Did you vote in the Brandywine Referendum yet?

The Brandywine School District is having their second attempt at a referendum today.  To say both sides have come out swinging for the fences would be an understatement.  Politicians like Delaware Governor Jack Markell, Senator Tom Carper, and State Reps Bryon Short and Sean Matthews have all come out in support for the referendum.  Brandywine father Patrick Wahl appeared on the Rick Jensen show yesterday along with referendum leader James Hanby.  Wahl is claiming the district gave out absentee ballots to an assisted living home along with a host of other issues about the referendum.  The Delaware Dept. of Education came out with a letter yesterday indicating it erred with the number of administrators that show on the DOE website.  Teachers in and out of the district are urging citizens to get out and vote.  Brian Stephan wrote a post on Delaware Liberal yesterday addressing many of Wahl’s allegations.

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We will know tonight if this attempt passed or failed.  It is getting very hard to keep track of what is truth and what is not, from both sides of the issue.  As of 12:55pm today, the New Castle County Dept. of Elections verified 2,085 people have voted already in 18 out of the 22 polling stations.  I’m not taking sides on this one folks.  There is too much mass confusion surrounding this one.  Most likely, the truth is somewhere in the middle in certain areas.  The important thing is to get out there and vote if you live in Brandywine.

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WDEL’s Weasel Of The Year: The Department of Education led by Donna Johnson and Dr. Teri Quinn Gray!!!

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The Rick Jensen Show on WDEL just announced their Weasel of the Year for 2015, and by a very wide margin, the Delaware Department of Education led by Executive Director Donna Johnson and State Board of Education President Dr. Teri Quinn Gray took the award!  Other nominees were Bloom Energy, Paul Ryan, Governor Markell, and more.  But the DOE won by 27 votes.  Congratulations to the DOE, Donna Johnson, and Dr. Gray!  You certainly worked very hard all year long to get this prestigious honor!

Once Rick gets the podcast of this on the WDEL website I will definitely put it up on here!

Knowing the power structure down at the Townsend Building down in Dover, I have no doubt Donna Johnson will be very irate at being called the leader of the Delaware DOE.  I let Rick know this on the air as well, but I also said they are essentially the same thing.  Maybe not in the formal Delaware State Code, but you know what I’m saying.  The best part?  Even though Governor Markell didn’t win, this is reflective of him because he appointed all of the key personnel at the Delaware DOE.  So this is a double victory in my book!

15 Who Made An Impact In 2015: State Rep. Earl Jaques

I have to be honest here.  Until 2014, I had never heard of Earl Jaques.  That all changed in 2015, and everyone knew who he was then!  Earl started the year as the Chair of the Delaware House Education Committee.  He took over the slot from former State Rep. Darryl Scott who chose not to run again in 2014.  Many assumed the position would be held by State Rep. Kim Williams since she was the Vice-Chair since 2012.  Before the General Assembly even convened in 2015, State Rep. Pete Schwartzkopf booted Kowalko off the education committee.  State Rep. Kim Williams remained as the Vice-Chair.  Why Jaques was assigned the Chair position was baffling, but it soon became apparent.

Jaques role as Chair of the Education Committee defined his year in the 148th General Assembly.  He went head-to-toe with the Department of Education over Race To The Top.  An epic battle played out on the House floor between Kowalko and Jaques over House Bill 50, the opt-out legislation.  Jaques allied himself with Governor Markell over opt-out, which led to Jaques very unfortunate comments about opt-out which appeared in Delaware media.  Referring to those who opt-out as “failures”, many parents of children with disabilities jumped on Jaques’ comments and slammed him for it.  He told a group of Christina teachers that House Bill 50 would never pass.  He helped create very controversial legislation with Senator David Sokola in the form of Senate Joint Resolution #2, the assessment inventory bill that was meant to be a cure for opt-out.  He fought a charter school audit bill created by Kim Williams which led to more angst in the House due to Jaques not releasing the bill from committee to give it a full House vote.

By the time House Bill 50 came up for its first House vote, Jaques and two other lone wolves were the only nay votes for the legislation and it passed 36-3.  It still passed overwhelmingly by the time the Senate added amendments to the legislation causing it to bounce back to the House for a vote.  Jaques still voted no.

Even after the General Assembly went into recess for the recess for the rest of the year, Jaques still caused some controversy.  He was overheard talking negatively about parents at a State Board pizza party in early October.  At the end of October, Kowalko sent out an email to tons of people about the falling NAEP scores.  Jaques tried to hush Kowalko up by telling him not to use the state email system and his facts were biased.  This caused many people to defend Kowalko, including radio-show host Rick Jensen with WDEL.

Jaques will continue as Chair of the House Education Committee in 2016, even though most folks don’t take him seriously at all.  They understand he will do whatever Governor Markell instructs him to do.  As well, the Delaware DOE seems to know exactly how to maneuver Jaques with controversial legislation.  There is SO much more I could say about Earl Jaques, but for those who want to know more, just write Earl Jaques in my search bar and all can be found on here!

WDEL’s Rick Jensen Slams Rep. Earl Jaques Over First Amendment Rights & Attempts To Suppress Rep. John Kowalko

Rick Jensen of WDEL fame replied to the stunning attempt by Rep. Earl Jaques to silence Rep. John Kowalko from an email chain yesterday and put Jaques in his rightful place on the issue:

Earl Jacques,

The viewpoints of any State Representative or State Senator on public policy are absolutely permitted (and encouraged) for public dissemination via official email.

What should outrage every journalist and supporter of the First Amendment is Earl Jacques trying to suppress the comments of a Rep who disagrees with him.

Kowalko does, indeed base his opinions on facts, Mr. Jacques.

As many people on this list you made public know, Mr. Jacques, I may not agree with many of them on many issues, but I have never tried to suppress their professional opinions as you are attempting with Mr. Kowalko.  In fact, I invite the contrast and debate for our many thousands of listeners to decide for themselves which policies to support and which to work against.

Are you going to try to suppress everyone on this email list when they disagree with you about some policy, Mr. Jacques?

Rick Jensen

Talk Show Host / Syndicated Columnist

WDEL AM&FM / Cagle Syndicate

2727 Shipley Rd.

Wilmington, DE  19810

(302) 478-2700 x170

Rick@WDEL.Com

@TheJensenShow

Updated, 12:16pm:  And it gets even more heated! Because Earl responded to Rick Jensen!

From: Jaques, Jr, Earl (LegHall) [mailto:Earl.Jaques@state.de.us]
Sent: Thursday, October 29, 2015 11:32 AM
To: Jensen, Rick <rjensen@dbcmedia.com>
Subject: Re: Reflections on NAEP score declines and who’s/what’s responsible

First Rick, my name is spelled JAQUES – no “c”.  No I’m not in anyway trying to suppress his opinion.  He has every right to his opinion as do you and I.  But I just don’t think that the state email system is the best place for this type of comments.  Maybe a better place would be a “Letter to the Editor” or a posting on a blog.  Finally, you are making the assumption that I disagree with Rep Kowalko.  But no where in my email do I state that as the reason for him not posting on the state email system.  I just don’t believe that the state email system is the place for his bias opinion and rants!

And Jensen quickly shot a retort to Jaques!

From: “Jensen, Rick” <rjensen@dbcmedia.com>

Sent: Thursday, October 29, 2015 12:06 PM
Subject:
RE: Reflections on NAEP score declines and who’s/what’s responsible

Earl “Jaques not Jacques,”

If you’re so concerned about lawmakers sharing their “bias opinion and rants” with fellow stakeholders on state.de.us email, then why are you ranting your “bias opinion” to me on state email?

Every opinion has bias. Bias per ideology, bias per research, bias per studies, etc.  The problem is your declaring a State Rep has no business communicating his or her opinion on policy to fellow stakeholders via state email.

Would you please forward to this email address of all of your state.de.us emails to see if, perhaps, you have followed your own prescription?

Feel free to omit those emails that pertain to personal and sensitive information from and about constituents.

Respectfully,

Rick Jensen

Weasel Of The Week: Governor Jack Alan “Veto” Markell…But Who Are The Offspring?

Every week, Rick Jensen on WDEL has a Weasel of the Week.  This week, in honor of his veto of House Bill 50, Governor Markell was the chosen one.  But who are the offspring weasels?  Find out here, for a limited time in this awesome podcast!

Christina Board Member John Young & Christy Mannering Will Be On WDEL’s Rick Jensen At 2pm To Discuss Referendum

After the horrible defeat of the Christina referendum yesterday, a devastated district is left to pick up the pieces today.  On The Rick Jensen Show today, at 2pm, Christina board member John Young and parent Christy Mannering will discuss the implications of the referendum results and what has to happen to move forward.  You can call in at 302-478-9335 and listen in here: http://www.delmarvabroadcasting.com/player/?st=WDEL

The Key Moments For House Bill 50 Opt-Out Victory In The Delaware House

There were many seminal moments on the road to this important victory for parents in Delaware.  I’ll start at the beginning:

1) Delaware bloggers Kavips and Transparent Christina begin talking about opt-out in the Spring of 2014.  It’s who got me to start thinking about it for Delaware.

2) Matt Lindell and the Capital School Board: a year ago, the Capital school board started the discussion on this, but it was tabled.  Then it came roaring back last fall for a unanimous vote by the Capital Board.

3) The Delaware DOE letters: In early December of 2014, the Delaware DOE began sending school districts a “suggested” letter to give to parents about opt-out should they ask or opt-out.  The confusing Delaware state code regarding this was exposed immediately by yours truly.  It took a while for this to be clarified by the DOE, but once the genie was out of the bottle, it made the DOE look ineffective

4) Delaware State Rep. Kowalko and Senator Lawson introduce House Bill 50 in early February. WDEL radio show host Rick Jensen starts having opt-out advocates on his show.

5) The Delaware PTA holds the first Delaware Parent Opt-Out Town Hall in mid-February.  Wide discussion about bullying tactics by school districts really ticks parents off.  What was meant to be a scare tactic fast turns into a rallying point for Delaware parents. President Terri Hodges announces publicly she is opting her own child out.

6) Delaware State Rep. Earl Jaques tells a group of Christina Educator Association teachers House Bill 50 will never pass as Brandywine Superintendent Dr. Mark Holodick attempts to dictate terms about opt-out to parents in that district which does not work out as planned.

7) Delaware PTA holds Kent County Parent Opt-Out Town Hall in early March.  DOE is forced to admit parent opt-out can’t be stopped and the state law only applies to teachers and school staff, not parents.

8) Christina board of Education passes parent opt-out resolution in large measure due to the hard work in preparing the resolution by board member Elizabeth Paige and a fiery speech supporting parent opt-out by board member John Young.

9) Governor Markell announces initiative to reduce assessments for Delaware students while conveniently ignoring the elephant in the room, the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  This leads to Jaques referring to Smarter Balanced as a “little test”.

10) Governor Jack Markell is forced to talk about opt-out at Howard High School, which leads to remarks by Jaques which fans the opt-out flames even more, especially for special needs parents.  Jaques quickly apologizes.

11) The Delaware News Journal publishes a front-page cover story on opt-out from both sides of the fence.  A cover photo of parent Jackie Kook with her daughter brings it home for many parents.  Parent who never heard the words opt-out start looking into it.

12) In front of an audience of over 1,000 people at the Imagine Delaware forum, teacher and President of the Red Clay Educator Association Mike Matthews announces he supports the opt-out movement.

13) As the Smarter Balanced Assessment begins, parents start opting out by the hundreds in Delaware.  Many schools give parents a rough time, which causes parents to talk to each other and spread the news about opt-out.

14) Delaware State Rep. Sean Matthews and Jaques go head to head in a News Journal dual opinion piece on opt-out.  Matthews clearly wins the contest and shows why opt-out is important in regards to Delaware education.

15) Both Red Clay and Christina Educators Association hold joint press conference announcing no confidence vote in Delaware DOE, the State Board of Education, and Secretary of Education Mark Murphy.

16) Delaware PTA passes resolution officially supporting opt-out and House Bill 50.

17) DSEA (Delaware Educators Association) passes resolution supporting opt-out and House Bill 50, as well as a vote of no confidence in Mark Murphy.

18) Parent Press Conference/Rally at Legislative Hall in early April, though small, draws most Delaware media to it and more media coverage of opt-out.

19) Delaware State Rep. Kim Williams publicly announces she is opting out her own son, a high school junior who, like many Delaware juniors, are forced to take weeks and weeks of testing.

20) Mark Murphy appears on The Delaware Way with Larry Mendte and states “parents aren’t allowed to opt-out students”.

21) Red Clay Consolidated School Board passes parent opt-out resolution with excellent writing by board member Adrianna Bohm.

22) The day before the House Education Committee vote, Governor Markell announces initiative to have Smarter Balanced Scores tie into elimination of remedial classes for four Delaware universities and colleges.  The announcement is critically slammed by legislators, parents and teachers.

23) At the House Education Committee meeting on April 22nd, Kowalko and Jaques battle each other as Kowalko is forced to answer a barrage of questions by Jaques.  Kowalko successfully fends him off.  After discussion from other legislators, public comment from parents shows near overwhelming support for the release of the bill.  Opposition includes organizations well-known to support Governor Markell’s corporate education agendas.  After a vote to have the bill tabled falls apart, the bill is released from the committee in an 8-4 vote ending the over two hour debate.

24) Mark Murphy’s claim of federal funding cuts of $40-$90 million over potential opt-outs and the passage of House Bill 50 is debunked the next day with the release of the US DOE letter which clearly states schools cannot opt students out, and the letter never mentions the words parent opt-out.

25) Last week, organizations such as GACEC and Council for Persons with Disabilities release near identical letter in opposition to House Bill 50 with claims that are quickly debunked.

26) In a hasty and damaging example of executive overreach, Governor Markell announces to radio host Rick Jensen on WDEL he will veto House Bill 50 if it reaches his desk.

27) Parents begin emailing all the legislators of the Delaware House and public support for the bill is clearly seen by the legislators.

28) State Rep. Sean Matthews introduces an amendment to House Bill 50 the day of the House vote which changes the language of the legislation from “the state assessment” to the “Smarter Balanced Assessment”.

All leading to today’s enormous victory in the Delaware House of Representatives, with a 36-3 victory with two reps absent.  At the end of the day, this is about parents using their voice to initiate change.  This could not have been done by one individual at all.  It took a great deal of advocacy, hard work, sweat, social media, and legislators, parents, organizations and ordinary citizens spreading the word and supporting the cause.

What also helped were some obvious tactical blunders by the Delaware DOE, Secretary Murphy, and Governor Markell.  And God bless him, we cannot forget Earl Jaques.  He revealed today House Bill 50 got in the way of his planned legislation to reduce the Smarter Balanced Assessment to only three grades of testing.  Which is a noble gesture, but legislation getting rid of the “little” test would be a much grander statement.

While getting the bill through the House was an undertaking, it remains to be seen how the Delaware Senate will receive the legislation.  Folks are already guessing which Senate members will support the bill.  Delaware Senator Brian Pettyjohn already announced on Facebook tonight he will vote yes.  Senator Lawson, a co-sponsor of the bill, is a lock.  But the others are a mystery for now.  I can guess and predict, but until they publicly announce their intentions or a vote, we must email them and call them as much as we can.

Podcast of DE PTA Yvonne Johnson on WDEL, Hear A Caller Call Mark Murphy A Sycophant

The Rick Jensen show on WDEL today had Rick interviewing Delaware PTA’s very own Yvonne Johnson.  The two discussed House Bill 50, standardized tests, common core and more.  And then John Young called in and things got very interesting!

Even I called in at the end to announce the publishing of Part 31 of the priority school FOIA series I’ve been posting for the past few weeks to give a clear example of what the Delaware DOE is doing with all this important “data” they receive from standardized testing.

Delaware PTA’s Yvonne Johnson Will Be On WDEL w/Rick Jensen Tomorrow at 2:30 AND On Delaware Way w/Larry Mendte May 9th on Me-TV

The Delaware PTA has been a HUGE advocate for parent opt-out in 2015.  They hosted Parent Opt-Out Town Halls in Newcastle County and Kent County.  They have gone to many meetings at Legislative Hall.  They passed a resolution supporting parent opt-out.  Now Delaware PTA’s own Yvonne Johnson is on the media circuit.

Tomorrow, May 5th, she will be on WDEL with Rick Jensen at 2:30pm.  This should be a very interesting interview based on Governor Markell’s potential veto of House Bill 50.  When I say potential, that’s if it passes the Delaware House and Senate.

Then, in a pre-recorded segment, she will appear on Larry Mendte’s Delaware Way on Me-TV on Saturday May 9th (time to be announced).  If you don’t live in Wilmington, Mendte puts all his Delaware Way videos up on Youtube a few days later.

Is Yvonne running for Governor?  Just kidding on that one.  I’m glad to see the PTA being so active in this movement.  It’s all about parent choice and their rights!

Listen To Governor Markell Say He Will Veto House Bill 50, Kowalko Response On WDEL Coming NOW!

WDEL has put up a podcast of the arrogant and condescending comments made by Governor Jack Markell today in an interview with Rick Jensen.

The part about his Alan Jackson email address begins at the 7:00 mark, his remarks about opt-out and common core begin at 12:16, and his BIG remark about the veto starts at 18:03 with the “Yeah”

To hear the report by WDEL’s Amy Cherry on it, you can listen here: http://wdel.com/story.php?id=67882 but note the part where Markell clearly says the word “yeah” in the podcast does not appear on her report.  In my estimation, his yeah is confirmation he would veto the bill.

Meanwhile, Delaware State Rep. John Kowalko is on WDEL with Allan Loudell, right at this very moment.

Will Delaware Representative Jaques Meet The Challenge? *UPDATE* He did not!

In 40 minutes, I will be on the Rick Jensen show on WDEL/1150 AM for a second time discussing parent opt out of standardized testing in Delaware.  1pm est.  You can listen in on http://www.wdel.com

I have sent the following email to Delaware State Representative Earl Jaques.  Will he make the call?  Stay tuned!

Representative Jaques,
I will be on Rick Jensen’s show on WDEL today at 1pm.  I would love if you could call in and explain your statement at the Christina Educators Association meeting on Wednesday night concerning “The parent opt out bill will never pass.  We will never give up Federal money.”  The phone # for the show is 302-478-9335.  Thank you,
Kevin Ohlandt

Save The Date: Tomorrow, Friday 2/27, 1:00PM, WDEL, 1150AM, Rick Jensen, Me, Parent Opt Out Round Two

Rick Jensen with WDEL/1150AM has graciously invited me back to his radio show tomorrow to discuss parent opt out in Delaware.  We will be discussing more of the nitty-gritty on what parents can do and the process on how to go about doing it.  I will certainly put a podcast up if it becomes available.  If you have any questions you want answered, I will do my best to find the answers between now and then.

The  phone number for WDEL is 302-478-9335.  If State Rep. Jaques wants to call to explain his public comment about the Parent Opt Out Bill never passing, and let listeners know why he is against this bill, I would gladly welcome it.

Podcast of WDEL Interview w/Rick Jensen on Parent Opt Out of High-Stakes Testing

I had an awesome time with Rick Jensen today talking about parent opt out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.   There was so much more I could have said, but I had an hour.  Some folks called in.  John Young from the Christina School Board, Delaware State Rep Sean Matthews and Delaware State Rep John Kowalko.  Rick and I talked about special needs children, the Delaware DOE, Smarter Balanced Assessment, and how it is not illegal to opt your child out in Delaware.  We talked about the “scare tactic” letter the DOE wants districts to give to parents when they opt their kid out and how it is based on state code that does not include parents at all.  I hope to do this again soon!

WDEL 1150AM, Today at 3pm-4pm with Rick Jensen, Parent Opt Out Of Smarter Balanced Assessment

I will be on Rick Jensen today from 3pm to 4pm discussing parent opt out!  If you are in your car, give a listen.  If you are at home, you can go on their website, http://wdel.com or you can listen later if they put a podcast up.

Last night at the Christina School Board meeting, the very first speaker to give public comment said “My kid can’t sit still for ten minutes.  He is not taking this test,” and gave his opt out letter to Superintendent Williams.  This is how it’s done folks!

I Will Be On WDEL 1150 AM with Rick Jensen on 2/11 From 3-4pm To Discuss Parent Opt Out

Please listen to WDEL on Wednesday February 11th from 3:00-4:00 pm.  Rick Jensen and I will discuss the issue of parent opt out of standardized testing.  I look forward to giving this issue a wider span of media interest in Delaware as the Smarter Balanced Assessment will begin on March 10th.

The phone number for WDEL is 302-478-9335.  Feel free to call in with any questions or concerns you may have while I am on the air.  I welcome any member of the Delaware Department of Education, the Delaware State Board of Education or Governor Markell to call in and discuss the legality of the letter parents are receiving from schools when they inform the school they are opting their child out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.