Newark Charter School Doesn’t Want Wilmington Black Kids Or Wilmington Special Needs Kids Going To Their Private School

Earlier this afternoon, State Rep. Rich Collins led the Delaware House of Representatives in prayer and asked them, no matter what, to put children first in their mind when they are voting on legislation.  Two and a half hours later, Collins along with 26 other state reps both Republican and Democrat, voted to keep Newark Charter School first.

House Substitute 1 for House Bill 85 passed the House today with 27 yes, 13 no, and 1 absent.  The bill removes the 5 mile radius enrollment preference for Delaware charter schools with one exception.  Since Christina School District has a portion of their district in Wilmington, that is not landlocked with the rest of the district, those Wilmington children will not be allowed to choice to Newark Charter School.  Even though the Wilmington students from Red Clay and Colonial can choice to other charter schools, those Christina Wilmington students can’t choice to that one school.  They can still choice to other charters within the district or even outside of the district, but not NCS.

The bill still has to go through the Senate.  By primary sponsor State Rep. Kim Williams’ own admission, if the bill did not have that provision it wouldn’t have moved forward in the Senate.  The Chair of the Senate Education Committee, Senator David Sokola, used to be on the board of Newark Charter School.  It isn’t really a state secret that State Rep. Melanie Smith bought a house in that area so her child can go to Newark Charter School.  Why does it always come back to Newark Charter School?

State Rep. John Kowalko put an amendment on the bill that would have removed that provision, but it failed to pass the House.  25 state reps voted no on the amendment.

I know State Rep. Kim Williams very well.  I know her intent with this bill was to get a start on changing this process.  It is better than what we had before.  But it really isn’t.  Yes, there will be a greater number of Christina School District students who will have the option of choicing into Newark Charter School.  That is true, provided the bill passes and gets signed by Governor Carney.  But it also sends a clear statement about Delaware as a state: we will allow de facto segregation.  Any time we are disallowing students from having a free and appropriate public education, we are not moving forward as a state, we are moving horribly backwards.

State Reps Charles Potter, Stephanie Bolden, and J.J. Johnson, all African-American, voiced strong opposition to the bill for the same things I am writing.  Bolden said it best.  What does it say about Delaware as a state when legislation like this comes up?  She couldn’t say this, so I will.  It shows what a discriminatory state we are to the rest of the country.  It says city kids aren’t good enough for a charter in the suburbs.  It says we vote in legislators who would rather keep one charter school from opening up to ALL students than making Delaware, the first state to sign the U.S. Constitution, a fair and equitable state for all children.

Let’s be honest here, the only reason for this legislation in the first place is because of Newark Charter School.  Taking what could be a good portion of their student population out of the picture in the coming years defeats the whole intent of the bill in the first place.

Which State Reps voted to keep de facto segregation going in Delaware today?

Bryon Short (D)

Paul Baumbach (D)

David Bentz (D)

Gerald Brady (D)

William Carson (D)

Rich Collins (R)

Danny Short (R)

Tim Dukes (R)

Ronald Gray (R)

Kevin Hensley (R)

Deb Hudson (R)

Earl Jaques (D)

Quinton Johnson (D)

Harvey Kenton (R)

Ed Osienski (D)

William Outten (R)

Trey Paradee (D)

Charles Postles (R)

Melanie Smith (D)

Joe Miro (R)

Mike Ramone (R)

Steven Smyk (R)

Jeff Spiegelman (R)

John Viola (D)

Kim Williams (D)

David Wilson (R)

Lyndon Yearick (R)

Only one Republican voted no on the bill, State Rep. Ruth Briggs-King.  I find it ironic that many of the Dems who have part of their district in the 5 mile radius for Newark Charter School voted yes.  A couple of the no votes surprised me, but I will take it.  For those who aren’t familiar with what our state legislators look like, there are no black Republicans in the Delaware House or Senate.  All of the above legislators are white.

No offense to Kim Williams, and I get her intent behind this bill, but I can’t support this bill.  I vehemently oppose it.  Any legislation that restricts a child from doing anything will never be a bill I can get behind.  Any bill that gives Delaware an ugly stain on our perception is one I can not support.  This is not progress.  This is very sad.

We need elected officials in our state who won’t follow the whims of Newark Charter School.  We need legislators who will look out for ALL students.  We need lawmakers who won’t bow to the Delaware Charter Schools Network and do what is right.  We need legislators who realize collaboration when it comes to education is NOT always a good thing.  Today was no victory by any means.  It was a horrible step backwards in Delaware.  We might as well paint a sign on Newark Charter School that says Wilmington students not allowed.  The original five mile radius for NCS was bad enough, but this… this is blatant discrimination by a public school that gets funding from taxpayers around the state.

Newark Charter School is one of the best schools in Delaware.  It is because of laws like this that have allowed them to cherry-pick their students and take advantage of the law so they give a façade of excellence.  If they truly let in any student, they would be no better or worse than the schools around them.  But they would be equal.  I would never let my child go to a school like that.  What kind of lesson would that teach him?  If he were picked in their lottery, I would tell him he won because so many kids could not.  If I lived in Wilmington, would I really want my child going to a school that practiced discrimination and segregation for over 15 years?

I would tell you to voice your opposition to the Delaware Senate on this bill.  But it really doesn’t matter.  If it passes as is, it is the same story.  If it fails, Newark Charter School still has their 5 mile radius and still keeps kids from the Christina School District out of their prestigious public school.  Any attempt at amending the bill will fail.  But the truest failure is how Delaware looks to the entire country with this one bill.

Updated, 6:52pm: I want to add one thing.  My thoughts on this bill are not a knock on all Delaware charter schools.  There are many charter schools in Wilmington who would be more than happy to take the students Newark Charter School doesn’t want.  And they do.  My main issues with charter schools in Delaware have been the very inequity I am writing about here.

 

 

 

Delaware Youth In Government President Madeline Campbell’s Speech To The Delaware General Assembly

Every once in a while, when I’m down at Legislative Hall, I get to witness something really good happening.  That happened today.  I saw Madeline Campbell, the Delaware Youth In Government President, give a speech to the entire Delaware House of Representatives.  Prior to that, she did the same thing in front of the Delaware Senate.  If you know much about public speaking, it can be intimidating to do in front of a class or a group of people.  To do it in front of an entire legislative body is something else.  To do it at her age is phenomenal!  Campbell did an awesome job with her delivery.  It is kids like Campbell who represent the future of Delaware!

With Madeleine and her Mom’s permission, I present the speech she gave to the Delaware Senate and the Delaware House of Representatives today:

Hello! My name is Madeline Campbell, and I am a senior at Newark High School. Over the course of the last year, I have had the honor and privilege to serve the State of Delaware as the 49th Youth Governor to the Delaware Youth in Government program.

Some of you might not know this, but every April 16th middle and high school students fill these chambers, as well as the courthouse and create a mock government. There are five separate components to our program. The House of Commons which is our middle school group, the judicial branch which functions as an appellate court, the lobbyist corp who all represent different companies in our state, the press corp which documents our entire conference, and last but not least, our legislative branch which is broken up in to two separate House chambers, and a Senate.

Before our delegates get to Legislative Hall, they have weekly meetings at their schools or their local YMCAs to prepare for our conference. Students work for months to draft legislation to combat an issue that they see in our state. This year, topics ranged from education reforms, teacher support, expansion of opportunities for ELL students and deaf students, dark money groups and their involvement in political campaigns, bioremediation, gun control, abortions, and mental health care. To see students my age that are passionate about topics that affect not only our state, but our nation as a whole is truly inspiring. We look at problems in a fresh light, and bring a perspective to the table that not a lot of adults might think of.

This year, there were two key pieces of legislation that I thought stood out above the rest.

The first, is entitled the Gun Safety Act, and it was written by a delegate at Salesianum High School. The intent of his bill was to “increase gun control measures in the State of Delaware, requiring owners of handguns, rifles, and shotguns to receive a permit to own a firearm. Said permit shall be contingent upon passing a gun safety course, and firearms transfers shall not occur before a permit is obtained. The bill also prohibits magazines above a certain size depending on the type of fire arm.” The legislation put specific requirements on who could legally obtain a license for a gun. Anyone under the age of 18 would not be granted permission to own a long arm and anyone under the age of 21 would not be permitted to own a hand gun. Additionally, any person convicted of a violent felony, or anyone who had previously been committed to a hospital or sanitarium for a mental disorder would be barred from obtaining a permit. The penalties for obtaining a gun or magazine illegally would be either jail time or a heavy fine, depending on the severity of the case.

The second piece of legislation that caught my attention this year was entitled “An Act to Make Delaware a Sanctuary State”, and was also written by a delegate from Salesianum High School. The purpose of this delegate’s bill was to strengthen Delawarean communities by restricting the acquisition of information about immigration status by local and state agencies and to limit the communication of immigration status to federal immigration agencies. This legislation hopes to bar state and local law enforcement agencies from using any department money, facilities, property, equipment or personnel to investigate, interrogate or arrest any persons for immigration reasons. The legislation also does not prevent the state agencies from sharing already public information with federal authorities, if they ask.

These two bills stood out the most to me, because these delegates attempted to solve issues that our own legislature struggles with. As I sat up in the balcony and watched debate happen on these bills, I was worried that students would get emotional and heated, and let their feelings control the debate instead of their minds. But that never happened. When I watched my peers debate on these topics I saw nothing but respect. No, not every person in the chambers agreed, but they argued passionately and disagreed respectfully, and that matters more than whether or not both of these pieces of legislation passed.

The character that I saw in these chambers, from students my own age, is my favorite aspect of youth in government. Yes, we are a program that teaches students about politics and the legislative process, but that is not all we are. We are a program that prides ourselves on upholding the four core values of the YMCA: Honesty, caring, responsibility, and respect. We are a program that teaches students how to care about issues, and then fight for those issues. We are a program that teaches students that they have a voice in our state, and that their voice matters. We are a program that teaches students that politics is about the people, not about the party. We are a program, that is building the future of this state, and for that I could not be more proud.

I would like to thank the following people for investing in the future of our state by sponsoring students in the Youth in Government program: Senator Brian Bushweller, Senator Anthony DelCollo, Senator Bruce Ennis, Senator Margaret Rose Henry, Senator Bryan Townsend, Senator Jack Walsh, Rep John Viola, Rep Paul Baumbach, Rep Deb Hudson, Rep Ruth Briggs-King, and Rep Kim Williams.

For those of you that have not gotten the chance to come see what Youth in Government is all about, I would like to invite you to pop in next Spring, and see what we are all about. I promise you will be blown away by the caliber of greatness that the students of our state possess.

Thank you for all for your time, and for allowing me to give you a little glimpse of what the Delaware Youth in Government program is all about.

 

 

Crazy But Practical Election Day Voter Guide: Goward, Gesty & Gunn

Now that is a 3G network I would like to see tomorrow! Sean Goward for Governor!  Scott Gesty for Congress!  La Mar Gunn for Lieutenant Governor!  I can pretty much guarantee if you pick the droll and predictable John Carney, Lisa Blunt Rochester, and Bethany Hall-Long you will get exactly more of the same.  If Gesty had to lose, I would hope it isn’t with an LBR victory but a Hans Reigle one.  We need change in Delaware, and we need it NOW!  I know, the odds of all this happening are not in my favor, but a guy can dream, right? Yes, two Libertarians for big roles : Delaware Governor and Congress, and a Republican for Lt. Governor!

Watching La Mar Gunn preside over the Delaware Senate would be a lot of fun to watch!  Sometimes watching the Delaware Senate is about as exciting as getting a tooth extracted.  Watching Goward hold everyone accountable would be awesome!  That guy will make Delaware great again!  And watching Gesty in Congress would be incredible!

For the Delaware State Reps and Senators, I believe my dream victories are fairly transparent, but some of these may shock you.  For the House, I want A LOT of new faces but it is important we keep the good ones!  For the Senate, I will be upfront and say I want the Republicans to win the Delaware Senate.  42 years of control on one side is too much.

Kim Williams (19th Rep District) (D)

Sean Matthews (10th Rep District) (D)

John Kowalko (25th Rep District) (D)

Meredith Chapman (8th Senate District) (R)

Sean Lynn (31st Rep District) (D)

Andria Bennett (32nd Rep District) (D)

Jeff Spiegelman (34th Rep District) (R)

James Spadola (1st Senate District) (R)

Denise Bowers (5th Senate District) (D)

Patti Blevins (7th Senate District) (D)

Carl Pace (14th Senate District) (R)

Gerald Hocker (20th Senate District) (R)

Kevin Hensley (9th Rep District) (R)

James DeMartino (14th Rep District) (R)

Barbara Vaughn (20th Rep District) (D)

David McCorquodale (21st Rep District) (Green)

Lanette Edwards (22nd Rep District) (D)

Jimmy Brittingham (39th Rep District) (L)

Edward Osienski (24th Rep District) (D)

Trey Paradee (29th Rep District) (D)

Karen Williams (33rd Rep District) (D)

David Henderson (34th Rep District) (D)

Gary Wolfe (35th Rep District) (D)

Paulette Rappa (37th Rep District) (D)

What is interesting are my picks for the Senate have a lot of Republicans but Democrats in the House.  I’m sure I will be severely disappointed around 10pm tomorrow evening!  But nothing will pale in comparison to the Presidential election.  Cause no matter how you slice it, we are screwed with either one of them.  And remember America: You asked for it!  I don’t think it will be the doom and gloom many are predicting if either of them win, but I have no doubt we can anticipate major issues in America.  And as God is my witness, if Hillary wins and picks a certain Governor for the U.S. Secretary of Education, I will personally make sure every single U.S. Senator hears from me along with legions of witnesses, supporters of a low-jack movement, and anyone I can get to make their voice heard loud and clear.  If you think Arne Duncan or John King suck, you don’t want Jack-Jack as the next Secretary of Education in America.  He smiles when he stabs students and teachers in the back!

Let the countdown begin!

 

An Inside Look At The DSEA Endorsement Machine

The Delaware State Education Association comes out with endorsements during election cycles.  This year there are a ton of candidates at the state and federal levels.  Below is a document showing why DSEA endorsed certain candidates in the Delaware House and Senate.  These are only the candidates who have an opponent that they endorsed.  I find some of their choices to be very interesting.  For example, Joe Miro got a nod for getting an appointment on the Southern Regional Education Board.  Two words that I did not see in this document were opt and out.  That is very concerning as  a parent viewing this document.  In fact, some of their endorsed candidates opposed the override of Markell’s veto on House Bill 50.  The words “voted”, “ensured”, and “supported” all come down to a yes vote either in committee or on the floor.  Only two of the candidates they support in a race aren’t incumbents.  Don’t get me wrong, I agree with many of their choices, but this wording for one of the candidates really made me want to vomit a little bit…

Helped DE students complete in the ever-changing global economy by supporting funding for important academic programs, like the Governor’s World Language Expansion Initiative

That sounds like something Jack Markell would say…

One of these was a complete head-scratcher because I don’t recall this legislation even coming to a vote.  I fully support the candidate this is attributed to, but it seems misguiding to put this in their profile when this same rep was a fervent supporter of the opt out bill and that doesn’t even get a mention.

Supported the creation of a funding source for students enrolled in Delaware public schools who are determined as low-income that will provide one unit of funding for every 250 low-income students in grades K-12

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.

Legislation Heading Into July 1st

I went to the Wilmington Blue Rocks game earlier tonight and now I am at Legislative Hall.  The Delaware Senate defeated the WEIC redistricting legislation, HJR #12 with 6 yes and 15 no votes.  But they passed the new SJR #17 and SB #300 which kicks the can down the road and makes WEIC plan more.  There is a chance WEIC could continue based on a lot of stuff I heard involving amendments and very certain conditions which I didn’t completely understand.  Don’t get your hopes up too much though.

Kim Williams charter school audit bill is on the Senate ready list.  I wish I could tell you what the heck is on the agenda, but right now it says nothing and we all know that isn’t the case!  But the Senate and the House are in Caucus right now, so I haven’t seen Sneaky Pete or Val yet.  Went outside and talked to the one and only Danny Rufo next to the “tiki bar” outside.

House is back in session.  Sneaky Pete waved at someone up in the balcony.  I didn’t know who, so I waved back.  Val came in and was talking w/Sneaky Pete and then looked up at me with a kind of sort of smile.  I smiled back.  I heard Jack summoned Tony Allen and Kenny Rivera to come to the office to talk WEIC.  Hearing it is still on life support but might be coming off it soon.  It is now July 1st.  No word on HB #435 (charter audit bill).  Earl told me the Senate will be putting an amendment on HB #399 (teacher evaluation bill) and he hopes it comes back to the House.  Now they are going to work on Senate Joint Resolution #17, the latest WEIC bill.

There is a motion to suspend rules on SJR #17.  Passed, 22 yes, 17 no, 2 absent.  Rep. Collins talked about the letter from Red Clay and Christina asking them not to move forward.  Rep. J. Johnson said things have worked out and the districts are okay with the compromise reached (this was the meeting in Jack Markell’s office).  I have to wonder who on the Red Clay and Christina school districts are okay with this.  But it passed, with 22 yes and 17 no, 2 absent.  Okay, I’m going to stop writing two absent for every damn bill because they are going to be absent the rest of the night!  Now we are onto SB #300, the second WEIC bill covered in July, 2016.  Kim Williams put an amendment on it.  Amendment to SB #300  State Rep. Miro is asking about the possibility of Red Clay suspending the plan at their next board meeting.  Tony Allen was called up.  Tony said if this doesn’t move forward he will be suspending the plan right after the vote.  Something is up here.  Something isn’t right.  There is bait in the water, but I’m not sure who is biting.

State Rep. Mike Ramone asked what the $200,000 is for in the amendment and SB #300.  Tony said it would be to fund the commission moving forward.  Tony said the prior funding for the WEAC and WEIC books came from companies, donations, and even the Chair of WEIC (Tony Allen himself).  Kowalko asked Tony if this is similar to an architect, needing planning.  Tony said yes.  Senate Bill #300 w/Amendment #1 passes, 21 yes, 18 no.  The plan moves forward.  I don’t know what the hell any of this means.  Someone needs to explain it to me.

Heading over to the Senate now.  HB #399 is on the agenda.  And SB #300 has to come back to the Senate because the House put an amendment on it.  They are doing other bills so I’ll update on other bills during the wait.  Absolutely nothing on HB #30 (basic spec. ed. funding for K-3 students).  The School Breakfast bill is up in the Senate (HB #408 w/House Amendment #2).

And my battery died.  To be continued in a new post!

 

 

Red Clay & Christina Respond To General Assembly With Opposition To New Stall Tactic Legislation

The Red Clay and Christina School Districts responded quickly and definitively to the new legislation kicking the can down the road for the redistricting plan with no guarantees of funding and asking for more planning.

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…

A Time For Promises Fulfilled And A Restoration Of Honor: The General Assembly’s True Test This Week

The worst time I ever had blogging was last January.  Once I heard the Governor was rounding up his posse of legislators to vote no on the override of his veto on House Bill 50, I knew it wasn’t going to happen.  There were events that day I didn’t count on, but they happened.  But it is time for State Rep. Mike Ramone to live up to the promise he made to me that day.

To give a quick refresher, the Delaware House and Senate passed House Bill 50 last year, a parent opt out bill honoring their right and preventing schools from giving parents a hard time.  Governor Markell vetoed the bill.  On the third day the General Assembly was back in session this year, State Rep. John Kowalko brought HB50 back.  But first, a suspension of rules had to happen to get it on the agenda for a full House vote.  The majority of the legislators voted no on the suspension of rules.  For whatever reason, many of them didn’t want to vote on overriding the veto.  To make matters worse, many House Republicans introduced new opt out legislation.  One was a House Resolution, which passed, directing Secretary Godowsky to come up with uniform policies for opt out.  This report was due by May 1st.   Another was a bill to remove opt out from any accountability ratings.  The accountability bill was never heard from the House Education Committee.

Secretary Godowsky did honor the resolution.  I’ve heard two different stories with this report.  One was that it was submitted to State Rep. Joe Miro, the sponsor of the resolution.  The other was that it was submitted to State Rep. Earl Jaques, who is also the Chair of the House Education Committee.  That would mean Jaques has been sitting on this for well over a month and a half with no intention of doing anything with it.  Either way, this was never made public.  Miro told me well over a month ago the report was “vanilla”, meaning it didn’t do anything.  I’m not sure what the real story is, but I don’t really care.  Nothing happened with either of the bills the House Republicans introduced.  And now it is time for State Rep. Mike Ramone to keep his word.  On January 14th, when the House refused to suspend the rules, Ramone promised me they would bring back House Bill 50 if nothing happened with the new legislation they introduced that day.  Guess what Ramone?  Nothing happened.  And I don’t want to hear one word about next January.  You made a deal with me and I expect you to honor it.  There were enough people that overheard you say this.  Now only Kowalko can put forth a suspension of rules for it as the bill’s sponsor in the House.  But I expect Ramone and the House Republicans to fully support the suspension of rules and the override of the veto.  House Bill 50 is on the ready list.  But this can happen.  It has to.  It is time.  There is no more House Bill 50 after June 30th.

The Senate can’t vote on an override of a veto on the same day, but I hope if the House does the right thing, the Senate will have it up for a vote the next day.  If not, I fully hope Senator Dave Lawson will request a suspension of rules as the Senate co-sponsor of the bill.  I’ve waited patiently, along with countless other parents, for our General Assembly to do the right thing here.  They unanimously passed a bill in the House that would make the Smarter Balanced an option in teacher evaluations.  This is it General Assembly.  You have three days to do this.  Elections are coming up for a lot of you.  Parents and teachers are a large portion of your voters.  Are you really going to keep disrespecting parents like this?  This is your chance to make up for past mistakes.  It’s up to you.  The only reason the Delaware PTA isn’t pushing this is because they were cut off at the knees by National PTA.  But trust me, the people still want this.  All you have to do is truly listen.

 

Some Are Pushing For The WEIC Redistricting For The WRONG Reasons

I’ve gone back and forth with the WEIC redistricting plan for a while now.  Some days I like it, others I don’t.  I tend to think of it from more of a statewide level because I live down in Dover.  But there are those who are in full support of the plan.  But some aren’t in it for the right reasons.  I recently heard a reference to “those kids”…those being the Wilmington Christina students.  While many of the main advocates want a better outcome for these students and think a population of city kids split up between four districts is bad, there are those who don’t want those kids in Christina anymore.  For the simple reason that they are a perceived burden and a problem that needs to go away.  I like to call this racism.  There are also some in Red Clay who don’t want more of “those kids”.  That is also racism when said in the same context.

I get the folks who are afraid of their taxes going up.  I understand that.  Especially older citizens on a fixed income.  But those who don’t want them because of their environment, or the color of their skin, or the issues they bring into schools… you need to get over it.  We live in the 21st Century.  The Jim Crow laws are gone.  Gay people can marry.  It’s a new way of looking at things.  I tend to believe, and this is only my opinion, most issues of racism are inherited.  Racism exists on both sides.  There are white people who hate black people and black people who hate white people.  I think it comes down to a matter of trust and dealing with fear.

Way back in the halcyon days of the mid 1990s, I worked in a comic book store in Trenton, NJ for a little while.  I was driving home from work one night, and I took a wrong turn.  I wound up in a bad neighborhood.  I was approaching a stop sign when a group of African-American men started walking towards my car with baseball bats.  It terrified me.  I ignored the stop sign and gunned it until I was in a safer area.  I didn’t report it.  I just made sure I was never in that area again.  Did I let that one bad situation define my views of African-Americans?  No.  I recognized there are good and bad people everywhere.  Is there really much difference between those men who were defending their turf and a fight at a school?  Probably not.  Was their intention to harm me or just scare me?  I may never know.  Perhaps they viewed me as a threat.

Back to WEIC, I just feel like the Christina Wilmington children could possibly be a political football.  I’ve discussed this with many people over the past year and a half or so.  I just don’t see how transferring them from Christina to Red Clay is really going to make such a huge difference for them.  They will still be in a school district.  Maybe they won’t be bused as far, but I remember it taking my bus an hour on some days to get to school.  If it was snowing, forget about it!  As an adult, I would kill for an hour in a vehicle I don’t have to drive!  To be alone with my thoughts, possibly someone to talk to.  Read, listen to music, stare at the scenery, I wouldn’t mind it at all.

I get that things need to change.  Personally, I think making Wilmington its own district isn’t such a bad idea.  I think a lot of the other districts should combine.  We really don’t need nineteen school districts in Delaware.  If those in power pushed this, it would happen.  But they are stuck in their ways and the way it is.  Change is very hard for Delaware.  I’ve realized that a lot lately.  But this whole “it has to happen now” thing is beginning to irritate me.  A lot.  If it has to happen now, why are there so many demanding conditions on the whole thing and timetables set up that almost seem to be a detriment rather than a help?

When I hear about Red Clay’s nightmare of an inclusion plan, I worry about the Christina Wilmington special needs kids who may be headed into a district that, on the surface, claims they are a success.  When I hear from parents that the flaws and issues facing that inclusion plan haven’t been solved and that the administration keeps canceling the Red Clay Inclusion Committee meetings for no reason at all, I worry we are sending them to a district that just doesn’t get it.  But once you start digging a bit, you find out Red Clay really isn’t that different from Christina in a lot of respects.  But what they do have is power.  They have very affluent suburbs.  Red Clay and Colonial own the Data Service Center.  They have the ability to authorize their own charter schools.  While it hasn’t been done in a long time, the option is there.  Christina has this option as well, but no one has utilized it.  Christina doesn’t have a Charter School of Wilmington or a Conrad to brighten their reputation (and test scores).  One of them is the most discriminatory institutes of learning I have ever seen in my life while calling themselves a public school.  But no one acts on this.  I have to wonder why that is?  We talk all the time about how we need to make life better for kids.  But we allow discrimination factories in our state that the citizens of the state pay taxes to fund.  What does that say about who we are as Delaware?  We can say we hate it, but when the time comes to push on these issues, and I mean really push, it gets very quiet.

If WEIC truly wants to make things equitable for the children of Wilmington, they need to stop doing it under this illusion of instant change or it is gone forever.  I would love instant change as well, but that doesn’t mean it is always good.  The redistricting plan, if it becomes law, is going to pump tons of money into Red Clay.  But it won’t last forever.  What happens when that money is gone four, five years down the road?  All these programs will happen based on that money.  When it disappears, what happens then?  Is Red Clay going to ask their citizens to pay for it?  Do we truly think the state will keep paying?  And why aren’t Brandywine and Colonial participating in this?  That was the original plan.  Do they not want “those kids” as well?  I know Colonial want to keep the ones they already have, but why did they never offer to take more?

If you are robbing Peter to pay Paul, you better be damn sure you are doing it for the best of all possible reasons.  If you are sending kids into a transition just for the sake of getting rid of them, you might want to take a good look in the mirror and think how it would feel if you were being tossed around like that.  If you’re doing this to gain power, or an illusion power, remember this is not a game.  These are children.  If you truly believe their lives will be better, than go with that feeling.  If you want a legacy, make sure it is a legacy for kids and not your name.  Names are only as important as how things are perceived in the long run.  If this ends bad, your name will be attached to it.

I know there are legislators who have or will vote yes for this because it is the political thing to do.  I know some of them really haven’t researched it enough to know what they are actually voting on.  I have to say, I respect the hell out of State Rep. Kim Williams.  Out of all the House Democrats, she was the only one to vote no.  Not because she doesn’t want a better life for these kids.  Not because she thinks Red Clay isn’t as good as Christina.  She voted no because she is deeply concerned about the funding for all this and what it will eventually mean for the constituents in her district.  To vote against party lines like that, especially when you are the last Democrat on the roll call and you know every single other Democrat in that room already voted yes, that takes courage and strength.

I know some Senators will fight this.  Even a Democrat or two.  I recently heard something about a tooth and a nail.  I heard about another one who is opposed to it but the power players feel they can handle this Senator.  Excuse me?  Handle?  Is this the FBI?  I didn’t know Delaware Senators had handlers.  I spent a lot of time in Legislative Hall this week.  I saw and heard a lot.  More this week alone than I think I have the entire time I’ve gone there during the 148th General Assembly.  While I’m not naming names here, I think some of the Delaware “elite” may want to put themselves in check.  You only have as much power as you think you have.  It can be taken away in an instant.  For those who think they are above the will of the people and all that, think twice.  I’m not the only one who talks, and I don’t talk as much as I could.  The “elite” would most likely have something to really fear if others did.  I would worry more about the things people say about you that you can’t hear.  That puts a chink in your armor and you don’t even know it’s happening.

I fear this will all end badly for these kids.  I agree with what some of the legislators said the other day.  This is a hope bill.  A hope bill with a hell of a lot of money, but even more important, children’s lives on the line.  We still have the Smarter Balanced Assessment which will be the measurement of how successful this thing is.  Success based on a failure of a test.  I have to ask… what the hell are we really thinking this will accomplish if it based on the very flawed measurement that will define this?  The same test that is making a complete mockery out of special education in our state?  If this thing is so important, so “has to happen now”, I would encourage all those who have children or grandchildren that could attend Red Clay district schools send their children there.  Choice them into Warner, or Bancroft, or Stubbs.  Only then will the words I hear so many of you saying actually mean you truly believe this.

School After Labor Day Bill Coming To House Education Committee

Almost two weeks after the Delaware Senate narrowly passed a bill which would mandate all Delaware schools would begin after Labor Day, the bill is heading to the House Education Committee on Wednesday, June 28th.  The underdog of the 148th General Assembly received a boost of life when the Senate passed the bill with an 11-10 vote.  The majority of the votes were not split between party, but rather location in Delaware.  Most of the New Castle County Senators voted no while their counterparts in the Kent and Sussex counties voted yes.  If we see a similar pattern with the House, this bill is going to Governor Markell’s desk by July 1st at the latest!  It will be interesting to hear the state union’s (DSEA) take on the bill since they will have to represent each school district.  Out of Delaware’s 19 school districts, only 6 reside in New Castle County.

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Other bills that will be heard are House Bill 374 which would limit the term of school board seats to four years instead of five and Senate Bill 199 dealing with educator licensure and certification.

WEIC Redistricting Bills Pass The Delaware House

With a vote of  23 yes and  16 no, the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission redistricting plan to send the Christina School District’s Wilmington students to the Red Clay Consolidated School District now heads to the Delaware Senate.  The House Republicans and Democrat State Rep. Kim Williams voted no for House Joint Resolution #12, which was similar to how the votes went down for House Bill 424.

Delaware Senator David Sokola, the Chair of the Senate Education Committee, will now have to schedule a Senate Education Committee meeting to discuss the bill.  If released, it will face a full Senate vote.  If it passes there, it will head to Governor Markell for signature into law.  The commission could still suspend the redistricting plan if the funding is not available.  They will have two opportunities to do this at the start of the fiscal years for 2017 and 2018 should the funding not be available as recommended in their plan.

All the big WEIC folks were in attendance: Tony Allen, Dan Rich, Jea Street, the WEIC attorney who I gave up a seat on the floor for and I went up to the balcony.

Right before the vote, the Joint Finance Committee met and indicated that even though the state found another $7.5 million for the budget due to refinancing bonds yesterday (yes, yesterday), none of those funds would be allocated to the WEIC redistricting plan.

First up was House Bill 424.  It was read in its entirety.  The sponsor of the bill, State Rep. Sean Lynn, stated his big concern with the plan was the ability for school boards to raise taxes without a referendum.  State Rep. Deb Hudson went to line 37 of the bill, which covers funding for the plan and that there must be funding mechanisms from state and local sources.  Lynn had House Attorney Bill Bush come to the floor to go over this aspect of the bill.  Bush stated this not binding language.  Hudson stated it is suggested, but Bush stated once again it is not legally binding.  Lynn said Hudson was reading that part of the bill out of context and went over an earlier part of the bill that covered that sub-section.  Lynn stated it does not bind the state, town, district, or local political subdivision to the plan.  Hudson said the plan requires funding but there is not funding for this bill.  Ramone asked why it was changed with the simple adjustment from shall to recommended.  Bush said it was a “soft” language change.  Ramone said even if it just said “resources”, this would be a money bill.  Bush disagreed and said it is not binding to the General Assembly.  Lynn said the impetus for the bill was that the General Assembly adheres to the plan.  The bill does not bind the government or any subdivision to the bill.  Ramone said recommendation of resources was changed from resources to show this was not a money bill.  Bush agreed.  Ramone asked if this is a majority bill, or the Joint Resolution, because of the changes.  His concern is Red Clay going to referendum because the funds aren’t provided by the state for the plan.  Ramone said the need to fix the schools is a true need.  He gets all that.  Ramone asked who is going to pay for it.  He said no one wants to pay for it because no one can answer the funding questions.

State Rep. Joe Miro said he and Bush go back many years and thinks he is a good attorney, but he asked how another attorney would view this bill.  He heard that the bill isn’t binding, but he has heard some things like this before.  He said it is like going to a doctor, you get a diagnosis and a 2nd opinion, and that opinion could be the basis of a lawsuit.  Bush said this bill provides a clarification that the state is not bound by anything within the bill.  Miro said the state set aside $6 million for this “project” but it isn’t enough money.  He said the minimum amount is $7.5 million and even that is not going to meet the $6 million in the budget.  He is confused in terms of allocated funding which isn’t enough.  He doesn’t want the constituents of his district to go to referendum to cover the costs.  He asked why the funding is in the budget at $6 million if the state isn’t bound to it.

Speaker of the House Schwartzkopf excused Bush.  Roll call: 24 yes, 15 no, 2 absent.  All the House Republicans voted no.

House Joint Resolution #12 came up next.  The bill was read in.  An amendment was read in as well.  The amendment clarifies once again the state is not bound to the plan.  Hudson addressed the sponsor, State Rep. Charles Potter, and asked if there is capital funding needed for the plan.  Potter said this bill realigns the school district.  Hudson asked where that funding would come from.  Potter said he is here to talk about HJR #12.  After some back and forth, with Hudson asking the same type of question with Potter giving the same response.  She said her concern is her constituents and if new schools will have to be built or if students will be put in trailers.  State Rep. William Carson said the General Assembly is non-binding on this resolution.  Any future funding would have to be voted on by the General Assembly, Carson clarified, to which Potter agreed.

State Rep. John Kowalko thanked WEIC for taking on the task of serving at-risk children.  Kowalko said this is a plan.  He said “It is time for us to step up” and deal with children in poverty.  To step up for students who are a victim of their environment.  Kowalko said the boundaries that were set up by the courts were ludicrous.  He said there are some harsh realities with the funding, but it has been set up judiciously.  Ramone commended Potter and WEIC and said there is not an illusion about what the problems are with low-income students and special needs children.  As well as English-Language Learners.  He said they did a remarkable job with spelling that out.  He said this is a step, but the step could be a stall.  He said we need to change how we fund our schools better.  He asked Potter what the purpose of the House Joint Resolution really is?  Potter said “The resolution is the resolution,” which gives the General Assembly the power to realign the school district.  Ramone asked what the purpose of the amendment was.  Ramone asked for someone from the Budget office to explain some math.  Schwartzkopf said he doesn’t see anyone around.  They called downstairs to bring someone up.  While they were waiting, State Rep. Kim Williams read the resolution passed by WEIC which states if the funding isn’t provided, the commission, Red Clay, or Christina could suspend the plan if there is not enough funding.  Potter asked if that helps Ramone’s question.  He thanked Williams and Potter, but said he still wants someone from the budget office.

State Rep. Miro said whenever there is change or a need to implement something, there is a cost associated.  He said he knows what HJR #12 says, but the fact of the matter is there is going to be a cost associated with any changes any time you absorb something from someone else, in this case Christina to Red Clay.  Miro said this absorption will come from state or local funds and it is very difficult to make a promise that we can’t keep.  He feels what will take place is the General Assembly will not be able to keep their promises.  He said with the budget and the deficit we face, it is going to be difficult to answer the calls from his district.  “In order to maintain money,” Miro said, “it is going to be difficult.”  He doesn’t believe anyone in the room today doesn’t want a better future for these students.  He said this is a bill of hope, not money.

Deputy Controller General Mike Jackson came to the podium.  Ramone asked about the State of Delaware and if changing schools from one district to another would be a revenue neutral transtition.  Jackson said the state funding would be reallocated from one district to another.  Ramone asked how the tax rates would change.  Basically, he said by changing from the poorest sections of one district, the tax rate would change.  Ramone said the resolution doesn’t bind the state to financial allocations.  “If I am moving children from Christina”, Ramone said, but they will have more room for administration costs while the students will move to another district with a lower tax rate.  Schwartzkopf asked what the question is.  State Rep. Valerie Longhurst said this resolution is not about financial issues but solely redistricting.

The vote came up for a roll call: 23 yes, 16 no, 2 absent.   The redistricting plan passed the Delaware House of Representatives.

Do Or Die Time For WEIC As House Votes On Redistricting Resolution Tomorrow

The Wilmington Education Improvement Commission faces a full House vote tomorrow to determine if their redistricting plan survives or dies on the vine.  Both House Joint Resolution #12 and House Bill #424 are on the House agenda tomorrow.  Expect the full WEIC contingent to attend the vote.  My advice: arrive early and count on sitting in the balcony.  Bring a seat cushion.

I have a feeling how the vote will go down tomorrow, but I’m going to hold off on my prediction until after.  Let’s just say this will be a very lively discussion on the floor.  Funding is going to be the number one argument.  Speaking of funding, I found out tonight that the Education Funding Improvement Committee (EFIC) had their final meeting yesterday and their report is due to the General Assembly by June 30th.  There will be zero recommendations from the committee on unit-based or weighted funding formulas for Delaware education.  None of the members of the committee could get a consensus on any one recommendation.

There was a considerable amount of House members going in and out of the House floor during their regular session.  More than usual.  I expect there to be a flurry of activity tomorrow before the vote.  Any legislator that is on the fence is going to get pounded all day tomorrow prior to the vote.  I imagine the House Republicans are going to all vote no, but I’ve been wrong on these things before.

The very frightening scenario coming out of this legislative session is based on three things not happening: the WEIC redistricting plan, no legislation determining an equitable education funding formula, and House Bill 30 not passing (or even getting a vote).  That will mean for all the work and time people on these committees are have advocated for a change in education funding will have been in vain.  It will be for nothing.  I actually warned WEIC at their very first meeting that having too many groups discussing education funding was going to be an issue.  I also warned them not having representation from Kent and Sussex County would be a problem as well.  No one ever listens to the blogger!

I think this is what Jack wanted all along.  A way for him to skate out of Delaware and be seen as an education hero, but none of the parties could come to a consensus.  Never mind that a lot of the issues are based on policies he brought forth as Governor in failed education reform.  He will say he tried his best, but it was a rigged game from the start and he knows it.  After the General Assembly leaves in the wee hours of July 1st, Jack will already have vetoed House Bill 399 in his mind.  He will become the lamest of ducks and he will begin counting the days until he moves on to bigger and things.  And he won’t go alone.  I’m already hearing very strange rumors to that effect, but for now they are just rumor.  All I can say is watch for Jack and friends to keep playing the art of misdirection and don’t believe everything you hear coming out of Jack’s mouth.  What may appear to be devastating for some will just be a part of the game.   John Carney doesn’t have a playbook so he is just going to copy Jack’s.  He is already beginning to round up different groups based on Jack’s agendas to begin his campaign, or lack thereof.

I will be blogging live from the House tomorrow and the second the vote goes down, you will know.  You can also listen by clicking on the audio for the House on the General Assembly website, just below the bill search section.  They will be convening on the House floor for their voting session at 3pm.  Before that, the House Education Committee will meet at 1:30 to discuss legislation pertaining to charter school audits, school bullying reporting, and school board terms.

If you don’t care about the WEIC redistricting vote, you should.  This is not just a Wilmington bill, but a Delaware one.  What happens in Wilmington impacts the entire state, good or bad.  I’ve gone back and forth on the redistricting more times than I can count.  I changed my mind again as recently as today.  The plan is epic in scope but the key will be implementation.  Everything rides on that.  But even if it passes and the Governor signs it, there are still ways for not only WEIC to stop the plan, but also the boards of Red Clay and Christina.  One thing to remember is that if the House and Senate passes the redistricting plan, it will be an unfunded mandate.  It will then be up to the Joint Finance Committee to allocate the “necessary and sufficient funding” of $7.5 million over the next two fiscal years for a total of $15 million.  As well as the transition costs.  The kill switch is there if that funding is not put into the budget.  Plain and simple.  As Tony Allen said today at the House Education Committee meeting, if the funding isn’t there, the commission voted unanimously to stop everything.

Every single Delaware State Representative needs to keep their own constituencies in mind when casting their vote tomorrow.  Will this be good for all of Delaware and their own district?  We will know the answer to this one in less than 24 hours…

To see the Executive Summary of WEIC, read below:

General Assembly Faces Bottom Of The 9th With Crucial & Bad Education Legislation

Two weeks.  If you asked a legislator in the Delaware Assembly what two weeks means at the end of June, they would most likely say it is a lifetime.  It’s crunch time, and not all bills will make the cut.  This is a guide to what education legislation has recently passed, what is ready for a vote, what still has to face a committee, and what will most likely get the chopping block.  I don’t anticipate any new education legislation coming out in the next 10 days, but Delaware in the last two weeks of the General Assembly is like the Wild West.  Anything can happen.  And with all the committees that are supposed to have reports out by the 30th (Assessment Inventory Committee and Education Funding Improvement Committee), anything could very easily happen.  It is very important to watch everything that goes down in the next 10 days and INSTANTLY make your voice heard if you support or oppose a sneak bill.

House Bill #435: The fifth Delaware charter school audit bill, faces the House Education Committee on Wednesday at 1:30pm.  The House Republicans hate bills like these, but once again, the votes are not in their favor.  I expect it will be released from both committees and it will pass the House and Senate on it’s way to Governor Markell for signature.

Senate Bill #161: The underdog of the 148th General Assembly!  The no school until after Labor Day passed the Senate with an 11-10 vote.  I could actually envision a suspension of rules behind closed doors deal on this bill.  If this gets a full House vote based on that, I think it will pass.  New Castle County will complain for the next five years about it, Sussex County will cheer, and Kent County will be in the middle.

House Joint Resolution #12/House Bill #424/House Bill 425: HJR #12 is the actual Wilmington Redistricting legislation.  HB #424 states school boards can’t arbitrarily raise taxes.  The latter faces the House Education Committee at 2:30pm for a very special meeting designed solely to lift this from tabled status.  Once that hurdle is done, I expect it will either be subject to a suspension of rules for a full House vote tomorrow (and the chaos that will ensue if that happens!) or it will be on the agenda for Thursday this week.  The reason I think it will get a suspension of rules vote tomorrow is because it still has to go through the Senate Education Committee, which will most likely have their last meeting on Wednesday.  The same goes for HB #424 if it is released from the House education committee tomorrow (which I expect it will).  HB #425 has been non-existent in terms of conversation so I think it will drift off in the summer sky.  For the full votes, I have no idea how the other two bills are going to do.  It has a lot of Democrat Wilmington support.  But downstate and with Wilmington Republicans, that is another matter.  This could go either way.

House Bill #399: The redesigning of Component V in the Delaware teacher evaluation system.  I expect it will pass the House.  Sokola would have to be a complete idiot to not put it on the Senate Education Committee agenda for Wednesday.  It reminds me a bit of the opt out bill last year.  It has overwhelming support, Sokola hates it, and the Governor will most likely veto the bill.  But there is no Hail Mary for Sokola if he does veto it.  I will predict now that if Markell vetoes this bill, Sokola will be doing a lot of biking next year while has peers are making bills.

Senate Bill #199: This is a Sokola bill, so I don’t necessarily trust it.  Come on Kev!  The guy has to do something good for education!  I have yet to see it in the long-term.  This one fell under the radar for me, but it wasn’t introduced until June 7th, flew out of the Senate Education Committee the next day, and got a full Senate vote where it unanimously passed on June 14th.  The odd part is the low numbering of the bill which is unusual.  All the other bills around this one were introduced in March.  As if it was intentionally hidden.  When Sokola bills take flight, I worry.  This looks to me like it opens the door for more Teach For America and Relay Graduate Schools.  This one could suffer due to the Sokola/Jaques spat.  You can read the full text of the bill here (and I recommend all teachers do so): Senate Bill 199

House Bill #30: The basic special education funding for students in Kindergarten to 3rd Grade was finally released from the House Appropriations Committee last week.  But it is not on the agenda for a full House vote tomorrow.  Things happen very fast when the legislators are on the homestretch, but I fear HB #30 will not survive its way out of the 148th General Assembly.

Senate Bill #92/#93: The autism bills haven’t been heard in the House Appropriations Committee yet.  Why is that?  They aren’t on the agenda for the meeting on Wednesday either.  Hmm…

Senate Bill #207: The school discipline reporting bill by Senator Margaret Rose-Henry.  Do the police have to be called every time a student gets into a fight?  This bill would say no to that practice.  Come on, like all of our schools are actively doing this?  It passed the Senate and it is on the House Education Committee agenda for Wednesday.  I suspect this will pass, but I have a lot of concerns with this bill in terms of implementation of the law.

Senate Bill #213: Another Senator Rose-Henry bill which would make it mandatory for school staff, students AND parents to get personal body safety and children sexual assault prevention training for students in Kindergarten to 6th grade.  It’s up for a Senate vote tomorrow…

House Bill #408 w/Amendment #2: Passed the House, Senate Education Committee meeting on Wednesday.  An amendment was added to include charter schools in this school breakfast legislation, even though Kendall Massett doesn’t want it.  Most of the House Republicans voted no on this bill.  I suspect it will pass the Senate, but stranger things have happened.

Senate Bill #277: The Dave Sokola “Pathways To Prosperity” steering committee.  This is going to happen.  This is Jack Herdman’s baby!  Paul Markell has talked about Pathways to Prosperity more this year than anything else!  This gets the full Senate vote tomorrow.  Yes, I know what I did there…

House Bill #374: The former bill for this which limits school board seats to 3 years was not popular.  So State Rep. Paul Baumbach brought forth a new one limiting school board seats to four years.  House Education Committee on Wednesday.  If this passes, it is going to throw the typical school board election cycle into chaos in coming years.  This bill is a response to the Christina School District Board of Education, and nothing else.  I don’t like it.

House Bill #355: As Delaware blazes forward (with a lot of blinders on) with technology, this bill makes it so a computer science class is mandatory and that it can be used as a credit for either math or science.  This gets a full House vote tomorrow.  It will pass.  Jack loves bills like this.

House Bill #250: The charter school bullying choice bill passed the House and is on the Senate Education Committee agenda for Wednesday.  This will pass.  Add anther notch to State Rep. Kim Williams’ many education bills in the 148th General Assembly for this one!  This bill makes it so any bullying must be substantiated for a student to obtain good cause to choice out of a traditional school district or other choice school.  My one concern with this bill is what happens if the bullying is NOT substantiated even though it should be?  That never happens in Delaware, right?

House Bill #350: The “let’s ignore due process and publish when teachers get investigated bill” is dead.  This bill isn’t going anywhere.  What was the point of this Mr. Delaware Speaker of the House?

House Bill #236: The “tax exemption for full disabled vets” bill was released by the House Education Committee and sits in House Appropriations.  I like this bill, but with the current budget deficit, this isn’t one of those mandatory bills that should be a no-brainer.  But it could pass.  This one will be a wait and see.

House Bill #232: This bill is so easy it isn’t even funny.  It would allow the State Board of Education to accept public comment on items that are going to have action at one of their State Board meetings.  Released from the House.  With opposition from Donna Johnson and Kendall Massett.  One of those bills where the Johnson effect sends it swirling into the abyss…

THE DEAD ZONE

House Bill #261: The charter school records bill sponsored by State Rep. Mike Ramone.  Seeks to punish school districts if the records aren’t sent as soon as possible or schools don’t notify the charter when a student was placed in an alternative setting when a student choices to a charter.  No mention of a vice versa in this bill.  This was dead on arrival Mike!

House Bill #260: The “have the State Board of Education hold their meetings at 5:30 bill” is an awesome bill, but it is one of those ones that probably causes Donna Johnson to complain A LOT, thus this bill gets the Johnson effect!  Sadly, this bill won’t go anywhere.

House Bill #243/House Resolution #22: The House Republicans very odd reaction to a potential override of Markell’s veto on House Bill #50.  Hey State Rep. Miro, what were Godowsky’s recommendations?  The only thing you told me was that he did send them to you.  What now?  And Ramone: I still remember what you promised me that day.  I am holding you to it!  If not, everyone will know what you told me.

House Bill #240: The “Come SAIL Away” bill dealing with afterschool school for students drifted off to sea after the Joint Finance Committee said nope.  Barring some huge windfall from DEFAC (who determines the state’s revenue) at the last minute, this bill is driftwood.

House Bill #234: The school-based health center would provide funding for the remaining schools in Delaware that don’t have these.  Once again, the budget deficit kills this bill.

House Bill #231: This bill would make it mandatory for charter school teachers to participate in the state pension system.  The Kendall and Johnson effect is in FULL swing here…

House Bill #117: This bill which would designate funding for low-income students on a level consistent with special education funding is a good bill, but it is tied to so many other education funding issues with WEIC and the Education Funding Improvement Committee it was drowned out by other things going on.  It’s a shame cause I supported it.

House Bill #107: The “only local school districts and local boards” can choose their own leaders bill is fantastic.  This came out of the priority schools saga when the DOE wanted to pick leaders for the priority schools.  This bill has been ignored since it was introduced.

House Bill #52: The State Rep. Deb Hudson cursive bill isn’t going anywhere.  It’s been on the House Ready list for well over a year.

House Bill #28: This bill never had a chance with the Kendall factor.  It would make it so charters have to give up their funding for a student if they leave the charter in the middle of the year.  This was one of my favorite bills last year, but nothing EVER happened with it.  Like I said, the Kendall factor…

Senate Bill #239: The restorative justice in lieu of school suspensions bill got a lot of media mentions in Delaware.  But that appears to be it…

Senate Bill #228: Another victim of the Joint Finance Committee, no, we won’t see more funding for the Delaware SEED scholarship program.

Senate Bill #193: The Senator McDowell sponsored “let’s do a study on disadvantaged students in Delaware and get the colleges and universities to participate” bill.  Harris, I think we have enough studies and reports.

Senate Bill #72: The Senator Bryan Townsend “I hate Mark Murphy bill” doesn’t have the luster it had when everyone’s favorite joke was the Secretary of Education.  Buh-bye!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

State Rep. Jeff Spiegelman’s DOE-State Board House Bill 34 Up For Senate Vote On Tuesday

Has it really been over a year since State Rep. Jeff Spiegelman introduced House Bill 34?  Yes it has!  But the wait could be over because it is up for a full Senate vote on Tuesday, March 15th.  House Bill 34 would make it so any new regulations, rules, or administrative procedures by the State Board of Education or the Delaware Department of Education won’t go into effect at the local school districts or charter schools until the school year has completed.  They do this all the time and change things up in the middle of the school year and it gives the districts and charters very little time to plan.  I’ve liked this bi-partisan bill since it was introduced!

It did get a Senate amendment attached to it along with an already passed House Amendment that clarifies if an emergency comes up or if a change is based on existing law, the wait would not take place.  I would assume that since the Senate put an amendment on it and they pass it on Tuesday, it would kick back to the House of Representatives.  The House passed this bill on June 30th, 2015.

Please email your Delaware Senator to pass this bi-partisan common sense legislation!

State Rep. Sean Lynn’s FOIA Legislation Opens Legislators To FOIA

SeanLynn

State Rep. Sean Lynn filed House Bill 269 on March 3rd.  In the State of Delaware, all state employees are subject to the Freedom of Information Act with one exception: the General Assembly.  Rep. Lynn’s bill would change that.  Any email from a General Assembly legislator, whether they are in the House or the Senate, would be subject to FOIA.  While this could certainly give Delaware more transparency, it would not allow for the FOIA treasure chest: cell phone texts.  I would imagine a lot of what goes on in Delaware happens this way.  But this is certainly a step in the right direction.

I would love to get a crack at State Rep. Earl Jaques and Senator Dave Sokola’s emails!  That would be fun!

HB269

 

 

Governor Markell Takes It To Facebook And Receives The Beat Down Of His Life!

Has Jack Markell ever lost anything?  Any of his races for elected official?  Cause this is a guy who is so drunk with power he doesn’t realize when he is beat.  He cannot admit he is wrong on the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  He is holding on for dear life to his failed ideology like it is his lifeline.  I don’t get it.  As I said on his Facebook post (see below), he has done far more for the opt-out movement than anything I ever could.  By writing what he did today, he is causing even more people to unite against him.  Sure, 48 people liked his post.  Among them, the Delaware Department of Education, members of his staff, Donna Johnson and some people I’ve never heard of before in my life.  But the comments… I love it!

To see the action, cause I’m sure by the time I post this there will be more comments to read, please go to Jack Markell’s Facebook page.  I would like to say one thing to our “education” Governor.  Spell-check should point out spelling errors on most social media.  I’m really not sure what “musn’t” is, but I know I mustn’t bust you too much on it…

We musn’t undermine such an important tool for understanding whether our children are learning and our schools are improving.

Schools could damage an important measure of accountability.
  1. Gov. Markell’s education agenda has failed. And he’s flailing about to hold on to anything to keep his precious standardized tests. It would be an important tool IF our governor used the results of the past six years to ACTUALLY support needy schools. He hasn’t. Read here for more. And please share the article: http://www.delawareonline.com/…/opt-out-veto…/78362468/
  2.  I agree with Kim Williams State Representative, 19th District ” If the assessment gave meaningful data to a teacher immediately on individual students, I would agree. My question to the writers, how is this a useful tool if the test comes seven months later, after the student has been promoted to the next grade? What are we learning from this needed data? Is the state developing educational programs from this needed data or are we just going to continue to label schools with this needed data? Are we going to continue to tell communities that your school is failing with this needed data? Are we going to tell these communities that we are going to continue to collect the needed data for another 20 years ignoring what we already know that we do not properly fund what the needed data has been telling us for years -that there is no funding for ELL students, we do not fund Basic Special Education Kindergarten through 3rd grade, and that we have been ignoring poverty since the needed data has been collected? So why would anyone continue to support this state assessment when the needed data has been screaming at us for years what our state needs?”
  3. with all due respect, SBAC does not give parents valid information about their children. It’s not a true growth model, it does not inform instruction ( results are received after the student moves to the next grade), it’s a test designed to trick students rather than encourage them to think outside the box,this bill is about parental rights. The people spoke! The democratic process happened . You did not support that which saddens me. I know you believe you did the right thing but you didn’t! Please reconsider! Give parents back their choices and their voices!
  4. Jack Markell what drugs are you using???? Seriously. I want to know. I want to become just as delusional as you are. You see, I am both a parent AND a teacher who has given the SBAC test, and I have yet to see how it is such an important tool to “understand whether our children are learning and our schools are improving.” Are you trying to start a new Jim Jones style cult? Which flavor of Kool-Aid are you serving? Oh, and since you are hell-bent on taking away parents’ rights, I will be dropping off my daughter at your office after school tomorrow, mmmm-kay????
  5. This is not an important tool and I will determine whether my child participates in this test or not. And I chose not. I do not agree with this test (no matter what you are calling it this year) or with the current system of education as it stands.
  6. We had tests years ago to measure this and we all ACTUALLY learned things. Teaching to prepare for tests does NOTHING but give our children anxiety. Let’s go back to actually teaching our children!!
  7. I used to like you governor. When I was a student twenty five years ago we took standardized testing but our teachers still taught us art, math, science. Free thinking. They weren’t just teaching to lead up to the test….this is why other countries are beating us.
  8. How about teach the way the children learn, not teach them the test. How about increasing the school’s budget so they can hire better teachers and more of them? How about we put the responsibility back on the student to learn rather than fault the teacher? Have you been in the classroom to see what teachers are forced to endure? Its no wonder children aren’t learning when teachers are spending 40 mins trying to get a class to settle down. 
  9. To address this in its entirety, please stop issuing guidance and rhetoric on why parents should stop advocating for their children. Unless the child is a “ward of the state” stay out of my house and what I believe is best for my children.
  10. I refuse to teach because of standardized tests and the way we have handicapped teachers. I, also am a liberal. But we must understand we are a nation of 300 million plus not every kid will be a scientist or straight A student. Go back to standardized tests as just a gauge on how kids are doing, not on wether teachers will be fired or students course work will change. Stop forcing teachers to change their classes around for one or two students who need IEPs. And if your a parent DO YOUR JOB and stop demanding ridiculous things from your teachers and education departments.
  11. These standardized tests are not a gauge of what kids are learning. Other older tests did a better job of that.
  12. Sir, this is why I will never teach in a classroom either. When I work with a child, I will do whatever it takes to get that child to be successful. I measure that child’s success on only themselves and their needs. 
  13. Governor, the tests and the publishing companies who sell them to us are not being undermined. Teachers, students, and parents who stand for real education and respect are being undermined.
  14. Wow! Is there anything else left to say, Governor? #HeresYourSign
  15. Unfortunately, Jack, the turnaround time between test administration and the receipt of scores undermines your argument.
  16. Wrong here Governor
  17. OMG Governor Markell, are you kidding me? Did you really think you were going to get a lot of support on here? Listen to what the people are saying. Just…give…up… It’s over. This could have gone a lot differently, but you had to keep poking the parent bear, over and over again. Your fighting opt-out did far more for the cause than anything I ever did. You have probably caused at least 10-20 more parents to opt out just by posting this. Maybe more. The Smarter Balanced Assessment will never be respected in Delaware. Not by those that REALLY matter: the voting public. You may have your buddies in the DOE, and Rodel, and all that, but at the end of the day, the people have spoken, and they say NO!!!!
  18. My daughter, who tests scores are always above grade level, both, for DCAS and Smarter Balance, got palpitations and I had to rushed her to the A.I. DuPont hospital last May, after three weeks of testing period. It is not about having the children tested, is about which test and how it is done. I agree children have to be tested but I don’t think all these testing combined is done right, otherwise, children wouldn’t be under this sort of stress.
  19. Everyone’s being all nice about this. How about a different prospective. How dare undermine my child’s education for some BS test score to satisfy you federal grant requirements… Just like everything else government has had a hand in, thanks for doing your part in killing our education system. You don’t know what’s best for everyone else’s kids and you should never have a say in it. You need to opt yourself out of our lives…
  20. Mike Matthews article: “Under Markell’s administration, educators have had to tolerate an evaluation system that disrespects their performance in the classroom and lends far too much credence to a standardized test that has changed three times in six years. Using test scores to judge teachers in all of our schools — but especially our least-supported and most challenging schools — is just dumb and has been disavowed by the American Statistical Association.”
  21. That’s why most teachers send their children to private schools cause they know the real deal! Standardized testing is all about politics and money! Truthfully I don’t like how my daughter being taught in school! I’m looking for other alternatives!
  22. There is a direct correlation between those tests scores and poverty levels in schools. We don’t need another measure of poverty….we need solutions.
  23. Standardized testing is NOT an accurate indicator of student learning. If you do not have teachers who are capable of grading students accurately based on their body of work and how much they have progressed or not, then you need better teachers. Standardized tests are junk!
  24. I don’t have nearly the eloquence of some of your other constituents who have already spoken. But I am one more so thinks these tests need to be reconsidered. As a mom of three who works closely with their teachers, as a volunteer who had done Read Assist tutoring, I have yet to hear ONE educational professional speak of these tests positively.
  25. Give our classrooms back to our teachers.
  26. Not many teachers support the damn tests because the whole curriculum is based on them and teachers have no flexibility. There has got to be other ways to measure student’s progress. Also cutting or reducing funding to low performing schools accomplishes nothing positive. It just makes it harder for poorer schools to compete.
  27. Yes we should and yes I will ! Teacher are too worried about a test then actually teaching our children
  28. We as parents should have every rite to opt out if its our choice they are our children and the government or any one else should mind there busy unless our children are being physically harmed
  29. As long as teachers are being held accountable on DPAS for these scores, students will continue to be taught to the test. Therein lies the problem.
  30. Did someone forget a T? Maybe we should be testing our government officials for culpability and competence?
  31. Students opt out whether you like it or not. Giving the parents an option to pull them instead allows you to account for students who otherwise draw pictures on these tests.
  32. I don’t agree I just found out my son has scored horribly on these test but he was tested to be in a gifted program…. We have to do better as a whole for this children
  33. Amazing , how our elected officials should be voting and deciding on issues in the manner the public wants ! I don’t have children, but seems to be all about $. If we score high more grants ….. Forget the grants and give the people what they want for their children .Better idea, all that money we give to the refugees that are allowed to come to Delaware give that to the schools and make the public happy.
  34. Everyone should make themselves familiar with their local elected officials
  35. State representatives and state senators and blow their email boxes and phone lines up !
  36. These people should be doing what people want , if not vote them out. 
  37. I attended school in the 50’s and 60’s I have children who attended in the 80’s, 90’s and now have 2 daughters currently in elementary school. I’ve served on school boards and my wife is a teacher. What I have personally experienced and witnessed is the systematic in 50+ years is the systematic dumbing down of our public education in this country.
  38. We, the parents, and the teachers know if our kids are
  39. Get rid of “common core” and bring back “common sense”
  40. How about removing common core from Delaware’s education system as well?
  41. So teaching only what is on the test so each school can brag about how they’re doing is ok?
  42. Grow a skin, buckle up and do what is expected. Stop seeking reasons to not. This test may not be the best in reasoning but to the the few that are boo boo whining please enough. What’s next ? Opting out of mid terms? (Editor’s note: always a naysayer in a group!)
  43. If this is so good for the kids and the schools, tell us why !
  44. Maybe if there is this much opposition to these tests, we need to look at alternative assessments???
  45. Does it matter Jack? Delaware public schools are horrible.
  46. No testing should happen twice a year but teaching shouldn’t be the answers on the test!!!
  47. These tests are a complete waste of resources!
  48. The error is in thinking there is a single standard for intellect.
  49. Don’t say “we” and “our;” they’re not your kids, you arrogant dictator. (Editor’s Note: One of my favorites)
  50. Which is why we now homeschool.
  51. These tests do not help anyone. (Editor’s note: Yes they do, many hedge fund managers, testing companies, and Governor Markell’s stock portfolio and his golden ticket post-Governor job)
  52. I could not disagree more
  53. Hit the road, Jack. (Editor’s Note, another one of my favorites)
  54. Let’s vote on it.
  55. Nobody asked you for your opinion sir
  56. BS 
  57. Your tool SUCKS!

Delaware PTA Releases Petition For HB50 Veto Override! Please Sign Today!

The Delaware PTA created a petition on Change.org to support the override of Delaware Governor Markell’s veto of House Bill 50.  HB50 is legislation codifying a parent’s right to opt their child out of standardized assessments.  It passed the Delaware House and Senate with an overwhelming majority.  House Bill 50 does not “allow” a parent to opt-out, despite what other media may have written in the past.  Parents already own that right.  This bill honors that right and protects them and schools from bullying and intimidation when an opt-out choice is made by a parent.

Please sign the petition here: https://www.change.org/p/delaware-state-house-delaware-state-senate-vote-to-override-delaware-hb50-veto?recruiter=135941660&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=copylink

Once you sign, please copy and paste the link and share it on Facebook, Twitter, email or anywhere you can think of.  Our legislators need to hear our voice on this issue.  This will be presented to all the legislators in the Delaware House of Representatives and the Delaware Senate to lend support for the crucial vote.

Thank you Delaware PTA for making this happen!!!!!!!!!

Parent Opt-Out Veto Override Rally 1/14/16, I Know What You Have Been Up To Governor Markell

The Delaware PTA is hosting a parent rally at Legislative Hall in Dover on January 14th, at 2pm.  This event is changed from January 12th.  Please make every effort to attend: parents, students, citizens, teachers, administrators, superintendents, charter heads, and anyone else you can think of.  The latest bomb from the US DOE about opt-out is a slap in the face of every single parent of a child in public school America.  We need to make this standardized high-stakes testing madness stop.  Take off work that day, bring your kids, and support the God-given, fundamental and constitutional rights of parents.  This is YOUR moment.  Do not let it pass.  For school employees, bring the students on a field trip that day and show them how democracy in America works best.  This is about parents rights, pure and simple.  This is not a civil rights issue.  If anything, the Smarter Balanced Assessment has proven how disgusting and vile one test can cause illusions and perceptions about students who have the most needs for instruction.  And if you are the parent of a brilliant child who did great on the test, that is excellent.  Your child is going to be brilliant either way and doesn’t need this money-wasting time-consuming test to tell you what you already know.

I’VE HEARD FROM SEVERAL FOLKS THAT GOVERNOR MARKELL IS CALLING ALL OF THE HOUSE REPS AND ASKING FOR THEIR SUPPORT IN NOT VOTING YES TO THE OVERRIDE OF HOUSE BILL 50.  While everyone who told me this asked me not to share it, and I pretended with each one this was the first time I heard it, it is far too many for my comfort zone.  Jack Markell is telling legislators about how it would be so disrespectful to his office if they override HIS veto.  Sorry Jack, this is not YOUR bill.  This is not YOUR decision.  Our legislators sided with parents over your diabolically insane testing mentality.  You are a bully.  You do not care about parents.  How many of your children took the Smarter Balanced Assessment?  We both know the answer to that one!

FOR OUR DELAWARE LEGISLATORS: If you vote no to the veto, you are nothing more than a bully.  You are a pawn of Governor Markell and you care more about disrespecting one already disrespectful person than thousands of your constituents.  You serve Delaware.  The People of Delaware.  Not Jack Alan Markell.  The people.  A no vote on the veto could very well cost you your re-election if you are up again next year.  And if you aren’t running or don’t face the ballot until a later date, good luck getting any support from the thousands of Delaware parents who have been spit on, disrespected, bullied and intimidated.  I know for a fact some of you have already given your support to Jack on this issue.  I would think long and hard about that costly mistake if I were you.  Republicans and Democrats alike.  This is not the time for you to lend support to a failed Governor on education.  Seven out of twelve states who received the latest US DOE threat letter were Smarter Balanced Assessment states.  Do more than override the veto. Get rid of Smarter Balanced, and come up with a meaningful and productive assessment for our students without all the strings attached.  We don’t need to hire outside consultants and companies to do this.  We don’t need to spend tens of millions of dollars to do this.  We have the teachers and educators in our very own state to come up with something better for our children.  And as for you John Carney, you need to get your head out of the clouds and oppose Markell’s bullying tactics.  Loudly and clearly.  Stop being quiet on everything and just assuming you are a shoe-in on Election Day.  That is weak and tiring, and Delaware deserves better than that.

FOR GOVERNOR MARKELL: Do you hear that?  That is the sound of parents becoming more important than you.  That is the sound of the legislators in your state supporting those same parents and honoring their rights.  It rang like a bell on June 25th when the Delaware Senate cleared the final passage of House Bill 50, and it will ring again when they override your veto.  This is your legacy.  This is your thumbprint on Delaware: causing parents to rise in opposition to a tyrannical eight years of you.  We are done with you.  We are casting you aside and praying the next one is infinitely better.  For all the talk you had about education, you are no better than a school yard bully taunting those you believe are weaker than you.  We are stronger than you and we will show you once and for all how much stronger we are.  We know you taunt and tease our legislators with threats about not supporting this bill or that bill, or how you use your executive power to make promises when it comes to the budget.  We know you allowed Rodel to use their influence so you could hand-pick your leaders in the Delaware DOE and your unelected members of the State Board of Education.  We know which legislators are in your pocket.  No more.  Your power is waning and you know it.  Instead of succumbing to the will of the people you actually think exerting more power will make people listen.  No.  You are done.

As a state, we need to STOP making every single education decision that is surrounded by the measurements of standardized assessments.  The Wilmington Education Improvement Commission is doing it.  Our schools do it.  Our DOE certainly does it.  Our businesses aligned with Markell and Rodel do it.  Enough.  What about YOUR child.  What about their INDIVIDUAL rights?  Do they mean anything anymore?

If You Want To Opt Your Child Out Of The Smarter Balanced Assessment, Just Do It! And Join A Support Group!

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I absolutely agree.  Please join any of the Delaware District Opt-Out groups on Facebook, or join Refuse The Test Delaware, the central hub for parents to meet and discuss opt-out.  All are welcome, unless you are a troll.  We don’t want you.  Go away.  We need to start gearing up for opt-out season, starting soon at a test and punish school near you.  The test is brought to Delaware by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium and about 500 other companies that are making a KILLING in profits off our kids.  A KILLING!!!!

Just remember, opt-out is allowed and don’t let anyone tell you different.  If someone tells you that, let me know.  I will set them straight!  Worried about a confrontation?  Don’t worry.  They all know me. 🙂

Today is the day to opt your child out if you haven’t already.  Just email your child’s school principal, and let him/her know you don’t want your child to take the Smarter Balanced Assessment and you expect your child to receive instruction.  Also let the principal know this is your final decision.  If the school sends you a letter asking you to sign something about understanding Delaware law concerning opt-out, IGNORE IT.  But certainly email it to me at kevino3670@yahoo.com and I will gladly pop it up on here.  Other schools have been through this with me.  One district did the same stunt two years in a row!  You are not alone.  There are others who feel the same way you do.  I also understand many of you are just itching for the legislators to override Governor Markell’s veto of House Bill 50.  You don’t need that, but it will stop the bullying and intimidating by our school districts.  And it would also throw a big monkey wrench in the Delaware Department of Education, the State Board of Education, and Governor Markell’s harsh opt-out penalties they filed with the US Department of Education.  The US DOE still hasn’t approved them, and probably won’t until sometime next year, if they approve them at all!

If you are worried about someone watching you at this time of year, don’t worry because Santa Claus supports opt-out!!!

As well, just to be on the safe side, please email your state legislators in the House and Senate to let them know you want them to override Governor Markell’s veto of House Bill 50.  Or you can email them ALL!  They love to hear from Delaware citizens.  You can look up your State Representatives here and your State Senators here.

If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to me!  Thank you!

Kevin Ohlandt

Harris.McDowell@state.de.us MargaretRose.Henry@state.de.us robert.marshall@state.de.us greg.lavelle@state.de.us catherine.cloutier@state.de.us Ernesto.Lopez@state.de.us Patricia.Blevins@state.de.us David.Sokola@state.de.us Karen.Peterson@state.de.us bethany.hall-long@state.de.us Bryan.Townsend@state.de.us Nicole.Poore@state.de.us David.McBride@state.de.us bruce.ennis@state.de.us Dave.Lawson@state.de.us senator-colin@prodigy.net brian.bushweller@state.de.us gsimpson@udel.edu Brian.Pettyjohn@state.de.us Gerald.Hocker@state.de.us Bryant.Richardson@state.de.us Charles.Potter@state.de.us StephanieT.Bolden@state.de.us helene.keeley@state.de.us gerald.brady@state.de.us melanie.g.smith@state.de.us debra.heffernan@state.de.us Bryon.Short@state.de.us Quinton.Johnson@state.de.us Kevin.Hensley@state.de.us sean.matthews@state.de.us jeff.spiegelman@state.de.us Deborah.Hudson@state.de.us john.l.mitchell@state.de.us Peter.Schwartzkopf@state.de.us Valerie.Longhurst@state.de.us jj.johnson@state.de.us Michael.Mulrooney@state.de.us kimberly.williams@state.de.us Steve.Smyk@state.de.us Michael.Ramone@state.de.us joseph.miro@state.de.us paul.baumbach@state.de.us Edward.Osienski@state.de.us john.kowalko@state.de.us John.Viola@state.de.us Earl.Jaques@state.de.us william.carson@state.de.us trey.paradee@state.de.us bobby.outten@state.de.us Sean.Lynn@state.de.us andria.bennett@state.de.us jack.peterman@state.de.us Lyndon.Yearick@state.de.us David.L.Wilson@state.de.us Harvey.Kenton@state.de.us Ruth.BriggsKing@state.de.us Ronald.Gray@state.de.us Daniel.Short@state.de.us Timothy.Dukes@state.de.us Richard.G.Collins@state.de.us David.Bentz@state.de.us