Calling ALL Delaware Primary Candidates!

With 3 days until the Delaware Primary, I know all of you are scrambling as candidates.  You want to get your message out as loud and clear as you can.  This is your chance.  I know some of the newspapers have deadlines for letters to the editor.  I want to hear from you and so do the people of Delaware.  This is what I am proposing: you can write anything you want about your candidacy and I will post it.  I don’t care if it is one paragraph or a book.  I’ll post it!  There is no word limit!  There is only one rule- I don’t want you to bash on your opponent(s).  I want you to tell the readers what YOU will do in your elected position.  What are your ideas to make Delaware better?

This is for ALL offices up for a primary in Delaware.  Down to the local level and up to Congress.

Please submit your posts to kevino3670@yahoo.com and in Word if you are able.  If not, I’ll figure it out.  I can get them up relatively fast.  And to be completely fair, I will just put your post up and no opinions about it whatsoever.  If you want to include a picture of yourself, feel free!  Thank you!

Guest Post By John Young: Christina Breaks Out!

Former Transparent Christina blogger and current Christina Board of Education member John Young wrote the following guest post based on an event held yesterday at the Chase Riverfront in Wilmington.  All Christina School District administrators, teachers, and staff members attended the event.

On Tuesday, August 22nd I had the distinct pleasure of attending our district-wide kickoff event. As most people who follow education know, Christina has faced many challenges in the last decade, many of which continue today: poverty, leadership, choice laws that do not put children first, policy, and politics to name a few of the big ones. We meet these challenges every day, across a 2000+ employee base that is dedicated, professional, and truly amazing!

I was struck by the enormity of having the entire district in the same place at the same time. We had done a similar event in the past broken into two sessions at Glasgow High School due to capacity issues, but our new Superintendent, Richard Gregg, was able to negotiate a single venue with capacity because he wanted to set our district upon this year with a distinct theme and direction: One District, One Vision, One Voice.  After 8+ years on the Board, it was so refreshing to have a message that resonated in a single setting, one that could be heard by all.  For me, one of the KEY takeaways is that each of those three prongs of the message will be uniquely and specifically fueled by a calculus with children at the center.

I know that’s what school districts claim to do, and pledge to do, but we in Christina have been led very erratically for such a long time (well over a decade now), we lost our way somewhere in there. I know each district leader before Mr. Gregg did their level best, but sometimes there was a lack of relation between intent and execution of the vision and direction which has fueled divisiveness at every level of the district, including our board.

I felt like so much of that began to thaw, even melt, in 4 short hours yesterday. I’ve been involved in countless issues over my tenure on the board many of which are not always about the students: contracts, consultants, ideology around destructive policies put for by the state, etc. etc.  Yesterday, it became clear to me that some of those things don’t deserve another moment of my time. They are worthless endeavors that do not serve children. We have new leadership and a new focus for our service model which requires the removal of “awfulizers” from our midst, and replace them with “awesomeizers”.

Christina planted a flag in the ground yesterday. I feel like it was our own metaphorical Gadsden Flag. Our referendum rally cry of a “New Christina”, an amorphous, unclear, and frankly controversial concept for some was jettisoned yesterday, not because it was bad, but because it took life. It’s beating in our core, and breathing on its own…

…and it had 2000+ parents and guardians present for the delivery. Quite a welcome sight to behold and an honor to witness.

Guest Post: Jennifer Cinelli-Miller On School Resource Officer Training

Yesterday, Delaware’s House Bill #142 was heard in the Senate Education Committee.  This bill deals with training for school resource officers in relation to students with disabilities.  This is a great bill!  It passed the House and is now on the Senate Ready List for a full Senate vote.  Delaware State Rep. Kim Williams worked extensively with Milford parent Jennifer Cinelli-Miller to get this bill going.  With Jennifer’s permission, I present her public comment to the Senate Education Committee:

Good afternoon Gentlemen,

Thank you for allowing me to be here today to speak on behalf of this piece of legislation. My concern with officers being placed in our schools began in 2013, when the Milford School District, in response to the horrific events at Sandy Hook, hired School Resource Officers (SROs) for our elementary schools, including Morris Early Childhood Center. When I began my research, many issues surrounding the use of uniformed, armed officers at the elementary level became apparent.  Most of these issues concerned students with special needs.

The research also showed that SROs were not being provided with appropriate training in regards to behaviors, exhibited by children with special needs which are a manifestation of their disability. These behaviors can be viewed, by the untrained eye, as behaviors that reach a level that requires law enforcement intervention.  My biggest fear was that my daughter, whose Autism causes her to have very serious meltdowns, would be mistaken as a public safety risk and arrested, placed in handcuffs or worse could end up dead.

I took my research to then Lt. Gov. Matt Denn and R.L. Hughes – who was at Homeland Security at the time and was working with the school districts to identify improvements to security measures in their buildings. None of the recommendations from the Department of Homeland Security included adding officers. 

The very first year with SROs in the schools in Milford brought about an incident which was by all accounts the “Perfect Storm” and ended with a child being committed to Rockford Center; strictly because he has Autism. There is nothing in this situation that the officers did that was inappropriate. There was a major breakdown in communication on the school’s part which led the SROs to be called for assistance instead of educators.

I had the honor of meeting with Rep. Williams after this incident and we set out to try to ensure that, at least in Delaware, SROs would be trained with a basic knowledge and understanding of children with disabilities. The family impacted by this incident wanted to ensure that it would never happen to another child.

This legislation will provide SROs with training and a basic knowledge of how the behaviors they may see in the schools are a manifestation of children’s disabilities and should be addressed by the educators in the schools.

I want to thank the many of those statewide that have assisted with this process. It was an honor and a pleasure to meet and work with so many of our wonderful officers from the Delaware State Police (DSP) and it was a relief to hear that they had just as much concern about SROs being utilized in situations that were meant for educators. I would also like to thank Brian Moore from Red Clay’s Public Safety Department, the Delaware Department of Education (DOE), specifically the Exceptional Children Resources group. Wendy Strauss and Sybil White from the Governor’s Advisory Council for Exceptional Citizens as well as Dafne Carnright from Autism Delaware and Bill Doolittle, a parent advocate who has been an instrumental part every step of the way.

So, after all of our hard work, I am here today to ask for your vote on this bill which has the support of DSP, the DOE and so many parents of children with disabilities.

Thank you,

Jennifer Cinelli-Miller, Parent Advocate

Milford, DE

Is Bill Gates Undercover at Delaware DOE, too?

Is Bill Gates Undercover at Delaware DOE, too?

Guest Post by Anani Maas

A Concerned Delaware Teacher Speaks Out

Emily Talmadge in her blog Save Maine Schools challenged readers to research how Bill Gates has gone undercover in our own states after she discovered how Gates has used his vast resources to drive the corporate education reform agenda in hers.

So, I decided to take her up on her challenge.

Let’s begin with the federal Race to the Top incentive grant, a carrot dangled at states to “force cash-strapped states to make radical changes in education in order to stay in the running—changes a National Research Council report (10/7/09) warned were not backed by research. Instead of dispersing grant money on the basis of greatest need, RTTT chooses a few winners based on the degree to which the states deliver what the feds want: more charter schools, so-called merit pay for teachers and new curriculum standards known as the Common Core” (Ohanian, 2010).  As we know, Delaware was one of the very first states to receive the grant in 2010 to the tune of $19 million because they quickly jumped on the “opportunity” the RTTT grant promised.  Read the rest of Ohanian’s article to see how Bill Gates’ money was connected to Race to the Top.

It is well documented that Bill Gates bankrolled the Common Core State Standards revolution in Lindsey Layton’s well-researched article for the Washington Post in June, 2014. For a refresher, you can read it here.

This leads to the Smarter Balanced State Assessment that is in place to test student’s acquisition of the Common Core State Standards. And if your school doesn’t have the technology available to administer the tests, Microsoft is ready to help you out!  (Even though Bill Gates himself is quick to point out how his efforts are solely philanthropy and in the best interest of ALL children! Bill Gates says so here.)

In addition to Common Core State Standards, Gates has bankrolled the Next Generation Science Standards as well. The authors of NGSS are Achieve, Inc. and, of course, Achieve, Inc. has received generous awards from the Gates Foundation. (see here)  Now that Delaware has secured the Smarter Balanced Test, it is time for them to move on to initiate a similar test aligned to the CCSS and the NextGen Standards.

But Bill and Melinda Gates’ money doesn’t stop there. How has their money directly found its way to Delaware in the effort to drive his corporate education agenda?

“Another key requirement [of the RTTT grant] is “using data to improve instruction.” This means basing classroom lessons on data collected from highly criticized standardized tests” (Ohanian, 2010).

Delaware DOE contracted with New America Foundation to implement the Delaware Data Coach Program.  “One of only two winners from the original, stimulus funded Race to the Top competition, the Delaware Department of Education dedicated $8.2 million over two years of its $19 million grant to the Data Coach Program” (McCann and Kabaker, 2013).  New America Foundation has received grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation every year since at least 2009.

Copied from the Bill and Melinda Gates’ Foundation Grants Awarded page.

New America Foundation 2015 Postsecondary Success US Program $2,400,000
New America Foundation 2014 College-Ready US Program $370,000
New America Foundation 2014 Postsecondary Success US Program $235,000
New America Foundation 2013 Global Policy & Advocacy US Program $740,000
New America Foundation 2013 College-Ready US Program $200,002
New America Foundation 2012 Postsecondary Success US Program $1,450,000
New America Foundation 2012 Postsecondary Success US Program $110,000
New America Foundation 2011 Postsecondary Success US Program $530,000
New America Foundation 2010 Global Policy & Advocacy US Program $1,300,000
New America Foundation 2009 and earlier Global Policy & Advocacy US Program $450,000
New America Foundation 2009 and earlier Global Policy & Advocacy US Program $1,500,000
New America Foundation 2009 and earlier Global Policy & Advocacy US Program $250,000

Curiosity seized me, so on the same Gate’s Foundation database for grants awarded, I decided simply to put “Delaware” in the search engine and these names popped up:

Delaware State University

Rodel Charitable Foundation

Association of Educational Publishers

Delaware Department of Education

I haven’t quite figured out why Gates gave $400,000 to the Delaware DDOE in 2013 and $322,525 in 2009.

I did see that the Gates Foundation gave a grant to the Delaware PTA in 2012 “to provide parent and community training on CCSS throughout Delaware.” Although, on page 18 of the same report, the DSEA reports that “DDOE has failed to fill this gap and has not provided resources for DPTA to continue its CCSS work” (Johnson, 2015).  So what happened to the money?

Gate’s money has paid for yet another set of standards. The Delaware Academy for School Leadership is one of the new organizations that has been developed to train new school leaders throughout the nation in the new The Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium (ISLLC) Standards.  These new standards have been developed through the Council of Chief State School Officers in collaboration with the National Policy Board on Educational Administration (NPBEA) to help strengthen preparation programs in school leadership. Again, searching the Gate’s Foundation database, I found that the Gates Foundation has awarded 21 grants to The Council of Chief State School Officers ranging from $25,000 to $6,148,749 between 2009 and 2015.  Therefore, Bill Gates gets to determine what knowledge, attitudes, dispositions, and performance are essential for new school leaders who lead our district schools.

This is only the digging I was able to accomplish in one afternoon! I am so thoroughly enraged at the way Bill Gates and his buddy billionaires have been able to single-handedly determine the direction of every level of our educational system to promote his agenda.  He is systematically buying into every level of education to propagate his message: lobbying parents through their trusted PTA’s, brainwashing novice teacher and administrators by controlling their teacher and administrator training programs, contributing to politicians on both sides of the aisle,  and stimulating new non-profits, charter schools and department of education cronies who will promote his propaganda.

While Bill Gates conspires to cash in by directing the education of every student in the United States from pre-K through graduate school, Delaware is simply selling out our students to the highest bidder.