It Is Time For DSEA To Regurgitate Themselves From The Bowels Of Rodel

I warned them.  Many times.  Sit at the table and you will be on the table.  The Delaware State Education Association was swallowed whole.  By who? Continue reading

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Key Audio Recording Links From State Board of Education Meeting Yesterday

Statewide Review of Educational Opportunities.  Wilmington Education Improvement Commission Redistricting Plan.  Christina Priority Schools.  Delaware Met.  All are here.  Please listen.  Please pay attention.  Listen to the words that are said by our unelected Governor appointed State Board of Education.  This meeting touched on most of the hot education issues of our state in one form or another.  Then email your state legislator politely requesting legislation for our State Board of Education to be elected officials.

WEIC Public Comment: Part 2

Statewide Review of Educational Opportunities: Part 3

WEIC Presentation to State Board: Part 5

Christina Priority Schools (about 1/3rd of the way in), Update on Opt-Out Penalties via ESEA Waiver Request with US DOE: Part 6

Delaware Met (starts about 1/3rd of the way in for Del Met) and Charter Renewals: Part 7

 

What I’m Truly Thankful For On This Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to all the readers of Exceptional Delaware.  It’s been a crazy year, and we all know what the issues are.  But today, I want to give thanks for what we do have and some of the accomplishments brought forth by others this year.

Thank you to State Rep. John Kowalko and Senator Dave Lawson for listening to parents of Delaware and introducing House Bill 50!

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Thank you to John Young for his passion and words of wisdom!

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Thank you to the victories! Like when House Bill 50 cleared the House by a 36-3 margin!

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Thank you to State Rep. Pete Schwartzkopf for letting my son Jacob play with your gavel!

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Thank you to Delaware Governor Jack Markell for signing House Concurrent Resolution #36 recognizing “Tourette Syndrome Awareness Month” in Delaware!

Governor Markell, Kevin Ohlandt and Jacob Ohlandt, 5/14/15

Governor Markell, Kevin Ohlandt and Jacob Ohlandt, 5/14/15

Thank you to beautiful summer days and the beach!

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Thank you to the Progressive Democrats of Delaware for an honor!

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Thank you to the friends I’ve made along the way during my sojourn into Delaware education!

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Thank you to the world for reading my crazy blog!

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Thank you the legislators and stakeholders who fight for our kids and schools!

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Thank you to my dog Bella who helped take care of me after my hernia operation!

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Thank you to my son Jacob who is the inspiration for all I do!  He is becoming an amazing young man who, despite everything, has a heart of gold!  As well, thank you to my awesome wife who puts up with more than anyone I know!

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Thank you once again, to all my readers and those who are allies and enemies, and those in-between!  We will prevail, somehow, someway!

Bourbon, Boone’s Farm, Tony Allen & The Chicken or The Egg: The Great Facebook WEIC Debate!

The true conversations about WEIC don’t happen at all those committee meetings, they happen on Facebook.  Tonight, we got the rare privilege of having the Chair of the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission join the fray!  I’m not sure where to start, but since I started the WEIC debates today with my Colonial School District article, I guess we can start there.

Kevin Ohlandt Why I refuse to support WEIC going forward…

Tony Allen Kevin,
As always, I am happy to talk with you directly. You make several claims in here that are not substantiated.
We did meet with Ted and Dusty. I don’t consider that a “back door” meeting. They were both clear in the board’s desire to maintain the current boundaries. And yes, I disagree with their decision as I (not Dr. Rich) noted in a letter to them. However, we do want them to continue to be engaged in the overall work of the Commission which, as you know, involves much more than redrawing lines and is consistent with the FIVE YEAR charge of the Commission’s work.
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Red Clay Audio Of Board Meeting Raises Lots Of Questions About Wilmington Education Improvement Commission…

Who is funding the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission?  Who provided funding for the paperbook book for the Wilmington Education Advisory Committee?  What role will all four school districts in Wilmington play?  Will more committees be added to WEIC?

These are just some of the questions that were asked by the Red Clay Consolidated Board of Education to WEIC Vice-Chair Tizzy Lockman and Policy Advisor Dan Rich.  The 2nd part is where the real debate kicks in between Dan Rich and board member Catherine Thompson.  She raises some very valid points about the potential of Red Clay getting clobbered in all of this.  Dan Rich, at another point, raises the whole point about WEIC not just being about the redistricting, but also education reform for the whole state.  Which raises my question the other day: why should the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission, filled with representation from only one of the three countries in the state, not have many representatives from Kent or Sussex County?

Part 1: WEIC Presentation Begins around 27:00 mark

Part 2: WEIC Presentation continues about 3/5ths into the audio

A Night Of Celebration, Reflection, Laughter, & Recognition

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Last night the Progressive Democrats of Delaware held their annual Firestone Restaurant celebration, and this year myself, as well as John Young, Mike Matthews and Tizzy Lockman were recognized as education heroes of Delaware.  This is an award I’m fairly certain I will never get from Governor Markell or the State Board of Education!

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It was great to see so many friends, advocates and legislators in a non-formal location.  John Young talked about how we all owe Kilroy a debt of gratitude as he is the godfather of Delaware education blogging.  I spoke about my outstanding FOIA request with the DOE and how much help I need to raise the funds to cover the rest of it.  Tizzy Lockman thanked everyone for their support with the Wilmington Education Advisory Committee and the upcoming Wilmington Education Improvement Commission and how much work they have before them.  Mike Matthews spoke about the dangerous influences outside forces, like Rodel and Delaware Charter Schools Network, can have on candidates and asked that the party not support candidates who are aligned with theses types of corporate education reform companies.

Delaware State Reps. John Kowalko, Kim Williams, Paul Baumbach & Sean Lynn

Delaware State Reps. John Kowalko, Kim Williams, Paul Baumbach & Sean Lynn

The six Progressive State Representatives who voted no on the state budget on July 1st were honored as well with the PDD Bob Stachnik award.  State Rep. Sean Lynn explained why they voted no as they couldn’t sit by and watch funding be cut for those who need it the most without having any revenue coming in.  He also talked about the extreme difficulty the state will face next year with predicted budget deficits between $160-$180 million.  Reps. Paul Baumbach, John Kowalko and Kim Williams also spoke about the budget.  Kowalko said it was his proudest moment in his many years of serving the people of Delaware.

It was a great evening with perfect weather on the riverfront in Wilmington.  The food was excellent, and the atmosphere was festive.  It was great to talk with others about our kids, hysterical moments in the past year (Schwartzkopf’s Gavel, Christina Board meetings, Burger Girl, a certain video released last week by one of the education heroes) while new memories were created (“Vera”, the armpit –don’t ask–, the coffee mug).

Mike O from the seventh type was there, and we spoke for quite a while about blogging, House Bill 165, and charter schools.  I had never officially met him, so it was great to get a different perspective on blogging and whatnot.  I was given an excellent source for my charter school series of articles which I plan on using immediately!

There is a lot of interesting stuff coming up in the next few months with education in Delaware, and you can read all about it on the Delaware blogs!  I would like to thank President of the PDD, Nancy Willing, and all the members of the party for their recognition of myself and the three others.  It was quite an honor!

If you would like to donate for the Smarter Balanced FOIA request, please go to this link and help us find out what is really going on with these high-stakes tests and their vendors! http://www.gofundme.com/x6mb3j8

Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants

I have been chosen.  Along with Mike Matthews, President of the Red Clay Educators Association, John Young, Christina School District Board Member, and Tizzy Lockman, Wilmington Education Advisory Committee member and fierce advocate for civil rights in Wilmington schools.  I just see myself as a blogger on education matters in Delaware.  Those other three, they have a lot of skin in the game and have been around a lot longer than myself.  But I am honored to be listed among these giants in the below announcement.  I didn’t think Exceptional Delaware would reach as many as it has, but if I am the proudest of anything it’s that more parents are finding this blog and finding out what is really going on out there.  At the end of the day, I’m still just a Dad to an awesome kid who happens to have disabilities and my fight has always been so he can have a better future.

July 14, 2015

Kevin Ohlandt

Exceptional Delaware Blog

Dear Kevin,

I am proud to announce today, as President of the Progressive Democrats for Delaware, that you are a 2015 PDD Education Hero Award winner!

PDD voted to recognize four Education Heroes for your work in bringing education reform issues to the public’s attention this year: Mike Matthews, Kevin Ohlandt, John Young and Elizabeth Lockman.

We’re also recognizing the House Democratic Caucus Six (Paul Baumbach, Kim Williams, Sean Lynn, Andria Bennett, Sean Matthews and John Kowalko) with this group award for standing up to their caucus with the courage of their convictions and voting against the budget this year [Why we voted against the state budget].

The formal announcement of our PDD honorees will take place at our July 22nd Progressive Democrats for Delaware Summer Social!, 7-9 at the FireStone Roasting House on the Riverfront.

This event serves as a fundraiser for our PAC for progressive candidates but you’ll be our guest for the evening – no charge – and we would love it if you can join us in celebration. We’ll be soliciting additional nominations  for Progressive Community Heroes at the event so come prepared to offer an outstanding individual of your choice for recognition at the PDD Awards Ceremony in September.

The award ceremony itself will be at our September 2nd General Meeting (7PM DEM HQ in New Castle) where we’ve invited the DEM Caucus Six to speak as panelists. Save the date!

PDD will be coordinating with the Delaware Americans for Democratic Action to rally the public over the next year with informational events through the fall and implementation events through the next session of the Assembly. PDD hopes to excite Delaware’s progressive voters and get them to the polls in 2016!

I hope to see you Wednesday night!

Nancy Willing, President

Progressive Democrats for Delaware

PDD Summer Social

7-9 Wednesday July 22nd

FireStone Roasting House 

110 S West St 

Wilmington, DE 19801

For the six Democrat State Reps that voted against the budget, I was there during their moment of courage.  If I were in their shoes, I would have done the exact same thing.  Now before everyone starts saying I am a Progressive Democrat, I can be.  I can also be a moderate Republican depending on the issue.  I don’t talk about my own personal politics too often.  I don’t think it matters as long as I fight the good fight out there.  But having worked with several of these legislators on education issues, I’ve found they are the most informed about the realities and not the smoke and mirrors we hear about from so many others at Legislative Hall.  There are some great legislators there, but they aren’t all education legislators, so our paths don’t tend to cross.

As for the other three Education Heroes, I’ve known John Young the longest.  As the Transparent Christina blogger and a board member at Christina, he has always inspired me to get the truth out there.  Along with Kilroy and Kavips, John Young showed me the news the mainstream media doesn’t cover.  As a board member, my admiration for John grew immensely during the Priority Schools showdown at their board meeting in September.  He stood up to the DOE, and two State Board members angrily walked out.

I met Mike Matthews at a State Board of Education meeting a year ago.  We had commented on stuff over on Facebook, but when I met him he was cutting out material for his classroom.  Someone that bold is someone to watch.  I’ve seen Mike speak out several times in support of many of the same beliefs I have.  His most memorable speaking moment came at the Imagine Delaware forum last March.  This one has no fear and we need more of that!

Tizzy Lockman.  I never really heard of her until the whole ACLU lawsuit announcement last December.  But she is everywhere, on WEAC, the Enrollment Preference Task Force, and she is always advocating for students with the greatest needs.  I don’t know her as well as John and Mike, but I can say the Delaware education landscape is better with her being in it!

Any award for me is dedicated to all the parents of special needs kids and the parent supporters of opt-out.  Hopefully we changed the conversation, and I know we can’t stop now!

Are You Going To The Imagine Delaware Education Forum?

The News Journal is sponsoring an education forum at the Chase Center on the Waterfront in Wilmington on March 9th.  Led by David Ledford, the Executive Editor of The News Journal, the purpose of the forum is to engage in an open discussion about how best to serve Wilmington schools.  Originally the date was on February 24th which drew controversy since that was the date for the referendum on the Christina and Red Clay Consolidated School Districts.

Panelists include the following:

Mike Matthews: Warner Elementary School Teacher and President of the Red Clay Educators Association

Tony Allen: Chair of the Wilmington Education Committee and a Bank of America executive

Mark Holodick: Superintendent of the Brandywine School District

Senator David Sokola: Chair of the Delaware Senate Education Committee

Lamont Browne: Head of School for East Side Charter and Family Foundations Academy

Tizzy Lockman: University of Delaware Public Policy Graduate Student and Mother

The forum kicks off at 6:30pm, but there will be an Education Expo at the location from 4:00-6:00pm where district and charter representatives will be on hand to talk to citizens about their schools.

Governor Jack Markell will give opening remarks at the Education Forum.

If you plan on going, it is free, but you would need to register here: http://newsjournal.upickem.net/engine/YourSubmission.aspx?contestid=164189