Exceptional Delaware Endorses Trey Paradee For Delaware Senate District 17

I’ve known Trey for years.  He helped my family out with some education issues before I began blogging in 2014.  I have continued to go to him about issues that affected the 29th district.  While most of those have been education issues, I see how he has drafted legislation that will help all Delawareans.  I was definitely impressed with the cemetery bill he wrote.  This helped clean up some of the cemeteries in the Dover area that were offending loved ones of the deceased.  I don’t agree with every single vote he casts, but for the most part I feel he has done a good job when he held the District 29 State Representative seat.  He doesn’t play dirty campaign tricks and he is always personable when I see him.

His opponent, Justin King, has been littering my mailbox with very twisted and slanted campaign attacks against Paradee.  I got three of them today.  They take up too much room in my trashcan.  I don’t always vote with the party but more the person.  King’s unjustified attacks against Paradee turned me off in a big way.  Trey was going to get my vote anyway, but King decided to use his campaign funds to attack his opponent more than say what he will do.  King doesn’t have what it takes in the General Assembly.  He claims he will do what he wants when he wants.  I’ve met folks like that.  They either don’t get elected or don’t get anything done cause they can’t work with anyone.  I don’t mind rogue legislators but this guy seems too angry for my tastes.

King claims Paradee (singlehandedly) raised taxes on everyone.  He forgets how many of his fellow Republicans passed those budgets as well.  He forgets that hard choices were made by everyone in the 2017 budget crisis.  He forgets how his fellow Republicans in the House staged a walkout in late June that made themselves look weak.  For someone who claims Paradee didn’t show up for Delaware taxpayers, where was King when he failed to show up at forums?

I’ve endorsed Trey in every race since 2014.  The Senate will be a better place with him there.

Gateway Lab School Saved In Close State BOE Vote No Thanks to Pat Heffernan! @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de @RCEAPrez @Apl_Jax @ecpaige @nannyfat

As everyone assuredly knows by now, Gateway Lab School was saved from closing at the end of this school year in a 4-3 vote yesterday at the Delaware State Board of Education meeting.  What you may not know is what was said during the discussion prior to the vote.  Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy all but said the public outcry over the school’s possible closure saved the day for them.  More specifically, the amount of comments made from the Delaware General Assembly trying to save the school with a very high population of special needs children.

What shocked me though was board member Patrick Heffernan’s immediate attack on the school.  Half an hour earlier he had voted yes for the renewal of Delaware Academy of Public Safety’s charter renewal.  Questions were raised about the upcoming academic framework all schools will have based on the upcoming Smarter Balanced Assessment.  For this reason, Heffernan voted yes for their charter renewal, despite the fact the school had some academic issues based on the prior DCAS scores.  So why would he not be consistent with Gateway Lab School?

In commenting on the school, Heffernan said “I know we’re seeing some good things going on there now, but I think the information we have in front of us shows that this has not been a very well-run school.”  While not acknowledging the administration and structure for a school of this type would be run very different than a traditional school, Heffernan proceeded to base all his arguments for closure based on comparisons to traditional schools.  Even Mark Murphy publicly stated it would not be fair to do so.

His wife, Debra Heffernan, a State Representative in Delaware, served on the IEP Task Force in Delaware, and she pushed for discussion about standards based IEPs, but nothing came of that out of the task force.  The Heffernans have publicly commented about their own special needs child in the past, so I am very curious why they are judging special education so harshly and are trying to get special needs parents to blindly accept the Common Core State Standards.  Research has shown these standards are not “one size fits all” and that children with special needs do not perform relative to their regular classroom peers on these tests.

While three members of the state board voted no, Heffernan, Melendez, and Board President Dr. Teri Quinn Gray, the majority voted yes, and Gateway is saved.  On the school’s previously titled Save Gateway Lab School, Head of School Catherine Dolan wrote the following:

Dear Gateway Gladiator Parents/Guardians,

Mark Murphy, Secretary of Education, recommended a Conditional Renewal and the State Board voted to support him. We get one year to show major improvement.

Gratefully,

Catherine Dolan – Head of School

While some were confused over what this renewal meant for the school, Executive Director of the State Board of Education commented this morning on a Facebook post:

Actually the action taken today was the renewal of the charter for Gateway, which is a five year renewal, however they were renewed with a condition to meet standards on an alternate academic framework by the end of the 2015-16 school year. If they are not meeting standards at that point then the state would pursue revocation through formal review.

Delaware State Representative Trey Paradee, of the 29th District, wrote the following:

Schools like Gateway and Positive Outcomes fill a very special and necessary niche: to help children who have not been able to find success in a traditional classroom setting. The parents of children who attend these schools are fiercely supportive of them and are grateful that they exist. To judge the students and teachers at these schools by the same standards that are applied to the traditional public schools is ludicrous. Hats off to the teachers who step up to the challenge of teaching at Gateway, Positive Outcomes, and the schools that serve a disproportionate number of disadvantaged children.

Meanwhile, I’m sure Gateway Lab School parents, students and teachers are breathing a collective sigh of relief as their school has been saved.  As the Smarter Balanced Assessment is mere months away, schools in Delaware are all worried about the ramifications this already controversial tests will have on their own academic framework.

Why Trey Paradee Is Getting My Vote For Delaware State Representative in District 29 @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de @DoverPost @TheStateNews #netde #eduDE #Delaware

I have actually been going back and forth on who to vote for in my district for a few months now, Democrat Trey Paradee (the existing State Rep for my district) and Republican Pete Kramer.  I’m going to be completely honest.  Up until 14 months ago, I had absolutely zero interest in state politics.  This is my fault as a human being, but I was ignorant of many things going on in Delaware, and I really didn’t care.  And then things happened….

As any long time reader of this blog is well aware, my son had some (okay, numerous) problems at a “charter school in the County of Kent”.  When things blew up and became unsalvageable with the school, my wife and I were weighing our options to see what avenue to take next.   She reached out to Trey Paradee, and we did get a call back from one of his staff members and explained what was going on.

Flash forward as few weeks later, and I read a post on this blog called Kilroy’s Delaware about how some charter school meeting was held in secret and not open to the public.  People were pissed, and this was my intro to Kilroy’s blog.  Going ahead six months to last Spring, my situation with the charter school was resolved, but I had still had a lot of questions.  I told the story about what happened to my son on Kilroy’s blog after a few weeks of “vetting” him.  I really didn’t trust anyone at the time, but Kilroy and I had several chats about the state of education in Delaware.  By the time I finished telling my son’s story, I had decided to start my own blog, but I wanted to pay Kilroy back for letting me tell my very long story for a month.

In my last post on Kilroy’s, I promised to go to Legislative Hall to drum up support for House Bill 23, which would make all school boards digitally record their meetings and put them up on their website.  I invited any  who wanted to attend, and I made a couple posters and went down.  I doubted anyone would show up, but I was determined.  So I made the drive downtown, and started walking around the front of Legislative Hall with my posters.  Several people asked me what House Bill 23, and some of these were legislators.  It was a solo act I was doing, but I didn’t care.  I started memorizing faces and made a decision to find out who these people are.  It started to rain a bit, so I put the posters in my car and decided to actually go into the hall and see what they did there.

My first visit was to meet my House Rep, Trey Paradee.  His secretary called him and he agreed to meet with me on the spot.  I was impressed right away.  I went into his office and there was this rather large dog sitting there.  Trey introduced me to Belle, and he explained there was a dog group there and he was going to be in a picture with Belle.  I explained why I was there, and that I was very concerned with special education in Delaware. He agreed, and explained some of his own personal journey in the world of special education with a member of his family.   We agreed to talk more.

I met a few other politicians that day, most noticeably Debra Hudson to find out why the bill she sponsored wasn’t going up for a vote.  She explained it needed more public support, but she would ask about it.  Never heard back from her at all!  I got home and reached out to his opponent in the election, Pete Kramer.  He explained he was against Common Core and standardized testing.  My decision was made right then and there, as Kramer was against the same things I was.  The next day I started this blog.

Within weeks, I became involved in the political landscape in Delaware when the US Department of Education declared Delaware was one of three states and Washington D.C. to need federal intervention with special education.  I read about it in the Delaware News Journal, but it was missing a lot of facts, so I did some quick research on it and posted an article on my blog.  This was my first huge article on Exceptional Delaware.  Within days, the Senate in Delaware created a concurring resolution to create an IEP Task Force, but there were no parent reps on the task force.  I emailed every single house rep and senator in the General Assembly advising them not having a parent on this task force would be a slap in the face to special needs parents across the state.  When the Senate voted on it, they passed it without a parent rep.  I put out a call on Twitter and Facebook to have a re-vote to allow parent reps.  A couple days later an amendment was added allowing a parent from each county which was my suggestion in my email to them.

But life has a funny way of throwing curve balls when you least expect them.  Paradee and I became friends on Facebook, and we would chat here and there, nothing too significant.  On the morning of 4th of July, he was looking for volunteers to support him in the 4th of July parade.  I knew my son would be very excited marching with a real politician and giving out candy to kids.  We got there, and unfortunately my son had a very bad reaction to everything going on.  Part of his disability is sensory processing, and parades can be very stressful, especially without comfortable shoes (which was my fault for not getting them from the car for him)!  He broke down, and Trey Paradee didn’t say a single negative word about it.  Usually when this happens, my son will get weird looks, but Paradee sensed he was having a hard time, and he asked me if he was okay.  I advised him about his sensory processing and he understood.

My son joined back up with the parade about 10 minutes later and had a blast.  Afterwards, I was talking with Paradee for a while about politics and education.  We talked about House Bill 334, which would replace DCAS with the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  A few weeks before, the Delaware House of Representatives had passed it, and then a couple weeks after that the Senate voted no, a few of them flip-flopped, and then they voted yes.  Markell would have used executive power to make it happen either way, so the whole thing was an exercise in futility.  Paradee explained to me that he genuinely felt kids were getting tested too much with DCAS and since Smarter Balanced was once a year it would be better for students.  He explained that he heard from many parents in our district that were upset about the multiple tests.

A week or so later, Pete Kramer was going to houses and he came to ours.  I was at work, but my wife spoke with him and she advised him of our son’s Tourette Syndrome.  He emailed her back advising my son is lucky cause he will grow out of it in a few years.  This occurs sometimes with TS, but for most afflicted with this disability, it stays.  It may become more manageable but it is not normal for it to just go away.

To draw to a conclusion, this is why Paradee is getting my vote.  He listened when I talked about my son.  Kramer listened, did some quick research which I’ve seen on Wikipedia, and responded to my wife with something I felt was highly inappropriate in trying to help a potential constituent.  I truly believe Paradee loves connecting with people.  I have yet to meet Kramer even though I’ve reached out to him a few times.

Yes, Paradee voted for the Smarter Balanced Assessment, but I’ve since learned Secretary of Education Mark Murphy had already bought the test for the state and it put the legislature in a very difficult position.  I’ve also questioned how much information members of the General Assembly who aren’t on the education committee received prior to the vote.

I’ve seen the signs all over my area, and Paradee’s are simple, vote for him.  Kramer put up a few that say “Paradee raised taxes” and so forth.  I’ve received mailers from both, and Kramer’s are all about why Paradee shouldn’t be elected.  Paradee talks about what he’s done and what he wants to do.  If his worst act as a House Rep was raising taxes when he said he wouldn’t, who cares.  Sometimes taxes need to be raised or you don’t get the services you need to survive as a community.  It’s unfortunate, but there you go.

While Kramer is against the same education things I am, he doesn’t have the connection with people that Paradee does.  I am also certain that some day soon, parents are going to revolt against Rodel and Markell and their whacko education reforms.  I have faith that Paradee will vote with his conscience when this happens and support what families want and not what Markell wants.

In conclusion, I endorse Trey Paradee for House Representative of the 29th District in Delaware!  Vote for Trey!