Guest Post: Christie Shirey On Our Out Of Touch General Assembly

Christie Shirey, a Laurel, DE citizen, wrote what so many of us are feeling in Delaware these days.  We are tired of our legislators trying to figure things out.  We are tired of budget deficits.  She summed this up in a few paragraphs and really makes me wonder what our General Assembly’s true priorities are these days.  Thank you Christie, and thank you for letting me post what you wrote!  I want to know more about this tunnel!

Can someone explain Delaware voters to me? Summary of the situation: We are facing an over $350 Million budget deficit with our Governor telling us we all will have to share the pain, schools are warning we will have a lot less teachers in the classroom and the elected politicians are talking about increasing every tax you can think of. Meanwhile, the elected Legislature is spending its time on passing late term abortions, assisted suicide and recreational Marijuana.

It has been 4 months since a Correctional Officer was killed in a prison riot without a single charge against anyone. Almost 100 people have died from heroin overdose in just the first half of this year (May I point out that the highway deaths are 35 for this same time period). Someone from the State had to write a check for a very lucrative business deal with one of our local schools and a local businessman after the school pleaded for more taxpayer money. Our Governor and State General Assembly is busy proclaiming Obama Day and joining the U.S. Climate Alliance to uphold the Paris Alliance while our State Police are finding a drug tunnel in Delaware larger than most of our houses that has a connection to a Mexican drug cartel and $1 million in cash with the drugs.

The part I don’t understand is that I know Delaware will continue to elect these same individuals. They never seem to hold any of them responsible for not fixing any of the problems. Not even the ones that are leaving families fractured and in pain. Why doesn’t any of the Delaware voters ever place blame on the elected official who not only created these problems, but are doing nothing to fix anything?

The Tipping Point

A year ago today I made a resolution to myself that I would write about my son’s experiences with education in Delaware and do everything I could to educate others about the pitfalls and dangers in Delaware education.  While I didn’t start writing at this point, my mind was made up.  It wasn’t a question of what, it was just a matter of when.  To this end I started researching everything education related.

I came across a blog called Kilroy’s Delaware.  I had seen it once before, something about a meeting that was supposed to be open to the public, but they kept it closed.  But at this point in time, Kilroy was talking about all these charters up in Wilmington and which ones would close and which ones would never open.  There was a huge state board meeting in the coming week where tons of charter applications would be decided on.  I figured if anyone one knew the secrets of Delaware education, it would be him.

I emailed Kilroy and asked tons of questions.  I didn’t trust anyone at this point, and I knew asking questions would generate unwanted attention my way.  So I came up with a fake alias when I emailed Kilroy.  I started commenting on his blog as “Mage”.  Within a couple weeks, I got the general thrust of what was going on in Delaware education.  This company called the Rodel Foundation was pretty much running the show.  Their goal was to get as many charter schools into Delaware as possible.  And I learned a lot of it was linked to all these standardized tests the students had to take.

I set some goals for myself for the next year:

1) Tell my son’s story.

2) Find out all I could about Rodel.

3) Find out what the hell was wrong with special education in Delaware.

4) Find out who I could trust in the General Assembly.

5) Find the charters weak links and expose them.

6) Find out why Markell and Murphy were so hell-bent on ruining students lives with standardized testing.

7) Get as many parents as possible to opt out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.

So here I am now, a year later.  My name has become synonomous with the words opt out.  I write this blog on a daily basis.  I found the answers but don’t have a clue how to effectively change the entire education system in Delaware.  I have made many friends and twice as many enemies.  My son is not better off than he was a year ago.  If anything, his situation is worse.  It’s time for change, for everyone.  Including myself.

Over the past year, I’ve let life slip by.  My mind has been consumed by all things Delaware education, and I lost focus on what makes me, well, me.  This happens often in all our lives.  We get caught up in something, and it becomes the central point of our lives.  But for me, and several folks like me, this can pose a considerable danger.

When I was a child, I was diagnosed as attention-deficit hyperactive disorder.  I remember always being hyper as a child, but I never understood why.  Then, one day in high school, it just stopped.  The hyperactivity just disappeared.  I remember thinking, I don’t have to be like that, and I wasn’t.  But just because the hyperactivity was gone, it didn’t mean the attention deficit wasn’t.

I am a person who easily loses focus.  If I concentrate on one thing, I’m good.  But everyone has “other” things they have to do.  For folks with ADD, this can be a big problem.  It takes an extreme amount of hard work and dedication to get everything straight, and that’s what I need to do.

I’m not done blogging, but you just might not see as much of it is as you are used to.  I need to get other stuff straightened out, and fast.  This is also why I understand my son’s struggles, as well as others.  It’s not always just about the most extreme disabilities.  The “smaller” ones can cause just as much stress and confusion.