Dan Shelton’s Bizarre Psuedo Maybe Endorsement For Ralph Taylor Is Causing Many To Scratch Their Heads

It’s a rule of thumb in elections: You can’t endorse candidates if you work in a state agency.  When that candidate is on the school board who hired you and can fire you, that endorsement is clearly a conflict of interest.  The 31st State Rep. District primary race has been a popcorn eating event for weeks now.

Enter Ralph Taylor, a Capital School District Board of Education member running for the 31st State Rep. seat against incumbent Sean Lynn for the Democratic ticket.  Today, he posted the following on his Facebook page:

While Shelton does not come out and say “I endorse Ralph Taylor” it certainly comes across as an endorsement.  Especially since it is two days before the Primary.  The fact that the Capital Board of Education has allowed Taylor to use the microphone at board meetings to promote his campaign has not been ignored by attendees in the room.  One attendee, who wished to remain anonymous for obvious reasons, said the following: “Taylor shouldn’t be using his seat on the board for political purposes.  It gives the impression of vote for me or else.”

I wholeheartedly agree.  Shelton’s short of a full endorsement definitely dances on that fine line between a reference letter and an endorsement.  Is Shelton aware Taylor is using this as leverage in his campaign?  I did ask the Taylor campaign on the Facebook post if this was an endorsement or a reference letter.  The campaign responded it was “a note of support”.  The campaign also asked if I was being “petty again”.

It is a given that district employees are not allowed to promote campaigns for school boards.  The same is true for using state time to promote a candidate in elections.  This is just weird.

Candidate Message: David Anderson, 31st State Rep. District, Republican

The 31st State Representative District in Dover is one of the few races in the Primary with both Republican and Democrats duking it out for a spot in the General Election.  Current Dover City Councilman David Anderson is running against Jean Dowding on the Republican ticket while incumbent Sean Lynn will face Ralph Taylor on Thursday.  Please remember to vote on September 6th!  Thank you to David for getting me his candidate message!

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Candidate Message: Sean Lynn, 31st Representative District, Democrat

Sean Lynn, the incumbent Democrat from the 31st Representative District in Dover is next with my candidate message series.  Lynn faces Democrat opponent Ralph Taylor in Thursday’s primary.  The winner of the primary will face the winner of the Republican Primary, either David Anderson or Jean Dowding, in the General Election in November.

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Dover State Rep Candidate Alleges He Got The Shaft From DSEA Over Endorsement

Ralph Taylor, a Democrat candidate for the 31st District Representative Primary, just unleashed a tirade against the Delaware State Education Association over what he alleges are unfair practices for endorsements.

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State Board of Education ESSA Meeting: 60 Pictures & Flipping The Narrative

At Grotto’s Pizza in Dover, DE, the State Board of Education held a workshop on the Every Student Succeeds Act.  The Capitol Room at Grotto’s was jam-packed with administrators, teachers, advocates, Delaware DOE employees, State Board members, a Congressman, education company employees, and even a blogger or two.  Sadly, there were not that many parents there.  Yes, many of these people play that role as well as their other jobs, but for a meeting the Delaware DOE will say is a true “stakeholder” meeting, this key group was missing.  I recognized a lot of the faces, but there were some I didn’t.  Some I was able to put together based on conversations I overheard.  This was the State Board of Education Workshop on ESSA.  Notice some of the tables where certain people are sitting together.  Especially the one Secretary Godowsky was sitting at…

I did not take these 60 pictures.  They were taken by an employee of Secretary of Education Dr. Godowsky’s office and put on the Delaware DOE Facebook page this morning.  Which means they are part of a state agency which puts them in the public domain!  Thank you DOE Photographer!

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State Board of Education Executive Director Donna Johnson at the microphone, Deputy Secretary of Education Karen Field-Rogers in the pink jacket with striped shirt in the back, Susan Haberstroh with the DOE with the mid-length brown hair and glasses, Governor Markell’s Education Policy Advisor Meghan Wallace with the ponytail and glasses, Secretary of Education Dr. Steven Godowsky to the right near the screen. Continue reading

Gang Issues At Dover High School Leads To Capital Board Approving Use Of Armed Constables

Last night, with a vote of 5-0, the Capital School Board voted to hire three armed constables at Dover High School.  Using a model currently in use by Indian River School District, the board discussed the issue with members of the community as well  as high school and district staff.  All supported the measure with one exception: the Senior Class President.  The pool of applicants would come from the Delaware State Police.  Because of insurance and pension issues, the pool was limited.  All were in agreement that hiring out-of-state would not be a wise decision.

One of the staff from the high school gave public comment indicating the current non-armed security guard company they utilize is highly ineffective and said it is like “throwing $40.000 off the roof”.  He cited the bomb threat incident a few months ago that led to a student’s arrest.  But he also indicated there was a huge fight on the football field as students were already trying to deal with the bomb threat.  He indicated there are gangs at Dover High School.  He said they are a small group of students who cause a lot of the problems.

The Senior Class President said many students were concerned with going from unarmed to armed persons in the school.  He felt like it was a drastic leap to go from one situation to what he felt was extreme.  He urged the board to find some middle ground.  Many students, he stated, felt it wasn’t fair to have this in their school when they weren’t the ones causing the problems.

In an attempt to allay the class president’s fears concerning the presence of armed constables at the high school, board member Ralph Taylor, also a retired Dover Police Officer of 20 years, said a gun is a very last resort.  He said the last thing an officer wants to do is use a gun, but it could mean a matter of many lives in a bad situation.  Board member Sean Christiansen said he reached out to different stakeholders in the Indian River School District including their own constables, parents, teachers, and students to get their thoughts on the matter.  All felt it improved school climate and led students to a feeling of safety within the district.  Dover High School Principal Courtney Voshell had a survey where parents could rate how safe they felt their children were at Dover H.S. and over 93% felt the school was not safe the way the current safety program was set up.

The school will also retain their School Resource Officer from the Dover Police and the constables will not have arrest authority.  They will be used to diffuse situations, but as it was explained, they will not punish students if they don’t have a bathroom pass.  The contract will cost the district an additional $75,000 out of their budget which will be used from carryover funds from fiscal year 2016.  Going forward, this would be a permanent part of the district budget.  The constables will be employees of the district.  They will receive professional development on all areas of school safety.  The details are not flush yet, but there was discussion if the training would come from the current Indian River Constables or the Dover Police Department.

I asked the board how the recently passed Senate Bill 207, which would not mandate schools to call the police every time a physical assault occurs unless it is considered to be a crime, could affect this decision from a financial perspective.  The bill, not yet signed by Delaware Governor Jack Markell, would give schools and parents discretion to contact law enforcement in those events.  Superintendent Dr. Dan Shelton said the current school resource officer currently deals with crimes in the school so it would not change things.  Certain school crimes such as drugs or weapons, would still result in an arrest of a student.  Shelton said another bill (the restorative justice bill) didn’t pass but if it does in the future it would give the district additional funding to deal with school climate issues.   I also asked if the constables would receive special education training for students with disabilities.  Shelton said they would, but not on an individual basis.

The board was so impressed with the Senior Class President, board member John Martin invited him back up to the podium to discuss student concerns in greater detail.  Board member Christiansen invited him to come to every single board meeting.  It was also conveyed they wanted him to be a part of the hiring committee for the constables and Christiansen told Voshell he expected him to be excused from class those days.  Voshell jokingly answered that would be a summer school excuse which drew laughter from the audience.

The special board meeting, held just for the purpose of this decision, also had another activity.  Elected board member Dr. Chanda Jackson was sworn in by board President Matthew Lindell.

While I wrote some very negative things about the district almost half an hour prior to this board meeting yesterday, most of which concerned their Strategic Plan and joining the BRINC Consortium, I felt this board meeting was a very honest and open discussion about a very serious issue.  The district was honest about the issues happening at Dover High and didn’t try to whitewash the gang activity.  After the meeting, I happened to be speaking to a board member from another district that deals with similar issues as Dover H.S. but they said their district would never openly talk about these kinds of issues in their schools.  We both agreed that issues can’t be dealt with until they are acknowledged.  So I salute the Capital School District and Board for tackling this decision.

 

In Taylor vs. Paylor for Capital School Board, You Have To Vote For Taylor On May 12th!!!!

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The Capital School District Board of Education election is just three days from now, on May 12th.  For the three candidates running for the Capital School Board, I am officially endorsing Ralph Taylor.  The other two candidates, Sharese Paylor and Peter Servon, don’t hold a candle to Taylor.

There was a candidate forum a couple weeks ago in Dover, and for the Capital candidates, Taylor and Servon showed up.  Paylor didn’t attend this forum.  In an article by David Paulk with The Dover Post, Taylor said the following about Common Core:

No, I’m not in favor of Common Core. I believe that the standard itself, nobody’s really able to understand it, nobody’s able to articulate it to families. It was put in place so quickly. If you got something that so many people have so many questions about why don’t we review it a little bit more, why don’t we slow our roll a little bit. We have kids in classrooms that are week after week preparing for the standardized tests so we can show the world that we have standards. If we’re showing the world that we have standards, if we’re teaching the tests, are we educating? And I think that’s where the flaw is with this standard.

Servon, on the other hand, took a very casual stance with Common Core, as if everyone was okay with it and parents are just overreacting:

As I understand Common Core it’s a national level decision on what should be taught in the subject matter. In my belief it should be general topics, general ideas. The decision on how to teach those ideas and topics is made by the states and by the districts. It’s a minimal requirement that every kid should know in the country. I don’t see anything wrong with having those types of standards. As far as educating the parents I think it needs to be stated simply—it’s just a minimal standard parents need to understand what the school is requiring to implement those Common Core standards.

In another forum at Central Middle School last Tuesday, all three candidates showed up.  We were able to see a little more insight into Paylor.  At the January Capital board meeting, many citizens in the area demanded a reason for why Dover High School’s Principal Evelyn Edney did not have her contract renewed.  Many stated they were going to complain to Governor Markell and said the board had to reveal the reason.  The board has not given a reason since that meeting, nor should they in my opinion.  This is an employment decision, and the Board is not obligated to give reasons for not renewing a contract.  Some individuals, including Paylor, hinted at racial reasons for Edney’s departure.  I don’t buy this considering two other Capital principals I have met are African -American.  Shortly after this meeting, Paylor announced her intention to run for the board.

In an article in the The Delaware State News, reporter Eleanor LaPrade quoted Paylor from the Capital forum as saying “the board shouldn’t override Dr. Thomas, since he was the one who evaluated Dr. Edney’s performance.”  But there could be other factors nobody knows about except the board.  Employment decisions are done during a board’s executive session in Delaware, and are not subject to FOIA law.

I’ve met Taylor a couple times.  Once last summer at the 4th of July when he was running for State Representative.  He lost in a primary to Sean Lynn.  I saw him a couple months ago at a deli and congratulated him on running for the Capital board.  What I like about Taylor is his views on the Smarter Balanced Assessment, opt-out, Common Core and local control.  He told me last summer he is against the Federal intrusion in local education and supports opt-out.  He also doesn’t believe teacher evaluations should be done with standardized test scores.  Taylor believes in the community playing a larger part in Capital’s future.  Servon seems to be a Brandywine guy (where he teaches) based on his comments in both the articles, and Capital certainly doesn’t need that!  Paylor, in my opinion, has an agenda based on one board decision, and that should not be a determining factor is running for a school board.  Taylor would be a good fit with the board, and his many years in law enforcement could definitely give a unique perspective to the board.

With this election, the winner will replace outgoing President Kay Dietz-Sass.  The highlight of her tenure was the opening of the new Dover High School last year.  Another board member, Brian Lewis, resigned due to winning a councilman seat for the City of Dover in the May election where he ran unopposed.  There will be a special election, most likely in July, to fill Lewis’ seat.

Capital School District residents can vote at any of the three polling places from 10am to 8pm on Tuesday, May 12th: William Henry Middle School, East Dover Elementary and Hartly Elementary School.  Please remember, it’s Taylor, not Paylor, who should join Matthew Lindell, Sean Christiansen, and John Martin Jr. on the board!

It Needs To Be Taylor Time In Dover! Vote for Ralph Taylor in the 31st District for House Rep! #netde #eduDE @KilroysDelaware @delawareonline

Ralph Taylor needs your vote tomorrow citizens of the 31st District in Dover!  He’s up against city councilman Sean Lynn.  I had the opportunity to meet Mr. Taylor at the 4th of July Parade & Fireworks.  He had his own booth set up, and he was busy the whole night meeting and talking with the citizens of Dover.  When I got a chance to talk to him, I asked him what his views were on Common Core and Smarter Balanced Assessment.  He opposes both, which always makes someone a fan in my book.  But I asked him why, and he informed me it doesn’t make sense, the test makes no sense, it’s not good for students, and it’s not good for teachers and their evaluations.

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Sean Lynn, his opponent for the Democrat nomination, is a strong supporter of Common Core and standardized testing.  He was endorsed by Darryl Scott, the departing House Rep.  Scott can be blamed for much of the current situations with education in Delaware, including Common Core and Smarter Balanced Assessment.  He allowed legislation to go through that allows charter schools to get “performance” funds while our public schools have to wait five years for capital improvements.  And now he is endorsing Councilman Lynn, to be his little clone.  We don’t need another Darryl Scott, we need something new in Dover!

In a debate with Lynn last month at Wesley College, Taylor said “Education is the new currency, and students shouldn’t be held back from their potential because their teachers have to adhere to the Common Core.”  His opponent Lynn, stated he is all for it, so kids “don’t have to take remedial course in college”, and had some shocking new information with his statement that “We owe it to our children to make sure they have what they need to be successful, 84 percent of teachers support it and so do I.”  I haven’t seen that poll Mr. Lynn.  Care to share where you received those facts?

If you look at Taylor and Lynn’s Facebook pages, you will see Taylor showing many endorsements from citizens.  On Lynn’s page, you see Scott’s endorsement, and Lynn bashing Taylor.  I know elections can be cutthroat, but I tend to prefer the person who talks about what he wants to do and has great conversations with people.  Taylor is a retired policeman, so I could care less what his stance on gun control is.  He’s earned the right, through years of service to the people, to have his opinions on the issue.  Nor do I care that he is conflicted on the death penalty.  This is a man who has seen horrific crimes in his 20 years as a Dover policeman.

So tomorrow, if you are on the fence, vote for someone who can and will make change happen.  Vote for someone who actually cares about what our children are and will go through.  Vote for someone who knows the high stakes this puts on teachers who deserve better.  Vote for Ralph Taylor!