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.

Advertisements

Chaos At Legislative Hall In Dover

Legislative Hall was a very odd place this afternoon around 4pm.  Usually the place is bustling on a Wednesday afternoon, but since yesterday’s announcement by party leadership that no “controversial” bills would be heard until the budget is passed, it was eerily quiet.  Of course the lobbyists were milling around, but the tone was very subdued.

The Delaware Joint Finance Committee met today and added $51 million in cuts to education and healthcare for a total of $88 million cuts.  Rumors were swirling that Democrats in the House were turning on their own because they won’t vote for the budget if it includes House Bill 240, State Rep. Val Longhurst’s very weak revenue bill.  Turns out the Democrat leadership sent those legislators to the Principal’s office (aka Governor Carney) over the past couple of days.  Way to turn on your own!  And they even got a few of the Delaware labor organizations (including DSEA) to rattle those legislators cages.

The Republicans introduced a resolution to extend state services for 30 days during July if the budget doesn’t pass.  I saw Mike Jackson who runs the Office of Management and Budget briefly and asked if we had a budget.  His response…  “For now.”  Which doesn’t mean much given no one has voted on it yet.  But the epilogue language is being written.  Grant-in-aid got slashed from $51 million to $8 million so good luck to those non-profits!

Meanwhile, the House voted on House Joint Resolution #6, directing the DOE to come up with regulations surrounding gender identity issues in Delaware schools.  Reps. Dukes and Smyk asked questions about it which basically meant they were opposed to the bills.  As one observer put it, there was definitely some “transhomophobia” in the House chamber.  The bill passed the House.  Expect similar resistance in the Senate.

Two Senators were there today who hadn’t been in the latter part of last week.  Senator Bryan Townsend’s wife had a baby boy last week.  Meanwhile Senator Brian Pettyjohn had some other stuff to straighten out.

I had some good chats with some folks.  Asked some pointed questions to a few so I am hoping to find out some answers on those in the next few days.  One of them has to do with the series of articles I’ve been writing about Smyrna.  It’s kind of putting a delay on Part 6.  I am hoping the answer is positive.

Some of us talking were in agreement the State Board of Education isn’t going anywhere.  The Delaware Dept. of Education will pick up the $213,000 tab for them.  Today the Senate confirmed former Delaware Senator Liane Sorenson as an at-large member of the State Board of Education.  I met her briefly and enjoyed our conversation.  She did confirm she reads Exceptional Delaware so that is always a plus in my book!

The next two days are going to be absolutely crazy down there.  If I’m not there tomorrow, I definitely will be on Friday.  That is an education blogger MUST!  I am hoping to get more of the Smyrna series up tomorrow.  But it depends on that one answer on how I move forward with this.

Oh yeah, the Blockchain legislation, House Bill #226, passed the Delaware Senate.  I anticipate Governor Carney will sign that faster than the Flash.  And so it begins…

I can’t for the life of me figure out why they aren’t moving forward with State Rep. John Kowalko’s franchise tax for companies incorporated in Delaware.  It would raise the fee from $300 to $325.00 and would raise $43 million in revenue.  Sounds like a no-brainer, right?  The last time that happened, there were 500,000 companies incorporated in Delaware when they raised it from $275 to $300.  Opponents feared it would cause companies to leave Delaware.  Now we have around 800,000 companies incorporated in Delaware.  Bills that make common sense should sail through, but we aren’t dealing with common sense in leadership at Legislative Hall these days, so once again, I digress…

It is late June in Dover, Delaware.  62 elected officials will attempt to decide how our state is run.  I trust a handful of them.  Pray for us, rest of the United States of America.  We need your prayers more than ever!

Updated with essential article from Delaware Public Media: http://delawarepublic.org/post/jfc-eliminates-grants-nonprofits-fire-companies-senior-centers-balance-budget

Updated again, 3:29pm, 6/29/2017: This article has been corrected to reflect that there were zero no votes for Liane Sorenson’s confirmation on the State Board of Education.

No Cuts To Education Funding Rally Draws A Crowd

 

Teachers, parents, and even kids gathered on the East side of Legislative Hall for a No Cuts To Education Funding Rally.  All told, I would estimate there were somewhere in the ballpark of 50-75 participants in the rally.  Speakers included Eugene Young with Network Delaware, income President-elect of DSEA Mike Matthews, Christina PTA representative Mary Schorse, incoming Christina Board of Education Member Eugene Griffith Jr., PACE of Wilmington representative Swiyah Whittington, Christina CBOC member and Blue Delaware writer Brian Stephan, and Senator Bryan Townsend.

All of the speakers do not want any cuts to education funding and favored more state revenue in the form of higher taxes.  They urged folks to get involved in education and speak up.  They said the best way to do that is by letting their legislators know their thoughts on this.  Senator Townsend referred to Delaware’s teachers as “magicians” in that he believes they do great things for Delaware’s students.  Instead of writing about what will surely be covered by the major media in Delaware, I am presenting a photo gallery of the event.  This event leaned toward the Democrat way of thinking as the Republicans tend to favor large cuts as opposed to increasing revenue by increasing taxes.  The only legislator who attended the rally was Senator Townsend.

Delaware Senate Passes Blockchain Bill With Unanimous Vote & Things I Heard At Legislative Hall Today

My question is how many of these Senators even know what this bill means.  Do they know what they are opening the door to?  To be fair, all this bill does is allow Blockchain technology into Delaware corporate law.  The word “education” does not even appear in the bill.  Blockchain would allow for secure transactions.  It also allows for secure dataflow.  But who owns that data?  If it is meant for one business or one person, does that business or that person own that data?

What happens when a student’s standardized test data, medical information, discipline record, and attendance become a part of this permanent record?  What happens if that information is wrong?  How do you go about correcting it?  Who puts information in this distributed ledger?  There are so many unanswered questions about this technology.  For businesses and corporations, I get it.  But when it comes to the eventual distribution to ALL people, my red flags go way up.

The Senate passed Senate Bill 69 with 20 yes and 1 not voting (Senator Bryant Richardson).  I’m not sure why he chose not to vote.  There was hardly anyone else during this vote.  A handful of lobbyists and that was about it.  I did see the primary sponsor, Senator Bryan Townsend, leaving Governor Carney’s office shortly before the Senate convened.

There was a flurry of activity at Legislative Hall today.  Pro-lifers and some pro-choicers caused a long line to get in.  I guess nobody told them that arriving at 2pm does nothing because the House doesn’t vote on bills until after they go to Caucus.  Which they are still in since the House isn’t back in session yet.  I went for the SB69 vote and got back home a little while ago.  Many of the pro-lifers left.

I did have some chats down here.  I heard some rumblings about a few things.  One of them being a school district consolidation bill that is floating around.  I haven’t seen it yet.

I did have this conversation:

I just wanted to let you know your analysis is always right.  I read every article you put on your blog.

Yeah, but does HE read it? (pointing to Governor Carney’s office)

He doesn’t read your stuff.  He doesn’t have time for that.  But I know his education policy advisor does.

That is always a comforting thought.  The most powerful political guy in the state doesn’t read my stuff.  How assuring!  I know Jack did.  Jack read everything that had his name on it, good or bad.  This led to a conversation about the time I sang for Jack Markell.  When asked if I was going to make a song for John Carney, I answered my singing days are over.  But you never know…

State Rep. Earl Jaques’ new tax ’em without a referendum bill was officially introduced today.  House Bill 213 was assigned to the House Education Committee.

I heard some people having extreme agita about Senate Bill 50, Senator Harris McDowell’s love fest for Del-Tech.  Which would mimic how vocational school districts are funded for minor and major capital projects.  It would also give Del-Tech’s board the, you guessed it, ability to raise property taxes without a referendum for these projects.  Yes folks, they want us taxpayers to now fund community colleges and their pet projects as well!

State Rep. John Kowalko introduced House Bill #209 which would prevent the abuse of epilogue language in the state budget.  Kowalko’s bill would prevent the “waivers” that occur every single year which go against Delaware state code.  Think of the Charter School Transportation Slush Fund as just one example of this abuse.

I can’t imagine what State Rep. Jeff Spiegelman was thinking when he introduced House Bill #194 which would eliminate the senior tax credit for anyone born after 1967.  I can’t imagine too many Republicans would be on board with this, but they are all Republican sponsors on the bill.  That tax credit was something I was looking forward to.  Thanks for that Jeff!  It still has to pass.  Can’t imagine that happening with all this talk about budget deficits and “shared sacrifice”… insert sarcasm here…

I saw some faces from yesteryear as well.  Always good to chat with people I didn’t think I would see again.  I see on social media that some people I know were there today and I didn’t even see them.  Maybe next time.

That’s it for now folks.  In the coming days I’m going to have to list ALL the Delaware education legislation floating around.  I used to keep track of this stuff daily but it is a lot of work.

Who Is My Delaware State Rep & Senator? Which District Do I Live In? A Primer For Delaware Students! #swarmthehall

This article is for ALL Delaware public education students.  This is what you need to do NOW to make a difference for YOUR school.

Last night, I attended an Education Forum at Newark High School.  As members of the audience stated they didn’t know who their legislators even are, State Rep. Paul Baumbach asked me to put up a post on my blog about this in front of the whole audience.  It is my pleasure to do so Paul!

Even though students (unless you are 18 or over) are not registered voters, your voice is important.  I will go so far as to say it is the most important voice in the state.  You can get involved, and I would ask your parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters, friends, and neighbors to get involved in this year’s budget, especially when it comes to public education.  But first, you have to know who to contact!

The first thing to do is go to the General Assembly website, found here: http://legis.delaware.gov/

The easiest way to find out “Who is My Legislator” is to go that section of their website and put in your address or go on the “Find by Map” option.  I did that using my address, and it came up with this:

Another way to find out what Senator or State Rep covers your district, go to the tabs that say “Senate” or “House”.

I will use the House as an example.  Go to the tab that says “Members & Districts” and click that.  Now I have to sacrifice one of our State Reps as an example, so I chose my own State Rep, Trey Paradee of the 29th Rep. District.

What a big smile for your constituents Trey!  It has other information on the page, but if you want to contact them, it provides their phone number at Legislative Hall or their email address.  You will get a legislative aide or an answering machine when you call them.  An email might shoot you an automatic reply if they aren’t there that day.  Some legislators are brave enough to put their home or cell phone numbers on their contact information.  I would ALWAYS call that phone number first since the likelihood of them getting back to you SHOULD improve.  Another way is to look for them on social media.  Send them a friend request if they offer that option.  I would shoot them a message stating who you are and possibly an issue or topic you would like to discuss with them.

Once you know what they look like, and if you have the time, go down to Legislative Hall and introduce yourself.  Don’t do it while they are in session in their respective chamber though because they can’t really stop that time to talk to you.  Be respectful and courteous.  Ask for THEIR cell number if you don’t have it already.

If you find your legislator isn’t getting back to you, keep at it!  I’m not saying to stalk them, but keep calling, emailing, or texting.  As a professional courtesy, I would give them at least three days to get back to you.

As the General Assembly prepares their version of the Fiscal Year 2018 budget, they need to hear from their constituents NOW.  Not later.  Not on June 30th.  NOW!!!!

Here is how it goes for the next five weeks down in Dover.  The General Assembly is on a two-week recess right now and will return on June 6th.  In the meantime, the Joint Finance Committee, which is a group of legislators, are doing what is known as the “budget mark-up”.  They go through Governor Carney’s proposed budget and make changes.  This group needs to hear from you NOW!

I would email ALL of them in one email and tell them what you are looking for.  For those who are against all these cuts in education, some suggested wording could consist of this:

Please remove the cuts to education from the state budget.  It is unfair to balance the state’s budget on the backs of our students.  Schools are already under-resourced and our children need our commitment to their future.  Thank you.

The public can attend the Joint Finance Committee meetings, but seating is limited.  And considering most of you students will be in school, DON’T CUT SCHOOL to come to Dover to go to a JFC meeting.  There will be plenty of time for that when school gets out because the General Assembly continues to meet until June 30th.  If you want to see some real craziness going on, come down (or up) to Dover on June 30th.  The fun usually starts around 6 or 7pm in the evening.  Bills pass on the fly, left and right and they suspend a ton of rules to get bills passed.  You see bodies passing by you like the Flash.  I’ve gone the past two years and didn’t get home until the sun was coming up.  That’s right.  They MUST pass the budget or they don’t get to go home until they do.  They can go home, but their legislative session isn’t over until the State Budget passes.  By State Law, the Governor must either sign or veto (not sign it) the budget once the General Assembly passes it.  If the Governor passes it, the General Assembly has to keep meeting until it passes or they can attempt to override the Governor’s veto.  This year, June 30th falls on a Friday so I have no doubt they will want to get in and get out so they can have their 4th of July weekend last as long as possible.

If students truly want to make a huge difference with this budget, if you don’t want teachers cut and you don’t want your school board to be put in a position where they are forced to raise more taxes without a referendum, your State Rep, Senator and the Joint Finance Committee need to hear from you TODAY!  They may give you a reason why they support this or don’t support that, but make sure YOUR feelings are heard.

If you want to make a HUGE impact, organize a group of your friends and classmates and come down to Legislative Hall in Dover (but don’t cut school to do it).  You are NOT allowed to carry signs into the building, but you can wear t-shirts as long as they don’t have curse words or are inappropriate.  It could say something as simple as “No Education Cuts” or have fun with it and write “Forced Match Tax Without A Referendum Is Horrible” .  I would NOT recommend t-shirts like “John Carney is bad” or “Mike Ramone loves Donald Trump….Eeeew!” (neither of them do, just making a point here).  You can even write legislator letters but make sure you go to their office in Legislative Hall and give it to the receptionist or legislative aide to give to the legislator.  Don’t try to put letters or correspondence on their desk in the House or Senate chamber.  I did that once and it is NOT allowed.  Don’t yell at anyone or interrupt anyone either.  And whatever you do, when the House or Senate is in session, just sit and listen.  You do NOT want that gavel coming down on you by Lt. Governor Bethany Hall-Long or Speaker of the House Pete Schwartzkopf!

You CAN make a difference this year.  If you want to preserve what you have and not lose out next year, there is nothing wrong with a peaceful protest.  Make sure you get Mom, Dad, or your Guardian’s permission first, but make it something you can tell your grandchildren about one day.  How you told our legislators what your schools need and you helped to make a difference.  Let’s call it “Swarm The Hall”.  Share hashtag #swarmthehall on Twitter and Facebook and let’s make it a thing Delaware students!

As an education blogger, I’ve met most of our State Reps and State Senators.  I want to believe they want to do the right thing for everyone in the state, but sometimes political issues happen.  If you are a dye-in-the-wool Democrat and your State Rep or Senator is a Republican, or vice-versa, don’t get into the whole “us vs. them” mentality.  They will listen to you, but it could cause them to tune out whatever you are saying.  Make it about the issues, not about the politics.  No one wants to hear about the whole Trump/Hillary thing or “Dems Stink” or “Republicans Lie” kind of stuff.  This is about YOU, and YOUR education.  And this isn’t just about school districts, it’s also about charters.  Because if districts have to make cuts and force a match tax on their residents, they will have a hard time getting referenda passed in the future.  Which means less money for charter schools as well.

Below is a list of ALL the Delaware State Reps and Senators.  The Senate has 21 members and the House has 41 members.  Don’t get confused by the district numbers.  I live in State Rep District 29 but State Senate District 15.

If you are a Delaware public school teacher, please share this article with your students and their parents.  It can also be a valuable lesson for current events or helping children become more aware of how the political process in Delaware works.

Updated: Some libraries are holding events called “Postcard Party for Education Funding”.  Details can be found here.  This is a brilliant idea!  Reach out to the sponsors and see if you can get these events in your local libraries if they aren’t in your area!

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.

Why I Accepted An Invite From The Delaware DOE To Join An ESSA Discussion Group

Because it’s time.  We have all heard the phrase, “If you aren’t part of the solution, you are a part of the problem.”  To many of the stakeholders in Delaware education, they believe this.  I’ve pretty much operated this blog as an outsider looking in.  I’ve vowed never to join anything.  But this isn’t a situation where I’m joining something permanent.  It is a temporary group and I will be one of just thirty people.  I will be on the “Student and School Supports Discussion Group.”  I would have preferred to be on the “Measures of School Success and Reporting” group, but I will take what I can get.  I don’t know who else is in my group or what stakeholder groups they represent.

I fully plan on being a part of a group and behaving as one of many.  But I will also do my due diligence on the issues and offer my voice.  For some out there, they may see this as a betrayal.  Like when celebrities do commercials for a company.  This is not me selling out.  It is getting in there and lending my voice.  These meetings will be open to the public, for both groups.  So it’s not like these are backdoor meetings.  I urge parents and teachers to attend these meetings.

The first meeting for both groups will be held at the John W. Collette Conference Center, 35 Commerce Way, in Dover from 6pm-8pm next Wednesday, October 5th.

The Delaware Charter School Leak: To Good To Be True?

Sometimes I see or hear about stuff that is going on in Delaware schools that is just to good to be true.  When I ran across this one, I thought it must be a joke.  According to what these students had to say about this charter school in Dover it looks like this secret pipe has been unclogged!  According to the complaint against the Head of School at this charter, it isn’t just bathroom issues either!  If their complaints are true, there are some very serious issues going on there.  I’m sure any teacher can tell you students abuse going to the bathroom, but to limit that to once a day?  That seems a little abusive if this complaint has merit.  But the school, according to the complaint, will give special consideration if you have a doctor’s note.

The part about meals and what the head of school allegedly said to kids is more worrisome if it is true.  I would really hope it is not!  I don’t think we will see a Delaware DOE Formal Review coming out of this, but I hope someone looks at this very troublesome but maybe it is not issue!

Shameless Plug: Vote For Kevin Ohlandt for Capital Board of Education on May 10th!!!!!

ParadeFlyer

Why I Want Your Vote For The Capital School Board

TwitterAnnouncement

For those who haven’t heard, I am jumping into the fire!  Anyone reading this blog knows my stances on education.  Is it enough though?  We need change and we need it now.

These are the reasons I am running.  I will tackle each reason below.

  1. Far too many Dover residents don’t want to send their child to Capital School District.
  2. Every student needs to be treated as an individual and not a test score.
  3. Our middle schools need a lot of help.
  4. We need more fiscal transparency and accountability.
  5. Low-Income Students.
  6. The Every Student Succeeds Act.
  7. Student Data.
  8. More participation from parents in the district.
  9. Special Education.
  10. More participation in state legislative matters.
  11. Charter schools within our district.
  12. Kindergarten.
  13. Support for our teachers.
  14. Ensuring opt out of standardized testing is honored as a parental right.
  15. More focus on the arts.
  16. Perception of the district.
  17. Perception of Dover as a result of the district.
  18. Oversight of the Delaware Department of Education and the United States Department of Education.
  19. Leadership

CapitalSchoolBoardPoster

“Far too many Dover residents don’t want to send their child to Capital School District” Continue reading “Why I Want Your Vote For The Capital School Board”

Hasta La Vista Mapleton Charter School At Whitehall

Mapleton Charter School at Whitehall is officially dead!  In November, they handed their charter back to their authorizer, the Delaware Department of Education.  The school submitted a major modification request in September to move the school to Dover, but at their first Charter School Accountability Committee meeting, nobody showed up!  They did indicate this was going to happen with the charter, but there was no application on the DOE website.  If they applied at the end of 2016, and they were approved by the State Board of Education, chances are they would not even open until August of 2018.

Mapleton

Major Time Change For January State Board of Education Meeting Due To Governor Markell’s State Of The State Address

This should be interesting.  The Delaware State Board of Education will be voting on the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission’s redistricting plan on January 21st at their regular meeting.  Typically, their meetings begin at 1:00pm, but on this date it will begin at 9am.  Governor Markell is giving his State of the State address this day based on the comment made on the State Board of Education schedule.

SBOE12116Mtg

Teachers, educators, and parents have commented many times about the inaccessibility of State Board of Education meetings given that they occur in the middle of the day when parents are typically at work and teachers and educators are in schools.  As well, this will be a very big meeting with the WEIC vote.  For anyone from Wilmington to get to Dover, park, and get to the room by 9am, they would have to leave anywhere between 7:30-8:00am depending on traffic.  I have a feeling based on history this is not going to make a lot of people happy.  While the time has not been released for the State of the State Address, it is typically in the afternoon.  State Board meetings typically don’t last longer than four to five hours, but this will not be an ordinary State Board of Education meeting.  The agenda for the entire meeting will most likely go up on 1/14/16 and I will post it here as soon as it is up.  I could picture the State Board shortening the meeting by not having too many other presentations or reports from the DOE.  I won’t even begin to guess what would happen in the event of inclement weather.  But all of this makes the State Board workshop on the WEIC plan on January 11th even more interesting…

Will Governor Markell have to change his State of the State address based on the State Board of Education vote on the WEIC plan?  Unless he plans on showing up for the vote???  Maybe someone should try to convince the State Board of Education to livestream this important meeting…

Public comment, as always with the State Board of Education, is not allowed for any action item on their agenda.  But as well, WEIC has a formal comment period which expires January 14th.

15 Who Made An Impact On 2015: Dr. Dan Shelton

SheltonCapital

Teachers at Kirk Middle School in the Christina School District were not happy last June.  They were losing their beloved principal, Dr. Dan Shelton.  In June, the Capital Board of Education picked Shelton as their newest superintendent after a more than four-month search.  Shelton, who took the reigns from the retiring Dr. Michael Thomas, began the role in July.  Not only was Thomas leaving, but so was Assistant Superintendent Sandra Spangler and Director of Human Resources David Vaughn.

Shelton and the Board quickly found replacements and set out for the tasks at hand.  Christina’s loss was Capital’s gain.  From all I have heard, Shelton is doing a fantastic job at Capital.  I have heard nothing negative about him at all.  In a recent article in the Dover Post, Shelton weighed in on the Every Student Succeeds Act.  He explained to reporter David Paulk that he was concerned about the “lump” funding for grants but he was glad the federal government was “stepping back”.  While this remains to be seen with the feds based on their recent threats about funding cuts with opt-outs, I am confident Capital will handle this appropriately.

Meanwhile, Shelton will oversee the ten schools under the Capital umbrella and will bring a fresh and innovate look to the district.

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?

Red Clay Board Votes To Keep The WEIC Train Moving, But With A Caveat

The Red Clay Consolidated Board of Education had a special meeting tonight to discuss the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission and the redistricting of all Christina School District students into Red Clay.  The biggest issue at this point is funding.  The Board passed a resolution with a 4-1 vote to keep it going, but it was explicitly understood that if the funding is not available, it is dead.   Superintendent Merv Daugherty said if the funding isn’t there by July 1st, 2016, Red Clay will not move forward.

I know many are cheering for this, but I say pull the plug now.  With the budget and elections being the biggest issues in Delaware come January, the General Assembly will have a very hard time justifying the costs for this while making crucial cuts elsewhere.  And there will be cuts without more revenue.  And just wait until it becomes mainstream that the WEIC plan will most likely hinge on an increase in property assessments for the entire state.  I don’t mind paying my fair share for schools, but when the anti-referendum crowd finds out, they will be incensed.  If you thought the right and the left were at odds on some issues now, just wait until that topic becomes a part of social media.  It will get ugly real fast!

I like Tony Allen and many folks on WEIC.  I think their plans are based out of a concerted effort to do what they feel is the right thing for the students of Wilmington.  But this is not the time, not with the monetary issues facing this state.  For all the money all these education foundations and think tanks donate, have we heard any of them offering to pony up some cash?  Hell no.  Because it is a traditional school district thing.  Bank of America is incorporated in Delaware.  You would think they would have pride for not just charter schools but also our traditional schools.  Where is their huge donation to all of this?  They have a crucial player spearheading all this.  Meanwhile, I am hearing more and more people accepting the Common Core but they still hate the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  What many don’t realize is the two go hand in hand.  The reason the test is so jacked up is because it is based on Common Core.  But people are actually calling them “the standards” now.  You can wrap a ribbon around crap, but it is still crap.  Do not be lulled into acceptance folks.

Colonial backed out, and it looks like Brandywine may as well.  Christina’s teachers have no assurances they will be able to keep their jobs if the redistricting goes through.  Christina is going to be facing their own hefty financial issues by the end of this school year.  Murders continue in Wilmington, and Dover is having its fair share of homicides as well.  Drugs are rampant in this state.  We have adults acting out against students, albeit rare, but it is happening.  There is the elephant in the room called racism, and it exists in this state.  It is real, and it is happening right now.  By the time Delaware becomes a powder keg, Governor Jack Markell will exit stage left, leaving a legacy that future generations will come to hate him for.  What will Rodel, the Delaware Department of Education, and the State Board of Education do without their leader once he is gone?  The General Assembly is going to have their hands full, and I can guarantee you if they push the property assessment thing, the landscape of Legislative Hall will look very different come January 2017.

Mapleton Charter Withdraws Modification, Has To Start Over With New Application

Mapleton Charter School has withdrawn its major modification request to move to Dover and change their name to Discovery Charter School according to David Paulk with the Dover Post.  I have to give the board a heads up for recognizing they were not prepared to open up in the 2016-2017 school year and avoiding some of the huge mistakes like Delaware Met this year.  I admit I was concerned when I looked at their modification request and only saw a budget for one special education teacher with an anticipated 200 students.  You know at least 30 of them would be students with disabilities, if not more.  But perhaps they recognized this along with other matters and they are being proactive.

Allison May with the Delaware DOE said:

“If Mapleton decides to withdraw its modification application and forfeit its charter, then the school approved to open in Middletown next year will not open,” she said. “The involved parties could submit a new application for another school, including one in Dover as their modification application suggested. If so, that would go through the entire application process again just like any other new applicant.”

But not so fast, because House Bill 56 with Amendment #1 states no new charter schools shall open in Delaware unless they were previously approved until June 30th, 2018, or until the State Board makes a better plan for all of this.  From HB56:

Section 2. There shall be a moratorium on all new charter schools opening until June 30, 2018 or until the State Board of Education develops a strategic plan for the number of charter, district, and vocational-technical schools in the State, whichever occurs first. The aforementioned strategic plan shall be based on a systematic evaluation of educational needs using national models and best practices that align with the public education system, such as the National Association of Charter School Authorizers guidelines.

This strategic plan is the Statewide Review of Educational Opportunities currently under review by the State Board of Education and the Delaware Department of Education.  While I am sure they will be completed with this prior to 6/30/18, how does that work with applications?  If they can’t approve a charter for opening in 2017 if the review isn’t done, how can this school open in 2017?  This will be one to watch.

The legislation passed last year which placed a moratorium on new charter schools applies to Wilmington

Delaware Senate To Hold Confirmation Hearing For Interim Secretary of Education Dr. Steven Godowsky

On October 28th, the Delaware Senate will have a rare out of legislative session to reconvene for a confirmation hearing for the Governor Markell appointed Secretary of Education, Dr. Steven Godowsky.  The meeting will be held at Legislative Hall in Dover in the Senate Chamber at 2:30pm.

It would be really great if the House could come in the day before and override Governor Markell’s veto of House Bill 50, that way the reconvened Senate could just vote on it the same day as Godowsky’s confirmation hearing.  But I can’t see this happening at this point in time.  I posted an article earlier today for questions to submit to the Delaware Senate to ask Dr. Godowsky.  This is a time when parents, teachers, and everyday citizens can make an impact.  Please let me know any questions you have and I will make certain the Delaware Senate gets them.

Governor Markell appointed Dr. Godowsky when Mark Murphy resigned from the Secretary position.  His last day was September 30th.  Dr. Godowsky has been visible of late.  He attended the first Wilmington Education Improvement Commission meeting, the final meeting of the Accountability Framework Working Group, and the last State Board of Education meeting in September.

Once again, I pray Godowsky is not just a Secretary who will do whatever Governor Markell says.  We need change in Delaware, and for those who have stood up for Dr. Godowsky, I really hope your words come true.

Mapleton Charter Wants To Open Discovery Charter School In Dover

Get ready Dover!  Mapleton Charter School of Whitehall wants to change their name to Discovery Charter School and open up in Dover, Delaware.  A decision will be made my the December State Board of Education meeting on December 17th.  This would be the 4th regular charter school to open in Dover if approved, following Campus Community, Academy of Dover, and Early College High School.  They also want to lower their enrollment from 600 to 450 because of the demographics of Dover.

Every Delaware Parent Needs To Be At Legislative Hall Today To Support Their Right To Opt-Out & House Bill 50 #supportHB50

“The rights of parents to the care, custody and nurture of their children is of such character that it cannot be denied without violating those fundamental principles of liberty and justice which lie at the base of all our civil and political institutions, and such right is a fundamental right protected by this amendment (first) and Amendments 5, 9, and 14.” Doe v. Irwin

“This decision clearly affirmed that the Constitution protects the preferences of the parent in education over those of the State. In the same decision, the Supreme Court also recognized that the right of the parents to delegate their authority to a teacher in order to instruct their children was protected within the liberty of the Fourteenth Amendment.” re: Meyers v. Nebraska, Christopher J. Klicka, esq.

“This case involves the fundamental interest of parents, as contrasted with that of the state, to guide the religious future and education of their children. The history and culture of Western civilization reflect a strong tradition of parental concern for the nurture and upbringing of their children. This primary role of the parents in the upbringing of their children is now established beyond debate as an enduring tradition.” Wisconsin v. Yoder

“It is cardinal with us that the custody, care, and nurture of the child reside first in the parents, whose primary function and freedom include preparation for obligations the State can neither supply nor hinder.” Prince v. Massachusetts

“The fundamental theory of liberty upon which all governments in this Union repose excluded any general power of the state to standardize its children by forcing them to accept instruction from public teachers only. The child is not the mere creature of the state; those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right and the high duty, to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations.” Pierce v. Society of Sisters

“By allowing the state to override the decisions of parents regarding the upbringing of their children… significantly interferes with the fundamental rights of parents.” Lulay v. Lulay

“Although such measures have been deliberately approved by men of great genius, their ideas touching the relation between individual and State were wholly different from those upon which our institutions rest; and it hardly will be affirmed that any legislature could impose such restrictions upon the people of a State without doing violence to both letter and spirit of the Constitution.” Meyer v. State of Nebraska

“These aren’t just words, they are the law, upheld by some of the highest courts in the United States of America. A no vote from you today tells all Delawareans you don’t believe in the law of the land.  See you later today!” Kevin Ohlandt in email to the Delaware House of Representatives including all the quotes in this article

This is it.  Today is the day House Bill 50 gets a vote in the full Delaware House of Representatives.  We need every single parent who supports essential and fundamental rights of parents to please come down and support this legislation.  This is it.  If this bill does not pass today, it is dead.  If you don’t want schools to act the same way next year with opt-out, and the mass confusion parents went through, then please come down or up to Dover.  Legislators who are on the fence or don’t support the bill need to see the faces of who they are saying no to.  Because a no vote for this bill is a no vote for parents.  It is that simple.

 

Delaware and Poverty, How Far Have We Come In Six Years?

I found this report online, and I have to wonder how far Delaware has come since the issuance of this report back in 2009.  In terms of the education part of the report, this has the corporate education reform hallmarks all over it.  This is pre-Race To The Top and Common Core in Delaware, but everything was gearing up for it, even when the Poverty Task Force started under Governor Minner back in 2007.

Are we going to reduce that poverty level by 50% in the next four years?  I hear teachers from the priority schools talk, and I hear stories that bring tears to my eyes.  It’s heartbreaking that we live in a state where this happens.  It angers me that our Governor is more concerned with implementing education initiatives that don’t tackle the problem of poverty at all.  As if rigor and assessment is the way out.

I see lots of familiar names in this report, and many I’ve never heard of.  I wasn’t really involved in education six years ago.  I see this report and wish I was.  It’s not just Wilmington where poverty exists.  I live in Dover and it is here too. It’s pretty much everywhere in our state.  I have to wonder why we “invest” millions upon millions of dollars in education with little or no results?