years?  He writes a letter to the News Journal pimping the very same bad policies he helped create.  He does this by praising a report on how America has No Time To Lose, brought to us by the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Oh, and Dave helped write the report…

I felt the need to point out some of Dave’s fallacies in this letter.

We’re lucky in Delaware to have collaboration among our public and charter schools, businesses, unions, and higher ed institutions, plus community, foundation, and state leaders.  If we are going to succeed, and sustain that success, we need to be open, transparent and inclusive.

In Delaware, we call this the Rodel Foundation and their ten-year roadmap Vision programs and coalitions.  They send out surveys that lean heavily towards what they want and call that stakeholder input.  And since so many Delawareans believe in “The Delaware Way”, these education leaders and members of the business community feed the fire by sitting at the table.  Meanwhile, Dr. Paul Herdman pushes this because, well, that $344,000 salary sure is groovy.  Sokola’s firm belief in successful schools led to the creation of one of the most discriminatory schools in America, Newark Charter School.  Everything he does props up this school which he relies on for votes every time the election cycle spins around again.  And we saw this district and charter collaboration really working this past weekend in one of the shadiest back-room deals Delaware education has ever seen.  And I have no doubt in my mind that Sokola was somehow involved in that charter school scam.  Which charter school in Delaware would have received the most benefit from this change in funding?  Newark Charter School.  And it was their idea!  Thank God enough legislators acted fast enough to put this very bad idea on pause.  He is a bill destroyer when legislation comes around that would actually prevent his own ideas from coming to fruition.  His sole pupose in the General Assembly is to pervert the masses with Governor Markell’s very bad education beliefs.  In terms of “transparency”, this is a guy who doesn’t feel posting minutes for the Senate Education Committee is important.  The same guy who changes agendas for these meetings at the last-minute and yells at parents during meetings when they disagree with him.  Yeah, that guy…

We’re piloting innovative clinical residency programs and lab schools, on top of new models for peer observation, feedback, and reflection.

In corporate education reform lingo, we call this Teach For America, Relay Graduate Schools, and other bad teacher practices that put college graduates in low-income schools with six weeks of training.  Many of these “teachers” don’t end up staying in the profession and end up working for state Departments of Education or the thousands of education poverty pimp companies out there that take money from the classroom.  Sokola gutted a bill that would remove the Smarter Balanced Assessment as a sole factor in one of the components of our teacher evaluation system in Delaware.  He also thought having parent and student surveys would be a good idea in determining a teacher’s evaluation score.  The bill passed, but our Governor Markell hasn’t signed it yet.

The fact is that most American state education systems are falling dangerously behind the world in a number of international comparisons and on our own National Assessment of Educational Progress, leaving the United States overwhelmingly underprepared to success in the 21st century economy.

Yeah, we were fooled on this when Common Core and Race To The Top came into our lives.  Race To The Top ended, and many states are attempting to remove Common Core from their state standards.  The experiment failed.  What Sokola can’t get through his thick head is that Americans aren’t believing the lies anymore.  We don’t care what these reports say because we know they are built on statistics that are created to benefit these reports.  Many of the same people involved in this latest report created the very same tests that show we are failing.  And now they are telling us to trust them and find a new path for our country at risk (again)?  Sorry Dave, you can only tell the same story so many times until it starts sounding like crap.  This is a commercial.  Paid for by U.S. taxpayers.

And which countries did Sokola visit to make these grand-standing statements?

We visited high-performing systems here in the United States, as well as Beijing and Shanghai, China, to learn more about their success.

Okay, let’s go back to the old chestnut in comparing the U.S. to China.  This has been debunked more times than I can count.  China uses only the most successful students to take their standardized tests.  So of course their results will skew higher.  Enough Dave.  That is so 2012.

What kills me though is reading some of the names involved in this report.  But one stands out above the rest: Marc Tucker.  He is listed as the CEO and President of the National Center on Education and the Economy, who wrote their own “Tough Choices, Tough Times” report ten years ago which served as an impetus for Common Core. Yes, that Marc Tucker.  The one who wrote Hillary Clinton a letter in 1992 which set the blueprint for all that went down in public education since.  The one who believed every single word of the 1983 horror show called “A Nation At Risk”.  But now we need to heed these prophetic whispers of doom in this new report, according to Tucker:

This hard-hitting, refreshingly honest report is a bipartisan clarion call for a very different definition of ‘education reform’ than the one that has dominated the American political landscape for years.  The country will ignore it at its peril.

Okay Dr. Doom.  Thanks for your words of wisdom.  I think America is pretty much done with you.  How much money have you made on the “fix American education” racket you’ve been involved in for 25 years?  Which is about as long as Dave Sokola has been pimping this same bad education policy in Delaware.

Sokola is trying to give himself some credibility where he has none.  The barometer of everything that comes out of this washed-up Senator is the standardized test.  He lives and breathes on these tests.  He ignores the realities behind them and how they aren’t a true measurement of student success.  He is a broken record, stuck in the same groove since 1990.  He knows he is in extreme danger of losing his Senate seat.  But he isn’t listening to anything the majority of Delawareans are telling him: “Shut up Dave!”  Instead we get these cash in the trash reports designed solely to make corporations richer that take desperately needed funds out of our schools.

On Election Day this year, do the best thing in the world for the children in the 8th Senate District.  Vote for Meredith Chapman and help our children in the 21st Century to be one notch away from bad education policy in Delaware.  Look beyond party politics.  People like Sokola, who pretend to be Progressives, ride that train so they can get in the system for their own twisted agendas.  Dump Dave!

Lisa Blunt-Rochester: “To Be Able To Have The Luxury To Opt Out Is A Luxury”

At the Delaware Congressional education debate last evening, a question concerning state testing led to some very offensive comments from candidate Lisa Blunt-Rochester.  Senator Bryan Townsend was asked a question by a member of the audience concerning his fights with state testing at Legislative Hall and his endorsement by DSEA (the Delaware teachers union).  The question was confusing but it alleged that since civil rights groups stand by testing as an accurate way to measure the progress of African-American students, and he fought against the state testing, how would he respond to that? The question was read by one of the moderators, Nichole Dobo.  Townsend defended his stance on testing because the testing was being used for purposes it was not meant for.

By the time candidate Lisa Blunt-Rochester answered, the subject of opt out had already come up by candidate Scott Walker.  He indicated he does not support opt out, especially for students with disabilities and feels it is illegal.  I’m assuming Walker didn’t see the very atrocious scores students with disabilities had on the Smarter Balanced Assessment this year.  But I digress.  By the time the question came back to Rochester, this was her response, as I understood it, while I typed it as I was live blogging:

The original question was about civil rights.  She understands why some folks would opt out, but as a person coming from the Civil Rights movement, to not measure anything is a problem.  Opting out isn’t the issue.  We need to measure to know where we are discriminating.  We need to put our money where our mouth is.

This is what she actually said, thanks to videos shown on the DelaCore Leaders Facebook page:

So the original question was about civil rights organizations and their positions on state testing and the concern that you can’t have it, kind of, both ways.  I understand why some folks would want to opt out, but for myself, as a parent, also as a person who comes from a Civil Rights background, you have to measure growth.  Maybe that’s part of what the challenges folks were concerned about, what we were measuring.  To not measure anything is a problem, to be able to have the luxury to opt out is a luxury.  If we need to fix the test, let’s fix the testing.  But we do have to hold ourselves accountable.  In all the conversation about discrimination, we need to be able to measure, so that we know we are being discriminated against.  So, I think, you put your money where your mouth is.

This statement could be taken a lot of ways.  I see it as the same argument as other folks defending the civil rights groups statements as “it doesn’t matter how bad the test is, we still need that measurement.”  I’m sorry, but I can’t, won’t, and never will buy that logic.  First off, there is a cultural bias with the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  It wasn’t written for African-Americans, English Language learners, or students with disabilities.  It was written for white kids.  We see this with every single score release of standardized tests.  This isn’t new.  It has been going on for decades.

If Blunt-Rochester feels opting out is a “luxury”, an option that is truly open and is not illegal under any circumstances in Delaware, then by her logic we can all enjoy that luxury.  Parents don’t opt out because it is a luxury.  They opt their kids out of the state assessment, which in Delaware’s case is the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  They don’t opt out of MAPS, or SRI, or SMI, or final exams.  They opted out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  The test is long.  Parents and teachers don’t get the scores back on time.  Students aren’t even given the exact same test.  It is a test for accountability for schools.  This was said by Jon Cohen, who runs the American Institutes for Research (AIR), which just so happens to be the testing vendor for the Smarter Balanced Assessment:

When you use a test for accountability, you’re not really using it to measure the kid.  You’re using it to measure the school, or the teacher, or the district.  And you want that school or teacher or district to have an incentive to teach the full range of curriculum.

This statement was taken from a video that used to appear in an article about AIR on this very blog, but AIR changed the settings on it so it could not be embedded outside of their reach.  It is my contention they don’t want people seeing this video.  When talking about the computer adaptability of the assessment, Cohen very frighteningly tells viewers students are not receiving the same test.  The questions aren’t the same for every student.  I wrote in greater detail about this a few weeks ago.  For all the talk about resources and funding we need for schools in Delaware, the one question many candidates aren’t asking is where is the existing funding going?  In Delaware, we have given AIR well over $40 million dollars over a five year period.  That is $8 million a year.  For results that really haven’t changed much when looking at this measurement.  I don’t know about you, but I’m sure our schools would be more than happy to be able to use that money towards lower class-room sizes or more support for students who are at-risk.

While I respect your right to choose whether or not your child takes the Smarter Balanced Assessment, what I don’t respect is you’re telling me that my choice is a luxury.  I actually found this extremely offensive.  I have a child with disabilities.  For these students, who score much lower than African-Americans, it frequently takes them two to three times longer to take this test with accommodations than their peers.  And yes, non-disabled African-Americans are their peers.  They are easily frustrated being forced to take a test for this long.  Because at the same time, their neurological disabilities are manifesting.  Whether it is high-functioning Autism, or Tourette Syndrome, or ADHD, or OCD, or in some cases (as it is with my child) a combination of co-morbidities.

I would like anyone reading this to try something.  Grab a piece of paper and start writing the Pledge of Allegiance.  While you are writing with your hand of choice, take your other hand and start swinging it out.  Keep writing.  At the same time you are doing both of these, start making humming noises.  Do all three at once.  How far did you get on the Pledge of Allegiance?  Now put that in a scenario where you are taking the state assessment on a computer.

Now, imagine you are a low-income African-American student with disabilities taking this test.

I’m sorry Lisa Blunt-Rochester, but you don’t get the luxury of telling me it is a luxury for me to opt my son out.  I respect your choice, but if you want to talk about discrimination, we can do that.  I can talk about how my son was denied an IEP at a charter school in Delaware because of a poorly-trained special education staff who were not even aware of the classification for disabilities of “other-health impaired” until my wife told them.  I can talk about how they treated his disability as behavior issues and wanted to punish him when they wouldn’t give him the accommodations he deserved under federal law.  And when things got so bad there, over a dropped cookie in the lunchroom, he ran to a confined space because he was so scared of their behavior interventionist who told him he would be suspended if he didn’t pick it up.  When they found him, he wanted to get out of that confined space.  And as my son sat there screaming to be let out of that confined space for half an hour, while I was in the school substituting that day and they never bothered to come get me knowing I was there, I found my son in a state I had never seen him in before.  I also found the behavior interventionist sitting in the hallway eating a sandwich and the head of school sitting there as well.  His face was the only face my son could see as they ignored his cries for help.  As I managed to coax my son out, who was crying, embarrassed, and afraid, the head of school and I took him to a conference room.  He explained I should take him home and talk about this the following Monday.  My son, who was in a very distraught state, said to the Head of School, “I’m going to get revenge on you.”  He didn’t specify what kind of revenge or anything he would do.  He just blurted it out.  The Head of School yelled, “That is duly noted”.

As I drove home with my son, my wife called the school.  She was unaware of what had just gone down.  She spoke with the Head of School.  When my wife asked him what he knew about Tourette Syndrome, he started making a tapping noise and said “I know there is a meeting on Concord Pike next week about it.”  He wound up yelling at my wife and hanging up on her.  When we brought my son back into school the next Monday, we were told my son was suspended for three days and when he came back he had to meet with a police officer to discuss “terroristic threats”.  That was the last time my son was in that school.  He was nine years old.

We pulled him out and took him to the local school district.  He got an IEP… after five long months.  It was the end of the school year.  The way my district is set up, he went to 5th grade in a middle school.  We were told by the new IEP team that his IEP was too complicated and we should rework it.  Over the next four months, my son was physically assaulted nine times.  The last of which gave him a severe concussion two days before Christmas.  That was the last time my son was in that school.  He was on homebound instruction for the rest of the year, along with months of physical therapy, headaches, and a very real fear that if he stepped out of the house he would get beat up.  He was ten years old.

We tried a local private school who would only take him on a probationary status because of his disabilities.  He received hours upon hours of homework each day which he had not received in the other two schools.  It was too much for him, so we pulled him out.  He was eleven years old.

We found a good school for him now, far away from Common Core and the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  He is receiving the best instruction he ever has.  He is twelve years old.

So we can sit here and talk about equity and discrimination.  But I can tell you I have lived it through my son.  So I’m sorry you see it as a luxury that I opted him out at the school where he got his concussion.  The ironic truth is that even though I opted him out, he didn’t have to take the test because he was released from the obligation by the school due to his medical issues, received at the school.  While all this was going on that year, I spent a considerable amount of time at Legislative Hall fighting for the rights of other parents to opt their child out.  In all the conversations about opt out, I never heard it referred to as a luxury.  Until last night.

The odds of your child having greater success at life are greater than mine.  This is a fact for persons with disabilities.  So if I make a choice to opt my son out of a test, that has nothing to do with your child, or someone else’s child.  It has nothing to do with civil rights.  I chose not to have my son be used as a guinea pig for results that have stated the same measurements you so vigorously defended last night.  A person can defend civil rights and be against state assessments.  They can have it both ways.  Many civil rights groups do this already, without financial backing from the Gates Foundation.  I am a staunch supporter of civil rights.  But I refuse to let my child be a part of your measuring stick for a test that is horrible to begin with so we can endlessly compare where your child is against mine.  You are a pawn to a money-making scheme that has been going on far longer than you realize.  All our children are being used.  It has nothing to do with proficiency.  The tests are rigged so there will always be winners and losers.  I don’t need my son to take a test to know he has been a victim of disability discrimination.  He didn’t even have to log onto a computer for me to realize that.

I have a very strong suspicion why Senator Townsend was asked such a specific question about state testing, civil rights, and DSEA.  It was meant to trip him up.  It was very carefully worded.  There was only one person in that audience who would have asked him a question like that.  You may or may not know who it is.  I doubt he would ever own up to it.  But he now knows I know.  I’ve seen his manipulation at play before.  But it backfired and most likely forced you to address something that may end up hurting your campaign.

As a candidate for Congress, you need to be aware of how you can be used and how other people’s agendas can backfire on you.  There were hundreds of people in that audience last night.  How is that was the only question asked by a member of the audience at an education debate?  I invite you to think about that.  But in the meantime, let’s stop talking about measurements.  When I cast my vote in the primary, I will be choosing a candidate who looks at all sides of the issues, for all Delawareans, and what is best for us as a state.  I support civil rights and equity.  But I don’t think constantly measuring students so we can hold schools, teachers, and districts accountable is moving forward.  As long as some support this mistaken belief about measuring students against each other while ignoring the individual student and their individual needs, we will continue to have this conversation while testing companies and hedge fund managers make tons of money that isn’t going into our schools.  I am unable to support you as a candidate based on what I heard tonight.  And yes, one word left a very big impression on me.  I respect your choice to put your money where your mouth is.  Please respect my choice to put my voting finger where my beliefs are.  Because the only gap I saw tonight was how far away you and a couple of other candidates are to the reality of what is truly happening with Delaware education.

Federal representatives voted for the No Child Left Behind Act.  Federal representatives stood back while Race To The Top bribed and coerced our states into accepting dubious state standards, tied to a state assessment, and put our highest needs schools into a deplorable cycle of test, label, punish and shame.  Federal representatives (from Delaware) voted no for a clause that would have honored a parent’s right to opt their children out of the state assessment.  Federal representatives (from Delaware) voted yes for the Every Student Succeeds Act which reversed the other two but essentially kept the very worst from what came before but promises vast amounts of money for other things.  We have once again, been duped.  Many of you won’t know it until it is too late.  So yes, opt out is just as much a federal issue as it is a state issue.  But one thing will not change: my unwavering belief that all parents have the constitutional, God-given, and fundamental right to decide what is best for their child.  Education is only one part of what an elected U.S. representative faces.  But education, which is the foundation for our children, is also the foundation for our democracy.  It is our way of instilling hope for the future.  It isn’t a measurement, or accountability.  It is about what is best for each child based on their own unique and beautiful mind.  When we constantly compare, there are always going to be winners and losers.  This creates an environment of discrimination.  I don’t care what any candidate looks like, the color of their skin, or their gender.  I don’t care where they come from.  I care about what they are going to do.

I’ve been hearing a lot of people say, even before it came out, that we need to fix the test.  And yet, Smarter Balanced is still here.  With no indication of it disappearing anytime soon.  Our United States Secretary of Education just okayed illegal flexibility waivers for Delaware under the condition we use the Smarter Balanced Assessment until June 30th, 2019.  We can talk about the importance of “growth”, but for students with disabilities, their “growth” requires two to three times more “growth” than their peers according to the Delaware Department of Education.  But yeah, let’s keep using a flawed test to measure students.  But you don’t have to be an elected federal Congresswoman to speak up against the Smarter Balanced Assessment and “fix the testing”.  Please put your money where your mouth is.

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.

Come To The Congressional Education Debate On August 18th!

On August 18th, the candidates for the Delaware U.S. Representative for Congress will meet at the Christina Cultural Arts Center for a debate on education.  From 6pm to 8pm, the candidates will field questions about their stance on education in Delaware and the USA.  Admission is free, but you do need to register through Eventbrite at this link.  As well, you can submit questions for the candidates at this link.  You can even submit a specific question for a specific candidate!

Confirmed to attend at this point are Democrat candidates Sean Barney, Lisa Blunt-Rochester, Mike Miller, Bryan Townsend and Scott Walker.  A tentative yes has been provided by Libertarian candidate Scott Gesty.  As of this writing, Republican candidate Hans Reigle has not responded.

I’ve been waiting for something like this to happen.  We need this for all candidates running for office: Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and the House and Senate candidates.  I put up a hail Mary thing last week about getting an “Education Forum on the Green” debate going, but to be honest, I don’t have the pull to make that happen on the fly.  I know my limitations!

The event will be sponsored by DelaCORE Leaders, with the Metropolitan Wilmington Urban League, League Young Professionals, and the PACE Network.  The event will be moderated by WHYY reporter Avi Wolfman-Arent and Nate Durant from Thomas Edison Charter School.

Current Delaware Filings For Elected Office As Of 6/20/16

It’s that time of year again when the General Assembly winds down and the election season becomes the top priority in the state.  This is a list of filed candidates for either statewide office or the General Assembly.  Blue means there will be a Democrat Primary while Red means there will be a Republican Primary.  If a district or office is in bold, that means there will be a contest for that office on Election Day.

Delaware Election 2016

Deadline To File for Office: July 12th, 12 noon
Deadline To Register To Vote For Primary Election: August 20th
Primary Election: September 13th (7am-8pm)
Deadline To Register To Vote For General Election: October 15th
General Election: November 8th (7am-8pm)

President:

Hillary Clinton (D)
Bernie Sanders (D)
Donald Trump (R)

Delaware Governor:

Sean Goward (L)
Lacey Lafferty (R)

Congress: US Representative

Sean Barney (D)
Lisa Blunt Rochester (D)
Michael Miller (D)
Bryan Townsend (D)
R.E. Walker (D)
Scott Gesty (L)
Hans Reigle (R)

Lieutenant Governor:

Sherry Dorsey-Walker (D)
Brad Eaby (D)
Greg Fuller (D)
Bethany Hall-Long (D)
Kathleen McGuiness (D)
Ciro Poppiti III (D)

Insurance Commissioner:

Paul Gallagher (D)
Trinidad Navarro (D)
Karen Weldin Stewart (D) (Incumbent)
George Parrish (R)

Delaware General Assembly

State Senate:

District 1: Joseph McCole (D)
District 1: Harris McDowell III (D) (Incumbent)
District 1: James Spadola (R)
District 5: Denise Bowers (R)
District 5: Catherine Cloutier (R) (Incumbent)
District 7: Patricia Blevins (D) (Incumbent)
District 7: Anthony Delcollo (R)
District 8: David Sokola (D) (Incumbent)
District 8: Meredith Chapman (R)
District 12: Nicole Poore (D) (Incumbent)
District 13: David McBride (D) (Incumbent)
District 14: Bruce Ennis (D) (Incumbent)
District 14: Carl Pace (R)
District 15: Dave Lawson (R) (Incumbent)
District 20: Perry Mitchell (D)
District 20: Gerald Hocker (R) (Incumbent)

State Representative:

District 1: Charles Potter (D) (Incumbent)
District 2: Stephanie Boulden (D) (Incumbent)
District 3: Helene Keeley (D) (Incumbent)
District 4: Gerald Brady (D) (Incumbent)
District 5: Melanie George Smith (D) (Incumbent)
District 6: Deb Heffernan (D) (Incumbent)
District 6: Lee Murphy (R)
District 7: David Brady (D)
District 7: Bryon Short (D) (Incumbent)
District 7: David Wilson (L)
District 8: S. Quinton Johnson (D) (Incumbent)
District 9: Richard Griffiths (D)
District 9: Monique Johns (D)
District 9: Kevin Hensley (R) (Incumbent)
District 10: Sean Matthews (D) (Incumbent)
District 10: Dennis Williams (D)
District 10: Judith Travis (R)
District 11: Jeffrey Spiegelman (R) (Incumbent)
District 12: Deb Hudson (R) (Incumbent)
District 13: John Mitchell (D) (Incumbent)
District 14: Don Peterson (D)
District 14: Peter Schwartzkop (D) (Incumbent)
District 15: James Burton (D)
District 15: Valerie Longhurst (D) (Incumbent)
District 16: James Johnson (D) (Incumbent)
District 17: Michael Mulrooney (D) (Incumbent)
District 18: David Bentz (D) (Incumbent)
District 19: Kim Williams (D) (Incumbent)
District 19: James Startzman (R)
District 21: Mike Ramone (R) (Incumbent)
District 22: Lanette Edwards (D)
District 22: Joseph Miro (R) (Incumbent)
District 23: Paul Baumbach (D) (Incumbent)
District 24: Edward Osienski (D) (Incumbent)
District 25: John Kowalko (D) (Incumbent)
District 26: John Viola (D) (Incumbent)
District 27: Earl Jaques (D) (Incumbent)
District 28: William Carson (D) (Incumbent)
District 29: Trey Paradee (D) (Incumbent)
District 30: William Outten (R) (Incumbent)
District 31: Sean Lynn (D) (Incumbent)
District 33: Karen Williams (D)
District 33: Morgan Hudson (R)
District 33: Charles Postles (R
District 33: Robert James Scott (R)
*State Rep Harold Peterman not seeking re-election*
District 34: David Henderson (D)
District 34: Lyndon Yearick (R) (Incumbent)
District 35: Robert Mitchell (R)
District 35: David Wilson (R) (Incumbent)
District 36: Harvey Kenton (R) (Incumbent)
District 37: Paulette Rappa (D)
District 37: Ruth Briggs-King (R) (Incumbent)
District 39: James Brittingham (L)
*State Rep. Daniel Short has not filed*

Open Offices (no one filed yet):

Senate District 9 (currently State Senator Karen Peterson, not running again)
Senate District 19 (currently State Senator Brian Pettyjohn, expected to file)
State Rep. District 20 (currently State Rep. Stephen Smyk)
State Rep. District 32 (currently State Rep. Andria Bennett, expected to file)
State Rep. District 38 (currently State Rep. Ronald Gray)
State Rep. District 40 (currently State Rep. Tim Dukes, expected to file)
State Rep. District 41 (currently State Rep. Richard Collins)
**For Governor,  John Carney (D) and Colin Bonini (R) have not filed yet**
**If State Senator Bryan Townsend wins the US Representative seat, there will be a special election for the 11th Senate District after the General Election**

**If State Senator Bethany Hall-Long wins the Lieutenant Governor office, there will be a special election for the 10th Senate District after the General Election**

 

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: Don’t Be A Markell In Sheep’s Clothing

Carney

This is a plea to Congressman John Carney.

You are running for Governor in Delaware.  You haven’t officially filed yet, but you announced your intention last year.  In Delaware, it seems like a certainty you will win the election in November.  With that being said, I have some grave concerns with some of your education votes in the U.S. House of Representatives.

You voted yes for the following:

The Every Student Succeeds Act which yields to the states the ability to determine opt out procedures when parents don’t want their child to take the state standardized test.  Even though ESSA states 95% of students must take the state assessment.  The US DOE is ignoring the power given to states in this legislation.

You voted no for the following:

HR5: The Student Success Act.  This legislation, the House precursor to the Every Student Succeeds Act, allowed for parent opt out for any reason and would not penalize schools for opt outs in their accountability report cards.

In Delaware, parents cried out to our legislators last year to act for their rights.  While they were with us in the majority, when the time came for them to act again, many of them took the coward’s way out by not voting for a suspension of rules.  Something many of them have no problem doing all the time.  We don’t need another Jack Markell in Delaware.  I think we are all done with him.  His education legacy will be one for the history books, and not in a positive light in the long run.

Aside from attending Smyrna Day in the Smyrna School District and going to the Coding School in Wilmington, we really haven’t heard much from you on education.  I’m sure you are relieved this hasn’t come up.  But with ESSA regulations about to come out, it is essential that you let the voters of Delaware know your views on education matters.  If you are to be the presumptive winner for Governor of Delaware, let it be a presumption with all of the facts.

As a son of two teachers, I am sure you have a high regard for education and the teaching profession.  I would hope you don’t completely agree with many of the federal mandates from the past 15 years.  It is very important that you let us know your thoughts.  Let us vote with a clear idea of where you are coming from.  I am hoping you lead us out of the education quagmire Governor Markell perpetrated on the First State.  We want a Governor that supports parental rights as much as any other rights that you celebrate on social media so much.

I think you got a raw deal in 2008.  Many Delawareans feel this way.  Things could have been very different had you won back then.  Perhaps high-stakes assessments wouldn’t become the bread and butter of all things education in Delaware.  Perhaps our teachers would feel more respected by the state you hope to govern.  Perhaps parents wouldn’t feel the need to opt out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment had someone fought Arne Duncan and the US DOE during the tumultuous Race To The Top years.

The time has come for you to speak about education in Delaware and what you are looking to achieve.  If it is the status quo, which is not what Jack Markell states it is, but rather the complete sell-out of public education to companies who want privatization while funds seep out of classrooms and into the eager hands of hedge fund managers, then be honest and let us know that.  If you want something different, something bold and a bit radical, let us know.  Either way, your silence is deafening.

 

How The Legislators Vote Today Will Determine How The People Vote In November

2016Election

You are an everyday normal Delaware citizen.  You have two kids in school.  One of them does well, the other struggles.  You usually vote Democrat in elections, but you are on the fence with some issues this year.  In your district, a Republican and a Democrat are running.  You aren’t sure who to vote for.  You get a flyer in the mail from one of the candidates.  It talks about how their opponent decided not to vote yes for a bill about parental rights.  You look into the issue and see it was a bill about parents opting out of standardized tests.  Your one child came home stressed and miserable during those testing days.  You thought about opting him out but the school pressured you into having him take it.  That bill would have prevented that.  You make up your mind: You are now firmly on the side of the candidate that sent the flyer.

For those legislators who are big on not voting yes for a suspension of rules, this could result in you being suspended from office: permanently.  For those who wish to side with a departing Governor who WILL profit off education and the very policies he had a hand in after he leaves office, I would think twice about that.  Jack Markell is a very shrewd man and he doesn’t care what happens after he gets his very excellent education job a year from now.  Education is a fickle beast.  It changes and morphs constantly in cycles.  Todays big changes will be gone in ten years.  But todays changes are things Jack Markell has been working on for the past ten years.  He is a futurist.  He plots and schemes with American dreams and uses people, legislators most of all.  He isn’t a true Democrat.  He is a corporatist through and through.  He even said so during the 2012 Democratic Convention.  It is his job to be against opt-out.  Because for Jack, it is NOT about the students.  It is NOT about the parents.  It IS about the money and big business.

There may be issues among all of us about education and how to best serve the students of Delaware.  But selling them out to the highest bidders and their alliance of thieves is NOT the way the students of Delaware will succeed.  It is how the businesses succeed.  Our children are more than test scores.  Remember that today and vote with your conscience.

Election 2016: Delaware State Reps & Senators Who Will Have To Run Again

Election Day 2016.  The day politics can change in a heartbeat or remain the status quo.  For the past seven years, we’ve had a Democrat trifecta in Delaware.  The Dems rule the Governor seat and the majority of the House and Senate seats.  For the past twenty-three years, the Dems have ruled the Governor and Senate seats.  Many talk about a “blue Delaware”, but the House was ruled by the Republicans for a long time prior to 2008.

All 41 of the House seats are up for re-election next year.  11 out of 21 Senate seats are up as well. The big issues in 2016 are going to be the economy, the budget and education.  The following Delaware Senators will have to start campaigning soon if they decide to run for another four years:

Harris McDowell, Democrat, 1st District

Catherine Cloutier, Republican, 5th District

Patricia Blevins, Democrat, 7th District

David Sokola, Democrat, 8th District

Karen Peterson, Democrat, 9th District

Nicole Poore, Democrat, 12th District

David McBride, Democrat, 13th District

Bruce Ennis, Democrat, 14th District

Dave Lawson, Republican, 15th District

Brian Pettyjohn, Republican, 19th District

Gerald Hocker, Republican, 20th District

Out of these Senators, all voted yes for House Bill 50, with the exception of McDowell and Sokola.  For the final vote in the House, all voted yes except for the following: Jaques, Dukes, Gray, Heffernan, and Q. Johnson.  Not voting were Bolden and the soon-to-be-stepping down Barbieri.  It remains to be seen who will take over in the 18th District Barbieri represents.

Remember these NO and not voting members of our General Assembly.  They may get one more chance to shine on this issue with the House Bill 50 Veto Override.  Rep. Schwartzkopf has already said no to this, so I will definitely be making a big issue of that in the next year and four months.  Sorry Pete, you stuck it to parents by siding with Markell.  No sympathy!

This will be a huge election, statewide and nationally.  We will have a new President and a new Governor.  You only get to vote once, so make your voice count!