Odyssey Back Under Formal Review For Racist Comments From Board Members

Odyssey Charter School is back under the formal review knife by the Delaware Department of Education following Blue Delaware’s explosive article the other day about board members making racist comments during a recent board meeting.

The Delaware Department of Education released the following statement today:

In response to complaints received by the Delaware Department of Education regarding Odyssey Charter School’s governance, Secretary of Education Susan Bunting is placing the school on formal review. Formal review is an investigatory process that will allow the Charter School Accountability Committee to determine whether the school has violated terms of its charter and probationary conditions of its charter renewal, including Conditions 1A and 1B. Additionally, Bunting condemns the discriminatory statements regarding Academia Antonia Alonso Charter School allegedly made by board members in a recording of a board meeting publicly released.

The Delaware State Board of Education has to vote on Bunting’s recommendation, to the best of my knowledge, which I assume they will tackle at their next meeting this month.  I predict they will approve it given the shenanigans their governance has gone through in the past year.

To be fair, it is the AHEPA idiots on their board that are the problem at this school.  It isn’t the education students are getting.  It isn’t even the school leadership.  It is the bizarre almost cult-like behavior of the AHEPA section of their Board of Directors.  Here is the bottom line: the AHEPA nuts have to go, period!  Anyone, in this day and age, fully knowing the board meetings are being recorded as required by Delaware state code, who engages in vocal crap like this deserves to be kicked off the board.  What an idiot!

For those who read about this from The News Journal or Delaware Online yesterday, they were late on the story and appeared to get their lead on this from Blue Delaware.  Did they credit Blue Delaware?  Hell no!  They always leave bloggers out in the cold.  Such is the way of The News Journal!

Updated, 3:43pm:

Apparently the school has issued a statement to parents regarding the 2nd formal review the school has been placed on in less than a year:

Communication from Joe Wolcott Board President, Denise Parks Head of School and Riccardo Stoeckicht, Campus Operations Manager

2/7/2020

Dear, families, students, and staff of OCS,

Today Secretary of Education Susan Bunting notified the OCS Board that the Department of Education is placing the school on formal review. Formal review is an investigatory process that will allow the Charter School Accountability Committee to determine whether the school has violated terms of its charter and probationary conditions of its charter renewal.

This is a painful process for the entire OCS community and we deeply regret the circumstances that have led to this formal review. The Board is taking the essential first steps to address accountability, heighten inclusivity awareness and provide sensitivity training to better serve our diverse community. We will continue to keep you informed of new developments.

As we continue to move forward and embrace change our focus will always be on the success and well-being of our remarkable student body.

Joe, Denise, Riccardo

 

News Journal Shows Bias And Fails To Publish Key Document In Kathleen Davies Fight Against Tom Wagner

The Delaware News Journal came out with an article today about the ongoing battle between Kathleen Davies and the Office of the Auditor of Accounts.  Even though the hearing with the Department of Labor ruled State Auditor Tom Wagner terminated Davies without cause, that only determined unemployment funding for Davies.  Now the battle is heating up with the Delaware Merit Employee Review Board (MERB).  But the News Journal article is missing or failed to report some vital facts. Continue reading

Kathy McGuiness Victim Shaming Kathleen Davies Is A New Low

Kathy McGuiness issued a victim shaming press release today against her State Auditor candidate, Kathleen Davies.  Seeing this is showing McGuiness has to be worried about losing a primary (again) in September!  In her latest stunt, she sent an email to her “supporters” today about the News Journal article on Davies that appeared online yesterday.

The urban dictionary describes victim shaming as this- “When the victim of an event is blamed, or partially blamed, for their own attack.”

While I first wrote about why Davies was unfairly dismissed from the Auditor’s office on June 5th, it took the News Journal twenty days to (finally) catch up with that news.  But they didn’t assign a political reporter to the story, but rather an education reporter.  Both of our articles were very similar in citing the unemployment hearing report.  I did my thing but the News Journal did have some new information.

Bies wrote about an upcoming Merit Employee Review Hearing. This hearing will determine if Davies gets her job back.  Bies did a good job at expressing Davies’ thoughts on the matter:

“Merit employees are subject to a process that is controlled and driven by the state,” she explained in an email. “Hence, I had to follow the state’s guidelines and processes, which meant I had to stay on paid leave as long as the state kept me there in order to exercise my merit and legal remedies. I and other merit employees have suffered through this process with no option other than to engage legal counsel and wait.”

“The state chose to keep me on paid leave for the 19 months before I could move forward with the merit and legal process,” Davies said. “My legal representation, as is the case with other merit employees, is at my own expense. Had I resigned from my position during the 19 months, I would have lost my rights to these remedies.”

But here comes Kathy McGuiness, sending out a VERY misleading email today, calling on Davies to make her merit hearing public AND to release a report that the Auditor’s office paid over $100,000.00 for.  Yes, the Grant Thornton report.  The same report that was incomplete at the unemployment hearing.  Which begs some serious questions- why didn’t Wagner release the full report to the unemployment hearing officer?  Were there allegations against Wagner himself in that report?  Did Wagner’s office have the ability to edit that report or redact information since the full copy wasn’t released to the hearing officer?

The McGuiness campaign wrote the following “press release” today which is begging for a red-lining!

Kathy McGuiness, Democratic candidate for Auditor, responded to today’s News Journal report detailing the latest developments in Kathleen Davies’ dismissal from her post as Tom Wagner’s second-in-command and issued the following:

McGuiness acts like this has been in the press every single day for two years.  It hasn’t.  She wants to put a focus on something that was already solved.  In short, Wagner screwed up!

“In two months, Democratic primary voters will be choosing their nominee for this critical state office and deserve to know what was found in the independent investigation leading to Kathleen Davies’ initial dismissal from the Auditor’s Office. 

Wagner dismissed Davies before that investigation was even complete.  Now if you are talking about the unwarranted and unethical “independent investigation” conducted by an audit manager in the office without any authority to do so, we can talk about that.  Which led to Davies’ wrongful termination and was ruled by the unemployment hearing officer to be unethical.

Based on the News Journal account, the Wagner-Davies Auditor’s Office operated without leadership for years. 

Actually, they did operate with leadership which most likely scared half the people in the office.  All of a sudden, not long after Davies came aboard, that office was doing real audits that wound up resulting in real jail sentences for crooked charter school leaders.  But apparently some didn’t like Davies in a leadership role so they trumped up bogus charges against her.  It backfired.  Davies proved she does have what it takes to get the job done!

The decision allowing her to receive unemployment insurance is only the first step of the investigation into Ms. Davies’ professional conduct while working for Tom Wagner. 

Even though, based on testimony of others in that office, including Wagner himself, it was proven Davies professional conduct was above and beyond and she did her job.  Okay.  It seems like McGuiness is screaming about smoke but there is no fire.

The Auditor’s office has to operate transparently and maintain the public’s trust.

For someone who talks so much about transparency, why doesn’t McGuiness open up the books on her many years on Rehoboth City Council?  Where is the Rehoboth City Council online checkbook?  For a council she served on for so long, how come she never begged for that kind of transparency down there? 

To have critical investigative information about a candidate for State Auditor withheld from the public and to have a hearing closed to the public, where serious accusations about her professional conduct while on the job is a disservice to voters and undermines the public’s confidence. 

To see my own take on McGuiness, just look at this article.  Yes, this is the same McGuiness who wanted LLCs to have voting rights.  Who had to hire an attorney to figure out if she lived in Delaware or Utah in order for her to qualify as a candidate for Lieutenant Governor.  Who changed her political party several times.  For the record, Davies has not said one way or the other whether or not the hearing will be public.  I would imagine she has a lawyer involved and she would make a decision based on her own legal counsel.  And this hearing is NOT about the serious accusations about her professional conduct.  It is about Davies serious accusations against the Auditor’s office which had a light as bright as the sun shining on Wagner’s office after the unemployment hearing.  For McGuiness to sit there and victim shame Davies is very low, even for Delaware politics.  But I guess you have to do what you can to win, right?

Because she is a candidate for public office, I call on Ms. Davies to authorize the Auditor’s office to release to the public, the content of the Grant Thornton investigation as well as any other pertinent information relating into her conduct as Tom Wagner’s top assistant, and permit her July hearing before the Merit Employees Relations Board to be open to the public, so voters have all the facts.” 

You are assuming she has the ability to “authorize” the Auditor’s office to make a report they paid for public.  Regarding a personnel issue.  And once again, the same report that could very well have been doctored to such a degree to make Wagner try to look good.  Which it failed to do at the unemployment hearing by the way.  Even though the unemployment hearing report cleared Davies of the wrongdoing this “audit manager” trumped up against her, that isn’t enough for McGuiness.  She wants this report released which would, in most likelihood, make Wagner look even worse than he already does.

What McGuiness failed to mention in her email is the heart of the News Journal article which was this- Tom Wagner unfairly terminated Davies.  And it went on to state how it was unfair.  Instead she is trying to make a “thing” out of something that was already solved when I put up my article three weeks ago.  These are the actions of a desperate woman who thought she had a sure thing in running for State Auditor.  Someone who likes to talk about transparency but doesn’t even release her own reimbursements with the City of Rehoboth.

But McGuiness doesn’t even bother to write how the Merit Employee Review Board deals with grievances Delaware state employees file against the agency they worked for.  Davies isn’t the one on trial here.  The purpose is to hear what Davies has to say in regards to the grievances she filed against Tom Wagner.  I have no doubt she viewed Davies as a distant runner in the race and didn’t count on her being vindicated in the press.  So she wants to attempt to stir up trouble instead of reaching out to a political candidate.  The right thing for McGuiness to do would be to sympathize with Davies, woman to woman, and recognize that, yes, our state employee merit system is very jacked up.  Nope, she wants to try to throw Davies under a victim shaming bus and that is just wrong.

Kathy McGuiness wants to talk on her campaign stops about diversity as she sits on the all-white and well-off Rehoboth City Council.  She is just wrong for State Auditor and if that hasn’t become clear to anyone in Delaware yet, I strongly encourage you to look beyond the “image” of McGuiness.  She will happily show up at any event in the First State and tell you why she should be State Auditor.  But that doesn’t make her the real thing.

This is an ongoing issue between Davies and Wagner.  Davies was cleared in the first round.  That has been made public already.  If McGuiness wants to victim blame another candidate to make herself look like a viable candidate, that is certainly her right but it is a new low.  Which would make me very concerned about her ability to hold statewide office and how she would deal with those who cross her path in a way she doesn’t like.  This is the Kathy McGuiness that, when she feels threatened, would victim shame a good and decent woman.  While some in the Delaware Democrat party pledge allegiance to McGuiness, they are doing it for all the wrong reasons.  And they know what those reasons are.  They want McGuiness because she is malleable and will serve at their behest.  But I can promise it will be a decision those Democrat power brokers would live to regret down the road.  The optics of politics is a messy thing.  Delaware deserves a State Auditor that is not malleable and will not serve power brokers.  Delaware deserves Kathleen Davies.

Prologue: The Big FOIA About Salaries

On February 28th, I sent a Freedom of Information Act request to every single Delaware school district and charter school.  The ask?  Every single employee with an annual salary over $100,000.   I based it on that specific number because I know pretty much every single assistant principal and up (with a few exceptions) makes over $100,000.  One of the key questions in Delaware education is “Do we have too many administrators?”.  This comes up every single time the state budget conversation heats up or a district goes out for a referendum. Continue reading

Hearing Gives Details About The Amy Joyner-Francis Murder With Victim’s Last Words

They jumped me.  They snuck me. -the last words from Amy Joyner-Francis

Yesterday, a Family Court hearing in Delaware convened to decide whether or not Trinity Carr should be tried as an adult in the murder of Amy-Joyner Francis.  Disturbing evidence came out during the hearing solidifying the theory that Carr,  Zion Snow, and Chakeira Wright planned the attack for 20 hours before the fight.

The News Journal gave a very gruesome detailing of the outcome of the paragraph in their lead which appeared in print today:

A fatal attack in which Howard High School of Technology sophomore Amy Inita Joyner-Francis was punched in the head two dozen times and had her fingernails ripped out started because of a group text message, a Wilmington police detective said in court Monday.

The State News did not mention the fingernails being ripped out in their lead, but did give more weight to the blows against Amy…

A cellphone video of a high school restroom fight that left a 16-year-old Delaware girl dead shows the victim on the ground, struggling to fight back and escape as she is repeatedly hit and kicked in the head while her assailant holds on to her hair.

If I had to guess, the part about the fingernails played a huge role in the decision of prosecutors to try Carr as an adult.   This was a very vicious and brutal attack.  For someone to drag a teenager by the hair, punch and kick her in the head over twenty times, and tear out her fingernails… that takes a viciousness and callousness with an intent to seriously harm or kill someone.  But what astonished me even more was the fact that a math teacher, who found Amy in the bathroom and heard her last words, had to run to get a nurse.  Where were all the students who witnessed a classmate getting seriously hurt to the eventual point of death?  Why did none of them, upon witnessing this scene, run to grab a nurse?

Details emerged, according to The News Journal article, that Carr showed no remorse upon learning of Amy’s death…

Deputy Attorney General Theresa Sedevic, however, said that even after Carr learned of her death at the Wilmington police station hours later, Carr blamed Joyner-Francis for the attack and was upset only that the incident would mess up her chances of getting a nursing degree.

The murder occurred inside a Delaware school, Howard High School of Technology.  A source within the district, who wished to remain anonymous, told me the district pretends like the murder never happened.  No one talks about it.  This source felt like the New Castle County Vo-Tech district moved on and forgot about what happened.

I have never bought this bad theory that an unknown heart condition was the cause of her death.  Amy died because someone killed her.  Plain and simple.  Even though the articles talked about how Carr has received counseling and is making progress, it doesn’t erase what she did.  She planned to hurt Amy.  She killed Amy.  She needs to be tried as an adult and given an appropriate sentencing for an adult if found guilty.  Why is Carr allowed to travel out of state when she has been accused of murder?  Why is she allowed to teach Sunday School to kids at a church in Philadelphia?  But more importantly, why is she under homebound instruction which is paid for by the school district?  Does this mean Carr was not expelled from the school district after murdering a classmate in a bathroom?  What kind of message does that send to Amy’s parents when not even the school district could bring even an iota of justice to their daughter’s murder?  Students have been expelled from Delaware schools for much less.  None of this makes sense.

None of this will bring Amy back to her family who misses their daughter every single day.  There is no such thing as justice when you lose a loved one like this.  Nothing will bring their daughter back.

The Judge in the case is expected to render a decision on how Carr will be tried by the end of next week according to The State News article.

Are Brandywine’s Mark Holodick & The News Journal Singing A New Song On Smarter Balanced & Opt-Out?

The Superintendents of the Wilmington schools, Red Clay, Christina, Colonial and Brandywine, held an education forum for WDEL last night.  Discussing the issues of Wilmington education, the subject of the state assessment came up.  What was very interesting was Brandywine Superintendent Dr. Mark Holodick’s response to this issue.  He told WDEL’s Shana O’Malley:

Brandywine superintendent Dr. Mark Holodick added that they’re starting to see pushback from those who are frustrated and unhappy with state standardized testing.

“The length of the state assessment, how often it’s being given, combined with this era of high stakes accountability for both educators and school ratings and rankings, I think it has reached a tipping point,” he said.

I gave Holodick a lot of heat earlier in the year for his views on opt-out procedures.  He seemed to think only he could decide who takes the test and who doesn’t.  Opt-out isn’t about someone giving permission.  It’s about honoring a parent’s right and not giving any grief about it.  Even Acting Christina Superintendent Bob Andrzejewski jumped on the issue.

“For example, the state test that we give, I think cost us about $6 million,” said Dr. Robert Andrzejewski, acting superintendent for the Christina School District. “What if we decided to go back to a system where we test grades three, five, eight and ten like we used to and maybe cut the testing cost in half. There are other priorities like that.”

Or how about we just get rid of the Smarter Balanced and high-stakes testing environment altogether Bob A?  That would solve that problem!

Even the News Journal Editorial staff jumped on this issue this morning.

If that’s the case, why can’t Delaware take a proactive stance and focus not on a child’s scores, but on the child herself? If the state is so concerned with schools trying to game the system, then the system is broken and our energy should be spent on fixing it, not simply policing it.

The devil is in the details with that one.  If it means personalized learning where one students gets ahead faster and another stays behind, no thanks!  And how much will it cost to fix it?  We all know fixing anything in education in Delaware means the DOE sends tons of money to outside companies to “fix” what they don’t understand.  And if it’s all tied to the Delaware School Success Framework, the DOE’s latest and not greatest accountability nightmare, it still doesn’t matter.  We will see what kind of people the Delaware State Board of Education really are when they vote on Regulation 103 which makes this insane school report card legal.  Even the News Journal seems to agree on that one:

Though Gov. Jack Markell vetoed opt-out legislation this summer, it’s safe to assume Smarter Balance will not see 100 percent student participation this school year. And if the General Assembly overrides Markell’s veto when it returns to session, then the entire scorecard concept is out the window.

House Bill 50 is all about parental rights in terms of how they want their child to be educated.  It is nothing more than that.  Something the News Journal is finally coming around to by giving it their full support:

In the meantime, parents, more than anybody else, deserve to have a say in how their kids are educated. Let’s honor that right.

It would have really helped if they came out with that opinion eight months ago!  Why the sudden shift in thinking on the Smarter Balanced Assessment?  I think it is becoming more apparent than ever that Governor Markell is indeed a lame-duck at this point and everyone is sick to death of hearing about his education reform ideas.  Everyone is starting to look towards the future and essentially undoing a lot of what Jack wrought on the First State.  Folks are sick and tired of the accountability behemoth the DOE has become and they want it to stop.  Their stupid score card penalties are not required, and I have not heard anyone say “Oh, that’s a great idea!”  The DOE is a hot mess, and if they want to play the accountability game, that starts with them!  In the meantime, keep opting your kid out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment and educate other parents of their rights!

Meanwhile, as all the adults keep tinkering around with education, it is the students who suffer the most.  As Dr. Holodick told WDEL:

“I think we have an opportune time to ask some really hard questions about what we have created regarding the educational landscape in Delaware,” added Holodick.

We are ALWAYS asking the really hard questions Mark.  The time to stop asking and start doing has to begin now before this generation of students loses it all to the high-stakes testing proficiency machine.

Red Clay Interpreter’s Very Bigoted & Racist Comments Shock Delaware

varley

After Governor Markell signed Senate Bill 122 and House Bill 148 at the Hockessin Colored School last Tuesday, the Delaware News Journal quickly got a story up on Delawareonline.  On their Facebook page, comments started pouring in, including the above discriminatory and racist comment.  Word has it she is an interpreter for the Red Clay Consolidated School District.  I believe there is a petition going for her to be fired immediately.

This kind of talk should become illegal in our country.  What is wrong with people?  The comment disappeared, but luckily a source got a picture of the very controversial comments….

Rep. Kowalko & Senator Lawson Slam Markell’s HB50 Veto With Style & Facts!!

With permission from State Rep. John Kowalko to publish his letter that appeared on Delawareonline earlier this afternoon!

Markell Veto…..Opt-out or Cop-out

                It has been one week since we received Governor Markell’s message that he had vetoed House Bill 50 (the parental opt out rights bill). We feel it is our obligation, as responsible lawmakers, to thoroughly review and consider all aspects of Governor Markell’s stated reasons for vetoing this legislation.
Unfortunately, we found little if any reasonable logic to the Governor’s action and explanation. Quite frankly, there were a few questionable inaccuracies in the statement that lead us to believe that Governor Markell’s action was premeditated with little thought given to the overwhelming support from parents, teachers, administrators, school boards, and the General Assembly for HB 50.
We made every effort to grasp the argument that the administration was trying to make, but the indefatigable truth remains that he had no logical reason to reject the wishes of the parents and lawmakers and instead chose to diminish the seriousness of the “opt-out” movement with a series of unsubstantiated arguments.
The third paragraph of the Governor’s veto statement suggests that educators and school leaders opposed the legislation when, in fact, the reality is that HB 50 and parental opt-out rights are supported, unequivocally, by the DSEA and its membership and the Delaware PTA and its membership. There were also three of the largest and poorest school districts in the state–Christina, Red Clay, and Capital–who voted for and passed resolutions supporting parental opt-out rights. Also noticeable in its deliberate exaggeration is the Governor’s contention that the civil rights “community” opposed the legislation, while refusing to acknowledge that a larger portion of that community did not oppose “opt-out” legislation. Particularly offensive was the language in the fourth paragraph that stated, “if struggling students are disproportionately encouraged to opt out as has happened elsewhere, we may not be able to identify the children who need intervention to be successful.” Unfortunately, this type of hyperbole paints a false picture of the situation in many ways. There is no proof available or offered that a “disproportionate encouragement “of students to opt out has “happened elsewhere.” There is no evidence whatsoever that the test that will be used in Delaware does or will identify children who need intervention. Most importantly, HB 50 does not and cannot be used to encourage or discourage participation in the assessment test.
The fifth paragraph posits the unsubstantiated and unproven assertion that “students with disabilities and students of color have benefitted the most from the adoption of statewide testing requirements.” There is no valid data that would suggest this to be an accurate statement of fact. Out of respect for the office of the Governor, we will temper our comments regarding the deliberate misrepresentation of reality in that sentence and its intention to instill fear and doubt in the minority and disabled communities.
Governor Markell, in his veto statement, also suggests that HB 50 was a construct of those who feel that children are over-tested. This completely misses the point that the legislation is exclusively about parental and child rights to not participate in this specific, unproven, time-consuming distraction called the “Smarter Balanced Assessment,” which hinders their ability to learn expediently and prevents appropriately identifying their shortcomings and needs to succeed. The fact that this administration chooses to engage in the politics of distraction that could result in useful and proven tests being shunned to the detriment of students and educators speaks volumes against the Governor’s decision to veto HB 50.
In conclusion, after having thoroughly examined the Governor’s stated positions on parental opt-out rights and because of the enormous public support expressed for HB 50 by educators (DSEA), parents and families (PTA), school administrators (Capital, Christina, and Red Clay resolutions), and the huge majority of General Assembly members who supported HB 50, we have decided that it is our sworn responsibility to our constituents and all Delawareans to bring HB 50 to the floor in January for a veto override vote.

Representative John Kowalko 25th District, 14 Kells Ave. Newark De. 19711    302 547 9351
Senator Dave Lawson 15th Senatorial District  302 270 1038

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.

What Was Secretary of Education Mark Murphy So Happy About? @KilroysDelaware @ed_in-De @dwablog @nannyfat #netde #eduDE

I’ve reviewed the news conference Governor Jack Markell gave after the announcement about the Priority Schools (Takeover) in Red Clay Consolidated and Christina school districts.  Here is a link to the Delaware Online video of it:  http://www.delawareonline.com/story/news/local/2014/09/04/poor-wilmington-schools-get-aid/15072245/

At the 30 second mark, the camera shifts over to Secretary of Education Mark Murphy when Markell started talking about how the schools will be having “great school leaders.”  Murphy cannot contain some sort of jubilant feeling he is having.  It actually goes on for a couple seconds, but then it looks like he checks himself, as if he’s thinking “Oops, not appropriate here.”  I found this to be very odd behavior from a Secretary of Education during a press announcement that the state is essentially taking over six low-performing, low-income elementary schools.

A picture can tell a thousand words, but a video tells even more!  Things I am wondering now about Murphy are 1) What does he already know about potential leaders for the schools IF the state winds up taking them over, 2) What’s in it for him?  Some financial connection perhaps?, and 3) Is Mark Murphy right in the head?

In my opinion, this is just another chapter in the long book Markell and Murphy have written on their changes to education in Delaware.  But I truly hope this is where the story takes over and bites them in the ass!