Category Archives: Education

Senator Sokola Harming Delaware Education

Sadly, David Sokola is not alone.  Delaware seems determined to go backwards in education by imposing crazy requirements that judge teachers not by their college grades, but high school grades and imposing common core on the University education departments despite the fact that our colleges and universities rank well with the University of Delaware ranking around the top tenth of one percent.  No, we need to tamper with that and not look at our own state department of education. Teachers are being disrespected as no other profession would tolerate, yet despite concerns by teachers, the DSEA supported the bill.  I think a revolution needs to happen in the teacher's union.  Senate bill 51 became law on the fast track because the very people who should look out for education and teachers had their favorite item attached to the bill.  It was Betrayal with a capital B. Once again, Read more

Privatize the Children

I support the privatization of children. Now I know this will probably draw as much blowback as the idea of even partially privatizing social security did, but someone has to say it. Until they become adults they should belong to their families. A mother and father should have the rights and responsibilities to raise their children. They should be allowed to choose where their child lives, where they go to receive their education, if and where they attend church, what food their children will eat, and where they will go on vacation and how they will use their free time. If a parent wants to home school their child that should be their right, if they want to send them to a public, a private, or a charter school that should be their right. No matter where they choose to have their children educated parents should have the ability to influence what their children are taught. Unfortunately, Read more

How important should testing be?

Christina School District and the state DOE are in a dispute over a test score based bonus program which could cost the district 2.3 million dollars.  It is an interesting dispute over how much testing should matter in teacher compensation. The biggest obstacle to testing in Delaware was that until recently, it was not meaningful.  To know if a teacher is effective, you have to test at the beginning of the year, middle, and end.  You cannot take a test every two or three years and blame the teacher who happen to inherit the students.  The state testing was only useful to measure system outcomes not as an accountability standard.  The current test is still being statistically normed and verified so basing evaluation on an instrument not statistically valid raises its own questions. How much should the test matter?  If it does matter, teachers who teach students to do well should Read more

Lt. Gov. Matt Denn Addresses School Safety

Secretary Schiliro spoke about our effort to expedite the creation of school safety plans. I wanted to give you a few details about some requests we are making of the General Assembly this year that are also relevant to student safety. Threats by outsiders to our schools are a major concern, but in addition to that concern, there are other elements of student safety involving lower level harm and disruption caused by other students that we are also seeking to address. Our teachers and professionals who work in our schools have told us that one of our real unmet needs is mental health services for children. A lot of behavioral issues in our schools – some of them subtle and resulting in behaviors that disrupt the learning environment, some of them more severe and resulting in intimidation of or harm against other students – could be addressed by skilled mental health professionals Read more

The Cost of School Bullying

While we talk about whether gun free school zones should be 100 feet, or maybe if we expand them to 1000 feet the extra signs will deter the crazy person who once a year goes into a school somewhere in this country, we ignore the daily violence that really will affect our children. We would never tolerate this at work, we should never tolerate it at our schools. Sure make our schools safer, but the real danger for 99.9999999999999999999999999999999% of students will never be the stranger off the street. It is the violence in their midst. If you want safe schools, start there. Only then you will deal with drugs, alcoholism, depression, suicide, and gangs. One other item, the schools need to stop lying to kids and telling them there is no self defense law in Delaware. It is in the code and the Constitution as well as a common law right. Any school that says that and does not protect Read more

New Education Study Sparks Interest in Character Education

When Conservatives spoke about the importance of character education and family, it was treated with suspicion at best by progressives. Now that a decades long study has been published showing that character is the most important factor to success among the poor, surpassing IQ, teaching techniques, and traditional anti-poverty programs, the progressives want to jump ahead of the parade. If it will get the job done, I say they are more than welcomed to do so. We, conservatives need to be ready to do the real work of making it a reality. If there is one thing we should all agree upon, America cannot afford to allow a permanent underclass to fester in the most affluent nation in history because of our failure as a people to value the children and families who need us the most. The Washington Monthly did an intriguing write up on the New Book How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and Read more

Accountability in Education- Guest Post

Guest Post from Dr. Lillian Lowery, Delaware Secretary of Education: Almost 10 years ago, the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act began requiring states to report disaggregated student test scores. Aggregated results had masked serious deficiencies among many of our country’s most vulnerable students. The law’s great legacy is bringing accountability for states, districts, schools and teachers to the forefront, but it also has its flaws. Recognizing this, in September, President Obama and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan offered states the chance to apply for flexibility from certain requirements of the law in exchange for aggressive state-led reform. Eleven states applied during the first round in November, and Delaware is among 30 expected to apply in February for the second round. If our plan is approved, Delaware will get flexibility in the setting of realistic Read more

Double Vision

Double the flavor, double the fun went the commercial slogan.  Capitol School district hopes double the principals  will increase scores in Dover High School.   Is this education reform or just another way to take money from the classroom and away from the taxpayers in the name of reform?  What do you think? Dover, Del. — The Capital School District Board of Education appears comfortable with a plan to dramatically revamp the administrative structure of Dover High School so that it would have two principals to handle administration and academics, respectively. The school board decided at its Wednesday night meeting that it just wants to give the team of administrators, teachers and union officials more time to flesh out the details of their plan before giving its final approval. The plan aims to improve students’ performance as required by the feds. Dover High is one of Read more

Brian Lewis Leading the Charge to Protect Kids

It happens all over the state, late summer hires are brought into the classrooms before their background checks can be completed. Capital School district board member Brian Lewis wants to use the private sector as a solution to screen new school hire while waiting on the results of the finger prints. Brian Lewis leading the way as usual. Capital to mull online screening firms Measure would be added layer while awaiting state background checks By Jamie-Leigh Bissett Delaware State News DOVER — The pros and cons of hiring an outside background-screening agency will be weighed by the Capital School District in the coming weeks after a discussion about criminal-background checks ensued at Wednesday’s board meeting. Dave Vaughan, Capital’s human-resources director, was asked by board members to research online screening companies to see if the district should pay an outside Read more

It has been a good year

I am happy to see that most of our candidates endorsed here won the school board races and most of the others came close. Keep going Joe and Cheryl. The future is yours. I was particularly happy to see my friend and fellow Dover Human Relations Board Alum, Brian Lewis win. We share a similar outlook in many ways. I invested an unusual amout of politcal capital in that race including a public endorsement in both local papers, which people say that you don't risk early on because a loss so soon afterward could hurt your momentum. Instead, I did whatever he asked of me. He helped me, I repay kindness.  Brian would have won anyway, as I would without his help, but it is the teamwork and support of many people that makes politics fun.  Brian just outworked his opponent. I could counter that when you have a candidate as superior as Brian was, you would be a loser not to support him. We Read more

Power Grab by State Department of Education?

Centralized planning has been the bane of modern education in my opinion.  While the 21st century is becoming a century of individual sovergnity and localism through global networking, American education has been moving toward early 20th century central planning and stagnet bureaucracy.   Despite the smart and honorable people in Delaware's Department of Education (here after DoE), our state has been no exception to that unfortunate trend.  Local school officials spend a significant portion of their week going to meetings to get the lastest and greatest mandate or recommendation from DoE.  Now a new report seeks to make the DoE the policy making board as well as the administrative compliance and goal setting agency. A recent self serving study by fellow state bureaucrats in the DSCYF, Justice, Public Defender's office, Family Court, Justice of the peace court, and statisical Read more

Toss the Kid in Jail

We pushed aside old fashion discipline as being unenlightened. The result is that schools became more about crowd control than they need to be. Learning has taken a back seat to survival for some students as they face daily harassment and bullying. With schools increasingly shackled when it comes to effective discipline and intervention, the alternative has been to criminalize everything. Children now face adult consequences for childish behavior. The lastest attempt to deal with a very real problem of bullying is this Virginia bill to make bullying a crimewith up to a year in jail. It is already a crime to assault people this would extend to harassment. The bill seems to have many good aspects, but it seems to head the wrong direction in dealing with a behavior problem. Giving kids criminal records and putting them with kids who can teach them to be criminals is counter productive in Read more

There’s lies, big lies, and Delaware Liberal–book banning edition

The Parent's right to know bill SB 293 will likely have to come back next year as the senate committee seems to have determined not to release it.  It could be revised or worked around the opposition, but I am not optimistic with June's end of session deadline.   I am glad that it got a hearing. I am concerned that a distortion is being put out that this bill is about book banning by Delaware Liberal and their allies.  The bill puts no restrictions whatsoever on curriculum.  A list of books most challengedwas compiled by the American Library Association not Delaware Family Policy Council. The books are a composite of books that have caused concern across the nation from the left, right, and other perspectives. Many were issues of timing and most were moved to another grade level. Some of the books raise grave concerns which members of the DFPC would want to keep a watch for so they Read more

Hiding Crime?

The bill proported to be in reaction to the insane Christina incident expelling a student for eating with a camping knife from cub scouts. HB 347 does not address that issue at all, but removes reporting requirements of misdemeanor crimes for children under 12. It is on the way to the Governor. The reason the reporting requirements exist is because there is no other way to know if the schools are keeping their responsibility to keep children safe. This is about letting the schools go back to hiding bullying and abuse in my opinion. Offensive touching should be removed from the list period. The rest seem worthy of reporting and letting everyone else decide what is appropriate. We also need to protect a child's right to defend themselves which is not addressed either. Support or oppose let your voice be heard. 302-744-4223 office of the Governor --Legislative liaison Read more

Which is the harder job?

Is running a state or a school district? The average superintendent gets more than the governor did before the voluntary Markell pay cut. I believe 5 get above 170K. The top paying districts are Brandywine and as of the last year that I could find number, Christina. Several elementary school principles get above 100k. The real money in education is found in administration. Check out your district here.

3,049 to 3,023 Christina voters raise taxes

My first reaction was suckers.  The district has one of the highest local expenditures in the state and is one of the highest expenditure per student districts as well.  The salaries are the highest with some principles making what other district assistant superintendents make.  Salaries and benefits will go up another 2 million this year.  With all of this the voters in the district say tax us more.  It is their right.  I just don’t understand it. Congratulations to the leadership.  It is a big vote of confidence.

Federalizing Education

Bill S.1210: STEM Education Coordination Act of 2009 by Delaware's own appointed one, Ted Kaufman would be the greatest shift away from local education in American History if implemented. The Ruling party is out to remake America in their image. The Tenth Amendment is meaningless. The fact is educational achievement fell with the beginning of this Federalization and increased with the formation of the Department of Education. Now a group of Senators would like to make federal involvement in education more complicated.  Imagine the flow chart this bill would create. STEM Education Coordination Act of 2009 - Requires the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) to establish a committee under the National Science and Technology Council that has the responsibility of coordinating federal programs and activities in support of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and Read more

Parental Leave for Children’s Educational Events

My Representative and friend Darryl Scott D-31  has introduced house bill 231 to require employers provide up to 16 hours of unpaid leave a year to attend children's school conferences and extra curricular events.   Now it should noted that I rarely agree with Rep. Scott's politics.  My initial  instincts are to oppose this bill as a mandate on employers better worked out in the marketplace, but I know the reality is that some employers are for the lack of a better word, jerks.  They are a small minority, but they exist.  We do not make laws for those who follow common decency, but those who will not.  After further consideration, I have decided that I like the basic law and believe it will strengthen society and families with little cost to employers, most of whom would do this anyway. Here is the snyopsis of the law. This act grants working parents with 16 hours of leave each Read more

Free and Appropriate Education for All

HB 328 expands the definition of disability and the mandate to accommodate those with them. It is a fair concept and will keep Delaware in line with Ridgewood Board of Education v. N.E. My concern is that it will work out fine for taxing authorities such as the districts which can raise the tuition tax without a vote if they come across an expensive case. What about charter schools that can not raise taxes? Should there be a mechanism to ensure timely payments from the districts or an ability to refer the child if a determination is made that the needs can not be accommodated? Waiting months for payments from the districts could adversely impact the quality of education for the entire school in the event of a very expensive case costing hundreds of thousands. Sometimes a simple bill needs to be fleshed out. Read more

Does Delaware need a better teacher screening process?

When considering after-school programs for children, many parents don't think about the integrity of the personnel heading the program. In Delaware, it looks like that is about to change. Thomas Ott, the head football coach at Cape Henlopen High School, was recently arrested and chargedwith four counts of second-degree unlawful sexual contact, four counts of second-degree rape, two counts of fourth-degree rape, one count of first-degree unlawful sexual contact, one count of continuous sexual abuse of a child, and unlawful imprisonment. Considering the recent amount of young rape victims in the state, one might wonder what steps each school takes to protect students from such occurrences. In the case of Thomas Ott, 39, it is alleged he had been sexually abusing a young girl repeatedly for years. A teacher in New Castle County, Umar Ahmad, 37, of Denny Circle in Bear, was charged with Read more

Delaware One of Two States Selected for Race-to-the-Top Education Award

State to Receive Funding Toward Educational Reforms Delaware was named today as one of two states (Tennessee) selected for Phase 1 funding of a Race to the Top competitive federal grant to improve education in public schools.  The announcement is being made today by Education Secretary Arne Duncan. "What's really important today is where we go from here; whether we have the will to put our children first and move forward with reforms to improve our schools so that Delaware children can successfully compete for the best jobs in an increasingly competitive global economy,” said Governor Jack Markell.  “That won't be easy, but we have proven in these past few months that it can be done.  I would like to thank all those who worked with us in support of our application and look forward to moving ahead to improve our schools. ” “To be successful we must help all Delaware students Read more