The People Of Delaware Demand Justice Be Served On Patrick Miller!

Enough is enough already.  This guy has been walking around since the 1990s with fraud and abuse of taxpayer funds in his rearview mirror as he walks around like he is the Al Capone of Delaware.  If the Delaware Attorney General’s office won’t act, the people will force them to!

Please sign the Change.org petition at the below link.  I was really hoping Attorney General Matt Denn would take significant action against Patrick Miller but he failed, plain and simple.  Now it is incumbent on incoming Attorney General Kathleen Jennings to reopen the investigations into Patrick Miller, not only at the Indian River School District but also the Indian River Volunteer Fire Company.

Change.org Petition: The People Demand A Full Investigation Into Patrick Miller!

Action Alert: Opt Out Bill To Be Heard In House Education Committee Next Wednesday, It Needs YOUR Support!

Here we go again!  House Bill 60 is on the agenda for the House Education Committee meeting on Wednesday, June 14th, at 2:30pm.  It is the ONLY bill on the agenda.  Most educators should be done with school by then.  Parents, teachers, students, and Delaware citizens: I invite you to attend this committee meeting and give public comment on why you feel this bill should pass!

Delaware Governor John Carney has been very quiet on the subject of opt out.  When he was a U.S. Congressman, he voted against a part of the reauthorization of the ESEA which would have honored a parent’s right to opt their child out of the state assessment prior to the bill becoming the Every Student Succeeds Act.  When the last opt out bill, House Bill 50, overwhelmingly passed the Delaware House and Senate, former Governor Jack Markell vetoed the bill within weeks.  An attempted override of that veto led to a lot of shady deal-making between Markell’s office and legislators and the attempt failed.

While opt out has not been a huge topic, it is more important than ever.  I feel the bill should also include personalized learning assessments and any “stealth” assessments embedded in digital technology.  While these aren’t the norm in Delaware yet, they will be.  These mini assessments will replace the once a year test in a competency-based education arena.

Due to an actual “gag order” by National PTA concerning opt out, we will not be able to get support from the Delaware PTA this go-around.  So any participation in this committee meeting will have to be a grassroots effort by parents.  Please spread the word.  If you are unable to attend the meeting, please email the members of the House Education Committee asking for their support of House Bill 60.  As well, you can sign this petition on Change.Org which can be found here: Please release House Bill 60 from the House Education Committee

Here are their emails:

earl.jaques@state.de.us

kimberly.williams@state.de.us

sean.matthews@state.de.us

sean.lynn@state.de.us

michael.ramone@state.de.us

Charles.Postles@state.de.us

joseph.miro@state.de.us

edward.osienski@state.de.us

charles.potter@state.de.us

debra.heffernan@state.de.us

david.bentz@state.de.us

melanie.g.smith@state.de.us

harvey.kenton@state.de.us

stephanie.bolden@state.de.us

ruth.briggsking@state.de.us

timothy.dukes@state.de.us

kevin.hensley@state.de.us

 

Governor Carney’s Letter About Basic Special Education Funding For K-3 Is Wishy Washy At Best

I received a letter from Governor Carney in my email today.  So did over 900 other Delaware citizens.  Two months ago, a push was made to send letters to Governor Carney concerning House Substitute 1 for House Bill 12.  This is the pending legislation which would provide Basic Special Education Funding for students with disabilities in Kindergarten to 3rd grade.  The state provides extra special education funding for all other students with disabilities who have an IEP, so why not these students who are just getting their start in elementary education?

For years, I have been advocating for this funding.  So has Rep. Kim Williams.  This is the second go-around with this legislation.  House Bill 30, from the 148th General Assembly, sat around in the Appropriations Committee from early 2015 until June 30th, 2016 and died.  I have yet to meet anyone who thinks this bill is a bad idea.  I understand we have a deficit Governor Carney, but the purpose of state funding should have a top priority of those who need it the most.  These students fit that criteria.  Response to Intervention does not take care of these students’ needs, nor as it designed to.  Please don’t perpetuate this myth.  You did not include it in your proposed budget and I am calling foul on that oversight.  I pray our elected officials in the General Assembly have the common sense to put children first when they approve the budget for Fiscal Year 2018.  They are the future of Delaware.

The letter was dated March 7th, 2017, but I just received it today.  I won’t bicker about that, but it is noteworthy.  What I will mention is Governor Carney’s refusal to commit to this funding.  I just don’t get it.  It is a no-brainer and everyone knows it.  Who is lobbying against this bill behind the scenes?

House Bill 50 Is Not Dead! Sign The Petition To Pete Schwartzkopf For A Full House Vote On The Veto Override

SchwartzkopfPetition

Despite what others have said, House Bill 50, the opt-out legislation in Delaware, is not dead.  It isn’t finished.  It is merely hiding in Delaware Speaker of the House Pete Schwartzkopf’s desk drawer.  It is on the ready list, but Schwartzkopf has not put it on the agenda for a full House vote.  What is he afraid of?  That the House and Senate will pass the veto override?  That the lame-duck Governor Markell will be upset if his veto is overturned?  We the people demand House Bill 50 gets a full vote for the veto override in the Delaware House and Senate.

I am giving this petition a long time to breathe because the General Assembly doesn’t return until March 8th.  I need all your help to make this happen.  I need you to share this petition with every single person you know in Delaware.  I want Schwartzkopf to see this with no less than 20,000 signatures from Delaware citizens.  We have a month to make this happen! Let’s Do It!!!!! To go to the Change.org petition, please click the link:

Pete Schwartzkopf: Put HB50 On The Agenda For A Full House Vote On The Veto Override!

Want Bernie Sanders On The Delaware Primary Election Ballot? This Is How To Do It!

A gentleman by the name of Floyd McDowell is a huge Bernie Sanders fan.  He wants him on the primary ballot so all registered Democrats in Delaware have the opportunity to vote for him should they choose.  Here is the message from Mr. McDowell:

This message is a request for the assistance of all who are registered to vote as Democrats in the Delaware 2016 primary and general elections. As one helping to obtain the needed signatures from these registered Democrats to ensure that Senator Bernie Sanders is on our 2016 primary election ballot in our state. It would be a national shame for him or any other national candidate for President not to be on our Delaware ballot.

Signing a petition merely means the person signing agrees that Senator Sanders should be on our 2016  Delaware ballot. Here’s what we ask of registered Democrats receiving this message. If you or others contact me at (302) 832-2799 or via email at flydmcdwll@verizon.net and ask for a petition sheet (or more),  I will quickly mail one or more to you if you give me your name and postal address. Each petition sheet has space for ten signatures. I will include a stamped envelope addressed to me so the sheets can be returned. Even if you only give your signature and those of family members and friends, this will help our signature count. I will need to receive these mailed signatures by Friday, January 15th so I can get them to Dr. Philip Pollner of Newark who is leading this important project. He will then get all of these signatures notarized as required.
 
If anyone simply asked me to sign and get signatures to make sure candidates Hillary Clinton and Martin O’Malley were on our Delaware 2016 ballot, I would gladly help as our Delaware citizens need to have all national candidates for President on our state’s ballot as they decide who they want as our nation’s leader in the forthcoming election. One of the key reasons I fought in WWII and the Korean Conflict as a young enlisted man and officer, along with millions of others.
For those who have requested petition sheets to obtain signatures, I thank you on behalf of our movement to do what is right and just in this important civic responsibility area of our collective lives.
Editor’s Note: This is not an official endorsement for Bernie Sanders.  This is just an attempt to get him on the primary ballot.  This blog has not officially endorsed their candidate for United States of America President at this point in time.

Delaware DOJ Responds To My FOIA Petitions Against Delaware DOE

Back in September, I filed three Freedom of Information Act petitions with the Delaware Department of Justice against the Delaware Department of Education.  This was shortly after I found out about the opt-out penalties in the Delaware School Success Framework.

To give some background on this, the September 10th petition was in regards to the publication of Regulation 103 in the monthly Registrar of Regulations.  State law dictates any items for publication must be submitted 15 days prior.  I found out who the Regulation would go at the registrar’s office and requested a FOIA based on who I thought may send this to them from the DOE.  I immediately received a response from Alison May, the public information officer at the DOE, that none of the individuals had an email of this sort in their system but if I paid $300 to DTI (the state data office) they could do a more exhaustive search.

The September 17th request was around the State Board of Education Retreat and my assumption information was withheld due to my being the only member of the public in attendance and their full knowledge of my blog.

The September 28th petition concerned the posting of meetings for the Accountability Framework Working Group, their agendas, and the timing associated with them.  Please read the below opinion issued by the DOJ and weigh in with your thoughts!

 

Please Sign The Best Petition Ever!

A group called reClaiming the Conversation on Education released a petition today that is completely awesome! It covers everything I write about on here, and have since day one. This is our year to take back education!

Urgent! Funds Needed For DOE FOIA On Smarter Balanced & Vendor Contracts ASAP!

Delaware DOE Smarter Balanced & Vendor Contracts & Emails FOIA GoFundMe Page

Exceptional Delaware needs your help, and it needs it yesterday!  Back in March I submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the Delaware Department of Education for the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC), American Institutes for Research (AIR), and Data Recognition Corporation contracts and any emails sent from the DOE to these entities.  The DOE responded with an original $6,500 quote and then, to add “recently found” contracts, the estimate surged to over $8,500.  After filing a petition against the DOE with the Delaware Department of Justice, the DOJ responsed a few months later with an estimate of $1,725.10.  I started a GoFundMe donation to raise the costs for this FOIA and the costs associated with GoFundMe with a goal of $1,875.00.  To date, $775 has been raised, but we are still short of the goal by $1,100.

As the Smarter Balanced Assessment scores are slowly being released around the country, and cut stores are being changed, it is more imperative than ever that the people of Delaware see what this state paid for, any communications surrounding this, and how truthful the Delaware DOE and Governor Markell were with what they told the public and legislators when it became law in Delaware last year.

I will be submitting an initial check to the Delaware DOE next week to get the process going based on funds that have already been donated, but the request will not be completed until ALL funds are given to the DOE.  This is top priority folks because we need the truth, once and for all!

In the spirit of transparency, this is the activity that has already happened on this GoFundMe account:

Donations already made:

$50, Kris Chalfant, 4 Days ago
$25, Anonymous, 14 days ago
$100, John Kowalko, 14 days ago 
$50, Anonymous, 14 days ago
$50, Paul Baumbach, 14 days ago 
$50, Ellen McConachie, 25 days ago
$10, David Anderson, 1 month ago
$40, Mary Schorse, 1 month ago 
$10, Anonymous, 1 month ago
$50, Cassandra Marshall, 1 month ago
$25, Anonymous, 1 month ago
$25, Anonymous, 1 month ago
$50, Al Mascitti, 1 month ago
$30, Anonymous, 1 month ago
$200, Anonymous, 1 month ago
$10, Dee August, 1 month ago
Total: $775.00, Goal $1875.00, Needed: $1100.00
Account Activity to date:

$663.24

Total amount that has been withdrawn
 
$45.75
Withdrawals that have begun
 
$0.00
*Pending balance that will be available soon
 
*Pending balances are normal and will be available in 1 – 5 days.

SCHEDULED WITHDRAWALS

Will Arrive By Aug 31
$45.75
Check will be sent on Aug 10, 2015

RECENT WITHDRAWALS

Delivered By Aug 8

$663.24
Check sent on Jul 27, 2015
Total Online Raised $775.00
Total Offline Raised $0.00
Total Amount Raised $775.00
GoFundMe (5%) $38.75
WePay (2.9% + 0.30)

per transaction
$27.26
Total Fees $66.01
Remaining Total $708.99

I received the first check today, and I will be starting a separate checking account to cover this FOIA and any other future FOIAs. I appreciate any help you can offer with this mammoth endeavor. Once the request is completed, I will be making all the documents public on Exceptional Delaware.

Delaware Atty General Office Invalidated Appoquinimink Superintendent Contract Due To FOIA Violations

Thanks to “Armpit” for sending this one to me!  Apparently, Delaware Attorney General Matt Denn’s office received a petition from a concerned citizen in the Appoquinimink School District due to an open meeting violation concerning their school board.  Superintendent Matthew Burrows contract was invalidated due to the FOIA violations!  You can read the legal opinion here but I will give the highlights:

We find that Executive Session and Public Meeting Agendas for the June 2014 Board Meeting violated FOIA and affected substantial public rights.  In a similar case, we determined that the school board violated substantial public rights “by deciding who to hire as the new [District] superintendent outside of public view.”  Del. Op. Att’y Gen. 02-IB17, 2002 WL 31031224, at *8 (Aug. 6, 2002).  In that case, the “specific rights at issue . . . were the rights of students, parents, teachers, and other concerned citizens in the District to be involved in the selection of a new superintendent.”  Id.  However, we declined to invalidate the school board’s approval of the new superintendent for equitable reasons.   See id., at *10.

Similarly, although we find that the Board’s June 2014 Meeting and related agendas violated FOIA, we decline to determine that the approval of the Contract is invalid for violation of the open meeting law.7  The record indicates that after Mr. Weller raised his concerns about the adequacy of the Board’s June 2014 meeting agendas, the Board placed the matter on its November agenda, engaged in a public discussion about the Contract at the November meeting, and voted on the Contract at the November meeting. The Board also completed FOIA training in a public session in November 2014 in order to gain additional understanding of FOIA’s public meetings laws.  Therefore, we find that the Board has already taken action to cure the June 2014 violations of the open meetings laws.  Under the circumstances, no additional remediation is required.

Even though the matter was fixed by the board, it still happened.  What would have happened if Mr. Weller never brought it to the Attorney General’s attention?  If I ever meet Mr. Weller I would like to shake his hand for his bravery and determination in this matter.  School boards are elected officials, and they need to follow the letter of the law!

Governor Markell Showing Clip From Warner Priority Schools Announcement In Extremely Bad Taste

In Delaware Governor Jack Markell’s weekly message to the citizens of Delaware for July 4th, he showed a series of video clips to highlight his bragging about how great education is in Delaware.  Included was a clip from the 9/4/14 priority schools announcement at Warner Elementary School in Wilmington.  I find this to be pretty disgusting and vile considering what that announcement meant to so many educators, students, parents, legislators, leaders in Wilmington, and the citizens of Delaware.  I wouldn’t consider that a proud moment Governor Markell.

To the above people, this was a shocking announcement, and this began the end of your reign as the supreme education watchdog in this state.  You showed the people of Delaware, that no matter who questioned your wisdom on this decision, you were going to be a bully about it. Until that moment you couldn’t anymore.  That day in January you and Secretary of Education Mark Murphy received two letters.  The first was the letter from the Wilmington Education Advisory Committee asking you to hold off on any decision for the priority schools in the Christina School District.  The second was the letter and petition from Parents & Teachers for Public Education.  The one with well over 600 signatures protesting the priority schools initiative.

Everything changed after that.  The legislators started hammering out bills that would limit the power of the DOE.  Parents started opting their kids out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment in force.  Charter schools lost their veil of secrecy as first Family Foundations Academy and then Academy of Dover had their dirty secrets brought to light.  Your appointed Secretary got multiple votes of no confidence and you actually kept him, weakening you from many citizen’s viewpoint.  Since then, a lot of your plans haven’t gone the way you wanted them to.

But one did, and we both know what that is.  The way those bills flew through the General Assembly you would think it was for the welfare and security of the state.  It will be very interesting to see how this all comes out in the end.  I have a very good idea, and I know you know that.  I foresee some radical power player changes in the next year and a half.  Yes Senator Sokola and Representative Jaques, I’m talking about you.  I will be keeping a very close eye on any who have engineered this redistricting of Wilmington and how they land when all is said and done.

What is even more puzzling is your choice of a weekly address.  Delaware balanced the budget, but not without a lot of consequences.  Instead of going into detail about that, you babbled on and on about education.  Like we haven’t heard it all a million times.  What I took extreme offense with was your statement about children with disabilities.  I think it’s great that you want to make sure they get jobs when they are adults, but I never hear you talk about special education in the schools.  I imagine your advisors would have a cow if you praised it because pretty much everyone in the state knows how bad it is for most special needs students.  There is so much more to these children’s lives than savings accounts and transition into the adult world.  They need that solid foundation.  Something your standards and assessments and rigor have prevented from happening.  I fear for these children every day.  I fear for their general well-being and their future.  It is YOU who allowed this to happen.

I would think you would have talked about the economy, and legislation that will make it better.  Wait, there wasn’t much of that during this legislative session.  Instead we saw deals and compromises made behind closed doors with no public transparency.  So much for letting the sun shine!

My best guess, and I have nothing to base this on, would be that you needed to get another pumped up message about Delaware’s education out there before you need to make a big decision this week.  Yes, House Bill 50.  Your decision is eagerly awaited by the parents and advocates who fought tooth and nail to get it passed by a majority in the House and Senate with lots of issues along the way.  We find out this week if you will honor us.  If you will let the voice of the constituents mean more to you than your glorified standardized assessment, the Smarter Balanced.  As I told you in my email to you, this is the KEY legislation of your tenure as Governor of Delaware.  This is the one you will be remembered by.  House Bill 50 is your legacy.  You may not even realize this yet, but it will determine how the people of Delaware remember you.  While other state governments are wisely questioning the usefulness of education reform that includes high-stakes assessments, you are actually going around saying “Smarter Balanced is the best test we ever made.”  Somewhere along the way I think you forgot the definition of “we”.  When you are a Governor, “we” is the people you serve, who voted you into power.  Not the corporate interests that have you in their back pocket.

Change.org Petition To Have Delaware Senate Petition House Bill 50 Out of Committee & Bring To Full Senate Vote

After the way Senator David Sokola handled the Senate Education Committee meeting today, I have zero confidence he supports this bill or even believes in the rights of parents unless they fit his or Governor Markell’s agenda.  Therefore, I am petitioning the Delaware Senate to petition House Bill 50 OUT of the Senate Education Committee.  This would bring House Bill 50 to a full Senate vote.  This is allowable through the Delaware Senate Rules as created by Senate Resolution #2, from December 14th, 2014.

Please go to change.org and sign for this so we can get the ball moving fast before the 148th General Assembly is done until January!

https://www.change.org/p/delaware-state-senate-petition-house-bill-50-out-of-senate-education-committee

Please Sign The Petition In Support of Delaware House Bill 50: Parent Opt Out Legislation #supportHB50

Delaware parents, citizens, and educators: Please sign the change.org petition in support of House Bill 50.  This bill will be heard by the House Education Committee on Wednesday, April 22nd, at 3:30 pm, in Legislative Hall, Dover, DE.

https://www.change.org/p/delaware-house-education-committee-pass-house-bill-50-to-allow-parent-opt-out-2

I have heard some parents in Delaware want to opt their children out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment but won’t do so until House Bill 50 passes.  This bill does not have to pass in order for you to opt out.  This would codify the right you already have.  However, this bill would send a crystal clear message to the Delaware Department of Education, Governor Markell, and the entire corporate education reform movement in Delaware.  It would also prevent certain schools and districts from taking part in some of the shenanigans they have pulled the past few months with parents in regards to opt out.

Please sign this petition. This will be hand-delivered to the Delaware House Education Committee on Wednesday, April 22nd, at 3:30pm.  Please share the petition on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and anywhere you can think of!

I highly encourage parents and concerned citizens to go out and collect signatures from Delaware residents, whether it is in your neighborhood, your local grocery store, church, the beach, your mall, or even your place of employment. Please be respectful of others, especially when it comes to those who do not welcome solicitors. If you collect signatures, please scan them and email them to kevino3670@yahoo.com by 12 noon on 4/22/15. Thank you!

9th Grader Starts White House Petition To Reduce Standardized Testing

A 9th grader has started a petition for President Obama to reduce standardized testing.  He is sick of the endless hours of test prep and the devaluation of actual grades and achievements.  He is tired of one test score determining your retention or ability to graduate.  He is 4th in his class.  Please go to the below link and get this petition to it’s 100,000 mark!

https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/reduce-standardized-testing-public-schools-across-america/8S1wmvbW

New Petition: Keep John Kowalko on the Education Committee

Citizens of Delaware, what House Speaker Peter Schwartzkopf did to John Kowalko is a violation of everything Democracy is supposed to be about.  Let’s get Mr. Kowalko back on the House Education Committee where he rightfully belongs!  You can be both an activist and a legislator Mr. Schwartzkopf.  If the heroes of the Revolutionary War weren’t activists, Mr. Schwartkopf wouldn’t even have the ability to be a speaker about anything!  It’s what this country was founded on and Delaware was the first state to sign the Constitution guaranteeing those rights.

Please sign the iPetition here: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/keep-delaware-state-representative-john-kowalko-on

The People Speak On The Priority Schools, Petition Delivered To Mark Murphy Today, Emailed To Governor Markell

No words can describe the beauty of citizens lending their voice to a right and just cause, so please look at what so many people in Delaware have created in response to the priority schools initiative brought on by the Delaware Department of Education.  This was delivered to Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy today, with the below email sent tonight.

And below is the email sent tonight to Governor Markell, Attorney General Matt Denn, all elected officials of the 148th General Assembly, Delaware U.S. Congress Members, the Priority School Superintendents and each member of their Boards of Education, and many more.

To:  jack.markell@state.de.us

  • Denn Matthew (Attorney General)
  • Schwartzkopf Peter
  • Blevins Patricia
  • Colin J. Bonini
  • Townsend Bryan
  • Williams Kimberly (LegHall)
  • John Kowalko
  • Lawson Dave
  • Poore Nicole
  • Lavelle Greg
  • Miro Joseph
  • Pettyjohn Brian
  • Bushweller Brian
  • Cloutier Catherine
  • Ennis Bruce
  • Hall-Long Bethany
  • Henry Margaret Rose
  • Hocker Gerald
  • Lopez Ernesto B.
  • Marshall Robert
  • McBride David
  • McDowell Harris
  • Peterson Karen
  • bryant.richardson@state.de.us
  • Simpson Gary
  • Sokola David
  • Barbieri Michael
  • Bennett Andria
  • Bolden StephanieT
  • Paradee Trey
  • Brady Gerald
  • BriggsKing Ruth
  • Carson William
  • richard.collins@state.de.us
  • Dukes Timothy
  • Gray Ronald
  • Heffernan Debra
  • Hudson Deborah
  • Jr Earl Jaques
  • Johnson Quinton
  • Keeley Helene
  • Kenton Harvey
  • Longhurst Valerie
  • Mitchell John L.
  • Mulrooney Michael
  • Osienski Edward
  • Outten Bobby
  • Peterman Jack
  • Jr Charles Potter
  • Ramone Michael
  • Short Bryon
  • Short Daniel
  • Smith Melanie G.
  • Smyk Steve
  • Spiegelman Jeff
  • Viola John
  • Wilson David L.
  • lyndon.yearick@state.de.us
  • sean.matthews@state.de.us
  • sean.lynn@de.us
  • Johnson JJ
  • kevin.hensley@state.de.us
  • Baumbach Paul (LegHall)
  • Senator Carper
  • correspondence_reply@coons.senate.gov
  • Representative John Carney

 

CC
  • Murphy Mark
  • May Alison
  • Johnson Donna R.
  • Eve Buckley
  • Nelia Dolan
  • Mike Matthews
  • Matthew Albright
  • Avi Wolfman-Arent
  • Williams Freeman (K12)
  • superintendent@redclay.k12.de.us
  • Kenneth.Rivera@redclay.k12.de.us
  • Piccio Mike (K12)
  • Bohm Adriana L (K12)
  • Faith.Newton@redclay.k12.de.us
  • Cathy.Thompson@redclay.k12.de.us
  • Martin.Wilson@redclay.k12.de.us
  • Kenneth.Woods@redclay.k12.de.us
  • Fred Polaski
  • george.evans@christina.k12.de.us
  • harrie.minehan@christina.k12.de.us
  • PAIGE ELIZABETH
  • dresler@verizon.net
  • shirley.saffer@christina.k12.de.us
  • john.young@christina.k12.de.us
  • Kavips World Press Blog
  • Nancy Willing
  • Kilroy’s Delaware
  • Steve Newton
  • Pandora DeLib
  • KOOK JACKIE
  • KEMPSKI MICHAEL S.
  • frederika.jenner@dsea.org
  • Terri Hodges
Honorable Governor Jack Markell, Delaware Attorney General Matt Denn, Elected Officials of the Distinguished 148th General Assembly, Delaware’s Members of the United States Congress, Members of the media, Christina School District Board of Education, Red Clay Consolidated Board of Education, and everyone else:
Please find attached the Priority Schools Petition initiated by the group Delaware Parents & Educators for Public Education.  There is a description of our group on the 2nd page.  With well over 700 signatures, we are citizens of Delaware who want something better than what the Delaware Department of Education has designated for these six schools.  As we approach the time when decisions will be made for these schools, let us truly reflect on what is best for these students and the educators who teach them every single day in some of the most impoverished and high crime areas of our state.  To judge them and these schools by standardized test scores which the state no longer uses is a travesty.  We need to do more for these most vulnerable of students and closing these schools is not the answer.
Secretary of Education Murphy, we’ve had more signatures added to the petition I dropped off to your office this afternoon, and we will continue to keep it going until a decision is rendered.
For members of the media and anyone else, please feel free to share this link in Newspapers, TV, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and anywhere else you feel it can gain further support.  For anyone on this email, please feel free to add your name to the petition if you have not already done so.
Respectfully,
Delaware Parents & Teachers for Public Education
Nelia Dolan
Eve Buckley
Kevin Ohlandt
Mike Matthews 
Kris Chalfant
And if you haven’t had the opportunity to sign the petition, please go here and lend your voice:  http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/lets-make-priority-schools-a-real-priority-2

The Delaware Battle For Public Education Is America’s War

In the grand scheme of things, six schools in the 2nd smallest state in the country really doesn’t amount to anything.  But the six priority schools in Wilmington, Delaware could change the face of education.  It’s not about making the schools better for the students.  It’s about two forces colliding in a battle that’s been in the making for over a decade.

On one hand is Governor Markell and the Delaware Department of Education.  Their public claim is the students aren’t reading up to their grade level, their standardized test scores are atrocious, and the beefed up funding will bring the schools back up again.  On the other hand are the Christina and Red Clay Consolidated school districts.  While Red Clay has already signed their Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and submitted it to the Delaware Department of Education, Christina is holding out and will vote on their draft MOU at their next board meeting on January 7th.

Both school districts have vehemently and publicly opposed the priority school initiative.  The biggest demands, new principals at $160,000 a year and teachers must reapply for their jobs, has insulted and demeaned many individuals throughout Delaware.  Recent Freedom of Information Act requests have shown a collusion with the major media outlet in Delaware, The News Journal.  Meetings with the Delaware DOE have been cut short, and language from the Secretary of Education Mark Murphy to certain members of the public have been extremely rude.  Murphy refused to answer questions from the public at a Wilmington City Council meeting in October.  FOIA emails have also shown that event was largely planned by the Delaware DOE and the Governor’s office.

The methodology for the priority schools has been controversial since day one.  The DE DOE has focused on these six schools, all within a square mile of the Community Education Building designed to hold charter schools.  Bank of America donated this building to the state, and only two charter schools reside in the large building with another one slated to open in the Fall of 2015.  Prior turnaround schools, such as Booker T Elementary School in Dover and Eastside Charter School in Wilmington have been held up as the biggest gainers in test scores, but mitigating factors have contributed to those increases, whether it has been rezoning of a district or massive expulsions changing the student dynamic and decreasing the size of a class by more than half.

So why should America care about these six schools in a city that was just labeled Murdertown, USA?  Three words: Governor Jack Markell.  He has taken a very active interest in education in this first state to sign the constitution but the last to follow.  In fact, he was on the original committees for Common Core and he holds a very powerful position among US Governors when it comes to education.  Many view him as a lame duck, which he is in Delaware.  But nationally the man can continue the corporate education reform until 2020.

In 2012, there was talk about US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan possibly leaving his post, whether voluntary or by force.  There were two names lobbied as potential replacements: Michelle Rhee, the former chancellor of schools for Washington D.C., and Delaware Governor Jack Markell.  While Rhee has fallen from public favor, Markell is still seen by many in political circles as the new voice for education in America.  The election of 2016 will work in Markell’s favor no matter which way it goes.  If the President-elect is a Democrat, Markell could very well be picked as the new US Secretary of Education.  If the country decides for a radical change and puts a 3rd Bush in office, Markell will still be picked for this slot.  Jeb Bush is very high in the food chain for corporate education reform, and you can bet your bottom dollar Markell has been cozying up to the former Florida Governor.

It all comes down to the Christina School District Board of Education.  As one of four school districts in Wilmington, Christina has always been the thorn in the DOE’s side.  They are fighters, and they don’t take kindly to bullying by the state.  Their refusal to follow the demands of the state with the priority schools has already put a chink in Markell’s armor.  On October 29th, at the Rodel sponsored Vision Network conference, Markell gave a speech and publicly stated he would not hesitate to takeover these schools if it came down to it.  Many in the audience were shocked at Markell’s overexertion of executive power, including many out-of-state guests.

This is what you will see if Markell takes over these six schools and turns them into charter schools:

-A precedent will be set in Delaware, and the DOE will be able to use flawed methodology via standardized test scores to “prioritize” any school in the state and turn it into a charter school.

-The DOE is already working on plans to penalize defiant school districts and potentially lead to the creation of Priority School Districts, which could then result in all schools within that district being turned into charter schools.  If you don’t think this can happen, look at New Orleans and York, Pennsylvania as cities that have turned into charter school towns.

-More Teach For America, The New Teacher Project, and Relay Graduate School teachers invading Delaware schools like a Nazi Blitzkrieg out of World War II.  These are teachers who excel at teaching to the test and are groomed to become future leaders of schools, with minimal training and hands-on experience in classrooms.

-The eventual busting of the unions.  The education unions are among the most powerful in the country, and corporate education reformers have found a way to finally break them up.  While some see these unions as a major detriment to education, they are the last man standing in the complete slaughter of public school district education.

-Even more Common Core, for not only English and Math, but also Science and Social Studies.  This will result in even more standardized testing through PARCC and the Smarter Balanced Consortium.  The US DOE used “waivers” to manipulate and blackmail and bribe states into accepting their reforms.  If the school districts didn’t comply, they would be labeled as failing due to No Child Left Behind guidelines.  Every single one of these waivers benefit the exact blueprint Markell and Rodel CEO Paul Herdman helped to create ten years ago, which has resulted in the current landscape of Delaware education.

-As more lower paid teachers come into schools, it sets up Rodel and Markell to initiate their “personalized learning” agenda through a company called 2Revolutions, which will result in the elimination of hands-on instruction in the classroom and will turn students into complete virtual zombies.  This will give the students of the future more screen-time than ever.  When they aren’t looking at screens all day at school, they will go home and do homework on the screen.  When they aren’t focused on school, they will be on their iPads and Xbox.  This “personalized learning” plan has already stated schools would need to do away with extracurricular activities like sports and band, or plays and art clubs.

-Special needs children will suffer the most from this plan, and they will be put at the bottom of the barrel.  Arne Duncan has already put things in place that will eliminate the very heart of IDEA law.  Do not believe for one second that states want to narrow the proficiency gap between special education students and regular students.  They are using this data to make huge decisions with our schools.  They will sacrifice a few of their own beloved charter schools to make this point.  For every charter school that is closed, there are many more waiting in the wings.

-Minorities and low-income students will continue to be targeted and clumped together in charter schools with their own.  Segregation will become the de facto method for all of education.

-Who benefits from all public school students going to charter schools, doing all their work in front of a screen, eliminating the diverse choices students have in schools, and being tested like guinea pigs in high-stakes testing?  The companies that have backed all of this and the politicians who have set up the pieces on the board to allow it to happen.

Do parents and the current school districts have a choice anymore with what happens in education?  Of course they do.  It is not too late.  Stopping Markell in Delaware would send a clear message to these companies that would benefit off the backs of our children.  The time has come to stop rallying on Facebook on our state “Stop Common Core” pages and actually do something.  Every single state in America that is driving these agendas needs to be stopped.  Citizens need to start sending Freedom Of Information Act requests to their governors and state DOE.  They need to expose these charlatans for what they are.  This isn’t something that can be held off.  You can’t wait and see.  You have to take a stand if you are against this, and it needs to be done NOW.

If the little state of Delaware Governor Jack Markell is not held in check, he will most likely be the next US Secretary of Education and that means more of the same in education, with even more steps being taken to destroy what we have.  This nonsense would continue until January 2021 at the earliest, if not longer.  By then, all that public school district education has will be gone.  It will become a whisper, and hundreds of thousands of educators will disappear.  Markell is viewed by many in Delaware as a dictator, and if he is allowed to be set loose as the leader of education in America, all bets are off.

This is the future of education in America.  Don’t let anyone fool you.  Don’t let them say you are crazy.  The people telling you this are already in key positions that are allowing this to happen.  Once you enter this matrix world of corporate education reform, the connections these people have and the paths they take become very obvious.  They are all pieces of the puzzle that lead to the complete annihilation of education as we know it.

Right now, Delaware needs your help America.  We have formed a group called  Delaware Parents and Teachers for Public Education.  We have started a petition against the priority schools.  We need your voice.  We don’t just want 1,000 signatures.  We want a million.  We want to send a powerful message to those that want to dictate rather than collaborate.  So please, sign our petition.  It is not about Delaware.  It’s about freedom, and voice, and our children.  It’s about America.

Please go here to sign our petition: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/lets-make-priority-schools-a-real-priority-2

 

 

The Priority Schools Petition Needs You! @BadassTeachersA @hanna_hurley @edtraveler @DelawareToday @WDEL @wboc @CapeGazette @DoverPost @Avi_WA @WHYY @witn22 @DoverPost @TheStateNews @SunTimesJenn @journalistandre @MikeOnMilford @acherry13 #netde #Delaware #edchat #eduDE #prioritizethat

We need more people to sign the petition against the Priority Schools! It only takes 30 seconds, and you are done! These children in these schools are being used by a state that cares more about data and greed than true education. Don’t let the students at the six schools be treated as something less than what they are. It’s all about turning them into charter schools. These children need the educators they have. These educators actually care about these students. They could go to other schools. But no, they choose to stay and fight. For the children of Wilmington. Please sign today, every voice and signature DOES make a difference!

http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/lets-make-priority-schools-a-real-priority-2