Governor Carney Profits Off Legislation

Who would have thunk it?  Delaware Governor John Carney managed to turn a tidy little profit from recent legislation he signed. Continue reading

Exclusive: Delaware Swim & Fitness Center’s November Inspection Report & New Information About Delaware Spa Party

Earlier this week, I put a post up about the Delaware Spa Party, a nudist party held at Delaware Swim & Fitness Center in New Castle.  As Delaware social media exploded for the rest of the week, many felt I was attacking a seemingly innocent event.  At that time, I was unable to respond accurately to those accusations.  In this situation with the Delaware Spa Party, there IS more to the story.  Those who want to believe this was just some harmless “naturalist” event can certainly choose that option, but recently uncovered information suggests otherwise.  Before we go on, I will say the rest of this article is most likely not safe for work. Continue reading

17 Who Made An Impact On 2017: Donald Trump

If there was one name I heard every single day, it was Donald Trump.  To the point of exhaustion.  No President in my lifetime has met with so much scorn and scrutiny.  Between his Tweets and his painful decisions, the guy was constantly in the news.  And on social media, folks weighed the pros and cons of his every move.

I grew up in New York in the 1980s.  The guy was in the news a lot then as well.  It usually wasn’t good.  How this guy managed to finagle himself into the Oval Office still shocks and bewilders me.  The fact that so many Republicans think he is the return of the Messiah does not give me hope in America.  It scares the crap out of me.  I don’t think Hilary would have been any better.  She would have been more overt and wouldn’t have shot her mouth off the way Donald has.

I shudder to think what America will be like by the end of his term (if he lasts that long).  We are already the laughingstock of the world these days because of him.  It’s like a cartoon character come to life.  And the cartoon never ends.  I can’t even put his picture up in this article because I can’t bear to see his face one more time.

Will The Real Publius Please Stand Up?

This just in: Henry Clampitt, a candidate for the Red Clay Consolidated School District Board of Education, just told a crowd of people at a PTA debate for the candidates, that he has been a victim of bullying by a blogger in Kent County.  He stated he is not a blogger.  The question that was asked of Clampitt was his stance on bullying.  Clampitt ran out of time but kept on talking and stated he needed to say this.

Yes, I wrote about Clampitt being Publius.  Long after someone else outed him on Twitter.  We all suspected but that was the first public confirmation of this.  Now, in the final weeks of the Red Clay board seat campaign, Clampitt addresses the issue.  Let me clarify one thing.  Publius was NOT a blogger.  He commented on a blog.  There is a huge difference.

The last time Publius commented on Kilroy’s Delaware, he said he was saying goodbye and the “sign was in the yard”.  Publius has not been seen since.  Around the same time, Henry Clampitt joined the Gateway Lab School Board of Directors.  Make of that what you will.  Publius was a bully on Kilroy’s Delaware.  He went after people with absolutely no mercy.  I will shed no tears for the consequences of those actions.  But we do all owe Publius a debt of gratitude.  His stance on charter schools and enrollment preferences and school choice kept the conversation going long after most people would have drifted away.

So if Clampitt wasn’t Publius, who was?  Was it the Smoke Monster from LOST?  Was it the Candy Man?  Was it Donald Trump?  Was it Kilroy himself?  Was it Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy?  Or was it…

FOIA Complaint: Delaware Pathways To Prosperity Steering Committee Holds Back-Door Meeting With Governor Markell

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I have no doubt they are working together.  But the sad part is no one else seems to be invited to the party…

Delaware Governor Jack Markell created a Delaware Pathways To Prosperity Steering Committee on August 11th of this year.  On Friday, October 7th, the steering committee convened with no notice to the public.  As well, there is no announcement of the membership of this committee.  I was only able to find out about this non-transparent meeting by sheer luck in looking at Rodel’s tweets yesterday.  What kind of steering committee, charged with decisions on how to help students become “career-ready”, operates in secret?

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The road to this steering committee was controversial to begin with.  Delaware Senator David Sokola created legislation to begin this committee in the form of Senate Bill 277, but it never made it to a full Senate vote.  Governor Markell went ahead anyway and created this steering committee after objections from Delaware legislators.  And now they are violating FOIA by holding back-door and closed to the public meetings.  Even Governor Markell attended the first meeting but you won’t find notice of this on his public schedule.  Why would he when the group didn’t seem to care if the public went.

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I filed a FOIA complaint with the Department of Justice ten minutes ago.  Why do these things happen whenever Rodel gets involved?  The same thing happened with the Rodel initiated Competency-Based Learning Guiding Coalition which operated in secret two years ago.  Can we expect this same type of secrecy with our next Governor?  What gives this group the right to discuss student and education matters with no involvement from the public?  What gives them the right to make decisions on what is best for children and teenagers without the ability for the public to view and give public comment about their ideas?  This is not open government.  This is a cabal of people with their own agendas, guiding society towards what they want, not the will of the people.  This nonsense needs to stop immediately.  People in this state actually wonder why I find it so hard to trust.  This is a classic example of why I find it impossible to trust anything associated with Governor Markell and Rodel.

In the above picture, I see Dr. Paul Herdman with Rodel, State Board of Education President Dr. Teri Quinn Gray, Director of Career & Technical Education STEM Initiatives Luke Rhine, Del-Tech President Dr. Mark Brainard, and New Castle County Vo-Tech Superintendent Victoria Gehrt.  I’ve seen some of the other faces before but if anyone else can fill in the blanks that would be most appreciated.  Feel free to leave the names in the comments.

What Delaware Can Learn From The Newark Charter School Students And The “Slappening” Sit-In

Last Friday, Newark Charter School students performed a “sit-in” to protest an incident which has been referred to as “The Slappening” among the student body of Newark Charter School.  200 high school students participated in the sit-in until administrators broke up the party in the cafeteria.  This is about 1/4th of their student body at their high school.  While we don’t know if the teacher was reinstated, we do know that when the majority of the people stand up for something they believe in, people take notice.  This was what I attempted to push for the opt out movement in Delaware.  If everyone opted out, then Smarter Balanced would have disappeared.  We can still do this, but not just with “Smarter” as the DOE puts it (which is ironic because it is dumber), but all standardized tests.  Whether they are once a year or embedded as “stealth test” in personalized learning technology coming soon to a school near you.  And when it comes to all that ed tech, you can opt out of that as well.  If enough parents do it, we can make ed tech irrelevant and be assured our child’s every keystroke isn’t tracked and catalogued by Education Inc. and their data is safe.  As well, this will protect the teaching profession so they don’t become glorified TFA or Relay moderators.  It’s a win-win.  No battle is ever won by sitting at the table and compromising to the point of surrender.

Wait one minute, let’s get back to “The Slappening”.  I saw many tweets which indicated the teacher was terminated after the student sit-in at Newark Charter School last Friday.  While I won’t put minors tweets on this blog, I can say one tweet was pretty definitive!  I have a very good idea of what actually happened between the teacher and the student last week and what led to “The Slappening”.  I can’t see, in that situation, where a teacher should have been terminated.  That teacher has rights.  She also has the right to due process.  Had I known about this sit-in beforehand, I would have sat in with the students as well (Yeah right, like Greg Meece would let that happen)!  But I do respect what the students did.

This has been a very bizarre year for the higher-ups at Newark Charter School.  From their insane awards based on Smarter Balanced results to the “social engineering” of their lottery last winter  to my strange discovery they are the only charter school in the state that doesn’t file IRS 990 tax returns to the district-charter funding war which has now become the charter-Christina-DOE lawsuit to “The Slappening”.  I have to wonder if a change needs to happen.  Not my place, but just putting it out there.  Many students were terrified of the sit-in and what could happen to them.  But they did it anyway.  They stood up (or sat down) to the school leaders and said stop with the madness.  Granted, what they were hoping for didn’t happen, but it did draw attention to the school through major Delaware media like the News Journal.  Even the students seemed shocked they made delawareonline.

It is 2016.  Newark Charter School is having a VERY bizarre year.  With absolutely no disrespect intended for the students or the parents, but your administrators and board have made some really strange decisions.  It’s refreshing in a weird way that NCS has lost its aura of being such a well-behaved mild-mannered gee we’re awesome school.  It brings the school back down to earth.  I hope more students and parents speak out about issues going on there.  I’m not saying NCS should become a priority school tomorrow, but the era of invincibility is over.  NCS had the veil lowered and we are all getting a chance to peek in.  Greg Meece has allowed his temper to get the best of him this year and he has been there a loooooooooooooooooong time.  He can do one of two things: keep the Harry Potter cloak back on the NCS schools or just let things flow.  I’m hoping for the latter.  But that will require him also lightening up on a few other things.

I believe the original intent of NCS was for parents to get their kids out of the Christina School District.  Did they have cause?  Sure they did.  But there are really good things happening in Christina right now.  There are also bad.  As there are in every single school in America.  Even NCS.  I get the need to protect your child.  But if it gets to a point where what one student has means many others do without, how is that teaching any child right and wrong?  I’m not saying this to start a fight.  Truly.  But if we always have this divide in this state, nothing anyone does will ever fix anything.  This lawsuit NCS triggered… it’s not good for Delaware.  It’s not good for NCS or Christina.  Lawsuits cost a ton of money.  But more than that, they take away from students.  They create long-lasting hostilities that play out for decades.  NCS sees this one way and Christina sees it another.  Eventually, unless it goes into some type of settlement, a judge will decide.  Chances are it isn’t going to play out the way the fifteen charters think it will.  I have no doubt Meece thinks he has some smoking gun he thinks will make the case.  It might, but not against Christina.  The Delaware DOE?  Probably.  But never underestimate what happens when you poke a bear.  If NCS truly thinks Christina will take this like a champ, they are wrong.  All 15 charters are wrong.

At a time when Delaware as a whole is trying to figure out pretty much every single aspect of education, from funding to academics to post-secondary outcomes to early childhood to special education to testing, we have a group of charters merrily led by their cheerleader over at the Delaware Charter Schools Network, some legal eagles, and probably a few other “stakeholders” trying to upset the apple cart and make sure they get what they think is their bounty.  But have they given one thought to what this means to Delaware students as a whole?  Nope.

That teacher the NCS students staged a sit-in for… why don’t they do that for ALL Delaware students.  They loved their teacher and fought for what they believed was just and fair.  Something was taken away from these students and they didn’t like it.  They did what Americans have been doing since the Boston Tea Party.  Now imagine all those students in Christina who will have less so the charters can have more.  Is that fair to them?  NCS has their engaged parents and their cafetorium and all that.  Not every school in Christina does.  Some schools don’t even have a librarian.  Stage a sit-in for that.  If the teacher you lost is as great as you say she is, she will find a new job.  This issue, due to your efforts, has been very public.  But the students in Christina… they might not get those second chances because of this ridiculous lawsuit.

Education is never going to be fixed no matter what all the corporate dreamers think will happen.  As long as there is one individual in a school, there will always be issues.  But the key is trying to find a way to make it work.  Robbing Peter to pay Paul isn’t the way.  This is why the charters, despite what they think happened and are behaving worse than any petulant child, are a classic example of what not to do in education.  This is making them reviled and hated more than anything I’ve seen in a long time.

 

 

Hey Jack, Why Are You Deleting Tweets?

Delaware Governor Jack Markell was caught red-handed deleting a tweet!  On Friday, at 4:29 pm, Markell put up a tweet from a conference in Washington D.C. sponsored by a group called Select USA.  Delaware had a booth there.  Two seconds after he posted the tweet, he deleted it.  Apparently there is a group called the Sunlight Foundation that monitors when politicians delete tweets.  They put it up on their website.  When you click on the link in Markell’s tweet, nothing comes up.  So even a website link appears to have been deleted as well.  But I looked to find out what @DelawareGlobal is.  They are actually called Global Delaware.  Global Delaware is a part of our state government.  They are located in the Carvel building in Wilmington at 820 N. French St.

But just cause Jack retweeted a tweet from Global Delaware, does that mean he was even at this thing?

Yeah, he was there!  This conference was so big, even the President went!

So why would a Governor attend a conference with a state organization and delete the tweet about it?  What’s the big secret here Jack?  Global Delaware promotes financial investment in Delaware from other countries.  On their website blog, you can see posts about The Delaware Blockchain Initiative, the Whitehouse Business Council, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and the Global Cities Initiative, among others.  I don’t usually get too involved in economic events with the State of Delaware, but when the Governor closes the blinds on letting the sunshine in, I have to write about it.  Especially when it involves education!  Wait a minute, how does foreign investment play into Delaware education?

For years, we have been told by the Governor that we have to fix education to fix the economy.  Because our economy is so bad and our students aren’t college and career ready.  But yet, even Select USA states on their website that the USA is the number one country in the world for foreign investment:

The United States is the largest recipient of foreign direct investment (FDI) in the world because companies recognize the United States as an innovative and stable market, as well as the world’s largest economy. As global investment continues to evolve, SelectUSA showcases the advantages of the U.S. market to an increasingly diverse range of investors.

So if our education system is soooo bad, and other countries are soooo far ahead of us, why would they bother to invest in the good old USA?  Perhaps the farce that our public education system is horrible is just that, a carefully designed illusion driving the corporate education reform agenda.  In Delaware, this is highlighted by Markell’s best buddies at the Delaware DOE and the Rodel Foundation.

As a reader, you are probably very confused by now.  Still not getting the education connection yet?  By bringing all these foreign companies to Delaware, the state will have lots of new jobs.  That’s good, right?  Not if it deters students from going on to a four-year college.  This is the plan: get students to do the “Pathways to Prosperity” thing, get certificates in high school, do apprenticeships, perhaps attend a two-year community college like Del-Tech (which the Governor has been talking about a lot in 2016).  That way, when these foreign companies come to Delaware, the students are ready to start their jobs.  These jobs that are most likely lower-paying jobs than they could get if they did attend a four-year college.  Cause that option, in the future, will be reserved for the more advantaged students.  The ones who aren’t low-income or poverty, don’t have disabilities, and so forth.

Now how on earth could a Governor get the public to buy this hook, line, and sinker?  By constantly talking about how we need to “fix” education and incessantly chatting about his Pathways to Prosperity.  Ironically, Senate Bill 277 which would create a permanent steering committee for Pathways to Prosperity, has been on the Senate agenda for a full vote twice, yesterday and last Thursday, but the Senate has not voted on it.  An amendment was added to the bill to include a Delaware parent as well as “one member from a non-profit corporation that advocates on behalf of persons with disabilities“.  How much do you want to bet that advocate will have ties to the Rodel Foundation?  Any takers?  Is the General Assembly less than enthralled with this Markell push?

But he doesn’t just want Delaware students to be a part of this global initiative, he even wants Delawareans to invest in it!  There is already pending legislation to lure the citizens of Delaware into taking part in start-up companies in the state.  All those tax credit bills that swept through the General Assembly so fast?  A boon to companies coming to Delaware!  Why do you think so many companies invest in Delaware?  Cause of the tax breaks.  But when it comes to giving relief to the taxpaying citizens of the state?  Forget about it!  When it comes to ending the corporate workforce education reform agendas that changed public education without any concern for what it does to students and their future?  Forget about it!  For Markell, it is all about bottom line, the almighty dollar.

We will know exactly what kind of man Jack Markell is when House Bill 399 comes to his desk.  Assuming Sokola allows it on the Senate Education Committee agenda in the next week.  If the Governor vetoes the bill, we will know once and for all that he does not care about students, parents, or teachers.  He already proved this last summer when he vetoed House Bill 50, the opt out bill, showing he doesn’t care one iota for parental rights.  For Markell, it is all about “the best test Delaware ever made”, the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  He can’t permit any legislation that would somehow diminish the test.  Because the Smarter Balanced Assessment, whether it is given once a year or eventually segmented into smaller chunks through end of unit personalized learning assessments, is the key to everything.  All the data and tracking will lead to students being tracked into certain career paths based on their scores on SBAC.  Which is the direct link between education and this deleted tweet.  Markell posts about these kind of things all the time, so I am not sure why he would delete a tweet based on a conference that nobody in their right mind would write about as much as I am today.  But he did.  Did he not want people to know he was there?  Did he not put it on his travel itinerary?

Of course, all of this plays directly into the “future guide” that was so carefully written… 24 years ago…

Have You Signed The “Parent Bill of Rights for Education” Change.org Petition Yet? This Is Not The “Testing Bill Of Rights” From Center for American Progress

Two weeks ago, I posted the “Parent Bill of Rights for Education”.  As a result of posting this on Facebook to various education groups that promote opt out, Facebook banned me for two weeks from posting to groups or joining groups.  So I created a petition on Change.org.  Please sign it today if you haven’t already.  When you finish, please share the Change.org link or this one on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Reddit, or anywhere else you can think of.  Share it with your family and neighbors.

This was a reaction to the “Testing Bill of Rights” promoted by the Center for American Progress, an education reform company that heavily supports high-stakes testing and Common Core.  They are against opt out and hope to make more money from their education reforms.  Their petition, which they claim has 11,000 signatures in the past two weeks, does nothing to protect a parent’s right to opt their child out of the state assessment.  Their claim that reducing testing, while getting rid of the tests that do matter, is bogus.  Don’t believe me?  Take a look at some of their recent tweets:

So what is the “Parents Bill of Rights for Education”?

THE PARENTAL BILL OF RIGHTS FOR OUR CHILDREN IN EARLY EDUCATION, PRE-SCHOOL, ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION

CONCERNING HIGH-STAKES STANDARDIZED ASSESSMENTS, OUR RIGHT TO OPT OUT OR REFUSE OUR CHILD OUT OF THOSE ASSESSMENTS, THE COLLECTION OF STUDENT DATA, AND OUR RIGHT TO GATHER

BE IT ENACTED BY THE PARENTS OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

Definition of parent: any biological parent, or a parent through legal adoption, or foster parent, or guardian, or court-appointed guardian, for children through the ages of birth to 18 or 21 with guardianship through the end of an IEP, whichever is later.

Whereas parents have been given the responsibility to raise a child and to help guide them to adulthood, as their primary caregiver, and

Whereas parents, through United States Supreme Court decisions and other laws, have the right to decide what is best for our children in education matters until they come to a legal age when they are able to make those decisions on their own, and

Whereas, we believe public education should be reserved for the public at large and not the corporations, be they profit or non-profit, and that decisions based on education are best made at the local level, and

Whereas, we believe any assessments given to our children should provide immediate feedback for the student, teacher, school, and parent as defined for the sole purpose of giving reasonable and interpretive analysis of academic progress for our child’s allotted grade.

Whereas, as the caretakers of our children, we demand that decisions regarding data and the collection of data are parental decisions and that we furthermore have the absolute, unconditional right and ability to consent or not consent to any sharing of said data

(1) As parents, we have the fundamental, moral, and constitutional right to make decisions on behalf of our children in regards to their education.

(a) This includes the type of school we decide they go to, whether it be in a traditional school district, public charter school, vocational school, private school, home school, or home school co-op.

(b) This includes our ability to refuse or opt our children out of standardized assessments despite accountability measures placed upon a school.

(1) Once we have submitted our letter indicating our choice to refuse or opt out our child, we shall receive no verbal or written words meant to threaten, bully, or intimidate, in an effort, whether intentional or coincidental, to coerce us into changing our minds.

(2) We expect our children to receive instruction while their peers take the state assessment that is of equal or greater value to the type of instruction they would receive prior to or after the administration of the state assessment.

(3) If our child is forced to take a test after we have already given our consent to refuse or opt out, we reserve the right to call the local police and press charges against the local education administration.

(4) If we witness parents who are bullied or intimidated, we will advocate on their behalf with their consent, if they feel they are unable to do so.

(2) We reserve the right, as dictated by United States of America Federal Law, Title 34, Subtitle A, Chapter 1, Part 99.32 (b), to request all personal identifiable information sent as data or official records to all parties indicated in the entirety of Title 34, Subtitle A, and to receive the entire list of all those who have disseminated, received, or researched said data, and to receive such record keeping as required by federal law, within the 30 day timeframe.

(a) Parents also reserve the right to have any aggregated data on our child, which could conceivably set up a pattern of identification based on our unique and individual child’s health records, social-emotional behavior, discipline, socio-economic, or any such identifiable trait or history of said traits, be banned from any education research organization, personalized learning computer system, or blending learning computer systems, standardized assessment(s), or any other form of educational environment practice or computer-based digital learning environment, whether it is through algorithms already built into a system or any other form of data collection that does not include the legal definition of personal identifiable information, at our request.

(1) This would also include any State Longitudinal Data System, or any Federal system, up to and including the Federal Learning Registry, a joint system shared by the United States Department of Education and the United States Department of Defense.

(2) Parents have the right to reject any “competency-based education” decisions for our children that we feel are not based on reasonable, valued, well-researched, or statistically-normed guidelines or analysis.

(3) Parents may freely reject any form of data collection, data-mining, or data sharing that would lead to our child having a pre-determined pathway to a career based on any such data unless we give consent for said behavior, before the actual data collection, data-mining, or data sharing by any education agency or institution, and as such, we reject and forbid any trajectory-based decisions for our child unless we have given complicit consent.

(3) For any education decisions regarding our children that we, as parents, feel is not safe, or is inadequate, or is unhealthy for our children, we hereby reserve the right to be able to give public comment to any governing body, without incident or refusal, based on compliance with existing, applicable, and reasonable rules of public meeting conduct, based on our First Amendment Rights.

(4) As parents, we reserve the right to gather, discuss, and give advice to other parents or concerned citizens, in any public meeting or gathering place or social gathering place, whether it is physical or on the internet, without censorship, removal, or banishment, based on existing, applicable, and reasonable rules of conduct set forth by the host of the public meeting place or social gathering place.

(5) Parents have the right to lobby elected officials or local school board officials or state board of education officials, regarding pending, suggested, or passed legislation or regulation, that parents deem harmful to their child or children in general, without cause or incident, based on existing, applicable, and reasonable law.

(a) We expect our elected officials, based on their availability, to make every concerted effort to personally respond to our request(s) and to not send a generic form letter, but rather to constructively engage with parents to the same effort they would with any official registered lobbyist who is paid to do so.

(6) As parents, we reject the ability of corporations to “invest” or “hedge” in education with financial predictors of success, including social impact bonds, or any other type of investments where financial institutions or corporations would gain financial benefit or loss based on student outcomes, as we believe a child’s education should be based on the unique and individual talents and abilities of each child, not as a collective group or whole.

(7) As parents, we believe our child’s teacher(s) are the front line for their education, and therefore, have the most immediate ability and responsibility to guide our children towards academic success, and therefore, should have the most say in their instruction.

(a) Therefore, we believe no state assessment can give a clear picture of a teacher’s ability to instruct a student or group thereof, and therefore, we reject any evaluation methods for teachers based on high-stakes standardized testing.

(b) Therefore, we believe a teacher’s best efforts should remain at the local level, in the classroom, and not to conform to a state assessment or to guide instruction towards proficiency on a state assessment, but rather on the material and instruction present before the students based on the material and instruction they have learned before.

(8) We reject any basis of accountability or framework system meant to falsely label or demean any teacher, administrator, school staff, or school, based on students outcomes as it pertains to state or national standardized assessments.

(9) As parents, we are the primary stakeholders for our child’s education, and therefore demand representation on any group, committee, task force, commission, or any such gathering of stakeholders to determine educational decisions for children, be it at a local, state, or national level.

(a) We demand equal or greater representation on any such group as that allotted to outside corporations.

 

Why I Had To Kill Two Articles In One Day!

This is a first!  It is very rare that I remove an article.  Today, I had to do it twice.  The first concerned Delaware Met and closure information provided by the DOE.  They were still in the process of updating this information and wanted to make sure parents of the students there got accurate information.  The second article concerned State Board of Education member Dr. Terry Whittaker.  I was questioning why he has not been present at board meetings since September.  Shortly after I posted the article, I was informed his wife passed away last month.  This was announced publicly at the last State Board of Education meeting.  My sincerest condolences for Dr. Whittaker and his family…

Now if I have to kill a third article today, that hat trick will not be acceptable to me, so I am done writing for the night!  My apologies for those who saw these posts in their email, Facebook, or Twitter and wondered what the heck happened.  This is not something that usually happens.

The Exceptional Delaware 2015 Photo Album

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

2015.  It is almost over.  Before we go, I wanted to take a look back at the visuals of the past year that have graced this blog and other sites as well.  Yes, many of these pictures have not been seen by everyone who comes here.  I searched high and low for some of these shots.  In my opinion, many of these pictures give an accurate feel for many of the important topics covered on this blog in 2015.  There is an index at the end of the photo album for those who are wondering who some of these people are!  It is all here: Priority Schools, Opt-Out, Mark Murphy, House Bill 50, State Reps and State Senators, WEIC, Delaware DOE, State Board of Education, Teachers, Superintendents and more!  You never know who may show up in the below album.  It could be YOU… Continue reading

While The Real Education Debate Was On Facebook Thursday Night, Jack Markell Was On Twitter!

Life always has its moments of synchronicity.  While a lot of us were debating with Tony Allen on Facebook Thursday night about WEIC, education, Wilmington, Colonial, standardized testing and charter schools, Delaware Governor Markell answered five whole questions during a #delachat question and answer over on Twitter.  Here are the questions that were posed to Markell:

And here were his responses:

And there you have it!  While I respect the Governor’s honesty about some of the things he had to overcome as a child, I just can’t support a lot of what he says.  Especially when it comes to the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  His response about negative comments to education: get in the schools and see for yourself.  Really Jack?  I know you go to a lot of schools, but do you really think kids are going to be their normal selves when the Governor is visiting?  Of course they are going to be on their best behavior.  As much as I can’t stand you sometimes, you are the Governor.  But let’s get real for a minute: if you truly recognize the great things teachers are doing, why do you insist on all the teacher evaluations and accountability for schools?

One of my favorite teachers taught me to always question something if it doesn’t seem right.  That’s why I always have questions for you Jack!  Come over to Facebook one night Jack, no holds barred.  And none of this question limit stuff.  You answer on the fly without having to think about it.  I’m sure many of us would love the opportunity!  Let me know!

One final thing Jack: This is what you looked like when you had hair:

JackForTreasurer

Transparency Allows History To Rewrite Itself On A Daily Basis

Transparency.  We hear that word so much these days.  It is real, it is a force, and it is changing our view on every subject matter in seconds.  In the pre-internet days, we relied on word of mouth as well as what was shown in print media.  As students, we read the history books and we accepted whatever we read at face value.  But now the rules have changed, and with this comes more enlightenment than Voltaire ever counted on.

I was watching an episode of Sleepy Hollow yesterday, and someone said something to Ichabod Crane about freedom of the press.  Crane, trapped in the year 2015, after magic put him in a dark sleep in the ground for over two centuries, responds with “I don’t think the forefathers counted on a 24-hour news cycle.”  They certainly did not.  No one could have predicted that.

A state Department comes up with an idea.  They work feverishly for months to plan it.  The day comes when they announce their agenda to the world.  They put it on their website, send press releases to the major print media, and it is out there.  Someone shares the Facebook post, it spreads, and the next thing you know some blogger is tearing it apart.  Within hours, the blog post spreads.  People don’t know what to think.

Meanwhile, the blogger found out about this agenda months before, and has been planting seeds for readers warning them about the latest doom and gloom coming from this Department.  The pony express is dead.  Long live the digital age.

I was wrong.  I fully admit it, and I laugh about it to this day.  Twenty years ago, at Thanksgiving dinner, I was having a discussion with my eldest brother about this new internet thing.  He was telling me how it would change the world and open people up to things never before seen.  I told him it would be an invasion of privacy and would take away from what we already had.  I proved myself wrong on that nearly every day since.

We do everything on the Internet anymore, whether it is on a secured or unsecured network.  We interface with people thousands of times a day, and don’t even realize it.  We have become a nation glued to a screen, and we see the world.  The key to all of this is understanding what is real and what isn’t.  As a blogger, I focus on Delaware education for the most part.  I see what goes on backstage curtain while the audience is enamored with the play unfolding before their eyes.  I find out, and I publish.  It’s that simple.

We have never had more power in America as we do right now.  Our opinions and views on issues can be relayed to the world in an instant.  We publish, we comment, we react and we punish.  We tell people when they’re wrong or allow others to go back and forth while we sit back and watch the show.

On the flip side of this, we take away.  We delete.  I have seen, just in my fourteen months of blogging, quite a few bloggers come on the scene and disappear months later.  All that hard work, all the research and care, gone with a push of a button.  When things get to hot or the pressure starts bearing on us like a freight train barreling at us, some of us make it disappear, forever.  But we always leave a thumbprint.  Someone does a copy and paste, or a screen shot, or takes a picture on their phone.  Nothing is buried forever anymore.  If it is, nobody ever saw it.

This is our world, and until the great worm comes and unleashes a virus that destroys all, it will stay that way.  Public policy is weaved into a web that spreads until nobody knows what to think of it anymore.  The haves and have nots go at it until they are digitally black and blue in the face.  Welcome to transparency.  Chaos and order, both sides win.

Delaware Senate Agenda Experiencing Technical Difficulties But Agenda Is Up For Today, Ignore The Date

After tweeting the Delaware Senate about their agenda not being up on the website while they are in session, this happened:

You can view the agenda for today, despite the date, here: http://legis.delaware.gov/legislature.nsf/FSMain?OpenFrameset&Frame=right&src=/LIS/lis148.nsf/senateagenda

UPDATED, 11:34pm: I had to run out for a bit, but it’s all good now. Agenda is up with the correct date!  And this fun little tweet happened earlier but I forgot to put it up:

The #SignHB50NOW Party For @GovernorMarkell Begins NOW @UnitedOptOut @BadassParents @ParentalRights

https://twitter.com/hashtag/signhb50now

Delaware will have a parent opt-out bill IF Governor Jack Markell.  Our House and Senate passed it last week.  Our legislative session ends Tuesday at midnight.  We need the Governor to sign this bill! Retweet, post on Facebook everywhere, tell your friends, tell your enemies, scream it from the rooftops “SIGN HB 50 NOW Governor Markell!”  His Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/GovernorMarkell?fref=ts and I would post this on any education article you see on there.  Message him.  Email him.  His email is jack.markell@state.de.us and tell him why you want this bill signed.  This isn’t just for Delaware.  This is for ALL of America.  It’s no secret Markell has his eye on a bigger prize than Delaware.  Trust me when I say we don’t want another Arne Duncan!

Oregon’s Governor signed legislation very similar to this the other day.  Let’s make it a two-peat America!

Delaware Senate Contact Information

As promised, here is how to get in contact with Delaware Senators to ask for their support with House Bill 50.  I would get started on this as soon as possible, and keep doing it until you can convince them why a yes vote is the only sane option!  Please let me know what their responses are.  If they say they will vote yes, ask them if you can make that public!

keep-calm-the-delaware-senate-loves-parents-too

Here is the master email list if you want to send it all in one fell swoop, just copy and paste:

Harris.McDowell@state.de.us MargaretRose.Henry@state.de.us  robert.marshall@state.de.us greg.lavelle@state.de.us catherine.cloutier@state.de.us  Ernesto.Lopez@state.de.us Patricia.Blevins@state.de.us David.Sokola@state.de.us Karen.Peterson@state.de.us bethany.hall-long@state.de.us  Bryan.Townsend@state.de.us Nicole.Poore@state.de.us David.McBride@state.de.us bruce.ennis@state.de.us Dave.Lawson@state.de.us senator-colin@prodigy.net brian.bushweller@state.de.us gsimpson@udel.edu   Brian.Pettyjohn@state.de.us  Gerald.Hocker@state.de.us Bryant.Richardson@state.de.us

District 1: Harris B. McDowell III, email: Harris.McDowell@state.de.us Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HarrisB.McDowellIII?fref=ts 

District 2: Margaret Rose Henry, email: MargaretRose.Henry@state.de.us  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Friends-of-Margaret-Rose-Henry/255853794466086 https://twitter.com/MargaretRHenry

District 3: Robert I. Marshall, email: robert.marshall@state.de.us

District 4: Gregory F. Lavelle, email: greg.lavelle@state.de.us https://www.facebook.com/GregLavelle302?fref=ts   https://twitter.com/Greg_Lavelle

District 5: Catherine Cloutier, email: catherine.cloutier@state.de.us  https://www.facebook.com/SenatorCathyCloutier?fref=ts

District 6: Ernesto B. Lopez, email: Ernesto.Lopez@state.de.us https://www.facebook.com/LopezErnie?fref=ts

District 7: Patricia M. Blevins, email: Patricia.Blevins@state.de.us

District 8: David P. Sokola, email: David.Sokola@state.de.us

District 9: Karen E. Peterson, email: Karen.Peterson@state.de.us

District 10: Bethany A. Hall-Long, email: bethany.hall-long@state.de.us  https://twitter.com/bethanyhalllong

District 11: Bryan Townsend, email: Bryan.Townsend@state.de.us https://www.facebook.com/BryanTownsendDE?fref=ts https://twitter.com/BryanTownsendDE

District 12: Nicole Poore, email: Nicole.Poore@state.de.us https://www.facebook.com/NicolePooreSenate?fref=ts https://twitter.com/NicolePoore12

District 13: David B. McBride, email: David.McBride@state.de.us

District 14: Bruce C. Ennis, email: bruce.ennis@state.de.us

District 15: David G. Lawson, email: Dave.Lawson@state.de.us

District 16: Colin R.J. Bonini, email: senator-colin@prodigy.net  https://www.facebook.com/colinbonini?fref=ts https://twitter.com/ColinBonini

District 17: Brian J. Bushweller, email: brian.bushweller@state.de.us

District 18: F. Gary Simpson, email: gsimpson@udel.edu https://www.facebook.com/senatorsimpson?fref=ts

District 19: Brian Pettyjohn, email: Brian.Pettyjohn@state.de.us  https://www.facebook.com/BrianGPettyjohn?fref=ts https://twitter.com/BrianPettyjohn

District 20: Gerald W. Hocker, email: Gerald.Hocker@state.de.us

District 21: Bryant L. Richardson, email:Bryant.Richardson@state.de.us

Hi, this is clarity calling. Is Jack Markell there?

I’m hearing superintendents, principals, teachers, parents and students are all getting multiple different stories about opt out from districts, the newspapers, radio, social media, the Governor’s office, Legislative Hall, schools, blogs, email, and all the rest.

Here is what I am hearing the most.  Parent opts out, gets either the DOE recommended letter or an email from the principal, saying nope, can’t opt out here (I picture them saying this like the kid on the bus in Forrest Gump when he tells him “Can’t sit here”).  Parent either folds and kid is going to take the test, or notches it up a bit.  The authority figure (not the parent), folds and tells the parent “Go ahead, opt out.  That’s what the DOE wants us to say.”

Can’t we have a civilized and consistent opt out movement for crying out loud?  Is that too much to ask for?  Can’t the DOE or Governor Markell give some kind of guidance on this?  We know they don’t like it, but it’s happening, and they might as well be more successful at stopping the wind from blowing at this point.  Do your jobs!  Why am I the only one making it clear: Parents don’t need permission to opt out!!!!  Just stop!!!!!

What People Said On Facebook & Twitter About The Rodel, Markell & Herdman Articles

 

As anyone knows, Kilroy is the king of the Delaware education blogs, therefore he gets many comments. Exceptional Delaware does not get anywhere close the amount on Kilroy’s Delaware, and I’m okay with that.  I recently overheard someone say “No one reads this blog.  Nobody really comments on it.”   I do post links to my articles on many Facebook groups and Twitter, some of which are closed to the public. These links provide many comments, and are circulated all over the place.  I would like to show some of those comments on some of my recent articles, with names redacted for these comments.

The Rodel/Markell/Hedge Fund Article: https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2014/11/19/delaware-race-to-the-top-hedge-funds-millions-wasted-the-story-of-rodel-markell-charters-the-vision-network-kilroysdelaware-ed_in_de-dwablog-apl_jax-nannyfat-ecpaige-delawarebat/

Oh. My. Gosh. The most important article on education in Delaware you will read is right here. It will take you a long time to read this. Read it now. Bookmark it. Read it again tomorrow. Rodel has single-handedly redrawn the education landscape in Delaware. What you are about to read will make your head spin, but it requires your attention. This is our Governor’s education agenda. Continue reading

The Best Of The Vision Conference Today Via Twitter @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de @dwablog @ecpaige @Apl_Jax @nannyfat #netde #eduDE #edchat #Delaware #VCconf14

The Rodel Vision ED25 conference was filled with highlights. Too bad they were all on Twitter and not at the actual event! For your viewing pleasure, more to come!

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