Exceptional Delaware Proudly Endorses Ashley Sabo For Red Clay School Board

I’ve been a fan of Ashley Sabo going on a year and a half now.  Oddly enough, I first “met” her through a Rodel-Vision conference on Twitter!  Life is funny like that.  But Sabo represents the very best of what a school board member can offer.  She is a compassionate mom and wife, very involved with the community, attends most of the Red Clay board meetings and has for a very long time, gives public comment, is a CASA officer in Delaware (helping out kids in foster parent situations), was very involved in Red Clay’s inclusion policy, and fully supports the most fundamental and crucial of parental rights when it comes to education.

I’ve met and spoken with Sabo many times and she is one of those who just gets it.  She understands that far too many of the bad education policy in Delaware, as well as America, is not good for students.  I wish I lived in Red Clay so I could vote for her, but I strongly encourage all Red Clay Consolidated School District citizens to vote for Sabo on May 9th.

The Red Clay Education Association voted to endorse Sabo for Red Clay’s Board of Education in the upcoming election.  As the largest school district in the state, this is a huge endorsement for Sabo!

Some of the posts on her Facebook candidate page clearly illustrate why she should get your vote in Red Clay!

A year ago I made public comment at the board meeting about the need for more play and hands on learning in kindergarten. I still firmly believe kids, and not just kindergarteners, benefit from LESS rigor – fewer worksheets, less time at their desk – and MORE active learning – greater time using play to learn, more hands on activities. We need to help instil the LOVE of learning in kids!

For the past 3 years I have attended the majority of board meetings, making public comment when issues arose that needed to be addressed. I have attended countless committee meetings working tirelessly to ensure that decisions the district makes benefit all students. I have met with teachers on my own time to hear their concerns about different topics.

I am involved as a parent and will be even more involved as an elected board member.

As a parent of a high schooler in general education classes with no supports, an elementary student in a general education classroom with supports and a paraprofessional and a youngster who would love if there were more pre-k programs I have a wide variety of experience in the world of education.

BUT…. I am not a teacher. They are the ones working tirelessly for our children and they are the ones greatly affected by policy changes. I value their experience and knowledge.

I am committed to listening to our educators – making decisions that not only benefit all students but also help teachers spend more time teaching and less time navigating policy changes and paperwork.

I am beyond thankful for the wonderful teachers in my life and my children’s’ lives.

Next week, there will be a “Meet The Candidate Night” at Café Napoli Restaurant and Pizzeria at 4391 Kirkwood Hwy, in Wilmington on Wednesday, March 29th from 7pm to 9pm.

 

Exceptional Delaware Endorses John Marino For The 10th Senate District

Let it be known, throughout the State of Delaware, that I proudly endorse John Marino for the 10th Senate District special election on February 25th.

Wait a minute, some of you might be thinking, aren’t you a dye in the wool Democrat?  Hardly.  I am an issues guy.  And I also value consistency and someone knowing what they are talking about.  I’ve known John Marino’s stances on public education for years now, since the 2014 election.  He supports opt out, wants more resources in the class-room, is not a big fan of top-down education mandates, and supports local control and teachers.  He is against Common Core and wants our students to succeed.

There will be DSEA members who will be screaming for my head right about now because of the fear of the Delaware Senate going under Republican control if Marino wins.  Right to Work could come to Delaware, but that kind of bill would need to pass the House and get Governor Carney’s signature.  The Senate could play games with the budget as well trying to get Right to Work in Delaware.  I can picture Delaware Dems sitting in Legislative Hall well into July to prevent that.  So I am not as scared of that notion as some left-leaning teachers are.  As well, I am not a teacher.  I’m a parent, and I am disgusted by many of the stunts I’ve seen when it comes to Delaware education and government.

But let’s take a look at what Democrat control has done for teachers: DPAS-II and Component V.  Smarter Balanced Assessment.  Not to mention far too many of them cowering to Jack Markell.  It is all about a balance of power.  Delaware is ripe for change, and it starts with our government.  One party control has given us far too many special interest items tucked into the state budget over the years.  Money that could and should be going to far more pressing needs in this state.  We need a balance of power, and if the Delaware Senate goes red, so be it.

As far as Hansen, she seems to change her education beliefs by the day.  She even did that on her website between January 28th and January 29th.

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If I want to see flipping, I’ll go on Netflix and watch some old episodes of Flipper!  In terms of a DSEA endorsement, keep in mind what that really is.  The DSEA Executive Board decides endorsements and it is not an accurate representation of all Delaware teachers.  It is a handful of people.  What I don’t appreciate is someone not knowing the issues, like Hansen, then getting schooled on them and acting like she knows what the hell she is talking about.  Marino has always felt the same way.  I won’t even get into the bizarre issues with Hansen and New Castle County government.  I will just say it some very surreal stuff.

So how does Marino feel (and consistently) about education in Delaware?

State government has broken our school system. Due to over-testing, heavy-handed bureaucracy and a lack of support for our teachers, our local schools have to work twice as hard to provide a quality education for our young people. I support legislation to reign in and minimize burdensome state tests, as well as an unequivocal policy that parents are the only authority to decide what tests their children take. A parent has the natural right to remove their child from any test or school activity — anytime, anywhere. No government should be given even the smallest opportunity to infringe on parental rights.

I also support letting teachers teach. I support building-level control and more money in the classroom. Our education bureaucracy has only grown and grown. It’s hurting our children, costing more taxpayer money and the people in power in the Senate have encouraged that growth at every turn. We can’t get the schools we deserve unless we change the people making the decisions and restore balance to state government.

I’ve been around Legislative Hall enough to see how the one-party system is not good for our state.  We need to end the legislator locks on the budget that allow funds to go towards programs that benefit members of the Joint Finance Committee.  We need to stop the political games and get back to governing Delaware and making laws that make sense for ALL Delawareans.  We need John Marino to win this election.

 

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

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

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

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

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

Exceptional Delaware Endorses Trey Paradee For 29th State Rep. District

I’ve known Trey Paradee for a few years now.  He was the first State Representative I ever met.  It is fitting, because he is my State Rep in the 29th District.  I have approached him about many issues, mostly dealing with education.  Trey comes from a long lineage of Paradees who have served Delaware.  I proudly endorse him for another term in the 29th Rep. District.

I witnessed Paradee getting more involved with education during the course of the 148th General Assembly.  During the infamous House Bill 50 opt out saga, Paradee made it a point to attend the House Education Committee meeting to hear what parents and teachers were saying.  He stayed for the entire meeting (and it was a long one).  He voted in favor of House Bill 50 twice and also voted in favor of suspending the rules to allow for a vote on an override of Governor Markell’s veto of said bill.  While that attempt failed, Trey was one of only 13 House Reps who voted yes on this measure out of 40.  It showed his commitment to parents and their inalienable rights.

I haven’t made it easy on Paradee.  As my district rep, Trey is in the sometimes uncomfortable position of being in “that blogger’s” district.  Let’s face it, I’m not always easy on those I disagree with.  To me, it is always about the kids.  But Trey gets that.  I believe he gets that sometimes a legislator needs to cut across the grain in order to do what is right.  But at the same time, he has talked with me about my approach.  And while I haven’t always heeded those words, I very much appreciate his insight.

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This morning, I read the Delaware State News and there was an entire page devoted to Paradee’s views.  His opponents, Republican Jean Gallagher and Green Party candidate Ruth Ann James did not even bother to return the survey.  While it is certainly their right not to participate in a survey, it also speaks volumes to their commitment to informing the citizens of the district about their views on issues.  Given that this article came out a week and a half before the election, I find it odd they would not want to participate in something that would get their positions out there.  Neither of Paradee’s opponents participated in a questionnaire from the Dover Post as well.

I was pleasantly surprised to see Paradee devoted portions of his survey to education.  He cited education funding as a top priority the state needs to change.

However, we have created a system of haves and have-nots, and the referendum process has devolved into a political endeavor with yard signs, call centers and mailers.  Meanwhile, some school districts that deal with a higher number of English second language students and children who face challenges brought upon by poverty do not have adequate resources.  This problem needs to be addressed by the next administration, with the help of parents, educators, and administrators, to find a way to provide adequate resources to our most challenged students while maintaining some of the local control that we have grown to enjoy through the referendum process.

When asked what changes he would like to see in the Delaware Department of Education, he responded with the following:

We need to clean house.  We need to reduce the number of positions and return more control to the local school boards.

Amen Trey!

In looking at Janice Gallagher’s survey responses to the Delaware Voter’s Guide, she fully supports school vouchers which would further cripple an already financially strapped public education system and has proved ineffective in many states.  On her website, Gallagher’s only mention of education is a very broad “create common sense education for your children and grandchildren” which tells me absolutely nothing about what she stands for.  I can easily go back to the past four years and see how Trey Paradee stands on education through his voting record in the House of Representatives.  While I don’t agree with every single vote he has cast, I see a continual increase in his involvement with education issues.

On a personal level, Trey is very approachable and he will look into issues if you go to him.  I have sent a few parents his way over the past couple of years.  During the last legislative session, he made it a point to make sure Delawareans were not unfairly raked over the coals with a proposed Artificial Island project that would have increased energy costs but given the bulk of the benefit of the station to New Jersey residents.  And he succeeded!

Please vote for Trey Paradee if you live in the 29th Rep. District on November 29th.  I know I will!  Besides, who wouldn’t vote for a guy that brings his dogs everywhere!  This is also a state representative who has never missed a vote in the House.  In four years!  Not everyone can say that.  But one thing people can say is that Paradee was a spitting image of Rush singer Geddy Lee in his younger days!

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Vote For John Kowalko In The 25th Rep District On Election Day!

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No one stood up for parents more than Delaware State Rep. John Kowalko in the 148th General Assembly.  As the prime House sponsor on House Bill 50, the opt out bill, Rep. Kowalko fought for months to ensure that a parent’s fundamental rights to opt their child out of the state assessment was honored.  Furthermore, it would have stopped schools or the state from punishing a child for having a parent opt them out.  Ultimately, the bill overwhelmingly passed the House and Senate but Governor Markell vetoed the bill.  An attempt to override the veto failed when the legislators came back in 2016.

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John Kowalko is the rake at the gates of hell when it comes to standing up to Jack Markell on education.  He is not afraid to go against the establishment when he knows in his heart those choices are not good for kids.  He has always been about looking out for the little guy.  He will not vote yes on the state budget if it means those with the highest needs will do without.  I respect that immensely.  Because of his stances and how he makes noise, he runs into opposition constantly in the General Assembly.  We need more legislators who can be vocal and won’t bow down to leadership.

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Kowalko’s opponent has failed to give me any reason to support him.  If anything, he sounds a lot like John Kowalko but much less experienced.  I have never subscribed to this Delaware Way theory of “getting along to go along.”  I compare it to being a part of the race without realizing you are being dragged by the horse on the way to the finish line.  We don’t need more of that in Dover.  We need more like Kowalko!  Some will call me crazy and believe that John Kowalko is unable to get along with his peers.  I think it is the other way around.  Too many are unwilling to get along with Kowalko because they know he is right and that if they allied themselves with him it wouldn’t be the best for their own personal agendas.  The will of the people in Delaware should be the biggest priority of our General Assembly.  But private interests and political power rule the day.  Until we get more John Kowalkos in the General Assembly, we will continue to play this status quo game.  And that is NOT good for Delaware.

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At the end of the day, Kowalko is about doing what is right. Yes, he utilizes the press every chance he can to get his message out to the people. It is not self-serving. It is so enough people can hear what he is saying to help the people. I endorse John Kowalko for the 25th Rep. District in Newark. I urge citizens in this district to re-elect John Kowalko so we have another voice of reason in the Delaware 149th General Assembly.

 

Exceptional Delaware Endorses Kim Williams For State Representative, 19th District

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She does the right thing.  There is no other reason than that to vote for Kim Williams in the 19th District.  But for those few and far between in Delaware who may not know Kim Williams, let me explain why I am endorsing her.

Kim Williams is the Vice Chair of the House Education Committee.  She has served on that committee since she was first elected in 2012.  In that time, she has dealt with charter school reform, opt out, charter school audit, teacher evaluation, special education, education funding, Smarter Balanced, the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission, bullying, and so much more.  She votes with her conscience every single time.  Not how others vote, or the popular vote, but how SHE wants to vote.  And behind that vote is her love of children.  Not just the children of her district.  Not just the children in the Red Clay Consolidated School District.  All the children of Delaware.

If there are issues going on at a school, she is there.  She isn’t afraid to ask questions when it has to happen.  If there is something big going on in education, she is there.

My favorite “Kim Williams” moment was when I was talking to a friend that lives in a school district 45 minutes south of me.  Kim’s district is way up in Newcastle County.  This friend told me how she was working with Kim on an issue.  I was amazed that Kim would help someone who lives so far away.  That’s just who she is.

But she is more than just an “education” state rep.  She is the people’s representative.  To me, she is the heart and soul of Delaware, at least what I would like it to be one day.  I wrote a fake article last year called The Last Exceptional Delaware Post.  In this imaginary future, Kim Williams was the Governor of Delaware in the year 2024.  I’m not ruling that out!

In writing this article, I wanted to find a picture of Kim that represents who she is.  It was very hard.  As I looked through her pictures on Facebook, she is always surrounded by people.  All the time.  Whether it is her family, her friends, her constituents, her peers in the General Assembly, she is always with people!

Please check out Kim’s State Rep. Facebook page to see how engaged she is with not only her constituents, but all of Delaware.  For those wishing to donate to Kim’s campaign, please go here: Contribute to Kim Williams, State Rep. 19th District Campaign

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Exceptional Delaware Endorses Scott Gesty For Congress

There comes a time when you have to decide, and for Delaware’s Representative in Congress, there is only one choice: Scott Gesty!

I’ve gone back and forth on this one for weeks now.  But the only candidate I can endorse for Congress is Scott Gesty.  Scott is a Libertarian.  But don’t let the party fool you.  To me, the political party is just a cover for any candidate.  It’s who they are and what they believe that truly matters.  Folks will say I’m a one-issue voter.  To some extent, that is true.  But my answer to that is if you can’t get education right for kids, how can you really get the rest right?  I could list the reasons why I’m not endorsing the other candidates, but I’ve covered those reasons to one extent or another in various posts.  But this is what I like about Scott Gesty.

He is against the corporate education reform movement in not only Delaware, but America as well.  He does not support high-stakes standardized tests and Common Core.  He supports a parent’s right to opt their child out of those tests and he was not happy Governor Markell “thumbed his nose at parents”.  He said these words succinctly and clearly at the education debate in Wilmington a couple of weeks ago.  Gesty thinks the federal Department of Education needs to disappear and education decisions are best left at the local level.  He doesn’t like the fact that districts and states have to “jump through hoops” to get grant money.

In the economy, he is deeply troubled that we are trillions of dollars in debt as a nation.  He does not see free tuition as truly free, and he knows this would only put us in debt more as a country if we pursued this.  He sees education as a money-making enterprise and doesn’t see this as a good thing.  He understands that when companies start jumping into education, the prices go up but the quality goes down.

On the one issue brought up in the forum that I did not agree with Gesty on was the topic of giving teachers training with guns to protect a school until law enforcement arrives in the event of a crisis.  But that wasn’t a deal-breaker for me.  Even if Gesty supports this, there is no way it would happen.  But I agree with him on all his other education stances.  He believes in our local teachers to make the best decisions for Delaware kids.  He has seen how federal intervention at alarming levels in the past decade has taken away the ability for teachers to do what they are supposed to do: teach.

A growing concern with a number of parents in Delaware revolve around issues with student data privacy.  I believe Gesty would be the best representative in Washington D.C. to tackle this issue on behalf of Delaware.  And with what is coming down the pike, we will definitely need a voice of reason not beholden to special interests.

He recognizes the role charter schools play with discrimination in our state and feels that is a federal topic he could address in Congress.  But with other matters with charters, those should be dealt with at the state and local level.

But the biggest issue I have with all government is the two-party system.  Obviously, running as a 3rd party candidate, Gesty does as well.  But he sees how much damage this has done to our country.  How the system has brainwashed the masses into thinking you can only vote for one or the other.  It is manipulation at the highest levels, and I don’t trust the vested interests of many in both parties.  I do support some, but the majority appear to have their face in the public but their hands are always in their wallet.  I believe it is very dangerous for any American to swear absolute fealty to any one party.  I support issues, not the party.

As Gesty says on his campaign website:

In a decade or even less, the United States could suffer a very serious financial crisis. What happens when people’s individual incomes lose the ability to purchase basic goods and services? What happens when the government can no longer print money with any value and the people refuse to accept more tax increases? History suggests that not only does the government move in and take over large segments of the economy, but also that the Republic as we know it becomes a hollow shell. Real examples of this process abound, from the ancient Roman Republic to Weimar Germany.

If we intend to avoid that calamity, we need real change now. We cannot keep re-electing the career politicians who promise us that we can have lower taxes, more spending, and larger wars without consequence. We have to put American citizens into office who will tackle these problems if we want our children to avoid growing up in a Republic lost to the will of special interests and an ever expanding government.

Please vote Scott Gesty for Congress on November 8th!  We need to get out of the status quo that is destroying our state.  When I heard all the candidates at that forum, Gesty was the only one who talked at levels that didn’t sound like his answers were rehearsed.  He spoke from the heart.  I’m not saying the other candidates didn’t, but there was never any doubt in my mind about any of the answers Gesty gave.  I couldn’t say the same for the other candidates.  Even if I disagree with him on that one issue, it was how he truly felt.  We need more honesty like that in government.  I know Delaware is a very blue state, but I believe that has been to our detriment in many areas.   If we truly want any chance of getting out of the corruption and fraud our country is buried in, we have to start thinking outside of the box.

Many folks may be surprised at my choice, but I encourage all of you to find out why I made my choice and look into Scott.

NEA Members Call Out Lily Eskelsen-Garcia Over “Partnership” With Relay Graduate School

A new business item showed up this morning at the National Educators Association’s annual representative assembly, held in Washington D.C. This one is very interesting. It concerns an alleged partnership NEA has with Relay Graduate School of Education. They are both involved in the corporate education reformer led “Teach Strong” initiative. But a partnership bears further investigation. In an article calling out both NEA and the American Federation of Teachers, both NEA leader Lily Eskelsen Garcia and AFT leader Randy Weingarten were raked over the coals for their affiliation with these groups and companies.

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This action item calls for an explanation from Eskelsen-Garcia on why she is partnering with an organization that is the anti-thesis of NEA.  Programs like Relay and Teach For America diminish the role of teachers in public education and cause a wide-spread path of destruction along the way.  Their teachers, no matter what their intentions are, do not receive the same training regular teachers do, and get rammed into a crash-course on teaching.  Many of them frequently do not stay in the profession.  Some become administrators, leap-frogging past certified teachers, or get jobs with ed reform companies or state DOEs.  If NEA is partnering with an organization like Relay, their members definitely need an explanation from Eskelsen-Garcia.

I called her out last year over NEA’s rushed endorsement of the Every Student Succeeds Act.  As well, they were a very early endorser for Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential candidacy.  Even though they are making it an official vote at this rep assembly to endorse her, it is something leadership did almost a year ago already.  Right now, Hillary is speaking to the assembled NEA members at their assembly.  In a picture taken before she arrived on the stage, teachers are seen waving and clapping as if Hillary is the second coming.  Someone made a comment of “Stepford Teachers”… a comment I am inclined to agree with.  I am no fan of Hillary, or Trump for that matter.  These are dark times…

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As the saying goes, while you may want a seat at the table, you also need to recognize when you are on the table.  NEA members need to be extra vigilant these days.  It’s not just a matter of trust, it is also a matter of survival in an increasingly hostile environment for public school teachers.   When dealing with these corporate education reform companies, collaboration is the same thing as alliance.  In Delaware, we have this ridiculous thing called “The Delaware Way” where parties comes to the table and compromise.  It is ridiculous and absurd and allows very bad entities into things they have no business being in.  NEA seems to have taken up this mantra as well.  Time to call out the leadership folks!

Christina Board Member Rallies For Elizabeth Paige While Discussing Some Pretty Massive Problems With The District & Board

Christina School District Board of Education member John Young posted this tonight on his Facebook account.  I agree with a lot of what he said.  I haven’t written a lot about the divisiveness I believe is going on up there.  In my opinion, it is corruption at its finest.  Yes, I have my own election to worry about tomorrow.  But I’m glad John put into words what he has been feeling, as have many others.  It concerns me because I can see some parallels in Capital School District.  While the board doesn’t seem to have these kind of issues and the level of manipulation isn’t as high, it is, to some degree, present.  This is a long post from John Young, but it is well worth the read.  If you live up in Christina, please vote for Elizabeth Paige.  She earned her stripes a long time ago and Christina would not be the same without her.  It would be much worse…

Well, here we are: tomorrow is the day. Christina faces an election for one seat as we already prepare to welcome Meg Mason in July to replace the outgoing Dave Resler. CSD voters have a pretty stark choice in my opinion. Unbeknownst to many voters, there is a distinctly unique tone to this year’s school board race between Desiree Brady and Elizabeth Paige and for the most part it’s not being created by the candidates themselves. There is a disturbing set of forces in play, in my opinion. I am well aware that what I type next will have people confirming either their love for my willingness to speak the truth of the situation or their hatred of the same thing. I can live with both.

Our district has been in crisis for quite some time now and the processes that have yielded several key results have caused irreparable harm to the ability of our board and district to function well. Please note my very specific use of the word “processes”. Some of the processes that have created deep concern include: the hiring of the acting Superintendent, the referendum campaign, the hiring of a parent engagement coordinator, the hiring of a consultant on climate and discipline issues and most recently the unfinished process of selecting HOW to select the new permanent superintendent. This list is not inclusive of all concerns.

The yield of these processes are not as universally concerning as the actual processes themselves. During each of these processes, the board was controlled by one person and the information shared to the board from both her and the administration has been extremely restrictive and in my opinion damaging to the rights of our taxpayers to have board members make informed decisions. During this period, a minority of board members have asked for more information and sought to push through these political barriers. At almost every turn, these behaviors have been supported by key stakeholders, while in the minority, have chosen to ignore the greater good often to continue parochial support of programs and people they like, need, and desire to see remain in power. Meanwhile, real questions about real issues are not only being ignored, they are being hidden and in some cases the public is being lied to about how the district works. A perfect example is my recent questioning of the contract for school climate and discipline. No one I know in CSD feels we don’t have major opportunity for improvement here; however, I also don’t know anyone that feels the district should just hand over a $49,250 no-bid contract with no public notice or input. Except for the 4 board members that did just that in support of the acting superintendent and the extremely public acknowledgement of previous employment and friendship with the vendor. TO be clear, this is not an indictment of the vendor whatsoever, only the broken process that yielded the result.

The same forces that seek to keep CSD board members in the dark on issues and prevent board members from making informed votes are now seeking to remove one of the three members willing to stand up and actually ask questions in support of CSD not their own agendas. They are aligned to drive out Elizabeth Paige. The planted questions, the stolen signs, the opponent’s campaign, up to and including the obvious employment at the workplace of one of the referendum’s biggest supporters who is close friends with the acting superintendent is simply too much to ignore.

One of this groups most concerning tactics is the one where they distract people by making allegations of failing to collaborate or not being civil. The truth is, to them collaboration is only labeled as such if you agree with them, and their role as civility police is undermined by their own off stage hypocrisy on the same subject. Both are morally bankrupt offerings in the face of board members just trying to actually be stewards of our students, parents, and taxes. It is repulsive to me to watch our district fall prey to these petty and unbecoming tactics. I am well aware that some feel I am a divisive force on the board. I can totally see why. When I ask questions and I don’t get answers, I get mad. Guilty as charged. I would ask those that feel I am the problem to try, if only for a moment, to ask yourself how you would react if you were elected by the public to do a job and other public officials got in your way, on purpose. I can accept criticism on my tactics and can fully admit that my seemingly righteous anger, on stage at times, can be both interpreted and misinterpreted as counterproductive. However, what you get from me is the same, all the time. I am not a chameleon. I was elected to do right by our students and until I am voted off I will not shrink from that responsibility. Not. One. Inch. I only speak of myself in this endorsement letter to paint the picture that a vote for Elizabeth is not a vote for me. She does not act or react the way I do even if she sometimes is just as mad or concerned about Christina processes. A vote for Elizabeth is a vote for the same passion, brought in a different and perhaps much better way. Don’t be fooled by some of the terrible tactics being used to convince you that any sympathy to a cause that happens to be supported by anyone not seeking to remove her means she is in some sort of policy silo.

Elizabeth Paige and I do not agree on everything, but we do agree on this: our students and our taxpayers deserve a responsive school district befitting the trust and respect owed to its students, parents, educators, administrators and taxpayers alike. She also is an elected official who does not stop in the quest to bring those basic yet quintessential aspects to Christina.

If you value transparency, intellectual curiosity, courage, independent thinking and a reasoned, systemic, analytical approach to policy then please vote tomorrow for Elizabeth Paige. If you don’t value those qualities, please Vote May 11th.

Exceptional Delaware Endorses Tara Greathouse For Appoquinimink School Board!!!

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Tomorrow is school board election day in Delaware!  For Appoquinimink, Exceptional Delaware is endorsing Tara Greathouse.  This is a woman with a lot of soul, and a lot of grit.  During the great debate about parent opt-out, Greathouse has been there in the trenches with other parents at every important occasion: Delaware PTA Town Hall, The House Education Committee, and the full House of Representatives vote.

What impressed me the most was the House Education Committee meeting on House Bill 50.  She came with a prepared statement, but after hearing the arguments against the bill, she chucked her speech to the side and winged it with absolute perfection!  This is a woman who isn’t afraid to take chances and can adapt to a situation easily.  That’s exactly what a school board member needs, and she has it in ample supply.  She would be a fresh new voice with all the love and devotion of a parent, but with the knowledge and strength for what needs to be done for education in Delaware.

She has a deep and abiding concern about the impact of standardized testing on our students.  She understands special education and knows these matters need to be seriously looked at.  She knows the Common Core standards are not good enough for our students and she believes in local control.  What more do you need?

Don’t get lost in the number of names on the ballot, because only one should stick out, and that’s Tara Greathouse!

Why Trey Paradee Is Getting My Vote For Delaware State Representative in District 29 @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de @DoverPost @TheStateNews #netde #eduDE #Delaware

I have actually been going back and forth on who to vote for in my district for a few months now, Democrat Trey Paradee (the existing State Rep for my district) and Republican Pete Kramer.  I’m going to be completely honest.  Up until 14 months ago, I had absolutely zero interest in state politics.  This is my fault as a human being, but I was ignorant of many things going on in Delaware, and I really didn’t care.  And then things happened….

As any long time reader of this blog is well aware, my son had some (okay, numerous) problems at a “charter school in the County of Kent”.  When things blew up and became unsalvageable with the school, my wife and I were weighing our options to see what avenue to take next.   She reached out to Trey Paradee, and we did get a call back from one of his staff members and explained what was going on.

Flash forward as few weeks later, and I read a post on this blog called Kilroy’s Delaware about how some charter school meeting was held in secret and not open to the public.  People were pissed, and this was my intro to Kilroy’s blog.  Going ahead six months to last Spring, my situation with the charter school was resolved, but I had still had a lot of questions.  I told the story about what happened to my son on Kilroy’s blog after a few weeks of “vetting” him.  I really didn’t trust anyone at the time, but Kilroy and I had several chats about the state of education in Delaware.  By the time I finished telling my son’s story, I had decided to start my own blog, but I wanted to pay Kilroy back for letting me tell my very long story for a month.

In my last post on Kilroy’s, I promised to go to Legislative Hall to drum up support for House Bill 23, which would make all school boards digitally record their meetings and put them up on their website.  I invited any  who wanted to attend, and I made a couple posters and went down.  I doubted anyone would show up, but I was determined.  So I made the drive downtown, and started walking around the front of Legislative Hall with my posters.  Several people asked me what House Bill 23, and some of these were legislators.  It was a solo act I was doing, but I didn’t care.  I started memorizing faces and made a decision to find out who these people are.  It started to rain a bit, so I put the posters in my car and decided to actually go into the hall and see what they did there.

My first visit was to meet my House Rep, Trey Paradee.  His secretary called him and he agreed to meet with me on the spot.  I was impressed right away.  I went into his office and there was this rather large dog sitting there.  Trey introduced me to Belle, and he explained there was a dog group there and he was going to be in a picture with Belle.  I explained why I was there, and that I was very concerned with special education in Delaware. He agreed, and explained some of his own personal journey in the world of special education with a member of his family.   We agreed to talk more.

I met a few other politicians that day, most noticeably Debra Hudson to find out why the bill she sponsored wasn’t going up for a vote.  She explained it needed more public support, but she would ask about it.  Never heard back from her at all!  I got home and reached out to his opponent in the election, Pete Kramer.  He explained he was against Common Core and standardized testing.  My decision was made right then and there, as Kramer was against the same things I was.  The next day I started this blog.

Within weeks, I became involved in the political landscape in Delaware when the US Department of Education declared Delaware was one of three states and Washington D.C. to need federal intervention with special education.  I read about it in the Delaware News Journal, but it was missing a lot of facts, so I did some quick research on it and posted an article on my blog.  This was my first huge article on Exceptional Delaware.  Within days, the Senate in Delaware created a concurring resolution to create an IEP Task Force, but there were no parent reps on the task force.  I emailed every single house rep and senator in the General Assembly advising them not having a parent on this task force would be a slap in the face to special needs parents across the state.  When the Senate voted on it, they passed it without a parent rep.  I put out a call on Twitter and Facebook to have a re-vote to allow parent reps.  A couple days later an amendment was added allowing a parent from each county which was my suggestion in my email to them.

But life has a funny way of throwing curve balls when you least expect them.  Paradee and I became friends on Facebook, and we would chat here and there, nothing too significant.  On the morning of 4th of July, he was looking for volunteers to support him in the 4th of July parade.  I knew my son would be very excited marching with a real politician and giving out candy to kids.  We got there, and unfortunately my son had a very bad reaction to everything going on.  Part of his disability is sensory processing, and parades can be very stressful, especially without comfortable shoes (which was my fault for not getting them from the car for him)!  He broke down, and Trey Paradee didn’t say a single negative word about it.  Usually when this happens, my son will get weird looks, but Paradee sensed he was having a hard time, and he asked me if he was okay.  I advised him about his sensory processing and he understood.

My son joined back up with the parade about 10 minutes later and had a blast.  Afterwards, I was talking with Paradee for a while about politics and education.  We talked about House Bill 334, which would replace DCAS with the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  A few weeks before, the Delaware House of Representatives had passed it, and then a couple weeks after that the Senate voted no, a few of them flip-flopped, and then they voted yes.  Markell would have used executive power to make it happen either way, so the whole thing was an exercise in futility.  Paradee explained to me that he genuinely felt kids were getting tested too much with DCAS and since Smarter Balanced was once a year it would be better for students.  He explained that he heard from many parents in our district that were upset about the multiple tests.

A week or so later, Pete Kramer was going to houses and he came to ours.  I was at work, but my wife spoke with him and she advised him of our son’s Tourette Syndrome.  He emailed her back advising my son is lucky cause he will grow out of it in a few years.  This occurs sometimes with TS, but for most afflicted with this disability, it stays.  It may become more manageable but it is not normal for it to just go away.

To draw to a conclusion, this is why Paradee is getting my vote.  He listened when I talked about my son.  Kramer listened, did some quick research which I’ve seen on Wikipedia, and responded to my wife with something I felt was highly inappropriate in trying to help a potential constituent.  I truly believe Paradee loves connecting with people.  I have yet to meet Kramer even though I’ve reached out to him a few times.

Yes, Paradee voted for the Smarter Balanced Assessment, but I’ve since learned Secretary of Education Mark Murphy had already bought the test for the state and it put the legislature in a very difficult position.  I’ve also questioned how much information members of the General Assembly who aren’t on the education committee received prior to the vote.

I’ve seen the signs all over my area, and Paradee’s are simple, vote for him.  Kramer put up a few that say “Paradee raised taxes” and so forth.  I’ve received mailers from both, and Kramer’s are all about why Paradee shouldn’t be elected.  Paradee talks about what he’s done and what he wants to do.  If his worst act as a House Rep was raising taxes when he said he wouldn’t, who cares.  Sometimes taxes need to be raised or you don’t get the services you need to survive as a community.  It’s unfortunate, but there you go.

While Kramer is against the same education things I am, he doesn’t have the connection with people that Paradee does.  I am also certain that some day soon, parents are going to revolt against Rodel and Markell and their whacko education reforms.  I have faith that Paradee will vote with his conscience when this happens and support what families want and not what Markell wants.

In conclusion, I endorse Trey Paradee for House Representative of the 29th District in Delaware!  Vote for Trey!