Final Thoughts On The Delaware Primary

Voter turnout was up.  That is a good thing.  I would love to see a massive increase in voter levels for both sides.  Let the people speak!  Some elections turned out pretty close to how I thought they would.  Some were disappointments.  At this point, it is what it is and all eyes are on the General Election.

The biggest upset turned out to be Scott Walker.  Who would have ever thought the wooden-sign guy would actually win a Primary?  Much less, one on the Republican side?  Don’t worry, he will get trounced in the General by Lisa Blunt Rochester.  No doubt in my mind about that.

Predictions and who I want to win are two different things at times.  I will be endorsing for the General Election but I’m still recovering from the Primary.  There will be plenty of time for that.  Some may surprise you!  I do want ALL the candidates to send me their Candidate Message.  Some of the ones I received before the Primary are still good since those candidates won their Primary race.

Like I said the night before the Primary for candidates who lost- don’t give up!  There will always be winners and losers.  Let it be a learning curve for you.

We have some new Senators in our midst here in Delaware.  Congrats to Senators Lockman and Brown.  As well, congrats to new State Reps. Dorsey-Walker, Johnson, and Vanderwende.  I will anxiously await to see all of you in action next January.

The General Election is going to be pivotal to the future of Delaware.  The political picture is going to change no matter what.  It will be up to voters to decide what shape that picture takes.

 

 

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

Kim Williams gets Exceptional Endorsement! Vote for Kim! #netde #eduDE @KilroysDelaware @delawareonline

There are those who run for office that truly want to change things. And there is going to be a great deal of change needed by the time the 148th General Assembly gets rolling. The Red Clay Consolidated School District needs a powerful voice as their representative, someone who will work to get the job done in a fair and consistent way. Kim is the voice for education in the House of Representatives!

Kim’s sponsorship of bills and her voting record is why she needs to be elected again to the 19th District’s House of Representatives. Kim is a champion for education, and she has opposed bills that probably didn’t make her popular in Legislative Hall, but made her a hero in many people’s eyes. House Rep Paul Baumbach wrote that he reaches out to colleagues on special education matters, and Kim Williams is one of them.

On her flyers that went out to prospective voters, she wrote:

“It is a priviledge to be your State Representative and I love serving the people of the 19th District. Over the last two years we have worked together to improve educational opportunities, make government more transparent, create jobs and strengthen our economy. We’ve accomplished a lot but there is still more to do. I ask for your support and vote in the Democratic Primary on Sept. 9 2014”

Kim is very approachable, because she is one of those politicians that’s in it to serve her constituents. It’s not about the power and the politics, it’s about doing what’s best for the people that elect her. And that’s why she get’s Exceptional Delaware’s Exceptional Endorsement!

 

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(above picture from dehousedems.com, Kim with Senator Townsend, another candidate in Tuesday’s primaries who needs your vote for DE Senate!)

The following are the reasons why Kim needs to stay:

She voted no on House Bill 334, which allowed Smarter Balanced Assessment to replace DCAS.

She was one of the sponsors on Senate Concurring Resolution 63, which created the IEP Task Force. She was also one of the instrumental forces in my quest to have parents added to the task force membership. It was her idea for parents to “email bomb” their House Reps and Senators, which they did, and allowed for a re-vote adding the parents!

She sponsored and voted yes for Senate Bill 209, which allows local school districts to review a charter school application to see if it has an impact on the surrounding district.

Voted yes for HB 13, which prevents lawmakers from becoming lobbyists for one year after they leave office.

Voted no for HB 165, which allowed, among other things, for charter schools to get a performance fund. Funds are going to be sent to a brand new charter school, but public schools are falling apart in Wilmington. See my point!

Voted no for SB 220, which appropriated money for the ailing casinos in Delaware. It passed and they received $9.9 million dollars, while once again, schools…falling…apart…

Voted yes for SB 6, to increase the minimum wage.

The following are endorsements for Kim:

From a News Journal article, where former 19th District Rep Bob Gilligan endorsed Kim: “As the former state representative for the residents of the 19th District, I could not be more pleased with the work that Kim Williams has done during the past two years. Kim has been a very good state representative for the 19th District, and she should continue to serve the residents. She is a hard worker who has put in the effort in all aspects of being a legislator.

Kim has done an outstanding job with constituent services, responding to all requests and following up with everyone. Kim is very conscientious, gives individual attention to each person who calls and also regularly attends community meetings. That is the hallmark of an effective legislator.

On the legislative side, Kim had one of the most productive freshman terms that I can remember. She supported efforts to help grow our economy and create jobs for Delawareans, such as voting for a minimum-wage increase and reforming our workers’ compensation laws. As a former Red Clay School Board member, she has been focused on education. In her first two years, she passed major updates to our school choice laws. She also championed a FOIA law to increase government transparency and improve Delawareans’ access to public records.

The residents of the 19th District deserve a state representative who is selfless, works hard and has their best interests at heart. Kim Williams is that person. She has proven herself during the past two years, and she should continue to serve. I hope you will join with me in voting for Kim Williams in the Sept. 9 Democratic primary.

Bob Gilligan, Former Speaker of the House and 19th District State Representative”

From Kilroy’s Delaware: “The parents and community of Red Clay School District with “participation” of Delaware State Representative Kim Williams questioned, challenged and beat back pending changes that “did” impose on the civil rights of special need students and the protection promised by IDEA. We are thankful for Kim’s beyond the call of duty.”

From Kavips: “When Kim Williams heard a hearing was going to be held without the parent’s side of Common Core being told, she risked all and stormed into it, and the chair had her thrown out lest her side of the story get told… Kim is true champion for children, parents, and teachers. With Kim, the ugly side of Common Core gets exposure. Kim stood up and voted no on HB 334, the Smarter Balanced Assessment bill. This is another no-brainer choice. Kim all the way.”

I agree Kavips! Kim all the way! So get out and make the right choice denizens of the 19th on Tuesday and vote for Kim Williams again!

 

DE Election 2014: House Rep Candidates Views on Common Core, Smarter Balanced and Special Education #netde #eduDE @TheStateNews @DelawareOnline @KilroysDelaware

Election season in Delaware is underway. Everywhere I go, I see signs littering the landscape! I reached out to all the candidates for the House of Representatives in Delaware. I was really hoping to get more, but you work with what you can. I completely understand how busy many of these people are, as being a candidate is most likely not their only job. My question was simple: What are your veiws on Common Core, Smarter Balanced Assessment and Special Education in Delaware. Nothing too fancy. Some emailed back asking how long it had to be, some said they never got a survey, and some responded right away. I sent the original emails out over a month ago, and a reminder email a few days ago.

If any candidate wants to add anything or send me their views, I will certainly update this as primaries are just the next part. We still have a ways to go!

Pete Kramer (29th District, Republican): I don’t support Common Core for a long list of reasons. Chief among those reasons is that I do not think standardized tests are a good was to evaluate teachers or students. Teachers too often have to teach to the test, and many subjects that I think are important are marginalized. Special needs kids also often struggle with standardized tests and get demoralized. I’m not opposed to a tough curriculum for most children, but centralized control of education and standardized tests is just not something I agree with.

We need a thorough review of Special Education in Delaware. The Federal government rated Delaware as “Needs Intervention.” A review board made up of legislators, teachers, and parents is the first step to solving the problem. Per capita Delaware is one of the highest spenders on education in the nation. Our results just aren’t there. We need to work to change that.

Paul Baumbach (23rd District, Democrat): I like the goal of Common Core, but I am disappointed with the process behind its creation, and with the implications of yet another curricula change (these changes require years of retooling lesson plans). While it is good that Smarter Balanced tests are designed to measure mastery of Common Core elements, I am disappointed that, since we are tying teacher evaluations and school evaluations to its results, that it fails to measure student growth during the school year. It’s once-a-year design makes it 100% inappropriate to tie to teacher and school assessments. I am not well-versed in the needs of students with special needs, and I therefore reach out to colleagues and others who understand issues better than I. I do believe that our school/student funding system is unworkable, and a funding mechanism which considers all students’ needs, and allocates financial resources more appropriately is sorely needed in Delaware, and that there are systems in place in the US which are superior to ours, and which we should work ASAP to adopt.

John Mackenzie (22nd District, Democrat): When DE won $120 million of Federal money in the first round of Race to the Top, over half of that money stayed in Dover: it was wasted on more admin salaries, consultants, another statewide student testing program (first DSTP, then DCAS, and now “Smarter Balanced”), a teacher appraisal system (DPAS) that still doesn’t work, etc. Our public schools are burdened with a lot of micromanagement from Dover. DOE keeps chasing one costly education fad after another. Common core is just the latest fad, taking a reasonable-sounding premise to create yet another testing mandate. This too shall pass.

David Alan McCorquodale (21st District, Green Party): My wife recently retired as a kindergarten teacher with special ed. certification in part because of frustration with all the layers of requirements being put in place. The day-to-day dealing with children became less and less about having them excited about learning and more focused on making sure they would meet certain standards when they were tested. I believe in local control of school districts and, in fact, I believe those who teach should have more control over what is done in their classrooms than the layers of high paid specialists and administrative people. I agree with your position that Common Core Standards and Smarter Balanced Assessments violate local control. My position in general on Charter Schools is that they take much needed funds from public school while they do not have to perform all of the same services. Charter schools are leading to the resegregation of our schools on the basis of economic status, rather than race.

Michael Ramone (21st District, Republican): As you can see by my record since elected I am a advocate for special needs children and have been my entire life. Meadowood school is in my district and I do everything possible to support their needs and the special needs of all the schools in the 21st. I have some issue with Common Core but am hopeful this session we will be able to focus on the students above all else. Especially those in the special needs community. If you have any specific questions please do not hesitate to send them to me and I will answer them as quickly as possible. Thanks Michael

Robert Keesler (4th District, Republican): As you know education is a complex topic that I have been passionate about and working on since 2011. Therefore I find it difficult to concisely give my opinion since there are so many moving parts to our system.

Common Core

I am not a supporter of common core. It has its issues, however the main reason I do not support it is because it neglects the individual needs of the child. Supporters argue we need a curriculum that is the same no matter where the child goes to school. I disagree and would rather see a more decentralized school system that allows more choice for parents and students so we can account for every child’s unique situation and needs. What’s worse is those with the financial means are able to pull their children out of the system while others are not able to. Unlike the typical argument, I don’t think we should force those in private and charter schools back into the current system. Instead, we should offer choices to every student and do away with the concept of schools being funded by geographic region. What is public about education is the funding. The money should follow the student.

Smarter Balanced Assessments

Again, every child has unique abilities and interests. No standard test can account for that and will inherently neglect a minority of students.

Special Education

If we make the education system in Delaware less centralized by allowing the dollars to follow the student, then most schools will have an incentive to accommodate special needs children. Like any other time competition is introduced, we will see better results for special education students.

My perspective is that so many legislators bring their personal bias on education without studying how things got to this point. Like raising a child, one needs to follow the system from its inception up to today so you can intimately know the issue. Listening to some of the legislators in office it is clear they are focused on what they know instead of looking at the big picture. I am confident our education system will become more personalized whether it is through legislative measures or a result of technology. It is a matter of time, but I would rather see it happen now instead of later.

Marie Mayor (20th District, Democrat): I believe it is important to include students with disabilities in statewide assessment programs. The progress students with disabilities make in meeting the goals of their education program should be used to determine in part how well the school or school system is serving children with disabilities. The challenge is to design the assessment such that the assessment is a meaningful measure of the individual student’s achievement. It is this challenge that causes the most discussion and disagreement among education stakeholders (administrators, teachers, parents, school board members, etc). If elected, I would like be a part of a legislative effort to ensure the State (a) addresses this challenge head-on and (b) works in a collaborative manner with the US Department of Education to demonstrate the State’s commitment to assessing the progress and achievement of students with disabilities.

Donald Ayotte (20th District, Independent): I believe that common core will dumb down America’s educational system because the program fails to adequately allow development of human potential. Furthermore it assaults individuality in a sea of conformity. We need a thorough rebirth of our educational system, especially in Delaware, toward a new age of creativity and reason, unfortunately this is not possible with the constraints of the current special interest two-party political system. People need a greater voice in shaping educational policy.

James Brittingham (39th District, Libertarian): I’m against Common Core and High Stakes Testing. Parents, Teachers, and Local School Boards need to be controlling schools, not the Department of Education.