Red Clay Education Association Officially Supporting House Bill 50 Veto Override!!! And More!

While it isn’t the DSEA, the Red Clay Education Association officially voted tonight to support the House Bill 50 Veto Override.  Thank you the members of the RCEA for doing this.  The Red Clay Consolidated School District Board of Education passed a board policy honoring opt-out a couple months ago, so it looks like Red Clay supports opt-out all over the district.

Mike Matthews, the President of RCEA, just posted this on Facebook:

At tonight’s Representative Council, the Red Clay Education Association took an official position of support for the legislature to override Gov. Jack Markell‘s veto of HB 50, the Parent Opt Out Bill.

The rally the Delaware PTA is sponsoring will be held on Thursday, 1/14, at 1pm on the steps of Legislative Hall in Dover.  All parents and students are encouraged to attend to lend support.  As well, the Delaware PTA petition is still live:

https://www.change.org/p/delaware-state-house-vote-to-override-delaware-hb50-veto

State Rep. John Kowalko will be asking for a suspension of rules when the Delaware House of Representatives meets in legislative session on Thursday.  A suspension of rules, which would prevent House Bill 50 from going back to the House Education Committee led by State Rep. Earl Jaques, would open up House Bill 50 for a vote by the State Representatives.  If the suspension of rules doesn’t go through, it doesn’t mean all hope is lost.  It would be up to Jaques to allow the bill to be heard in the House Education Committee.  It would go through the same process as last Spring if it progresses from there: House Education Committee to Full House Vote to Senate Education Committee to full Senate vote, assuming it passed each step along the way.

This has been a very long journey for many of us supporting this bill, and probably for those who oppose it as well.  While some may question the importance of it, and why it is such a big deal, I would hope those people understand this bill is about student and parent rights.  I have heard someone say it is a waste of “political capital”.  I wouldn’t say that at all.  Every bill in the General Assembly is important to someone.  To myself, there are certainly matters (like the state budget) that take on more public importance than House Bill 50, but this one that hits very close to home for a lot of parents.

15 Who Made An Impact In 2015: Mike Matthews, Jackie Kook, and Mike Kempski

trio

In March, the Red Clay and Christina Education Associations passed a resolution announcing a vote of no confidence in Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy, the Delaware Department of Education and the Delaware State Board of Education.  The resolution, announced at a press conference on March 12th, 2015, was widely cheered as a strong statement against the education policies and agendas of both the DOE and Governor Markell.

Their resolution was the first of a series of blows against the Department and Murphy in response to the DOE’s atrocious handling of the six priority schools in Wilmington.  Teachers in the two districts had enough with the standardized testing parts of their teacher evaluations.  RCEA and CEA, led by the Mikes, Matthews and Kempski, with support from CEA Vice-President Jackie Kook, brought the resolution up for a vote to their union members.  In addition, both educator associations supported the opt-out legislation, House Bill 50.  Over the coming months after their announcement, both the Delaware State Education Association and the Delaware Association of School Administrators echoed their calls of no confidence in Mark Murphy.

As 2015 draws to a close, we can’t forget the impact these three had on education this year.  House Bill 50 passed the House and Senate.  Mark Murphy is gone.  The new Every Student Succeeds Act calls for an elimination of standardized test scores as part of teacher evaluations.  In a very big way, the two largest districts in our state received the most press this year, in large part due to the Wilmington redistricting plan.

Christina had a very rough year.  It started off with the priority schools debacle which led to a memorandum of understanding with the DOE to grant the district a second planning year in response to the Wilmington Education Advisory Committee’s recommendations.  After that, they lost two referendums which caused a reduction in work force of 99 educators.  Dr. Freeman Williams, the Superintendent for the district, went on leave in August.  Their board narrowly passed a vote to bring in Bob Andrzejewski as the Acting Superintendent a few months ago.  Budget forecasts for the district look ominous as the district faces a third referendum attempt this year.  The redistricting effort in Wilmington, now awaiting a vote by the State Board of Education in January, will certainly change the makeup of the district if passed.

Meanwhile, Red Clay passed their referendum, but not without consequences.  A lawsuit filed by a family in the district in regards to operating procedures for the referendum could change the entire referendum landscape in Delaware.  While Christina received an extra year of planning for priority schools, Red Clay moved forward but not without severe issues with promised funding from the DOE.  New feeder patters led to a series of issues at Skyline Middle School as new students coming to the school literally changed the school culture of the building, resulting in a huge rise in bullying incidents.  The district’s inclusion initiative is now the hotbed issue in the district due to a severe lack of resources and staff to handle the complex and intensive needs of many of the students with disabilities.

Matthews, Kempski, and Kook will certainly have their hands full in 2016.  But as three of the strongest leaders not only in their district, but in the entire state, all three will be front and center in the debates and conversations surrounding education in Delaware.