Big Events Tonight In Delaware! Marino vs Hansen, State Board Of Ed Sunset Review and More!

February 1st Events in Delaware

This is one of the things I can’t stand about Delaware.  Weeks will go by without anything momentous going on and then BOOM! Everything all at once on the same night.  Tonight is no exception!

The biggest, which will likely draw a great deal of media attention, is the debate between Republican John Marino and Democrat Stephanie Hansen for the 10th Senate District seat.  The winner of this special election will dictate who holds the power in the Delaware Senate.  There is a lot of heat on this election already and it will only ramp up until the February 25th voting day.  Hosted by Allan Loudell with WDEL, this debate at Middletown High School begins at 7pm.  As well, Libertarian candidate Joseph Lanzendorfer will be a part of the debate.

The State Board of Education has their first Joint Sunset Committee review tonight in the Joint Finance Committee room at Legislative Hall, 7pm.  The State Board of Education was put on review last Spring by this committee.  There could be big changes coming out of this review and this will be one to watch.

Capital School District is holding a forum on “potential building configurations” at the William Henry Middle School Auditorium, 6pm.  Many in the district have felt their current grade configuration doesn’t work.  Coming out of their ongoing Strategic Plan, this could draw a lot of attention for Senator Citizens in Dover.  This part of their strategic plan is under the long-range master facilities plan.  I say make it K-5, 6-8, and 9-12.  But there is also a potential of pre-school and Kindergartners getting their own building.

The Progressive Democrats for Delaware are holding a pot-luck dinner tonight at the New Castle Democrat Headquarters over on 19 Commons Blvd. in New Castle from 7pm to 9pm.

The Down Syndrome Association of Delaware is holding a forum with state legislators covering topics such as education, Medicaid, and employment.  This event, sponsored by Eventbrite, will be held from 7pm to 9pm at State Troop 2 in Newark, DE.

The Wilmington Education Improvement Commission is holding a meeting for the Meeting the Needs of Students in Poverty at United Way of Delaware, 625 Orange St. at the Linden Building, 3rd Floor, in Wilmington from 4pm to 6pm.

Earlier today, the Joint Finance Committee heard opening remarks for Public Education as well as the Chief School Officers down in Dover.  After that, the JFC got to hear the Delaware Department of Education’s FY2018 budget request which is still going on until 4pm.

Busy day with no ability for everyone to get to all these things.  I will be attending the debate tonight.  Let’s see who wins this one!


A Little Ditty About The Negan & Lucille Of Public Education: Jack & Dave

DE Senator David Sokola


Senator Sokola.  You need to get a Governor to try to win an election.  The Negan and Lucille of public education.  I would quote their silly little letter to the News Journal, but it is all rubbish.  Nothing you haven’t heard before.  It appears desperation breeds laziness in these two.  When they can’t come up with anything new, they resort to the same old every single time.  It is a broken record trying to be heard when the record player stopped working years ago.  Yawn…

God help us if David Sokola is re-elected.  Which means Meredith Chapman has to win!  We don’t need Governor Markell’s right-hand man destroying public education for another term.  Markell wouldn’t have been able to get 3/4 of his initiatives through without his Lucille.

This is the second time in the past two months we have been subjected to Sokolaness in the opinion section of the News Journal.  The last time was Sokola taking credit for the Council of State Legislatures big report on public education.  As if education would just stop working unless David Sokola wasn’t involved.  You have seen the videosDSEA did not endorse him.  But he is fine with endorsing a bogus lawsuit against Christina School District.  John Carney has the Sokola blinders on.  He screws over teachers every chance he gets.  He helped Newark Charter School get away with financial invisibility.  He serves on the Joint Finance Committee with this fellow Newark Charter School cheerleader.  He keeps his knife sharp so when he betrays his peers in the General Assembly it has the sharpest cut.  He brought the DSTP and Smarter Balanced Assessment into our schools.  He does not support parental rights.  He has a very bizarre partnership with the 2016 Genghis Khan of teacher evaluations.  When he lost his political prowess last Spring, the Governor had to issue an Executive Order to do the job Sokola couldn’t do.  He rips on blogs while providing the ammunition they hurl at him.  He chickened out on a vote to put the State Board of Education under Sunset Review.

Sadly, Delaware being what it is, his fellow Democrats are forced to support him.  As the Lucille to Jack Markell’s Negan, Sokola smashes Delaware public education constantly.  And then Jack takes all the credit.

The Angeline Rivello Email About The Teacher Leader Pilot That Really Ticked People Off

Angeline Rivello, Teacher Leader Pilot Program

A couple of days ago, I posted an article about major controversy with the Delaware Teacher Leader Pilot program.  It was a long article and if there was one thing I’ve been told since the beginning of this blog, some of articles are just too damn long.  I know, I know.  My own wife tells me I babble on and on at times.  So here is the short and sweet:

Angeline Rivello sent out applications for the Teacher Leader Pilot before the Committee to Advance Educator Compensation & Careers even came out with their final recommendations.  The selection committee for this pilot included a member that was also picked for the program.  The DOE didn’t seem to give a crap if the Joint Finance Committee was going to approve this in the final budget for FY2017 either.  I alleged that Rodel was behind the whole thing.  I do this a lot, and I have yet to be proven wrong on a lot of this stuff.  Donna Johnson was included in the email and she damn well knew the committee had not approved it yet which shows collusion with the State Board of Education office.

So you can consider this the radio version of this song, or you can read the extended dance mix linked above.

148th General Assembly Legislative Session Schedule For 2016

148th General Assembly, Delaware House of Representatives, Delaware Senate

The fun begins again on January 12th, 2016.  This is when the Delaware General Assembly reconvenes for Part 2 of their 148th General Assembly.  It will be a raucous ride this session, with huge budget issues taking the forefront of any discussion.  Followed by education, death penalty, and right to die bills that are pending bills.

The General Assembly typically meets from Tuesdays to Thursdays with rare exceptions out of those days of the week (usually Joint Finance Committee).  The various committees meet during these days as well, but there is no clear schedule for all of them.  Here are the dates:

January 12th, 13th, 14th, 19th, 20th, 21st, 26th, 27th, 28th

February-1st week of March: General Assembly in Recess all month for Joint Finance Committee and Joint Finance Committee/Bond meetings.

Here are the dates for the JFC Hearings:

February 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 22nd, 23rd, 24th & 25th

And for the JFC/Bond Committee Hearings:

February 29th, March 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 8th

Back in Legislative Session:

March 8th, 9th, 10th, 15th, 16th, 17th, 22nd, 23rd, 24th

In recess for a few weeks, then back for:

April 12th, 13th, 14th, 19th, 20th, 21st

Then more JFC/Bond Hearings:

April 26th, 27th, 28th

Back In Legislative Session:

May 3rd, 4th, 5th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 17th, 18th, 19th

And then the JFC Mark-Up Session:

May 23rd, 24th, 25th, 31st, June 1st, 2nd

And then the final stretch back in Legislative Session:

June 7th, 8th, 9th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 21st, 22nd, 23rd, 28th, 29th, 30th, and if need be, the hours going into July 1st if the General Assembly does not pass the budget for Fiscal Year 2017.  The General Assembly is required by law to keep meeting until the budget is passed.

Senate Conc. Resol. #39 Creates Group To Have 3/4 Majority Vote For Funding Of Charters & Univ. of Delaware & DSU

Charter School Funding

Because charter schools are corporations, and Delaware state code states all corporations get a 3/4 majority vote for any budget funding, Senator Colin Bonini introduced Senate Concurrent Resolution #39, which would create a working group to look at this issue.

This is actually a very smart move.  The budget bill requires a simple majority vote, but since this bill funds the above-mentioned corporations, the entire budget bill is being looked at.  The resolution passed with a unanimous vote in the Delaware Senate.

The group would begin on August 1st, 2015, and the report would be due to Governor Markell by 12/31/15.  I’m not exactly sure what this would do for charter schools in particular, as well as Del. State and Univ. of Delaware.  Could this group change the way charters are funded?  This could be very interesting and one to watch!

Delaware Joint Finance Committee Approves Step Increases For Teachers

Delaware Teachers

The Delaware Joint Finance Committee approved a motion to approve step increases for Delaware teachers.  This item in the Delaware budget was on the chopping block, but luckily the JFC voted wisely on this motion.  While the increases vary based on years of  experience and levels of education (i.e. bachelors, masters, etc.), it averages around $500 a year for the average teachers.

Congratulations Delaware Teachers!

Will Schwinn and Ruszkowski Be Cut From DOE? Is Herdman’s Vision Of Personalized Learning Already Here? Do Teacher Surveys Give Meaningful Data? And MUCH MORE!!!!

Delaware DOE

Back in February, the Delaware Joint Finance Committee and the House Education Committee grilled the Delaware DOE over Race To The Top funding and everything that came with it.  At last, we have the answers made available to the public in this exclusive bombshell.  There are seven documents here, giving LOTS of details about the DOE.

It looks like the Joint Finance Committee’s slashing of the Delaware DOE’s previous Race To The Top employee funds could result in MAJOR changes at the DOE according to the below document!  Will Penny Schwinn and Chris Ruszkowski be the first to go?  And many more key positions as well!

As well, if you replace 2Revolutions with Schoology it is obvious that personalized learning is already implemented in many of our schools.  This will eventually lead to less direct instructional time by a teacher and more kids glued to computer screens.

There is SO much in these documents.  About teacher surveys, priority schools, more on Booker T, Education Insight and massive amounts of data being captured, and so much more!

So if I am reading this right, the following positions could be cut:

Chief Accountability & Performance Officer: Penny Schwinn

Director, Office of Data Management: Ryan Reyna

Education Specialist, Data Analyst, Office of Data Management: Chesiree Wise

Chief Performance Officer, Office of Performance Management: Katherine Villari

Deputy Officer, LEA Performance, Office of Performance Management: Elizabeth Jettter

Education Associate, School Turnaround: ??

Chief Officer, Teacher & Leader Effectiveness Unit: Christopher Ruszkowski

Chief of Staff, Teacher & Leader Effectiveness Unit: ??

Deputy Officer, Talent Recruitment & Acquisition: Tasha Cannon

Director, Talent Management: Atnre Alleyne

If anyone knows the blanks, please let me know.

Check out all the below documents which are referenced as attachments in the first document.

Delaware DOE Goes On A Contract Spree For Priority Schools, Teachers, & Prep Programs

Delaware DOE

You wouldn’t know the Delaware Department of Education is tightening spending after their budget increase was slashed in half last week by the Joint Finance Committee.  Just this month alone, they put out seven bid proposals.  These proposals are for priority school programs, teacher quality, the proposed school report card, and more.  Does anyone think it is a coincidence the 148th General Assembly will not be in session when all of these contracts are finalized?

I suppose the DOE would have to put a contract out for individual priority school leaders because it would not be an ongoing position.  All of these positions report to Chief Accountability Office Penny Schwinn, not the districts involved- Christina and Red Clay.

And we can’t forget the school report card program, otherwise known as the grade your local school accountability game.  Did anyone else know this will go live on August 24th, 2015?

But lest we forget, the DOE has four bid proposals in regards to teachers.  Because we can never have enough taxpayer money going out to improve teachers, right DOE?  I’m sure most of these are the brainchild of the Teacher Leader Effectiveness Unit, under the very watchful eye of Chris Ruszkowski…

That’s a whole lot of professional services the DOE is requesting.  Is this the sole purpose of the DOE’s Accountability and Assessment Office and the Teacher Leader Effectiveness Unit,  to serve as the middle men between our schools and these education reform companies?  It sure seems like that.  It’s very rare where you see any of them doing the actual work themselves, aside from taking other companies words, mixing them up, and presenting them to the State Board of Education at their monthly meetings.  Meanwhile, over 130,000 students in the state are suffering from a severe lack of resources in their classrooms…

Governor Markell’s Budget Increase For Education Slashed In Half By Legislators

Delaware DOE, Governor Markell

The legislators know Race To The Top is kaput.  So why keep existing programs?  This was their response according to Jonathan Starkey with the Delaware News Journal.  Out of the $7.5 million extra Governor Markell put in the budget, only $3.75 million is left.  So what got the axe?  10 high-paid positions at the DOE.  Less funding for data analysis, recruitment costs, and teacher prep initiatives.  While I hate to see anyone lose their job, the Delaware Department of Education has become a bloated beast in the past seven years.  While I would like to see the whole $7.5 million cut, the Joint Finance Committee put a major dent in the DOE’s plans.

Yesterday, on the agenda for the State Board of Education, six new positions in the Department’s Office of Assessment were proposed for data analysis.  One would assume this is to measure and collect data from the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  Here is an effective cost-cutting proposal: opt-out!  Less data, less spending to “data-dive” and find “root cause analysis”.

I’m not sure how this came about, but the other $3.75 million went through to fund teacher prep programs (I guess these are different than the ones they cut?), a student “data portal” for teachers (Big Brother doing his thing), and more funding for the upcoming new science curriculums (funded by many and the scariest of all the education reforms).

This was my favorite quote from the article:

Rep. Joe Miro, R-Pike Creek Valley, said it was “refreshing” to see the 10 positions in the Department of Education eliminated from the budget, but called the remaining funding “extraordinary” and unnecessary.

Please note Markell’s proposed budget didn’t have funding going directly to help schools that are cash poor based on cuts from the last recession that were never restored and pay through the nose for “consultants”, Common Core, and the technology needed to administer the dismal Smarter Balanced Assessment.  God knows our schools need more special education funding.  Christina School District is trying to save jobs and resources while Jack Markell wants to give out more ridiculous salaries to inexperienced DOE employees who would rather play Human Capital than human compassion.

DSEA Reveals Governor Markell’s Flexible Funding Pilot Buried In FY 2016 Budget Bill

Flexible Funding Pilot, Governor Markell

This information, sent to me by a VERY concerned Delaware citizen, is not good for Delaware schools.  What is the game plan here Markell?  Why do you want to destroy education?

Gov. Markell has proposed budget language that could cost educators their jobs and eliminate well-rounded educational programs for students and cost educators their jobs.  The program is the Flexible Funding Pilot found at the end of the FY 2016 Budget Bill.  The program, if enacted, would give districts the flexibility to save money by eliminating programs and positions that are not innovative, lead to student achievement, or are deemed too costly.  The Flexible Funding Pilot is a deliberate move away from funding programs and positions based on student population.  DSEA believes that Delaware’s school funding system needs to be re-examined in a responsible manner that is inclusive of current practitioners, experts in the field, and elected officials.  We do not support changing the funding system by hiding a new system in the 230+ paged budget bill.  We are asking you to contact members of the Joint Finance Committee- the committee responsible for voting on this language and express the following:

  • Delaware students need a well-rounded education, not one focused on budget constraints or test scores! Do not vote for the Flexible Funding Pilot in the budget Epilogue.
  • The Flexible Funding Pilot means loss of jobs for: Arts and Social Studies Teachers, School Psychologists, Guidance Counselors, Speech Pathologists, Secretaries, Custodians and Food Service Workers.
  • The Flexible Funding Pilot is an irresponsible approach to addressing Delaware’s school funding problems. We want a comprehensive review and plan put together by current practitioners, experts in the field, and elected officials.

We need to lobby JFC Members over the next few weeks. Please contact these legislators and share this message with colleagues that may not have access to a home email!  Please note: If the program gets the votes it needs, then this becomes a local organizing issue. Your local school board will have to approve a Flexible Funding plan in order to take part in the pilot.

Joint Finance Chairs · Senator Harris McDowell (302) 744-4269 · Representative Melanie George Smith (302) 577-8473 Joint Finance Members · Representative J.J. Johnson- New Castle (302) 577-5312 · Representative Debra Heffernan- Brandywine Hundred 302) 744-4030 · Representative Bill Carson – Smyrna 302) 744-4193 · Representative Harvey Kenton- Kent/Sussex County (302) 744-4267 · Representative Joe Miro – Pike Creek/Newark (302) 577-8723 · Senator Brian Bushweller- Dover (302) 744-4035 · Senator Bruce Ennis – Middletown/Smyrna (302) 744-4035 · Senator Cathy Cloutier – Brandywine Hundred (302) 744-4197 · Senator Karen Peterson- Newport (302) 577-5305 · Senator Dave Lawson –Lower Kent County/Sussex County (302) 744-4237

Governor Markell, Please Close The Income Gap Before The Proficiency Gap

Governor Markell

The Delaware News Journal came out with an article yesterday which stated the 1% of Delaware’s wealthiest citizens saw a 15% rise in their individual wealth since the 2009 recession while the remaining 99% actually dropped 1.6%.  This is all under Governor Markell’s watch.  He has ignored this cold hard reality while allowing millions and millions of dollars spent trying to close an unrealistic fantasy, the proficiency gap.

Governor Markell and his corporate education reformers in the Delaware Department of Education actually believe that by osmosis and rigor, all students can perform the same on standardized tests.  Minorities, low-income, and special needs children can be the same as their “regular” peers because they said so.  There is no evidence, data, or research to back this up.  But if they keep saying it, we have to keep trying.

Jonathan Dworkin, Governor Markell’s Spokesman told Jonathan Starkey with the News Journal:

“…the report “makes clear the long-term challenge facing Delaware and our country as middle class jobs of the past have been outsourced to new technology or other countries over many years.”

Price blamed the unequal economy – in Delaware and across the country – on the reduction of well-paid manufacturing jobs, falling union representation and a minimum wage that has not kept pace with rising costs, among other factors.”

El Somnambulo with Delaware Liberal wrote this:

“The policies he put into effect during the so-called ‘recovery’ led to more, not less, inequity in income growth. Actually, you can’t call it income growth for the 99% who saw their income shrink by 1.6%.  This is obscene.”

Maybe if Markell redistributed the millions of dollars he wasted in his thirst for power in education, this gap would not be so wide.  He allowed the Delaware Department of Education to beef itself up into a power mad unit of the Delaware government which has remained virtually unchecked until recently.  He did this in front of all the citizens of Delaware, and most of us didn’t even notice.

Governor Jack Markell doesn’t answer to citizens anymore, he answers to foundations: The Rodel Foundation, The Longwood Foundation, and The Gates Foundation.

Today, Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy will appear before the House Education Committee in Delaware to explain how his Department spent the Race To The Top funding.  As well, he also has to appear before the Joint Finance Committee to detail the 2015-2016 budget.  The fun begins at 1pm before the JFC, and then at 3pm for the House Education Committee.

The rest of the article is found here: while El Somnambulo’s take on this can be found here:

State Rep. Kim Williams & Thousands of Special Needs Children Need Your Help

Special Education Funding

House Bill 30 in Delaware will allow funding for basic special education funding for students in Kindergarten to 3rd Grade.  Previously, this funding wasn’t there for these students at this critical point in the development of their disabilities.  The problem is there is no funding based on Governor Markell’s proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2016.  Right now, in Delaware, the Joint Finance Committee has been meeting to make changes to the budget.  These special needs children need your voice Delaware.  They need to know they will be taken care of in our schools.  Please read Kim Williams message to Delaware and then email the appropriate people below.   Then, please spread this message from the top of the state to the bottom.  From the shores to the Maryland line.

Good Evening, I am writing to you tonight to ask you to send emails to JFC and the House and Senate Education Committee members. House Bill 30 was filed, this bill will fund basic special education for kindergarten through third grade, currently there is no funding in place. I have provided a link to the bill below. An email needs to be sent to the legislators below (it can be one email to all); they are the Joint Finance Committee and the House and Senate Education Committee members.  The House and Senate will need to release the bill from the education committee in order for the bill to be voted on by all members of the House and Senate; the bill will start in the House Education Committee. The Joint Finance will decide if this bill gets funded. This bill will provide additional teachers in kindergarten through third grades and will also help reduce class size in these grades. We all know early invention is so important, please assist us in getting this bill passed. Let me know if you have any questions. I need as many people to send emails. Thanks -Kim

Johnson, JJ (LegHall)
Heffernan, Debra (LegHall)
Carson, William (LegHall)
Smith, Melanie G (LegHall)
Miro, Joseph (LegHall)
Kenton, Harvey (LegHall)
McDowell, Harris (LegHall)
Peterson, Karen (LegHall)
Bushweller, Brian (LegHall)
Ennis, Bruce (LegHall)
Lawson, Dave (LegHall)
Cloutier, Catherine (LegHall)

Jaques, Jr, Earl (LegHall)
Williams, Kimberly (LegHall)
Barbieri, Michael (LegHall)
Bolden, StephanieT (LegHall)
Heffernan, Debra (LegHall)
Lynn, Sean M (LegHall)
Matthews, Sean (LegHall)
Osienski, Edward (LegHall)
Potter, Jr, Charles (LegHall)
Dukes, Timothy (LegHall)
Hensley, Kevin S (LegHall)
Kenton, Harvey (LegHall)
Miro, Joseph (LegHall)
Ramone, Michael (LegHall)
Sokola, David (LegHall)
Henry, Margaret Rose (LegHall)
Hall-Long, Bethany (LegHall)
Marshall, Robert (LegHall)
Poore, Nicole (LegHall)
Townsend, Bryan (LegHall)
Pettyjohn, Brian (LegHall)
Lopez, Ernesto B (LegHall)

Representative Kim Williams
19th District
302-577-8476 Wilmington Office
302-744-4351 Dover Office
Twitter: @kimwilliamsde