This post will deal with incumbents. We are dealing solely with past records, not future promises. We will trace votes of our current legislators over the past 4 years with a focus on the three big bills which impacted our schools and their education resources. Those bills were SB 51. HB 165, and HB 50. The first two were lobbyist written bills to allow changes beneficial to privatization of education. The third bill was in retaliation to a DOE gone wild and gave ultimate power to parents over the education of their children, and tied the hands of the bureaucrats who were testing insanely… So an ideal candidate would have voted no on the first two listed, and YES on the last.
SB 51 was offered under the guise of improving teacher’s qualifications, but its intent was to insert the Markell corporate machine into teacher’s certification process….. This was a Sokola sponsored bill and only he knew what was in it. It was touchdown run through the Senate getting unanimous passage, and had very few detractors in the House due to both the glibness of its synopsis and the speed with which it got rammed through… Prior to this bill, teacher certification was an independent process, handled by non political national accrediting agencies. After this bill, all Delaware teaching schools had to be licensed and “certified” by the Delaware DOE… This bill really has nothing else in it except it being a power move to bring independent teacher accreditation under the direct thumb of the DOE… After this bill, even though you passed all your classes at an accredited university, you still have to go through an evaluation of your transcript by the DOE through a process called “course counting.” Depending on what current Rodel person does that, your degree program could either stand up and get you certified, or you get a deficiency letter telling you that you need so many hours of this or that to be certified.
Here was the synopsis which glowingly sounds fantastic; so much not a full minute was wasted in its discussion in both the committee and floor of the Senate..
This bill strengthens teacher preparation by raising the standards for entry into the teaching profession. More specifically, the bill requires all Delaware teacher preparation programs to set high admission and completion requirements, to provide high-quality student teaching experiences and ongoing evaluation of program participants, and to prepare prospective elementary school teachers in age-appropriate literacy and mathematics instruction. Further, the bill requires preparation programs to track and report data on the effectiveness of their programs. Finally, the bill requires new educators to pass both an approved content-readiness exam and performance assessment before receiving an initial license, and requires special education teachers to demonstrate content knowledge if they plan to teach in a secondary subject.
And below is the actual language added to the bill.
Consistent with § 122 of this title, no individual, public or private educational association, corporation, or institution, including any institution of post-secondary education, shall offer an educator preparation program for the training of educators to be licensed in this State without first having procured the assent of the Department for the offering of such programs. A program approval process based on standards adopted pursuant to this section must be established for educator preparation approval programs, phased in according to timelines determined by the Department, and fully implemented for such programs in the State. Each program shall be approved by the Department based upon significant, objective, and quantifiable performance measures.
Yeah, they got us.. sneaked it through before anyone read it. Ask Paul Baumbach what happened when he stood up to make an objection to it in the House…..
The next critical bill was HB 165: The Charter School Carpet Bombing Run Bill. This bill provided conduit funding to charters. It allowed the DOE to directly transfer funds from public districts to charter schools if those came in arrears. It allowed conduit bond financing. It established the Charter School Performance Fund whose winners would be handpicked by the DOE with no transparency. It put all of the state’s charters under a charter contract with the DOE. The DOE became the sole decider of chartering a school. Districts can work concurrently but if they disagree with the DOE, the DOE has final word. it allows for 10 year charter approvals at sole discretion of DOE……
Again as with SB51, with the exception of the opening of conduit funding, the details themselves are innocuous. Funds were previously transferred from district to charters, all charters already had authorizers, charters were free to establish their own performance fund if they wish…. But what this bill did accomplish and used conduit funding as its leverage, was to exert state control over all charters. The charters must answer to the state, and by default, since they must, they have to comply with everything the State says… Now when the state is being good, there is no problem with this. But when the state’s DOE gets taken over by a “non profit” and is being bad, there is no recourse…
Let’s rephrase that… in the olden days, as in with a disagreement with Christina, the state would have to come to the board and present its case and the board could look at all options and possibilities and say “no” to the proposal saving its taxpayers hundreds of millions over multiple years… But that got flipped. Now, the boards must go to the state and make their cases, to them, and after hearing (and dismissing) contrary evidence, the state can hold to its decision… With this passage, you, the local citizen, just got stripped of your power.
Of course, nothing in the synopsis would give you a clue of how things would change….
This bill updates the State’s charter school law to improve charter school accountability and support. More specifically, the bill raises the bar for starting charter schools with a pre-screening process, applicant interviews and additional opportunities to receive and use public input regarding the impact of new and expanded charter schools. Further, the bill increases charter flexibility and support, with ten year terms for high-performing charters, more timely allocation of funding, clear allowance of conduit financing, equalized minor capital funding, and creation of a charter school performance fund. Finally, the bill sets and enforces consistent expectations for charter schools, with authorizer-charter agreements, required plans for board member training, required provision of lunch to eligible students, clear closure protocols and a revised renewal process that is aligned to the charter performance frameworks.
Yet the language of the bill itself, took on a more undemocratic Draconian tone….
Applicants seeking a charter from the Department that have submitted an application deemed by the Department sufficient to receive a full review shall be offered an opportunity for an interview in support of the application. Such interviews will allow the Department to assess applicant capacity, allow it to clarify information provided in the application, and gather additional information. The information gained in the interview process may be among the factors considered by the approving authority in approving or denying an application.
Now whereas there could be a local districts’ concern over having KIPP or another mega charter chain come into their district and begin tearing apart the entire woven educational fabric put in place over decades, those concerns to the state are now irrelevant. Because if governor’s office disagrees and perhaps wishes to use KIPP as a weapon to punish that district for its earlier non-support of his initiatives, guess who gets final say now? Plus, from the corporates’ point of view, whereas it is impossible for them to bribe all a district’s citizens to support something not in their best interests. it is very easy to offer a bribe to individuals..
Secondly, this allowed private entities, to apply and use government monies to update and upgrade their structures. Renting out ones building to a charter then using state funds to renovated that building up to code for children, is a free way to increase the value of your property. We all know of former politicians who used the “discretionary street fund” to improve the property values in their neighborhood. That program was finally killed because of the appearance of impropriety. This bill now allows that for privatized “charter” schools.
Thirdly, we come to the HB 50, The Opt-Out Bill.
This bill was initiated by parent-student advocate John Kowalko of Newark and threw overwhelming support to letting parents be the ones to determine whether their child should or should not comply with the fail, failing, failed experiment involving the Smarter Balanced Assessment. Never mind that is what the Constitution of the United States of America calls for. Never mind that the original charter of the Us Department of Education explicitly states that the Federal Government shall have no control of curriculum or individual details involving education. Never mind that his bill would not change state law, it just outlined already existing policy it so it would be more prominent.
The corporatist’s killed it. It was done not on the floor of the House, not on the floor of the Senate, both on which they were overwhelmingly passed. No. It was sneaked though by a governor’s veto AND by speaker of the house Pete Schwartzkopf’s burial of the re-vote in the Speaker’s House Desk Drawer.
It is one of the responsibilities of citizens in a democracy to pay attention to the workings of their governments and when officials fail to follow their bosses orders (you), to fire them and replace them with someone fresh…
We have such an opportunity now and if we do want to live in a future that gets better instead of worse, we do have to pay attention and see who votes what, who supports us and who stabs us in the backs… For our ignorance in letting the same people stick knives in us over and over and over and over is the primary source of all the pain we feel today.
We have a job, an obligation, a duty… When we don’t do our duty, the entire fabric of the hammock upon which our whole life rests… begins to unravel leading to a nasty surprise at some future point….
Here are the votes on the three litmus test bills above that separated the sheep from the goats…
SB 51: Teacher Subjugation
HB 165 Charter School Dominance
And for guaranteeing every parents’ Constitutional right to determine the future of their own child…..
HB 50 (VETOED BY JACK MARKELL, GOVERNOR)
We’ve been given a great litmus test to sort through our representative and senators and see what their soul really consists of when they think no one is watching… This has always been the best judge of character; not what they pontificate when put on the podium, but in how they live their lives when no one is watching….
Some things to look for. Did your representative migrate to the truth as more was revealed, or did they dig in on a bad original decision? Did your representative act as a leader? Did they have the foresight to be on the right side of this cause before all the discussion entailed? Or did your representative vote “as he was told to” by the governor…
(The last case (HB 50) shows the sycophants plain as day!) You are smart enough to figure whose side you want to vote for. I’m just reminding you of how they act when they think they are alone…