The Music Shuffle: Through The Years

I haven’t done one of these in a while.  I spent the better part of tonight writing this.  I hit some tough topics on this one.  A way to purge and look back on my life and remember.  Memories, good and bad, they are what make us who we are. Continue reading

Big Mouth AOA Leaker John Fluharty Continues To Run His Big Mouth

John Fluharty.  He who suffers from that unique Delaware ailment called sitting in a job and getting paid on the taxpayer dime and doing nothing.  For someone who pretends to be a Republican, he sure does like to get involved in Democrat power games. Continue reading

A Fate Worse Than Death: Governor McGuiness

Imagine, one day, years from now, when her State Auditor days are a thing of the past.  When Park City decides to reach for the brass ring.  When she decides to run for Governor of Delaware.  This is what Democrat voters could ultimately decide on September 6th if they collectively vote wrong.

If you thought Jack Markell was bad.  If you thought John Carney was bad.  You haven’t seen ANYTHING until you’ve seen Park City leading The First State in some kind of fresh hell I couldn’t imagine on my very worst day.  In that kind of Hellaware, LLCs would be more important than people.  She would still be talking about her $1 million in change orders when she was on Rehoboth City Council.  Her days at the State Auditor’s office would be as hazy as the water next to an old DuPont plant.

To the union members in Delaware, I say this: many of you endorsed McGuiness.  She wouldn’t even march with you in solidarity today.  She opted to wear her own campaign regalia and walk on the sidewalks.  You put your reputation and political muscle on the line for her and she couldn’t even walk with you.  What does that say?  This same woman who doesn’t know the difference between ABC and AFL-CIO.  She used you.  Don’t give her the satisfaction of giving her your vote. I’m sure your leadership would love for you to push that button.  She is pushing ALL your buttons and will screw you over.  You can take that to the bank.  She will not protect you against Right To Work in the future any more than she pretended to on that nine degree day last January.  You can trust your Marvel or you can trust me.  Your choice.

Voters need to be careful what kind of doors they open when they push that person’s name on the ballot.  Be smart.  Vote for Kathleen Davies for State Auditor on Thursday.  Not only will you see a return to more fiscal transparency in Delaware but you will also be getting the most qualified candidate ever to be State Auditor.  Ignore all the pictures.  They don’t mean a thing.  What matters is quality, not quantity.  What matters is getting the job done, not pretending you are not beholden to others when you know you are.  What matters is keeping the power in check, not checking to make sure the power isn’t held accountable.

Vote Davies for State Auditor.

Mike Matthews: Delaware Has A Teacher Shortage

It isn’t just Christina School District.  The entire state of Delaware is facing a teacher shortage with schools starting as soon as tomorrow in some districts.  Based on visits to school districts, DSEA President Mike Matthews said Delaware is short anywhere from 150 to 200 teachers. Continue reading

Guest Post: Billie Jo Casapulla Bullock on Patrick Miller’s Abuse Of Funds From Indian River Volunteer Fire Company

Editor’s note: Billie Jo Casapulla Bullock worked at the Indian River Volunteer Fire Company until July 12th, 2018.  She volunteered there for seven years as an Emergency Medical Technician.  She was suspended in early June.  The board of the fire department, after a vote by the fire company, terminated Bullock after she had come forward about her discovery of financial improprieties stemming from Patrick Miller and had gone public.  Miller has seven relatives as members of the fire company.  Today, Bullock sent an email to every single legislator in the state along with Governor Carney, Attorney General Matt Denn, State Treasurer Ken Simpler and the Delaware State Fire Prevention Commission.

I am asking that the Indian River Volunteer Fire Company be looked into for fraud, abuse of authority and abuse of public trust.  It has been found by myself and the treasurer that the President Patrick Miller has been doing the above.  There is such a dictatorship at the company that the members are afraid to speak up and take action.  This is  what the treasurer sent to the fire chief after the vice president would not take action against the president and suspend him until an investigation was complete.

—– Forwarded Message —–

From: “Michael Eisenhauer” <meisenhauer1@verizon.net>

To: “‘Steven Deery'” <steven.deery@irvfc.com>

Sent: Thu, Jun 28, 2018 at 3:05 PM

Subject: SCBA grant

It appears that FEMA intends to fund our grant.  I had to fill out paperwork for the bank to be aware of direct deposit of funds from FEMA.  Mike Penzotti called me and said that this is the process when they decide to fund grants.  My concern is this.  The Delaware Congressional Team will get involved and if we have issues that they become aware of I think we can kiss the grant goodbye.  There is one single issue that should have resulted in the suspension of the president.  He has been getting the News Journal since 2012and having it paid on the Credit Card.  He gets on the computer and inputs “News Journal (or Newspaper) Electronic version”, $15.00 and now it is $22.00 a month.  A member asked me for the password to read the paper but I don’t have it so I went to find it.  IRVFC does not have a subscription to the News Journal.  What the Company has been paying for since 2012, is for the Sunday print edition of the News Journal delivered to Patrick Miller. (editor’s note: I took out Mr. Miller’s home address and phone #.)  For the past 90 months the president for the most part has been falsifying company records for his personal gain.  I have documented a persistent pattern of abuse of authority and dishonesty on behalf of the President of Indian Rive Volunteer Fire Company.  I tested Mario Street and he took the information to Patrick and after that I quit communicating with Mario.  Mario made  a serious error by using his position at SUSCOM to get at BJ and he well feel more than just the heat in the near future.

Now, it is up to you Steven.

Thank you for your time and consideration in this matter.

Michael Eisenhauer

Treasurer

This letter shows just one thing that is happening.  This is just the TIP of the iceberg  After the treasurer and myself started to investigate we uncovered a substantial amount of misappropriated funds from Patrick Miller .

We all know how much the volunteer fire companies in the state receives from state and  county funding.  This is tax payers money and I feel that there needs to be more accountability within the fire companies to stop fraud. 

There are many other organizations that could use this funding if the fire companies are going to lie cheat and steal. 

I can say that the other fire companies that have found fraud stepped up and took action against the abuser, this is not the case for Indian River because Patrick Miller controls everything within the company.  Just like he did when he was the CFO at the Indian River School District.  He is still the same person and nothing has change and as you can see he has been abusing his trust at the fire company for a very long time.

To this day nothing has been done and Patrick Miller has been able to continue to do the above mentioned actions to now include trying to hide what he has done.  The financial oversight committee did request the state to do an investigation and Patrick Miller stopped that from happening.  At this point I think it is going to take the state to step in and take action to resolve this issue and bring trust back to the company and community.

Thank you for your time in this serious matter,

Billie Jo Bullock

Editor’s note: Wow!  Patrick Miller is at it again.  Not a state secret.  I’ve written about this before.  The problem is he keeps getting away with it.  At this point, I can only surmise that if he goes down he will take a ton of people down with him.  Including Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Susan Bunting.  Even though I’ve made Carney and Delaware aware of her knowledge of his theft in Indian River School District, they are ignoring it.  They don’t know what to do with it.  So they continue to act like a deer in a headlight.  Meanwhile, the rampant theft continues.  I believe the State Auditor’s office already has a lot of the information Bullock references.  But according to Miller, there is no investigation going on.  The Delaware State Fire Prevention Commission has yet to act on any of this.  Their next board meeting is next Tuesday but they don’t have an agenda for their meeting.  Which breaks FOIA law because that has to be put up on their website or on the Delaware Public Meeting calendar seven days before their meeting.  I would file a FOIA complaint but how many times can I do that with no accountability?  Sigh…

I would like to give immense praise and gratitude to Billie Jo Casapulla Bullock to stand tall in the face of this.  It takes a very courageous person to come forward and do what is right.  As a result, she was terminated.  That is retaliation.  That is illegal.  And it isn’t the first time this happened with Miller.  He is a walking, talking, and breathing menace to Delaware.  We have too many scumbags like that in this state.  I know some legislators did respond to Bullock and she gives her thanks.

We stand at a crossroads in Delaware.  We the people can no longer ignore the shenanigans going on here.  It is time to call people out, loudly and publicly.  Whether it is personal or in the public’s right to know, things MUST change.  Our state government is doing nothing.  I have many ideas on how to really change things.  I would love to hear your thoughts.  There will be more on this soon.

Delaware Gets C+ In Report On Public School Privatization

The Network for Public Education and the Schott Foundation released a report this week on how all fifty states rate on the privatization of our public education system.  They measured how charters are run, the quality of the charter schools, and how the state handles voucher schools as examples.  Delaware received a C+ in this report.  Most of that was due to the fact Delaware came in 2nd out of all states in the voucher school category with a grade of A+.  Delaware does not support any type of voucher system in our public schools.  But we got an F for the number of charter schools in the state based on how they divert funds from traditional school districts.

Delaware FY2019 State Employee Salary Bumps Covered Under Senate Bill #236

The one-time salary increases for Delaware state employees is the heart of Senate Bill #236, released by State Senator Harris McDowell yesterday.  If you are a state employee, it looks like you will somehow be seeing more money next year.  Is it enough?  For years, state employees have been complaining about the lack of raises.  Aside from teachers, many state employees don’t see the bumps they need to keep up with the cost of living.  Put your thoughts in the comments!

Governor Carney Launches “Basic Needs School Closets” In 45 Delaware High Needs Schools

Today, Delaware Governor John Carney announced the creation of basic needs school closets for 45 high needs schools from the bottom of the state to the top.  These schools have high concentrations of low-income and poverty students.  I salute the Governor for this initiative!  From the press release:

“We are helping to make certain every Delaware student in high-needs schools has the basic resources many of us take for granted so they can focus on their education and thrive in the classroom.” Governor John Carney

All Delaware students deserve to be able to learn in a comfortable environment, with their basic needs met.

That’s why we’re stocking basic needs closets in 45 high-needs Delaware schools. Delaware’s basic needs closets will provide elementary and middle school students across the state with increased access to free products designed to meet students’ needs so they can effectively participate in class. Each school’s basic needs closet will be stocked with products identified by districts and charter schools as essential to the wellbeing of their students, including hygiene products, school supplies, clothes, and more. Students will be able to discreetly access the closets throughout the school year. This is about meeting students’ basic needs with dignity, so they can be ready to learn in class.

A map of the schools where students will be able to access these closets can be found here.  This is an excellent idea and I know Carney talked about this when he was on the campaign trail.  Other organizations helping out with this program are Bayhealth, Beebe Healthcare, Christiana Care Health System, Cover & Rossiter, Delaware Dept. of Education, DrinkerBiddle, Edis, First Book, Food Bank of Delaware, Global Delaware, Incyte, Nanticoke Health Services, Nemours Children’s Health System, Office of the Governor and Operation Warm.  As well, on the above link, there is a form you can fill out if you want to help with this awesome idea!

General Assembly Passes Budget But No Room For Congratulations

The Delaware General Assembly did what they could.  They did their best to ensure they wouldn’t spend their 4th of July week at the beck and call of Governor Carney.  They passed the budget, the bond bill, and Grant-In-Aid last night.  With no changes to personal income tax.  $190 million in cuts and $175 million in revenue.  Actions have consequences.  I have no doubt many of them will find that out in 2018 during the next election cycle.  By going after education and the elderly they have proven, once again, far too many of them are heartless bastards who exist to protect the rich more than supporting the poor.

The hand-slapping and high fives will continue.  I’ve seen it already on social media.  In many of their minds, the job is done and they saved the day.  Now they can enjoy the rest of the summer.  As an added bonus, they had the time to work a ton of bills so they can rest assured that when they come back in January their plate won’t be as full.

Now what?  We will see school districts lay off teachers.  The elderly, middle class, and poor will have less than they had before.  Smokers and drinkers will pay more beginning in September.  Any real estate transaction will fill the state coffers.  Charter schools will breath a sigh of relief they didn’t lose their transportation slush fund.  By the way, thank you to the 16 state representatives that voted for doing away with that monstrosity.  Hopefully next year we can abolish it for good.

This is not a victory by any means.  This was a bitter defeat.  It was a surrender, to all that is wrong with Delaware.  The oppressed will rise and make their voice heard in larger numbers.  You reap what you sow.  Shared sacrifice my ass.  This was a slaughter.

Behind The Scenes Discussion At Legislative Hall Could Result In 2% Pay Cut Or Major Increase In Healthcare Costs For ALL State Employees

*Please go to the end of the article for an update on this developing situation.

While it has not been “officially” confirmed, I am hearing leadership in our state government is talking about giving ALL Delaware state employees a 2% cut in pay for FY2018.  The only exception would be prison guards due to the negotiated agreement with them.  The other possible option is increasing health insurance premiums by 50%.  This is going on behind closed doors folks with ZERO transparency.  None.  It is the day before they are supposed to be passing a budget and it has not been released to the public at all.  There is NO option to get your voice heard.

The House and Senate are taking a break to eat dinner.  They should be back on the floor around 8:30pm.  Longhurst’s House Bill #240 which could gut itemized deductions in Delaware and raise YOUR taxes will get a vote.  From the legislators and folks down there I’ve been talking to, the legislators are in a panic mode with Governor Carney seemingly clueless.  No budget has been written.  This is not good folks.  At all.  I’ve heard the cuts in the budget referred to as a “bloodbath”.  We have school boards able to raise taxes through the match tax scam.  We have charters keeping their transportation slush fund.  We axed the estate tax.  There is ZERO organization here folks.  And I won’t even get into the damn bickering between the Dems and the Republicans.  Grow up.  We don’t care.  Do the right thing for our state!

So this is what you need to do citizens of Delaware: get to Legislative Hall tomorrow night around 5pm and swarm every single legislator you can.  Show up IN PERSON.

Ironically, the “Find Your Legislator” portion of the Delaware General Assembly website appears to be not working.  At least for me.  But you view a full list in the blue links here:

Delaware Senators

Delaware State Representatives

This absolute crap and farce of a state government has been operating in the shadows for far too long.  They know this is going to hurt every single state employee but they want to rush this budget and then head off on Summer vacation.  This is shady and it is happening now.  We have State Reps joking around about last names, taking up time when there could be meaningful conversation that the public can here about all this.  I heard one state rep ask for a bill to be tabled until January because of the public’s need to know more about the budget.  Schwartzkopf shot him down.  I don’t know which rep it was, but we need to hear more of that.

Remember, tomorrow.  Make YOUR voice heard LOUD and CLEAR!

Updated 6/30/17, 1:24pm: David Burris, the Chief of Staff for the Delaware Senate Republicans put a response up on Facebook that there has been zero discussion about pay cuts on their side of the aisle.

Delaware’s Tax Structure 20 Years Ago Was MUCH Higher Than Proposals Coming Out Now

Thank you to State Rep. Trey Paradee for posting this on Facebook.  I didn’t even live in Delaware back in the late 1990s.  Paradee also said Delaware was swimming in money back then.  We are not swimming in money now though.  We are drowning in debt.  We paid the piper and now our legislators are realizing far too much that overspending and not enough oversight has created one hell of a mess in The First State.

Many of us are extremely upset right now.  We see cuts and tax increases.  We hear joking around on the audio of the House.  We see the blame game going back and forth between Republicans and Democrats.  We see a perfectly good bill which would generate $43 million in revenue for the state just dying on the vine.  We see services our elderly and youth get being completely evaporated and diminished.  We are pissed.  We are tired.  We are Delaware.

For legislators who are seeing the back-and-forth on social media right now, they can see our anger.  They need to.  They need to know we the people are not happy on both sides of the aisle.  These are our children and grandparents.  Husbands and wives.  Families.  Schools.  The elderly.  The mentally ill.  The disabled.  The volunteers.  Where is this budget bill?  Let the people see it and weigh in.  Why are you so afraid of transparency?  Maybe, just maybe, one of us common people could propose ideas with a fresh outlook that none of you even thought about.  That is a true democracy.

Wednesday Is Find Revenue Quick Day In The House Revenue & Finance Committee Meeting

Lots of interesting tax bills on the agenda for the Delaware House Revenue & Finance Committee!  Will it be enough to shrink the budget deficit?  As well, the Delaware Economic Forecast Advisory Committee is meeting on Monday.  Will the budget deficit go up or down?  What will the Joint Finance Committee do with their plethora of cuts?  This is where it all starts going down.  And where is the budget bill anyway?  With all the suggested cuts and epilogue language?  I’m hearing it is out there but they won’t let anyone in the media have it.

 

Coons Concerned About Trump’s Deep Cuts To Education Budget

A couple of weeks ago, I posted responses I received from U.S. Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (DE) and U.S. Senator Thomas Carper (DE) concerning the FY2018 U.S. Department of Education budget.  Yesterday, I received the following from U.S. Senator Chris Coons (DE).

Dear Mr. Ohlandt:
 
Thank you for contacting me regarding President Trump’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget and the proposed cuts to education programs. I appreciate your taking the time to write to me about this issue.
 
As someone who has served as a countywide elected official charged with writing balanced budgets, I have long viewed budgets as not just a collection of numbers and programs, but also a statement about our basic values. Unfortunately, the budget proposed by President Trump denies our basic values by balancing the budget on the backs of children, seniors, the poor, and the middle class, while cutting investments essential for our nation’s future. We need a budget that preserves our social safety net and recognizes that investments in infrastructure, research, health care, and education are critical to growing our economy and supporting a strong middle class.
I am particularly concerned about the President’s proposed $9.2 billion cut to the Department of Education. Among other programs, this budget eliminates the 21st Century Community Learning Centers afterschool program, Title II grants for teacher training, and Title IV grants for academic enrichment and student support. The budget also proposes drastic cuts to programs like TRIO, GEAR UP, and Federal Work-Study that help low-income students access college, as well as eliminates the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program that incentivizes individuals to take public sector jobs. These cuts help fund $1.4 billion in school choice initiatives, including $1 billion for Title I portability, an increase for the charter school grant program, and a new private school choice initiative.
As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, you can be sure that I will advocate to reverse these cuts to critical Department of Education programs, as well as support access to quality public K-12 and post-secondary education. You might be pleased to know that I cosigned a number of letters this May to the Senate Appropriations Committee advocating for funding for a variety of education programs, including: 21st Century Community Learning Centers; Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA); Title II School Leader Recruitment and Support Program; Title IV Student Success and Academic Enrichment Block Grant; Teacher Quality Partnership Grants; Pell Grants; and, campus-based student financial aid programs like Federal Work Study and Perkins Loans. Please know that I will do all I can to prioritize funding these important programs as Congress moves through the Fiscal Year 2018 Appropriations process.
Again, thank you for contacting me. I am honored to represent Delaware in the United States Senate and value hearing from constituents on issues of concern. My website, http://www.coons.senate.gov, can provide additional details about my work in the Senate, including legislation and state projects. I value your input and hope you will continue to keep me informed of the issues that matter to you.
Sincerely,
 
Christopher A. Coons
United States Senator

 

Silence Is Complicity: Human Sex Trafficking In Delaware and How I-95, Craigslist, Backpage & Kik Make It Thrive

Human Sex Trafficking.  It is real.  It is happening now.  And it is in Delaware.  It could be in your neighborhood.  It could be a student in a school.  In some circumstances, it could be your own child.

There are few things more gut-wrenching than a child being sold into slavery to perform sex acts.  Even more horrifying is that it is happening now, in real-time, in our state.  How does this happen?  It happens in various ways, but the truest injustice is how Delaware laws are not strong enough to prevent it.  The victims of these crimes, often American children, are treated like social pariahs.

IT CAN’T HAPPEN HERE

But it does.  Every single day.  To date, since legislation specifically dealing with Human Trafficking passed in the Delaware General Assembly, there has been one prosecution in Delaware.  One.  In Maryland, there have been over 140 in the last year alone.  Does that mean it doesn’t happen here?  Far from it.  It means our law enforcement, attorneys, legislators, and state government do not have the knowledge and training to truly tackle the issue.  There are many reasons why they don’t, but the simple fact exists that there are human beings sold into sex slavery within our state right now.  It is our moral responsibility as a state to make sure this never happens again.

The top of Delaware is in the middle of what is known as the I-95 corridor.  Delaware is actually the perfect spot for pimps to take advantage of The First State with these crimes.  It is not a coincidence that Delaware has over 90 massage parlors that are suspected of human trafficking.

ZOE MINISTRIES

Yolanda Schlabach, from Greenwood, DE, has made it her mission to end human sex trafficking in Delaware.  She founded Zoe Ministries of Delaware, a non-profit whose number one priority is to bring awareness to the horrible crimes happening in our own state.  To date, she has met with over 8,500 Delawareans to bring attention to the issue.  Schlabach has traveled up and down the state, with no agenda but to help the victims and bring attention to an issue far too many of us don’t even know is happening.  She has met with resistance at all levels because it is a very uncomfortable topic and people don’t want to believe it could happen here.  If it is a documented fact that this is happening, in the 49 other states of this country, what makes Delaware think it is immune to these crimes?  If anything, we are more prone to it because of our lax laws in regards to Human Sex Trafficking.  In a News Journal article published March 24th, Schlabach said the following:

“If it is happening in all of our surrounding states, and it is happening in all 49 states, just because Delaware does not have statistics does not mean it isn’t happening,” Schlabach said. “It simply means we don’t have statistics because we don’t know how to identify it, how to prosecute it (and) we don’t know how to investigate it as a state.”

DEALING WITH THE DELAWARE GENERAL ASSEMBLY

Schlabach approached the Markell administration about this issue and met with stiff resistance.  After years of advocating for these modern-day sex slaves, newly elected Governor John Carney proclaimed January, 2017 as Human Sex Trafficking Month in Delaware.  In response, House Concurrent Resolution #3, sponsored by State Rep. Paul Baumbach and State Senators Margaret Rose-Henry and Gerald Hocker, also recognized the Governor’s action.  But is that enough?  Not even close.

This is not the first legislation to address Human Sex Trafficking in Delaware.  In 2014, the General Assembly passed Senate Bill 197.  Two-thirds of the Delaware Senate signed on as co-sponsors and almost 40% of the House.  This legislation, meant to strengthen Delaware state code and give stiffer penalties to those who traffic human beings whether in sex acts or forced labor, also gives the state to right to seize property owned by the sex trafficker who is found guilty of violating the law.  It also created a Human Traffic Coordinating Council.  The original intent and the implementation have been two very different things.  Today, not even three years later, the council is down to three members.  The state police are not one of those members.  This is who was supposed to be on it:

Obviously, we have a huge problem in Delaware.  The law also was meant to guarantee training for law enforcement, something which has not happened with fidelity.  Many blame this on funding, but if the state were to take advantage of property seizure, where the pimps can make up to a million a year from their victims, perhaps our current $385 million dollar budget deficit wouldn’t be as large as it is.

YOUNG LIVES, INSANE PROFIT

Last August, Schlabach was one of the guest speakers at TedX Wilmington where she gave a controversial speech called “Sex Trafficking In The U.S.: Young Lives, Insane Profit”.  As you watch the below video, note how certain pictures were NOT included in the final cut of the video.  The first picture in this article was shown in the presentation.  But it didn’t make the cut in the video.  Why?  Is it too horrible for people to see what is happening in their very own communities?

BACKPAGE, RUBMAPS, CRAIGSLIST & KIK

While Schlabach discussed how this happens in Delaware, I did some digging of my own based on her talk.  She mentioned a website called Backpage.com which solicits prostitution via massage parlors and hotel rooms.  She also talked about Rubmaps.com which is a review site which, according to her talk, clearly shows these are not health-based businesses.  But we can’t forget Craigslist and an app called Kik.  All of these help to perpetuate the disgusting and appalling continuation of child sex acts.  Many prostitute ads appear on Craigslist and Backpage and potential johns are asked to either reply to the ad, call a phone number, email them, or contact them via Kik.

Kik Messenger is predominantly a cell-phone app.  It is based out of Canada which makes it favorable to pimps because it is very difficult to get records, even with a subpoena, since they are not based out of the USA.  As well, many children and teenagers use Kik.  Pimps main goals with online websites and apps are not just to sell their victims to johns, but also to lure new victims into their web as well.  Vaulty, Snapchat, Burn Note, Line., Omegle, Tinder, Blendr., Yik Yak, and Ask.fm.  Parents of minors should be very aware of what apps are on their child’s cellphone and take appropriate action.

In a hand-out given to participants in one of Schlabach’s presentations, KiK messenger is specifically mentioned as having the following attributes:

Kids are using Reddit and other forums to place classified ads for sex by giving out their KiK usernames.  KiK does not offer any parental controls and there is no way of authenticating users, this making it easy for sexual predators to use the app to interact with minors.

Pimps love to recruit new victims.  Sex trafficked prostitutes are not always from other countries.  In fact, statistics show most are American and many are children under the age of 18.  Most are female, but males are also trafficked by pimps.  They are not always from broken homes either.  It could be any child who is susceptible to a situation where they are easily coerced.  Roughly 60% of these victims are in the foster care system.  Many are runaways.  They are the broken children of our society, those shunned by the adults who should care for them the most.

*The above pictures from Craigslist and Backpage were from TODAY, in the past half hour.  I edited out not-safe-for-work words and phone numbers provided in the ads.

WHY DON’T THESE VICTIMS RUN AWAY FROM THEIR PIMPS?

They are slaves, in every sense of the word.  Forced to perform sex acts to more than willing johns.  They have to meet quotas they must give to their pimps.  They are beaten if they disobey.  They are branded with tattoos so their pimps can find them.  According to Schlabach, other pimps will turn the victims back over to the original pimp if they see the victim has a particular brand on them.  To their pimps, they are property.  They threaten to harm or kill the victim’s families.  They blackmail them into prostitution by stating they will show videos of them having sex to their families.  In essence, they are broken down so horribly and violently, they are numb.  Many victims of sex trafficking are forced to take drugs like heroin.  They are shuffled around towns and cities and never stay in one place for too long.

The pimps aren’t the pimps you see in the movies and on tv.  The stereotype of the pimp is not the same as the reality.  Pimps can be anyone.  There are pimps who sell their own children into sex acts.  Fathers, mothers, grandparents.  It could be a co-worker, or a neighbor, or just a normal person you see walking down the street.  In Maryland, a charter school teacher was prosecuted for trafficking one of his students.  But there are three things they do: Coerce, control and force.

The victims of Human Sex Trafficking suffer from trauma most people cannot relate to.  They are physically, mentally, and sexually abused, for years on end.  As the first picture in this article shows, the average life expectancy is seven years for many of these victims.  These ARE the MOST vulnerable people in this country.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

Anything.

  • Call Zoe Ministries and ask how you can help.
  • Attend the quarterly meetings of the Human Traffic Coordinating Council.
  • If you see something suspicious, contact the State Police, Local Police (if applicable), and the federal Human Trafficking Resource Center at (888) 373-7888.  I would call all three, as Schlabach suggests.
  • Spread the word.
  • Share this article with as many people as you can.
  • Share the TedX talk.
  • Contact your legislators and demand they act.  There are five different drafts of legislation dealing with Human Sex Trafficking waiting for sponsors in Legislative Hall.
  • If you are an educator, talk to your administrator about having Yolanda Schlabach come into your school to talk about this issue.  Red Clay, in conjunction with the Beau Biden Foundation and the News Journal, had a whole conference on child abuse today at Cab Calloway and Schlabach gave a two hour presentation on it so it can be done.
  • You can even flag ads on Craigslist if you feel there are minors in those ads.

EDITOR’S NOTE

Anyone reading this blog over the past three years knows this is predominantly an education blog.  But it is called Exceptional Delaware.  I believe ALL the children of Delaware are exceptional, whether they are in school or not.  I have always fought for the most vulnerable of children in our schools.  This issue is just one more on my list of things I want to see eradicated from Delaware.  I have no doubt there are kids in our schools who are sexually and physically abused daily.  I also believe there could be victims of sex trafficking in our classrooms.  This is a damn serious issue that needs to be put into the spotlight immediately, more than ever before.  It isn’t enough that our legislators and 8,500 Delawareans know about it.  We should ALL know about it.  This is OUR state.  These are OUR children.  I will be writing much more about Human Sex Trafficking.  I feel it is my moral obligation to do so.  I am just sorry I wasn’t so aware of it until recently.  This is our mission as human beings: when we see a wrong we should do everything in our power to not only address it, but attempt to get rid of it.  Only through speaking out can we bring awareness.  I haven’t even fully dove into this subject and I have no doubt I will quickly find out much more about this topic which I will share with all of you.  It is ugly, but it is real.

16 Who Defined 2016: Amy Joyner-Francis

amy-joyner-francis

April 21st was a very dark day for Delaware.  Amy Joyner-Francis was beaten in a bathroom at Howard Technical High School in Wilmington leading to her death shortly after.  Delaware didn’t have a death like this in one of our schools since 1973.  For weeks, Delaware citizens felt the impact of Amy’s death.

What happened to Amy that day led to much-needed discussion about school safety and climate in The First State.  The perpetrators of the incident, Trinity Carr, Zion Snow, and Chakeira Wright faced criminal charges.  Snow and Wright were charged as conspirators while primary charges were filed against Carr but a judge ruled she would be tried as a juvenile.  The trial will take place in April 2017.  Many Delaware citizens felt the charges against Carr should have been bigger.  At a maximum, if found guilty of criminally negligent homicide, Carr, 16, would face community service and therapy until the age of 19.

The cause of death ruled by the medical examiner kicked off controversy.  The examiner ruled that Amy had a pre-existing heart condition which led to her death, not the severe beating she received from Carr.  Many in the field disputed these findings.

The most disturbing part about Amy’s death was the fact that many students watched this go down in a high school bathroom and did nothing.  By the time a teacher got there, it was too late for Amy.  Not touched on by major media was the fact that school monitors did not respond to the situation fast enough (if at all) and that most teachers were involved in a training class at the time of the incident.  Governor Markell issued a brief response to the murder as he went on his “Common Core Tour” at a Delaware school far away from the crime.  The New Castle County Vo-Tech School District held a press conference hours after the death proclaiming that their schools were safe.

In the first week of the incident, conflicting reports about what happened flooded online media, including this blog.  Debates over what happened, and some tried to profit off Amy’s death.  As her family and friends struggled to deal with her death, the media onslaught continued.  News quickly came out that the beating was filmed by students along with pictures taken on cell phones.  An entire state grieved for Amy.  For Amy, her life was tragically cut short in an environment where this should have never happened.  Over seven months later, her death still makes no sense…

I ask that all continue to pray for Amy’s family and friends as they face the holidays, especially her parents.  No parent should outlive their child and it is a weight that will never leave them.

Reasons America & Delaware Are Still Great 2016 Edition

Many people in America today are facing an impossible choice.  We call this Election Day.  I am choosing to spend the day looking at all that is good about America and more specifically the state I live in, Delaware.  No matter what happens today, we can’t let anyone take away the spirit of what makes us Americans.  We have liberties we often take for granted.  Beyond the politics of it all, we all should want the best for each other, especially the children.  We have so much talent in this country.  Each mind is a unique and wonderful creation of beauty and grace. In Delaware, we have people doing things no one hears about, every single day. We have children who have so many gifts. We have stories of hope and inspiration. As a friend of mine said on Facebook the other day, we are more than this election.

Equity Is Not The Same As Equality, But Equity Does Not Mean Online Digital Education For All

Just in case anyone was wondering why “equity” is such a big word these days…

The term is being hijacked by the US DOE and corporate education reformers with the Every Student Succeeds Act…

Everyone is talking about equity these days…

But what it is supposed to mean and what the corporate education reformers want it to mean are two different things…

Equity means those with more needs get more resources…

Equity means charter schools can’t cherry-pick students…

Equity means the people decide what is equitable, not the corporations and foundations…

Equity means recognizing the very same corporations and foundations that created situations that are inequitable now want to talk about equity…

Be very wary of the word equity during Every Student Succeeds Act discussions at a state level…

I have many friends who live and breathe the word equity in its true meaning by they are being lured in like a mouse to a cat…

For those who truly want equity, fight for it, but do not make our children puppets for corporate profit…

True equity can happen now, not in some World’s Fair vision of the smart cities of tomorrow…

Competency-Based Education and Personalized Learning, whether it is flipped, blended, or personalized, is not equity, it is greed…

The ed tech poverty pimps have no more grasp of the word equity than they do education…

Their equity created turnaround schools and high-stakes tests…

Their equity disrespects educators and parents who stand up for their students and children…

Equity does not equal technology profits for those who prophet…

When it comes to children, all lives matter, those who are minority, special education, English Language learners, low-income, poverty, talented & gifted, or the average student, they all deserve equity in its purest form…

To truly understand equity, you need to read every single below link to understand their equity is not the same thing…

http://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/us-department-education-awards-more-65-million-grants-help-schools-and-communities-promote-equity-education

https://maec.org/our_work/educational-equity/

https://maec.org/res/e-learning/

http://www.competencyworks.org/about/who-we-are/

http://www.inacol.org/symposium/program-presenters/keynote-speakers/

http://www.inacol.org/symposium/2016-sponsors/

http://www.inacol.org/resource/access-and-equity-for-all-learners-in-blended-and-online-education/

http://www.globaleducationconference.com/page/sponsors-partners

http://www.promiseneighborhoodsinstitute.org/about-the-institute/what-we-do

http://www.promiseneighborhoodsinstitute.org/about-the-institute/our-funders

http://global.blogs.delaware.gov/2016/07/11/governor-markell-signs-crowdfunding-equity-law/

http://nc-sara.org/about/evolution-sara

http://gettingsmart.com/2016/06/equity-digital-games/

http://gettingsmart.com/2016/09/inspiration-incubation-intermediation-keys-to-next-gen-learning-at-scale-2/?utm_campaign=coschedule&utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=Getting_Smart&utm_content=Inspiration,%20Incubation,%20Intermediation:%20Keys%20to%20Smart%20Cities

http://www.nxgentechroadmap.com/stateleadertable.html

http://www.edu2035.org/pdf/what_is_GEF.pdf

http://www.excelined.org/wp-content/uploads/FEIE_TaleOf3States-20Sep2016.pdf

http://gettingsmart.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SmartBundle-Fidelis-22Aug2016-1.pdf

http://www.smartcitiesweek.com/Meet-our-sponsors

http://www.smartcitiesweek.com//products

http://www.knowledgeworks.org/future-learning/forecast/smart-transactional-models

https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2016/08/22/jack-markell-blockchain-coding-schools-rodel-brinc-pathways-to-prosperity-registered-agents-delawares-role-in-the-ledger/

http://www.edu2035.org/pdf/GEF_future-map_en.pdf

Delaware AG Matt Denn Supports Parents In Upcoming U.S. Supreme Court Special Education Case

supremecourt

As the Chairman of the IEP Task Force in Delaware back in 2014, Delaware Attorney General (then Lieutenant Governor) Matt Denn stated in the first meeting that Delaware students with disabilities deserved more than what federal law under IDEA stated.  He announced yesterday he will advocate for special needs children getting a top-notch education.  Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme court decided to hear a special education case regarding what a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) really is.  The is significant due to the fact that special education changed a lot when IDEA was reauthorized in 2004.  This will be the first time the highest court in the land has tackled FAPE in a very long time.

Today, the Supreme Court of the United States agreed to hear a case from the state of Colorado involving the level of educational services that must be provided to public school students with disabilities. The case, Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District, is significant because it will be the first time in decades that the U.S. Supreme Court has addressed this issue, and different federal courts around the country have come to different conclusions on the question.

“This case may not have significant implications for Delaware public schoolchildren with disabilities,” Delaware Attorney General Matt Denn said. “Delaware state law was changed in 2010, in a bill I worked on as Lieutenant Governor with Representative Quinn Johnson and Senator David Sokola, to require that Delaware public schools provide services to Delaware students with disabilities that matches the highest level of services required by federal courts interpreting this issue. However, sometimes the language that the U.S. Supreme Court uses in issuing its decisions can be as important as the decisions themselves. For that reason, the Delaware Department of Justice will be seeking to advocate – potentially with other state Attorneys General — for the U.S. Supreme Court to find that the highest level of services for children with disabilities currently recognized by federal courts is the correct level for all of the nation’s children, and for the Supreme Court to provide specific guidance to the states as to how to implement its decision in order to ensure that children with disabilities have an opportunity to fulfill their potential.”

denn

 

In regards to that bill from 2010, Denn said the following about the bill when it was introduced:

“It is completely unacceptable for us to tell the parents of most children that we want their kids to have the best public school education in America, while telling the parents of students with disabilities that their kids will receive the educational equivalent of a serviceable Chevrolet,” Lieutenant Governor Denn said. “We have a legal and a moral obligation to these children to provide them with a meaningful education, and this bill is a first step to making sure that happens.”

Denn has always been one of the strongest advocates in Delaware for students with disabilities.  I am glad he is putting his support behind the parents in this potentially landmark Supreme Court case.  With that being said, the very definition of special education will be redefined yet again if education reformers get their way with their dreams of “IEPs for ALL”.  I pray, if that time does come, that Matt Denn will be at the front of the pack for students with disabilities, their parents, and disability advocates to make sure special needs students don’t get lost in the shuffle.

In the meantime, the Delaware Dept. of Education, under the direction of Governor Markell in epilogue language in the FY2015 budget, is still working on a Special Education Strategic Plan for the state, more than two years since it was created.

Did You Know Rodel’s William Budinger Married Markle Foundation’s Zoe Baird?

A wedding of the education foundations!  Back in 2010, William Budinger, the founder of Rodel Inc., who sold the company and created the Rodel Foundations of Arizona and Delaware, married Zoe Baird, the President of the Markle Foundation.  She has held that role since 1998.  Her main focus, according to Markle’s website, is this:

She currently leads Rework America, the Markle Economic Future Initiative that is pursuing opportunities for all Americans to participate in the economy of the future.

Fascinating!  Both Rodel and Markle really seem to love the current “pathways to prosperity” push going on in many states.  The whole “career ready” part of “college & career ready”.  Kids don’t need a high school diploma when they can earn a certificate in high school!  Missouri Education Watchdog wrote an excellent article earlier this year about Markle’s plans in Colorado.  And it looks like Arizona wants some of that action too!  Thank God they have a Rodel Foundation in Arizona! It sounds like Governor Markell every time he talks to the media!  Please note: Markell and Markle are not the same thing (except in thought process).

Baird is best known in America as the Attorney General pick by President Bill Clinton who was not selected by the U.S. Senate back in 1993.  Apparently, it created a new word in the American lexicon: Nannygate.  But since then, Baird and Budinger have certainly been busy…

mucketymap

 

 

As you can see, this duo has tons of connections to the biggest groups attempting to dismantle public education.  They are all pushing for “career pathways”, competency-based education, and digital learning.  These are NOT our friends America.  Remember that.  I have no doubt if Hillary Clinton becomes President, we will see this unlikely match have more influence.

At this very moment, the CEO of the Rodel Foundation of Delaware, Paul Herdman, is giving a push to the Delaware Grantmakers Association.  I have no doubt the words Every Student Succeeds Act, Opportunity, Grants, and Money will come up.

 

 

Is The State Of Delaware Closing All State-Run Mental Health Day Treatment Centers?

Last night, a friend of mine asked me if Delaware was closing all their day treatment centers.  I had not heard of this before.  But apparently there is confirmation from a few organizations in the state that this will happen in two months.  This would not include the day treatment centers run by hospitals, like Dover Behavioral Health.

Many parents of children with disabilities, specifically autism, rely on these services for their children when the public school system is unable to give the services these children need.  In social media postings, several parents are desperately trying to get confirmation of this.  I reached out to a couple of legislators and one confirmed it is happening while the other had not even heard of this.

On Monday, the Delaware Economic Forecast Advisory Council (DEFAC) announced the state was looking at a $167 million deficit in their latest projection.  Last night at a “Meet and Chew”, Delaware Governor candidate John Carney said he fears this will rise to $300 million in the coming months.  While I don’t know if this is related to the possible shutting down of state-run day treatment centers, it would certainly save the state a considerable amount of money.  But what happens to these children who depend on these services?  Our schools can’t service them.  The private day centers lack the space to accommodate all these kids.  As one parent said on Facebook, “this is a disaster waiting to happen.”

If I were a parent of a child who uses these services, I would be freaking out!  I highly recommend all of these parents contact the Department of Service for Children, Youth and their Families (DSCYF) as well as the Department of Health and Human Services (DHSS).  They should also contact their state representatives and senators.  If you don’t know who your state rep or senator is, you can look here for your Senator and here for your State Rep.

One Delaware Senator told a parent they want written confirmation from DSCYF on this matter and expects to receive that today.  Why is it always the children who need the most help that get crucial services cut first?  If this happens, I fully expect parents to rise up and fight the state on this.

One parent was told this would not affect the residential treatment centers, where students actually live there to get help.