The Delaware Attorney General’s office released a Freedom of Information Act legal opinion today giving Delaware Governor Carney the right to use executive privilege for a council designed to improve family services in Delaware. In other words, they are allowed to hold non-public meetings and invite whomever they choose with no one the wiser. The Attorney General’s office agreed with Carney’s office because of a very bad “separation of powers” clause in state law. Continue reading “Governor Carney’s Office Cites “Executive Privilege” With Family Services Cabinet Council FOIA Complaint”
Last night at the Delaware Every Student Succeeds Act Governor’s Advisory Committee meeting, audience members were given a chance to give public comment. I gave the following public comment, with the exception of a couple of sentences because that was covered during the meeting. I will put an asterisk between those sentences.
Good evening members of the ESSA Advisory Committee. My name is Kevin Ohlandt. Congratulations on your selection for this very important group. This is a mammoth undertaking, this new federal law. I will be completely frank: I do not trust this law. I do not trust our Delaware Dept. of Education. I believe ESSA is an unholy matrimony between education and corporations. You can consider me the friend of the bride, education, warning about the potential husband who will not be good for her. I have seen and heard far too much to suggest otherwise. I believe this matrimony will eventually result in a messy divorce. The custody battle for the students will be huge, and I fear the groom, the companies, will eventually win custody of the kids.
I urge this committee to give an immediate recommendation of postponing Delaware’s submission of their state plan to the US DOE. There are far too many moving parts. *States were given two dates to submit their final plan: March 31st or July 31st. Our Dept. of Education chose March 31st without any true consultation with the citizens of our state.* We were not given a choice as a state or allowed to be part of that decision-making process. Certain parties were given a much greater weight in consultation with the DOE before any public gathering took place.
As a member of the Student and School Supports discussion group, I see far too many members of that group who would financially benefit from the Every Student Succeeds Act. When that happens, I don’t see them as a stakeholder, but a benefactor. That is not what the term stakeholder means. I believe some good can come out of this law. I have seen many great ideas come forth in the meetings. But until we can weed out what is good or bad for students, we need to “slow our roll”. There are far too many conflicts of interest involved with this plan.
With that being said, the issues facing education in Delaware are at a crisis point. Whether it is mold in schools that is making people sick, or drugs and gangs reaching into elementary schools, or a teenager murdered in a bathroom stall, or the very fast implementation of educational technology in our classrooms with no research on the long-term psychological effects on children, or student’s personal data being given to parties that truly do not need that information, or lawsuits concerning school funding or segregation of minority students, or FOIA complaints against the DOE for continually failing to make certain public body meetings transparent and available to the public, we need to slow down.
Education should always be about the kids. Some in this world have already determined what their future should be and I find that to be an immoral and grave injustice.
On December 17th, the Delaware State Board of Education revoked Delaware Met’s charter. Over 200 teenagers, in 9th and 10th grade, will have to find a new school after January 22nd. Most will go back to their feeder districts. Some may go to charters. Some could even drop out. Even though I wrote a lot about the fall of Delaware Met, I truly feel bad for these kids.
I hope whichever district or charter ends up receiving these kids, that they take a very thorough look at what these students will need. And not just academically. We know over 60 of these kids have IEPs. We know some of them are “troublemakers”. But at the end of the day, they are scared. They are facing a very uncertain future. If any of them gained trust with the Delaware Met, it is going to be twice as hard for them to begin again at a new school half way through the year.
It is incumbent upon the DOE and State Board of Education to make sure these kids transition as best they can. They made the decision to open Delaware Met and they delivered their final verdict. The last thing we should want for these kids is for them to drop out and call it quits. They need to know they will be accepted, no questions asked. I am not saying it will be easy for any receiving district or school. But compromise and allowances need to be made for these kids. The Del Met kids will also have to realize their new schools aren’t the free-for-all Delaware Met was.