Christmas At Exceptional Delaware

This will be the 5th Christmas season I’ve posted on here.  I thought I would put up ALL the links to the crazy Christmas posts I’ve put up.  Some are from the heart and some are from left field.  Enjoy!

This year I plan to start a crazy adventure beginning today with 25 days of Christmas madness!

A Christmas Poem For Governor Markell, Warning Signs All Over! 12/1/2014

The Christmas Legend Of Jack & Paul: The Birth Of Common Core & Race To The Top 12/17/2014

The Exceptional Delaware Top 25 Christmas Songs Of All-Time 12/20/2014

Christmas Gifts For The Enemies Of Public Education Part 1 & A For-Real Contest! 12/21/2014

More Christmas Gifts For The Enemies Of Public Education Part 2 12/21/2014

How To Get Through The Holidays When Those You Love Are Gone 12/22/2014

Part 3 Of Christmas Presents For The Enemies Of Public Education 12/23/2014

Christmas Presents For The Enemies Of Public Education: The Publius Edition 12/24/2014

The Murphy’s Law Of Christmas Presents For The Enemies Of Public Education 12/24/2014

Merry Christmas To The All The Heroes Of Delaware Public Education! You Know Who You Are! 12/24/2014

Breaking News: Santa Claus Supports Opt-Out! 12/4/2015

What If Santa Claus And Governor Markell Had A Fight? Who Would Win? 12/15/2015

The Other Christmas Gift 12/18/2015

The Arne Grinch Who Stole Christmas And Promised To Punish School-ville 12/23/2015

Merry Christmas To The Heroes Of Education & My Christmas Wish For The Delaware General Assembly 12/25/2015

The Sound Of Angels 5/7/2016 (Not really a Christmas related story but perfect for that holiday spirit!)

Santa And John 12/1/2016

Secret Santa Does A Wonderful Thing For Stubbs Elementary School In Wilmington, DE 12/9/2016

A Christmas Poem For Governor Markell, Warning Signs All Over! 12/1/2014

The Christmas Legend Of Jack & Paul: The Birth Of Common Core & Race To The Top 12/17/2014

The Exceptional Delaware Top 25 Christmas Songs Of All-Time 12/20/2014

Christmas Gifts For The Enemies Of Public Education Part 1 & A For-Real Contest! 12/21/2014

More Christmas Gifts For The Enemies Of Public Education Part 2 12/21/2014

How To Get Through The Holidays When Those You Love Are Gone 12/22/2014

Part 3 Of Christmas Presents For The Enemies Of Public Education 12/23/2014

Christmas Presents For The Enemies Of Public Education: The Publius Edition 12/24/2014

The Murphy’s Law Of Christmas Presents For The Enemies Of Public Education 12/24/2014

Merry Christmas To The All The Heroes Of Delaware Public Education! You Know Who You Are! 12/24/2014

Breaking News: Santa Claus Supports Opt-Out! 12/4/2015

What If Santa Claus And Governor Markell Had A Fight? Who Would Win? 12/15/2015

The Other Christmas Gift 12/18/2015

The Arne Grinch Who Stole Christmas And Promised To Punish School-ville 12/23/2015

Merry Christmas To The Heroes Of Education & My Christmas Wish For The Delaware General Assembly 12/25/2015

The Sound Of Angels 5/7/2016 (Not really a Christmas related story but perfect for that holiday spirit!)

Santa And John 12/1/2016

Secret Santa Does A Wonderful Thing For Stubbs Elementary School In Wilmington, DE 12/9/2016

Christmas Shuffle 12/20/17

Woodburn Christmas Conspiracy 12/24/17

Christmas Day greeting 12/25/17

The Four Coins 12/25/17

 

 

 

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Back To The Pretend World

I’m done.

This is the last article from Exceptional Delaware.  This is why. Continue reading

From “Jon’s Loving Father” To Absolute Insanity: The Exceptional Delaware Story

As I delve into year five on this blog, sometimes it is healthy to take a look back at my humble beginnings.  From the crazy legislation I proposed in 2014 to my modern-day attempt to get a Secretary of Education removed from power, it has been a crazy four plus years!  It started out with a plan and turned into so much more! Continue reading

From The Vault: Titles Of Draft Articles Never Revealed

I was going through my drafts folder on this blog and I found several articles I either started but never finished or ones where information changed drastically.  For some of them, I either got bored writing it, it was repetitive from other stuff I wrote, or it just didn’t make any sense.  Some of these wound up becoming part of other articles.

I’m deleting a ton of them, but I thought I would give the titles for some of them.  Some I am going to keep because there is information in them that is good to keep on the back burner.  And there are some I won’t even reveal the title of because they would give away something coming up.  Yes, I have many drafts with untold tales… Continue reading

Support Exceptional Delaware!

I’m stuck.  I want to help the citizens of Delaware.  I want FULL transparency, especially when it comes to education.  But we aren’t getting it.  That has become painfully obvious in the four years I’ve been blogging.  We have been lied to and manipulated.  It has to end.  I need YOUR help. Continue reading

Changes To Exceptional Delaware: Your One-Stop Delaware Search Engine!

I’ve been wanting to do this for years!  I’ve changed this blog to include links to every single Delaware school district and charter school.  As well, I’ve added all the Delaware media (newspaper and radio) websites.  I’ve included many State of Delaware websites: Delaware DOE, Governor Carney’s website, The General Assembly, Auditor of Accounts, Attorney General and more!  Various education support groups have been added: DSEA, Delaware Charter Schools Network, Delaware School Boards Association, Delaware Association of School Administrators and more!  You will still be able to find a list of current Delaware blogs as well as closed Delaware blogs.  I cleaned up those lists to take out ones that are not current anymore (nothing written in 2018) and those that are non-functional.  In addition, I’ve added some links to what I call “transparency” sites that folks ask me about all the time.  I’ve found a ton of information over the years at many of these links and so can you!

If you are not on these list of links and would like to be added, please let me know.  I try to get everything but I’m not perfect!

I hope these changes will allow Delaware citizens, parents, students, teachers and more be able to navigate through our state easier.  These are just the first of many changes coming to Exceptional Delaware!

Happy Birthday Exceptional Delaware! Moving Into Season 5!

I honestly didn’t think it would last this long.  Here we are, June 13th 2018, and my screaming toddler is moving into the school years!  It’s been a long journey filled with ups and downs, tosses and turns, and joy and anger.

As I head into Year 5 on here, I’m not going to make any promises.  One, I never keep them, and two, why spoil the fun?  I can’t commit to what I’m eating for breakfast tomorrow so why set myself up for failure?

I always get asked “why don’t you put more happy stuff on here”.  I do, but it is few and far between.  Whatever.  I’ll put up what I see fit.  And if I don’t think it is good for kids, you will probably see it.  Since teachers are the caretakers of those kids in our schools, I’ll look out for you to the best of my ability.  Deal?

Happy 4th Birthday Exceptional Delaware!

 

The Permanent Ban

I’ve been blogging for almost four years.  In all those years, I have never blocked anyone from ever commenting again on this blog.  In reaction to the post about the Delaware Spa Party and State Rep. Mike Ramone, one commenter crossed the line in a major way.  I’ve developed thick skin over the years but what I will NEVER tolerate is someone going after my family.  Especially my son.  This person wrote “Do you even have a kid who has special needs !! You are con -artist !!”.  I initially left the post up because I know this person and believe her to have good intentions but bad judgment.  But as her comments continued, including out-and-out lies, I had to take them down.  It is not something I like doing at all.

While many in Delaware seem to be angry at me over the Nudist Party post and the ramifications of that post, this blog is primarily about education.  I will fully admit this post was out of my usual realm.  It was not mean-spirited in nature or meant to be some personal attack against Rep. Ramone.  When I received the tip, and saw the accompanying verbiage on the website and Twitter account, it suggested something entirely different than what Ramone talked about on WDEL.  Had it been completely innocent in appearance the way Ramone made it out to be, I wouldn’t have touched it.  But obviously, Ramone agreed with that sentiment and the nudist party was shut down.  While some described my post as “Puritanical” in nature and that I pre-emptively judged Ramone, I tend to use some humor and sarcasm in posts at times.  Most of what I write is about bad things so for my own sanity I try to inject some levity in posts.  And let’s face it, a post about a state legislator that owns a business that hosts nudist parties is not something you read about every day.

Ramone suggested in his interview with Dan Gaffney that he questioned the motives behind this.  He mentioned it was done in an election year.  If I truly wanted to crush Ramone in an election year, I would have put this post out right before a primary if he faced one or closer to the General Election.  As I mentioned in a comment, I don’t have a beef against Ramone.  I don’t always agree with his bills but there are some I’ve liked.  I’ve joked with Ramone at Legislative Hall at times.  I am not a diehard Republican nor am I a staunch Liberal.  I’ve said this a million times but the banned commenter seems to think I am working for some Liberal agenda here.  One commenter demanded I apologize to Ramone.  I thought about it all morning, and yes, I will apologize to Mike Ramone publicly.  I’m sorry my post led to a decision that destroyed a 25 year tradition at your place of business.  If this was truly an innocent and “kind” gesture (as Ramone repeatedly said in his radio interview) it is certainly a shame it is now gone.  But that was not my decision.  It was my decision to write about it.  Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine WDEL would pick up on it and talk about it to the extent they have in the past few days.  I’ve seen other Delaware political blogs write about very outlandish and crazy stuff without that kind of attention drawn to it.  But I understand this blog resonates with many parents, teachers, legislators, students, and Delaware citizens because the heart of it is about education.

As for the commenter, I sent that person a private message indicating why I blocked her.  I truly hope she understands but that is her own conscience she needs to grapple with and I certainly hope she has a moment with herself and the way she projects herself.  Others have expressed the same thoughts about her to me.  I don’t believe she is a bad person but terribly misguided.  This is what modern politics has done to many people.  It is a true shame.  So many people in this country have morphed into one side and one side only.  There are ALWAYS gray areas.

Meanwhile, I will continue to write…

Exceptional Delaware Conquers The World!

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A Look Back At 2017 And Leaping Into 2018!!!!

2017 will go down in the record books.  As what remains to be determined.  It had it’s highs and, for me, it had some unbelievable lows.  For those who know me “outside of the blog”, you know exactly what I’m talking about.  I’ve danced around on it several times on here this year.  For my faithful readers, you can probably figure it out.  Those “events” cast a shadow on this blog resulting in periods where I didn’t write anything.  Sometimes for weeks at a time.  Compare that to 2015 when I wrote a blog post every single day and very close to it in 2016!

I like to take a look back at the “best” of the blog at the end of each year.  Instead of just doing a top ten list or whatever of the top articles, I want to try something different.

January: Thom Labarbera, Brandywine Social Studies Teacher Passes Away 

This was probably one of the fastest articles I ever wrote.  I saw something on Facebook about this teacher passing so I thought I would make a post about it.  The fact it was the most-read article of the month shows a great deal about how loved this teacher was.

February: Delaware Racism: It Is Reality And It Isn’t Going Away

I wrote this in the wake of allegations that Delaware Military Academy’s basketball team was shouting racial stuff at a Red Clay basketball team during a game.  It was never proven definitively if it did happen, but it got a lot of us thinking.  It made me write about how widespread I believe racism is in Delaware.

March: Don’t Let Your Special Needs Child Fall Victim To “New” Federal And State Voucher/Choice Policies

This was actually a guest post by Steve Newton.  He posts some amazing and insightful words on Facebook.  When I read this, I immediately reached out to him and asked if I could publish it.  I would love to continue sharing Steve’s well-written words on here, but that is certainly up to him.

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

The day I wrote this I attended a seminar on human sex trafficking up in Red Clay.  It struck a chord with me.  It should with everyone living in this state.  I went way out of my comfort zone with this article but I was happy to do it.  The Delaware General Assembly passed a couple of new laws about this type of thing not long after this article.  They would have passed them whether or not I wrote about it, but this post opened some eyes in Delaware.  Every time I look at my stats, I see this article continue to get hits just about every day.

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

This was the most-read article of 2017.  It was based on a House Bill that aimed to get rid of the 5-mile radius that a few charter schools have as an enrollment preference.  Once Senator David Sokola got wind of it, he demanded the bill had something added to it.  Something that would only benefit one school in the entire state… Newark Charter School.  Eventually, Governor Carney vetoed the bill because of the NCS exclusion.  Most likely it was planned that way the entire time in Sokola’s mind.

June: Pray For New Mexico! Surfer Boy Is In Charge Now!

Give a former Delaware DOE employee the keys to the New Mexico Secretary of Education car and watch heads start shaking both in Delaware and New Mexico.  Once New Mexico teachers caught wind of this, they immediately wanted to know what Christopher Ruszkowski did for good old Delaware.  He recently pulled a priority schools fiasco in Albuquerque pissing off pretty much everyone.

July: The Hidden Secrets Behind Providence Creek Academy’s Bomb Threat & Audit Investigation

The jury isn’t out on this one.  It never got to that point but it should have.  Nothing happened because of this article which really pisses me off.  I’m hoping that changes one day.  If it doesn’t, it just goes to show how corrupt this state really is.

August: Massive Teacher Exodus At Providence Creek Leaves Parents Shaking Their Heads

Shortly before school started, many teachers had left PCA.  Parents from the school accused me of beating up their school and I had no clue what I was talking about.

September: Breaking News: Governor Carney Signs Cursive Bill! Take That Kate Gladstone!

In the Spring, the Delaware General Assembly passed a bill mandating cursive writing be a part of English/Language Arts curriculum for students in lower grades.  It was controversial.  Some of my biggest allies loathed and hated this bill.  I still think it is very important.  Governor Carney signed the bill in September and I was able to get the exclusive on it.

October: Caesar Rodney District Staff & Admins Watched Disabled Kid Get Beat Up And Did Nothing

Shortly after the whole Caesar Rodney mascot thing exploded in the news, bigger news came out about a disabled student getting beat up in the cafeteria.  Another student filmed the whole thing.  When I found out that district staff and administrators were in the cafeteria that day and didn’t do a damn thing to stop the fight, it really ticked me off!

November: Delaware Politics Explodes With Regulation 225

Probably the biggest education news of the year.  A regulation about transgender students turned Delaware upside down.  11,000 public comments later, the Regulation is getting a second look which will cause it to come roaring back in 2018.  Parental rights are at the heart of the regulation.  It will be interesting to follow, that’s for sure!

December: The Exceptional Delaware Hero Of The Year 2017: Laurie Howard

Like the January article, this post was about a beloved teacher who passed away.  This one hit home for me though.  Laurie was a friend of mine.  I wrote this less than 24 hours after she passed away.  There will never be another like Laurie Howard.  I was glad nothing else I wrote this month came close to beating this article.  A fitting tribute to an awesome woman!  Even Diane Ravitch picked up on it!

While I didn’t come close to the number of hits I received in 2016, I wrote less articles.  So altogether, most of those articles on average did better than articles that came out in 2016.  The top search terms that brought readers here included the following: Exceptional Delaware, Backpage, Craigslist, Trinity Carr, Susan Bunting, Thomas Edison Charter School and John Marino.  Some of the oddest ones were: Chakeria sex video, omegle, abc reading eggs where children, and how do I join the illuminati if I live in New Castle Delaware.

I imagine I will continue to write less in 2018.  Just like I did this year.  But I do plan on writing next year’s articles with more facts.  I know, I’ve said this before.  I’ve said I will reach out and get more info before I just throw it up on here.  I think I break this New Year’s resolution every single year.  Will this be the year?  We shall see.  But I do know I will branch out more from education into other areas.  I will experiment where I can.  I will also be writing more personal stuff.  Not everyone’s cup of tea.  But I do that for me more than anyone else.  I find writing to be very cathartic.  I may have a few other tricks up my sleeve, but that will have to wait.  I’m sure I will piss off people like I do every year.  Can’t please everyone!

But I do want to wish all of you a very Happy New Year!  Be safe tonight.  Chances are pretty good if you don’t read this tonight you are having fun somewhere.  Just be safe in your travels and tell those you love how much they mean to you!  As for me, I can’t wait for 2018!  2017 sucked in a lot of ways for me.  But like anything in life, you have to take the bad with the good.  I learned a lot this year.  And sometimes those growing pains (even for a 47-year old man) are very important.  I can’t wait to see what tomorrow will bring and the other 364 days in the year.  Bring it on!  The good, the bad, and the ugly.  I’m ready for it!

 

 

The Optics Of Politics

I came back from Star Wars: The Last Jedi last Friday night and saw a post from Steve Newton on Facebook.  I always read his posts because I know they are going to be interesting.  Once I read the second sentence, I knew somehow I was going to be a part of this post.  Since Steve specifically said at the end of it not to reply with reasons or justifications, I gave a brief reply acknowledging he was talking about me and fully owning my posts about one of the two people he was talking about in his post.  Since then, Steve has taken it upon himself to wage some bizarre one-man crusade against the validity of this blog.  See the comments section over on Blue Delaware.  You can read Steve’s opening salvo he posted on Facebook in that article.  I also posted an article mainly in reply to Steve’s post.  It was already in my drafts folder but I added to it due to the nature of Steve’s post.

This is what I wrote in reply to Steve’s original post: Continue reading

Tonight

There is so much going on tonight.  First up is the first Town Hall meeting (which I filed a FOIA complaint against the Governor’s Office and Christina School District for a violation of the seven day notice) for the Governor Carney let’s screw with Christina School District one more time.  Second is the Red Clay Consolidated School District Board of Education meeting in which they pick up a new board member and tackle the resolution similar to the Christina resolution on sanctuary schools and all that.  Finally, it is the Capital School District Board of Education meeting.  My son goes to school there again so I have a vested interest in what goes on in their district.  I can’t possibly attend all of them.  So which one am I going to?  Who gets the honor? Continue reading

The Exceptional Delaware Memo

So I took a break over the last week and a half.  I did cheat last Monday and popped two articles up.  But whatever.  It’s my blog.  I’ll do what I please.  It was a hectic week.  Between work and the damn car.  But I did have fun on Facebook on many of those days.  Dug into an awesome collection of short stories by Neil Gaiman.  I discovered MY song of the summer, “One Of Us”, by New Politics.  I sold the last remaining vestiges of a forty-year old hobby, my comic collection.  They are all digital today.  I went for some walks with my music blaring.  It was hot as hell most of the week.  I tried to steer clear of education conversation.  On the first day of my “break”, God bless them, no less than six people contacted me in some way about education stuff within an hour after my announced break.

I did think about education stuff, mainly what is coming up.  Jotted some notes down…

Season Four On Exceptional Delaware Just Got Very Interesting, Time To Reboot The Mission

Every year, on June 13th, Exceptional Delaware celebrates its anniversary.  This year is, pardon the pun, no exception.  You won’t see what the mission is until you read about it.  But it is definitely time to reboot the mission and go back to basics.  It’s about the kids.  It’s about families.  It’s about what is covered up and hidden.  In ALL facets of education, people want quiet.  They didn’t want the dirty skeletons coming out of the closet.  But they are there.  Like an ostrich with a head buried in the sand, so it is with Delaware education.  Continue reading

2017 Stats To Date And What Is Coming

2017 has been an odd year for Exceptional Delaware.  There has been a ton of transition, between a new Governor, a new Delaware Secretary of Education, and very peculiar budget issues plaguing Delaware schools.  But the biggest post by far has been a recent one about a particular charter school in Newark and their 5 mile radius.

Top 17 Posts of 2017 So Far:

  1. Newark Charter School Doesn’t Want Wilmington Black Kids Or Wilmington Special Needs Kids Going To Their Private School
  2. Thom Labarbera, Brandywine Social Studies Teacher, Passes Away
  3. Delaware Racism: It Is Real And It Is Not Going Away
  4. Racial Slurs Appear To Go Unpunished For DE Military Academy While A.I. DuPont Basketball Team Suspended For Rest Of Season
  5. What To Make Of Bad News Betsy’s Letter About ESSA To Chief State School Officers
  6. Silence Is Complicity: Human Sex Trafficking In Delaware and How I-95, Craiglist, Backpage, & Kik Make It Thrive
  7. Delaware Joint Finance Committee Cuts State Board of Education From State Budget, DONE!!!
  8. Wahl v. Brandywine Case Settles! Justice For Joseph & An End To Zero Tolerance In Brandywine!
  9. Jack Markell Under Investigation By Ed Authorities ***DEBUNKED***APRIL FOOL’S DAY***
  10. 77 Teachers On The Chopping Block For Christina School District, Increased Classroom Sizes As Well!
  11. Not A Good Day For Christina
  12. **UPDATED**Christina Public Comment By Board Member Alleges Involvement Of Other Board Members In Hate Emails
  13. Final Delaware 2017 School Board Filings
  14. Exceptional Delaware Endorsements For 2017 School Board Elections
  15. Don’t let your special needs child fall victim to “new” Federal and State voucher/choice policies
  16. Cut The Admins In Districts & Schools? How Many Are There? TONS!
  17. Exceptional Delaware Endorses John Marino For The 10th Senate District

Like I said, this has been an odd year.  Because of so many changes, I’ve found that some folks I allied with on just about everything have shifted somewhat in their line of thinking.  We still agree on a lot of the old stuff (Common Core, Opt Out) but the lines have gotten very blurry in some areas.  I endorsed John Marino in the 10 Senate District Special Election and caught holy hell for it.  Issues involving racism filled up three of the top four articles.  My first foray into Human Sex Trafficking yielded a lot of reads.  The month of May has been the biggest month so far this year.  Between the school board elections, budget cuts, and the infamous HS1 for House Bill 85, over 50,000 people visited the blog this month.  7 out of 17 articles are from May.  An April Fool’s Day joke apparently fooled many people judging by Jack Markell’s place on this list.

Expect the unexpected in the month of June.  I can tell you now a lot of articles will be about the state budget, the effects it will have on Delaware schools, and the shenanigans down at Legislative Hall.  It will culminate on June 30th/July 1st as the legislators try to get it all done so they can have their long 4th of July weekend.

I’ve had more than my usual requests lately for writing about certain things.  I’m actually going to hold off on some of those until July.  The main reason for that is due to the state budget sucking up all the oxygen in the room.  I have a couple articles where people want to talk about new ideas for education but all any school district or charter really cares about now is the budget and what impact it is going to have on them.  If the State Board of Education is truly done, there are going to be a ton of legislation dealing with that.  The most controversial two words between now and the end of June: Epilogue Language.

If you want to help this blog, please go here and if you have the means and are able to help out, I would be forever grateful!  And a huge thank you to those who have chipped in.  I was talking to someone last night about how I am the last of the education bloggers in Delaware (without an agenda).  We were discussing if someone else is going to enter the rat race.  Who will be the next Delaware education blogger that churns stuff out?  Can’t wait to meet you!

 

New Beginnings From Yesteryears

Twelve years ago I had a big idea.  It was a monstrous and colossal idea.  So big I couldn’t begin it.  When I first had the big idea, I began to map it out.  I knew much of the who, what, when, where and why.  It was the how that was killing me.  It would be my magnum opus for the world or at least a few readers.  Either way, I knew I had to do it.  I would revisit my idea over the years, continuing the map.  Five years ago, I wrote the prologue and the first chapter.  I haven’t been back since.  This little thing called education got in the way.

The past few weeks, I’ve been thinking about my big idea.  I’m not getting any younger and if I’m ever going to do it, now would be an ideal time.  There are three main sources of inspiration for this, from three areas of my life I have enjoyed since a child: music, tv, and comic books.  For the musical inspiration, one line from a Wallflowers song planted the idea.  The television show Lost, which ran from 2004-2010, germinated the seed.  And finally, my literary muse, the one and only Neil Gaiman, was the one who showed me that even the most random of characters can hold great importance later.

I proudly present “1000 Lives”.  The prologue will give the theme of how this works.  And then… well, you will just have to wait.  It will be so epic that I can’t do it on this blog.  So I have to start a new one.  But Exceptional Delaware will continue as well.  Two blogs, at no price to you the reader.  Please follow “1000 Lives” as it will be completely separate from this blog.  If it isn’t your cup of tea, don’t worry about it.  If it is, spread the word.  This is a fictional story with pieces of real life thrown in for good measure.  I’ve met many people in my forty-six years of life so don’t be surprised at many inspirations spread throughout this online novel.

I invite you on a journey like no other.  I’m not sure if this has ever been attempted before.  If not, look for something very original.  Most stories have a beginning, middle, and an ending.  This story’s beginning starts at the end of one story while opening up many more.

Here is the link to 1000 Lives.

In Honor Of St. Patrick’s Day: The Top 17 Lists

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!  As the Irish eyes are smiling, I thought I would give an update on what articles are in the top 17 of all time on here along with some other Top 17 lists!

TOP ARTICLES FROM JUNE 13th, 2014 UNTIL MARCH 17th, 2017

  1. Delaware Public Schools: You Have Until Thursday To Get Rid Of Your Data Walls Or I Start Filing FERPA Complaints
  2. Her Name Is Amy
  3. US DOE & Arne Duncan Drop The Mother Of All Bombs On States Special Education Rights
  4. Holodick & Brandywine Named In Lawsuit As Father Seeks Justice For Year Long Nightmare
  5. My Special Needs Son’s First Day Of Common Core Division & This Is His Homework
  6. Breaking News: Secretary Godowsky Is Changing Funding Formula So Charter Schools Will Get More School District Money
  7. Charter School of Wilmington & Discrimination: Student Denied Due Process and Subject To Potential Profiling By Head Of School
  8. America Is Getting Bamboozled With Betsy Devos! She Is All In On The True Agenda: Cradle To Grave Workforces Of Tomorrow
  9. Tragedy Strikes Howard High School In Wilmington As Female Student Dies From Head Injuries In Fight
  10. Teach For America Rejected & Slammed At Professional Standards Board Meeting Last Night **UPDATED**
  11. Breaking News: Court Rules Smarter Balanced Assessment Violates The U.S. Constitution
  12. The Gates Foundation Isn’t Even Hiding It Anymore… The Complete Transformation Of Education Brought To You By Billionaires
  13. Thom Labarbera, Brandywine Social Studies Teacher, Passes Away
  14. Delaware Racism: It Is Reality And It Is Not Going Away
  15. Delaware Senate Passes The “No School Until After Labor Day” Bill With Close Vote
  16. Carney’s Pick Of Susan Bunting For DE Secretary Of Education May Not Be The Wisest Choice
  17. Niche.com Delaware School Rankings By High School, Middle School, Elementary, Best Teachers & More

TOP REFERRERS TO EXCEPTIONAL DELAWARE

  1. Facebook
  2. Google
  3. Twitter
  4. Kilroy’s Delaware
  5. Delaware Liberal
  6. Bing
  7. WordPress.com Reader
  8. Android apps
  9. Diane Ravitch.net
  10. Elizabeth Scheinberg.net
  11. AOL
  12. Yahoo Search
  13. Comcast.net
  14. Kavips
  15. Emilytalmage.com
  16. Gmail
  17. Cloaking Inequity.com

Top 17 Countries Reading Exceptional Delaware

  1. United States of America
  2. Canada
  3. New Zealand
  4. United Kingdom
  5. Australia
  6. India
  7. Germany
  8. France
  9. Phillipines
  10. Russia
  11. Ireland
  12. Mexico
  13. South Africa
  14. Spain
  15. Japan
  16. Netherlands
  17. Italy

Top 17 Most Bizarre Search Terms That Brought Someone To Exceptional Delaware

  1. MBNA
  2. Bank of America and U2
  3. Waist deep on charter and on demand
  4. Mold photos willowleaf dr
  5. did Mark Zuckerberg restrict Common Core posts on Facebook?
  6. “are held accountable to the fullest extent of the law” and citi
  7. christiana school distinct to start after Labor Day
  8. big daddy taution school
  9. Quentin Tarantino
  10. mark holodick age
  11. dr brewington ffa jail
  12. data walls suck
  13. meredith blowman archmere
  14. delaware goopen initiative
  15. man jacks son common core
  16. henry clampitt delaware
  17. mark murphy dsea president

My Top 17 Favorite Articles I Wrote On This Blog

  1. Her Name Is Amy
  2. Breaking News: Family Foundations Academy Under Financial Investigation With State Auditor
  3. Delaware Race To The Top, Hedge Funds & Millions Wasted: The Story of Rodel, Markell, Charters & The Vision Network
  4. Rodel’s CEO Dr. Herdman Sent An Email Re: Rodel Article, My Response & Challenge
  5. Mold Issues At Christina Elementary School Could Be Causing “Pulaski Kennel Cough”
  6. Smyrna Assistant Superintendent Patrik William’s Hysterical Letter To Delaware DOE
  7. Breaking News: Santa Claus Supports Opt-Out!!!
  8. The “Dear Hillary” Letter That Will Cause Your Mouth To Drop To The Floor
  9. The Tentacles Of Corporate Education Reform And How They Pull Parents Down The Rabbit Hole
  10. Breaking News: Secretary Godowsky Is Changing Funding Formula So Charter Schools Will Get More School District Money
  11. Newark Charter School Denies Lottery To 6 Year Old Girl With Rare Disability
  12. Santa and John
  13. The Last Exceptional Delaware Post
  14. Opt Out As We Know It Is Dead… Long Live The Badge
  15. Jack Markell, Blockchain, Coding Schools, Rodel, BRINC, Pathways To Prosperity, Registered Agents… Delaware’s Role In “The Ledger”
  16. The Test Made For White Kids, Not Black Kids
  17. The Delaware Met Down For The Count A Month Into The School Year

A lot of the above articles were either a labor of love or based on a ton of research.  Some just came to me on a whim.  Some of these articles actually changed things in Delaware.  One was wishful thinking on my part!  A few were written in a very different style than what most of my readers are accustomed to.  With over 3,200 articles written on here, it is tough to pick out my personal favorites, but these ones are definitely up there.

As for the future, I’ll keep chugging along.  I’ve taken a back seat to a lot of things going on in Delaware education the past few months.  Had to stretch my sea legs!  But research-based articles will return at some point once I get my bearing back.  Unless something radically changes, you will see more of my investigative work but with less of an accusatory tone and with more quotes (hopefully) or information gathering from the subject of the article.  In any event, Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

 

 

January Shuffle 3.0

Is the third time the charm?  Let’s find out! Continue reading

1,000,000

million

I reached a million hits on my blog today.  For this one, I am going to brag.  I am also within days reach of passing the number of hits I had in 2014 and 2015 combined and the year isn’t even done yet.

I’m not bragging cause I think I’m something special.  I’m doing it because of something someone said to me a long time ago, a couple of months after I started this blog.  It was a comment meant to disparage me.  To belittle me.  The person tried to make it as though the News Journal was the only media people cared about in Delaware.  And how they get 300,000 readers daily.  How my little blog didn’t matter.  And that no one really cares.

The News Journal has a much bigger staff than I do.  I have a staff of one.  My staff is unpaid and does this during their own time.  I don’t tend to get the “official” word ahead of time on news because I don’t have the access mainstream media reporters do.  This blog is a grassroots effort at the soul of it.  And lots of reading.  Tons of reading.  It is listening and going with my gut.  Going by instinct in the dark at times.  Comparing and contrasting.  Listening, searching, looking, and very recently, actually smelling.  Some of it is pure luck and just being at the right place at the right time.  A lot is opinion which is based on various facets of information.  I can say that I have always attempted to deliver the truth or my perception of the truth.  Sure, I occasionally come out with my outlandish “fan-fiction” stuff but I would be stunned if anyone gets through the first paragraph and thinks it is the real deal.  I don’t have sponsors or advertisements.  Social media is a huge boost, sure, but there has to be interest.  We are inundated with material on social media.

I’ve watched my readership steadily grow since June 13th, 2014.  Eleven days after I started this blog, the U.S. Dept. of Education came out with their state determinations for special education.  Delaware was rated “needs improvement”.  Before that, my eye was on the DOE but not a full stare.  That woke me up to look deeper into them.  I wrote a huge article about Delaware’s special ed rating that day and I got 424 hits.  I remember the 4th of July ten days later I got 28 hits that day.  I was averaging 100 hits a day prior to that and I thought my readership had suddenly left me.  I really cared about my stats back then.  My first article that went viral concerned my son’s 5th grade Common Core division homework.  It was confusing as hell and both of us were really struggling with it for hours.  I put the homework up on here.  It must have clicked because apparently moms and dads around the country were struggling with the same assignment that night.  That article had over 14,000 hits.  Every year since, I watch that article breathe life again around the same time of year as new parents of 5th graders wonder what the heck that assignment is all about.

This blog would be nothing without the readers.  I would like to think anyone bothering to read a blog about education in the 2nd smallest state in the country already has an interest in education.  Or perhaps a headline brought them here.  Or a Google search.  The numbers don’t matter to me though, it is what people do with it.  My goal has always been to open people up to different lines of thought.  To lift the veil of non-transparency that happens in education.  To expose the prophets who profit.  To let people see what is going on behind the campy jargon coming out of a certain Governor’s mouth.  Letting people see that numbers don’t always tell the tale and they can be abused greatly.  But if there is anything I would want people to take from this blog it is my unwavering belief that it should always be about the kids.  This gets me in trouble sometimes and some feel I am overreaching on something or going to extremes.  Or that I’m wearing a tin hat.  They are certainly free to feel that way.  I will always argue my side.  No one has ever changed hearts and minds by keeping quiet.

People tell me all the time they don’t know how I do this blog and where I find the time.  I make the time.  I think it is that important.  Some articles just happen very fast and I can do it in five minutes.  Some stay in the drafts folder until I get more information or it is very research-intensive.  If there is one thing I’ve learned about education it is that no one is going to agree on everything.  Sometimes I offend people and I think to myself, “where did that come from?”  It isn’t intentional in those situations.  I don’t know it all.  Let me be very clear on that.  I get stuff wrong.  I like to think I get more right though.  In a culture of vague ambiguities coming out of state agencies and whatnot, the smoking gun is not that easy to find.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve found something, put it up, and thought this was going to change everything.  It just doesn’t happen.  That was a hard reality for me to accept.  I always hope, but realism has to creep in after a while.

I’ve made the promise in the past that I wouldn’t throw grenades at public figures.  I own that I can be seen as attack first and ask questions later.  It’s who I am, or at the least, who I’ve become.  Hate it or love it, but until the shroud of secrecy concerning education and the satellites that revolve around it disappear, I’m going to be the rake at the gates of Hell when it comes to this stuff.  As an example, I’m working on an article now.  I have been for over two weeks now.  And it is so big, I reached out to many people on this: parents, teachers, districts, and even the Delaware DOE.  No one from a school district will return my call.  Not one.  So do I go with what I have and draw conclusions on what others are telling me, or do I wait around for some magic moment when some district bigwig or school administrator decides to pick up a phone?  If they even have the answers I’m looking for?  Other times I definitely go for the “shock and awe” approach.  The best way to expose something is to lay it out for all to see.  Let people reach their own conclusions.

I’ll fully admit, blogging can get lonely sometimes.  I’ll hear from people who want to provide information.  People want to hear more about something or they want my help.  And then they disappear.  Oftentimes, someone reaches out to me with “I can’t be seen talking with you, so I’m reaching out to you like this”.  I see people very sheepishly dancing around me at meetings, trying to watch what they say or how they say it.  Or those meetings when I know I’ve pissed people off about something and they won’t even look at me.  Then there are those very dark times when I feel like nothing I do on here matters, that no matter what happens, nothing will change.  Those are usually the times I look at my son and remember how all this began.  And that gets me back in the fight.  There are those who will say education shouldn’t be a fight.  That the problems is adults talking and talking and never getting anywhere.  That is actually a valid point.  But all too often, the actions taken are what causes the fight.  Policy is set in place but those very same policy-makers want us to shut up and just take it.  I’m that voice that says “Hell no, I don’t think so.”  If John Carney wants to deal with me, he can choose how that is done.  It is entirely up to him.  He can take the Jack Markell approach and deal with daily or weekly onslaughts against his decisions, or he can sit down and have a conversation with me.  Not some thirty-second question at a fund-raiser.  But a real, honest-to-God frank discussion.  I have no doubt he has the “other side” whispering in his ear all day long.

I can’t save education.  No one person can.  I wouldn’t even want to be burdened with that.  We will probably never get it exactly right.  There have been many before who have tried and there will be many long after me.  There will be cycles and ebbs and flows.  It started with special education on here, but I soon realized all Delaware students were getting screwed over with bad laws, policies, and a crap-load of people making money off education.  I will never be a Diane Ravitch who has close to 30 million hits on her blog.  There are blogs out there that get 100,000 hits a day based on subject matter I wouldn’t even think to look at.  But for a little blog about education in the First State, I’m kind of proud of hitting the million mark.  Today, I celebrate.  Tomorrow, it’s back to the grind…

Over a million hits ago, it began with this…

Hello everyone, and welcome to the latest blog to hit the First State: Exceptional Delaware!

I am a father of a special need’s son, and you can read all about my family’s journey with a Delaware charter school here:

https://kilroysdelaware.wordpress.com/?s=a+father%27s+cry+for+his+son

Everything that happened with my son inspired me to want to do more, not just for him, but all the children in Delaware who have some sort of disorder or disability that gives them special education.  I know a lot about Tourette’s Syndrome, ADHD, OCD, ODD, and Sensory Processing Disorder, but I need to learn about things like Autism, Asperger’s  and other disabilities.

This blog will be a mix of news, interviews, spotlights, investigations, and more!  I believe every single parent in America should know their children’s rights when it comes to special education.  I will be doing features on IDEA, IEPs, 504 Plans, Manifestation Determination, FAPE, Child Find and more.  If anyone has anything they would like to see on here, please feel free to comment or shoot me an email, and I will do my best to make it happen.

I have several ideas for potential legislation that will force all public schools in Delaware to become more transparent about the special education they have in their schools.  I will go into great detail on my ideas in future posts.

To get the best and most truthful education news here in Delaware, I highly recommend you check out Kilroy’s Delaware, Kavips, Transparent Christina, theseventhtype, Children & Educators First, and Parents Of Christina.  If you’re looking for the joys of Common Core, Standardized Testing and Race To The Top, you’ve come to the wrong blog.  I can’t stand any of them, and I will go to great lengths to explain why.

Thank you for visiting, and I hope to see you again soon!

 

 

 

2016 Update: Which Articles Get The Most Hits?

2016 has been a very interesting year in blogging.  Some articles took off way beyond what I thought they would while others didn’t even hit the 1,000 mark.  Such is life in Delaware education!  The articles that get the most hits on this blog seem to take on a life of their own.  It is very odd to watch as the writer of this blog.  I think to myself, “this is Delaware, it can’t be that interesting!”

Without further ado, here are the top 2016 articles on Exceptional Delaware:

  1. Delaware Public Schools: You Have Until Thursday To Get Rid Of Your Data Walls Or I Start Filing FERPA Complaints 51,505 hits
  2. Her Name Is Amy 36,029 hits
  3. Holodick & Brandywine Named In Lawsuit As Father Seeks Justice From Year Long Nightmare 22,277 hits
  4. Tragedy Strikes Howard High School In Wilmington As Student Dies From Head Injuries In Fight 6,924 hits
  5. Niche.com Delaware School Rankings By High School, Middle School, Elementary School, Best Teachers, & More 3,098 hits
  6. Delaware Senate Passes The “No School After Labor Day” Bill With Close Vote 3,054 hits
  7. Delaware DOE Hits All-Time Low With Very Scummy Move Against Teachers… 1,993 hits
  8. ***UPDATED***Channel 6 ABC Action News Gives Updated Information About Details In Amy Joyner-Francis Case 1,823 hits
  9. Governor Markell Takes It To Facebook And Receives The Beat Down Of His Life! 1,783 hits
  10. Delaware’s Pee Problem 1,712 hits

Out of all the above articles, the one that was the hardest to write was Her Name Is Amy.  It was the day after her murder at Howard High School of Technology, and the words just came out of me.  The data walls article really took me by surprise.  I wrote the whole article in about five minutes while at work one day in response to a Facebook post.  When I checked my laptop a few hours later at my next break, it had over 3,000 hits.  The whole Senate Labor Day bill was also a post I thought no one would really care about, but it clearly resonated with readers for some reason.  A lot of these articles generated so many hits because they were either original topics that couldn’t really be found anywhere else or because they dealt with a tragedy on a scale we weren’t used to in Delaware.  The fact that three of these articles dealt directly with Amy Joyner-Francis speaks volumes at the grief we felt (and still do) over her senseless death.  There was a lot of misinformation about what happened that day.  Some of it was discounted only to be later verified.  In some instances, it was just bad information.  When I was prepping the Brandywine lawsuit article, I had a feeling it would be big, but not that big.  The Pee article was meant to be serious, and it was.  But sometimes the title just jumps out and says “read me”.

For the data walls article, I will be keeping a close eye on this topic.  I want to hear from any parent, teacher, or student who sees data walls in our schools that give out names and test scores and rankings of students.  In the classroom or out, especially if it is in an area where anyone can see it.  Many schools who practiced this last year got a reprieve from me because it was the end of the school year, but I will not be so kind this year.

Blogging is an odd thing.  None of these posts were heavily linked to with the exception of Facebook in certain situations.  Facebook, Twitter, and Google have always been my biggest “referrers”.  What none of these hits include are hits to my “homepage” which received 93,065 hits so far this year.  Each year, this blog gets bigger, and I am very grateful for that.  When I began this little thing back in June of 2014, I didn’t foresee anything like this or what it became.  I thank all my readers, near and far, for coming to visit.  It’s been controversial, it’s been real, and it’s even been fun with some stuff.  The people I’ve met since have left a very big impression on me.  I am a better man for meeting a lot of you!  And some, I won’t go there!

While I don’t always slow down in the summer, my readers do.  I have noticed a crystal clear trend with this as my 3rd year of summer blogging comes to a finish.  Things ramp up big time in late August/early September.  That continues up until Christmas.  Slows down for a few weeks, and then the General Assembly comes back.  Things slow down around Easter for a week, and then back up again until June 30th.  Slows to a crawl on 4th of July, and goes up or down all summer depending on how many people are around and not purposely checking out from “real life”.  But summer is when the DOE is usually the most crafty, so I make it an extra point to monitor them closely then.  Sometimes it takes a while to put the pieces together, but eventually a picture forms.

Funny story, the first time I wrote an article about Governor Markell in the title, I thought for sure the Delaware Secret Service would be collecting me at work.  It never happened, and as time went on, I stopped worrying about stuff like that.  It’s not that I’ve ever been about to destroy Jack Markell.  I’ve always hoped he would wake up one day and do the right thing.  But he is very predictable once you figure him out.  He constantly disappoints me, but that feeling leads me to the truth every singe time.  I’ve always made it a point to tell the truth on here.  Some of that is perception, and some were gut reactions, borne out of frustration and anger.  I’ve flip-flopped on a lot of things, but some things have stood the test of time: my stances on Smarter Balanced, Opt Out, personalized learning, Rodel, Markell, the Delaware DOE, and the Delaware State Board of Education.  I still think special education needs vast improvement in Delaware.  Following the money has taken more time and research the past few months, but I understand things so much more than I used to.  It isn’t just a charter thing, it’s a Delaware public education thing.

I’ve written some things on here that some found reprehensible but I stand by those decisions.  To my detractors, I ask this: if I am wrong about so many things, why do I get no response for those things from those who know the truth?  They have the ability to reach me.  They all know how.  It has been a very rare event when I left a comment in moderation because of the nature of the comment.  I can count those on one hand.  I have never edited a comment.  I’ve corrected articles many times.  In Delaware education, transparency is not always there so you draw conclusions based on what you have and the information presented.  I’ve even apologized if I was wrong in the past.  Sometimes I hear that others are upset with me, but I never seem to hear from those “others”.  To those “others”, you should not feel afraid to reach out to me.  I may not agree with you, but I will certainly present your side of the story.  As long as you don’t lie to me or intentionally try to mislead me.  Cause if I find out, you can be pretty damn sure I will write about that.

At the end of the day, this isn’t my blog.  It isn’t even about the people who read it.  It’s about the Delaware kids in public education.  It’s about my kid and yours.  When politics gets involved, it can get ugly.  I won’t endorse those who toe the party line or vote against something that could and should be in a student’s best interests.  In Delaware, we have the capability of ushering in true change to education.  We stand on the cusp of something better and different.  But all of this depends on how you vote in the September primaries and on Election Day in November.

I urge all of you to do research into which legislators have stood up for public education.  Who has supported the rights of teachers and parents?  Who voted against the Smarter Balanced Assessment?  Who has openly, even in the face of disdain from their peers in their own party, voted for what is right and not for what the Governor or the forces against public education want?  Who goes to a lot of education meetings and serves the will of the people and not the Governor?  This can be a very thin line at times.  There are many parents who support charter schools and school choice in this state.  I recognize that, and I accept that.  Some assume certain politicians are out to destroy charters.  They aren’t.  They just want transparency and honesty, about their finances or their enrollment practices.  They see and hear things you never hear a word about.  They see the lobbyists in full swing at Legislative Hall and know who is zooming who.

I think most of us want something better for our kids than what we have.  But if you want to live in a sheltered island where everything is safe for the few, and not the many, then that isn’t always the best thing.  Parents are used when they exist in those kind of environments.  They are more willing to believe certain things because it is all they know.  But trust me when I say the reality is very different.  There are people in this state who are all about themselves.  They may smile and appear to be the nicest people in the world.  They aren’t.  They know who they are.  They know what they do.  I believe most, if not all of them, are fully cognizant of their actions.  I’ve seen many of their faces when they aren’t in a crowd.  They aren’t the same faces.  It is truly horrifying to see sometimes.  I can also see the weight of guilt on some of them.  I see the stress on their face and the remorse in their eyes.  But they feel powerless to do the right thing.  This isn’t something I can fathom.  I guess it just isn’t in my genetic makeup.  I feel for them in the same respect I feel bad for anyone who does wrong and it eats at them.  We have all been there at one point or another.  It isn’t a fun feeling.  But at the same time, I don’t feel any loyalty to these people.  Everyone has the opportunity to tell the truth or live a better life.  It might mean sacrificing something these people aren’t willing to do.  I don’t think it’s a question of not being able to do so for any of them.

We all make choices, for good or bad.  I believe we all face moments when we wrestle with those choices.  Struggle with what to do.  We may be protecting someone else, or just ourselves.  But when it involves kids, there is no place for ego or greed or manipulation or lies or fraud or power.  Because most of these kids, they don’t know how to do those kind of things.  They are seeing the paths set for them by the adults.  So for those who I am talking about here, and you know damn well who you are, are you okay with Delaware students being who you are when they are your age?  Are you okay with them taking the same actions you have?  Because that is what will happen.  If it isn’t your own children or grandchildren, it will be someone else’s kid.    Someone who will grow up and think the game is more important than life.  Is that really what you want?