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School district data breach?

What constitutes data?

Who owns it? 

Since when is it appropriate for school districts to release the names and addresses of choice students to lobby groups?
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Reach Academy for Girls Soldier On

With closing looming, Reach Academy for Girls, Delaware's only all girls charter school, continues to soldier on through it legal appeal to the Delaware judicial.  March 2015 meeting minutes show that their case is now before Judge Stark as he considers the State's motion to dismiss. Should he allow the case to proceed, it will move to the deposition and discovery phase.

Whether you believe charter education is legitimate or not, if you are a transparency addict, you should be tuned into what it happening at Reach.  How our DeDOE performs during deposition would be fascinating. All the FOIA in the world pails in comparison to the scrutiny of the legal process.  Of course, any party can lie, (hell, our governor uses a "secret" email address to hide public business) but who among those who work in DOE would be willing to risk perjury?  

The reality is that our Gov. and his judicial will shut down Reach's legal case.  But, if you still believe in democracy you have to hope that this case proceeds into the sunlight, where it belongs.
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Free HB50 and Join in the Parent Press Conference on April 1st

HB 50 - more affectionately known as the Parent Opt-Out Bil - has become a political hostage.  House Ed. Committee Chair Earl Jaques has not placed the bill on the committee's agenda.  

Unless it is heard in committee and sent to the Ready-List HB 50 will die a slow, quiet death during this legislative season. 

One man, propped up by our Gov, is blocking the democratic process and judgement day on the rights of parents in Delaware.  

There are millions of reasons for this. Political favor being high on the list. 

But, Delaware is a small state.  Every resident is within 75 minutes of our state capitol and their legislators.  

Exceptional Delaware has announced a press parent press conference for April 1, 2015.  It's time for parents to push back against the gatekeepers who have shutdown our government and shut us out of our own democracy.

It's time to go to Dover!

Save The Date: Parent Press Conference Is Now April 1st

No April Fools!  The date for the Parent Press Conference will be changed to April 1st, at 5pm outside Legislative Hall in Dover.  This way more people who want to come can attend!  Sorry for the last minute decision on this Wednesday.  This is not a rally.  This is a press conference so parents can talk about their frustration with what has been happening in Delaware education.  The main points will be House Bill 50, opt out and standardized testing, but also the frustration parents are feeling with education and being left out of key decisions.  Any organization or group is more than welcome to attend and participate, but the main focus is everyday parents.
Please save the date and do your best to attend.  The more people that are there, the bigger the difference it could make.  Please contact me at if you would like to speak at the press conference.  I will be sending a press release to the media outlets in the tri-state area in a few days.

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Un-Chair Rep. Earl Jaques...

A shameless plug in support of Exceptional Delaware's IPetition to Un-Chair Rep. Earl Jaques from the Delaware House Education Committee.

That's Jaques, pronounced Jakes, not Jauques or Jack-Ess.

Sign here:
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Jaques Calls My Children Failures!

Unfit to head education committee? Yep!

He's a liar and coward! A Markell Shill.  And on that note, he can go to hell!

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Fast food frenzy for state employees?

News journal reports that DOE has 250 employees...

There's your top-heavy administrative dollars at work. That's an easy 20 million tied up in salaries alone.  Want to close Christina's operational deficit? Cut some human capital out of DOE and send those dollars to the districts.

What a sad statement - buried in an article about p cards and fast food.
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Referendum Day - The Precarious Balance Between Public Education Funding and Those Who Fund It.

Referendums can build schools and divide communities. These archaic funding mechanisms are the life blood of Delaware's traditional public schools in a state that has whittled away it's own personal support for those it is asked to educate.  And the benefits flow flow from the districts to our charters. To be fair, there have always been legislative and local voices  that have challenged the dwindling of education dollars by our state leadership. But, these folks are the minority.  They are beacons of sanity in a sea of craziness.

But, referendums, though a lifeblood, also represent a sacred trust between elected school board members an their constituents. Though seldom discussed,  school board members are called to a greater Challenge than just funding the education of our children and making policy.  They are called to balance the needs of our children with the tax payers ability to fund it.  This isn't a new concept. But, it is the hard work of the elected.

And in Christina it's infinitely more difficult than it should be.  As much as we want to blame the recession as a greatest likelihood for potential failure, CSD's biggest obstacle is itself. Our district just can't get over its history.  Sshhhhh.  Don't tell, we don't like to talk about it.  Yet, it's as glaring as the shuttered solar power factory that's a hop, skip, and a jump from my own home.

So let's dispel some myths and rehash some history -

The solar panel factory on executive drive is for sale and has been for at least four years.  Find a buyer and I suspect the district would succinctly close the deal.  They want it for its future potential.  They can't afford to fit it out to be the school of tomorrow.  It stands as a sad reminder that CSD could never afford it, that we, the public,  were all duped by a dirty Broad superintendent named Joey Wise, who fled to Florida and continue to wreak havoc on school children there.  Yeah, that guy, he's his own consultancy now - Atlantic Partners.

Fact:  Districts have received fewer state dollars consistently over the last 8 to 10 years.  The remaining funds that have been earmarked for education and operations have become more prescriptive and restrictive. From now to eternity, we will all lament the loss of the Minner Units and decry the required data coaches that took their place.

Yet Unknown:  There is no plan for CSD's city schools.  The public is woefully mistaken when it assumes that CSD "giving" its city schools to Red Clay.  The board resolution to align with the preliminary WEAC recommendations has no legal girth.  Even the state is at a loss for how to proceed.  And the rumors, spawned by floating bills, that have yet to have been dispelled are flabbergasting:

1. CSD's city schools will go to Red Clay? or just the priority schools?
2. Red Clay is asking for 8 years of funding from CSD for the schools in question.
3. The whispered-of weighted funding formula for the city schools will bankrupt the suburbs.
4. DOE is going to stop authorizing charter schools in the city.
5. The latest - A capital referendum in two years to address the aging operational systems of our buildings.

It's this list that weighs on me and churns through my head at night.  With so many questions, it's hard to lend a vote to support the referendum in my district. I understand fully what will happen if today's referendum fails. Cuts.  We all hate cuts. They bleed...everywhere. And they just don't make band-aids big enough for these cuts...

But, I, like many others, have to find a balance between what is right for the 15,000 kids my taxes support and for the two our already stretched paychecks provide.

In the end, I know my vote.
I'm pretty sure you do, too.
And we'll all live with the hand that fate's dealt us.
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Another Cold Day in Christina? Not.

Forecast Tomorrow:  A crystal clear, warm and toasty 23 degrees, mid-day, after the kids have stood at bus stops in the 0's.  They'll call it, you say.  I wonder.  The Big Two, NCCo's largest districts have quite a conundrum.  Call it another COLD day like last Friday. Announce it early? and risk lowering the turnout for their referendums?  Or put kids at bus stops at 0 degrees? Tell parents that it's their choice. 

Which will it be?
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The Smell of Burnt Chocolate...

Is it coming from Dover or just the United Cocoa Processing Plant...

Thank You to all our elected leadership who, yesterday, weighed in on Race to the Top.

My favorite quote comes from Harris McDowell:
"Most races have a tape that the racers get cross, a finish line. When is the finish line for Race to the Top?" asked Harris McDowell, D-Wilmington North, who co-chairs the JFC. "When do we finish this, or are we just building a permanent bureaucracy?"

Where were you Mr. McDowell back in 2008?  2009? 2010? and onward?  There is no finish line. Just as there was no finish line with NCLB.  RTTP was not the answer nor the panacea.  It turned education into a competition.  A sacred fundamental right, the greatest entitlement program of our time, sullied by a Race to Nowhere. RTTT hurt kids and it hurt teachers.  It destabilized and devastated schools.  It has been a time bomb.  So please, don't let that bomb detonate on Delaware's tax payers.  You and your colleagues have the ability to eliminate the overhead in DOE, at least $1.5 mil of it.  De-fund the RTTT-created positions and send the carpetbaggers home. Tell the nation that the layovers in Dover have been grounded.    
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Ninjas and Other Things that make me angry...

Little Things that make me angry, my random list:

1. Little League and Jackie Robinson West.  Yep.  Because somewhere along the way, adults decided it was better to cheat to success than to teach children the value of earning it and learning it.  And these adults shot their team into national stardom, only to rip it back, like pulling a sticky bandage off a yeti. But, the yeti was kids.  It's always the kids who are hurt most.

2.  Brian Williams. God, yes. Brian Williams.  He's been there.  He'll be there.  But, I won't.  I can't.  If I were the yeti, he ripped the sticky band-aid from me. I remember one Brian Williams report in particular - The Fleecing of America.  And in this episode of Fleecing, Lisa Myers brought to light issues with the Coast Guard's "some-say-failed" millions-of-dollars-spent Deepwater project. Perceived "metal fatigue" had shortened the lives of these cutter revamps from 30 years to 5 and rendered them "unseaworthy" for long distance.

(Wait, don't go, there is a point to this story.)

Metal fatigue?  Years later an extremely trustworthy source of mine shared that the problem with Coast Guard ship "Bertholf" was in fact "metal fatigue" due to the improper installation of the heads (bathrooms). The nations best and brightest has determined that installation had been "subcontracted out" to labor that knew even less about the science of making boats float than you and I.

Apparently, boats don't just naturally float.  There is an entire science around it. A specialty, but not a major offered a Berkeley. Floating boats requires that all parts work in tandem, and in this case, the heads were doing their own damn thing.

Why this story? I know that the government is fleecing me, every day.  I know that my tax dollars are being wasted in a million ways. I can accept it, because I KNOW it because I could count on you to tell me.  But, I can't accept your lies, Brian.  As a world class anchorman, your job was to instill trust in your viewers.  It was what brought us back to you night after night at 6:30 pm.  But, you lied to us, and I know I can't trust you.  You put you before the news, before the public, before the trust.  You did your own damned thing.

3. School Board members who are afraid they will be redistricted out of a "job."  Yep. that's you George Evans. I can say it, you are a public figure.  You are my public figure. You serve my district.  But, you failed to support a resolution to align to the findings of the WEAC committee.  Why? You fought tooth and nail to get a judge to appoint you to the CSD board.  And the WEAC findings leave ineffective and ultimately "jobless.".  You heard me. You are either asleep at the dais or preaching to your fellow board members. Neither of which serves this district's children. And a sad fact of life is that this district will for some unknown reason re-elect you. You are the definition of insanity.

Here's what you missed while you thinking about yourself:  If CSD's city schools are moved to Red Clay, a whole world of opportunity opens up for these students.  Red Clay has charters and magnet schools that CSD students can only dream of attending.  It's about opening the door to the vast array of educational choices. It's a whole universe CSD can't offer.  But, any of these choices may be the hook that keeps our kids in school and off the streets.

4. CSD's WEAC Resolution.  I work around education.  This week was especially interesting for me.  CSD and its city schools are the talk of the town.  Including the misconception that CSD has agreed to give its city schools to Red Clay.  It may be nuanced, resolving to align to interim findings vs resolving to give away the schools, but it is important.  Because, right now, lots of tax payers, members of the public, think that CSD is is working toward giving its schools away.

5. Referendums.  Specifically CSD's.  CSD has proposed elevating my school taxes to complete with those in Pennsylvania raising what I pay from $2500 to $3700 over four years. The honest truth CSD, I can't afford you. I don't live in a McMansion. I live in a 1980s family home that is still cosmetically 1980s, is prone to flooding, and has been partially assumed into wetlands by the state/fed designation. Like many of the "new poor," I have to choose what bills to pay each month and fear that ultimately, I won't be able to pay my mortgage.  For now, I'm fortunate to have family that helps us because they understand that our children, especially our special need child, needs the continuity of this home life to be successful now. This referendum, it's driving my endgame fast and hard and we are delving into the reality that relocation may be our only option if we ever plan to pay off our debt and secure our future.  And if I relocate, it is very likely that I will choose a school district that offers magnet and choice programs, not the bare bones that CSD offers me today.

6. Being Critical of Christina.  Yep, I hate that one more than anything else.  I served CSD, I lived and breathed CSD for four years.  I bled you, Christina.  I still love you, but two years out, I am astounded by you.  I have to play the "devil's advocate." I have to ask the hard questions of your board members. They need to know what the public discourse sounds like, not just what's being said in their insulated bubbles. And I need to ask these questions because, today, I am a private citizen paying taxes to you. Some of the questions are damn good ones. So, I ask publicly on various blogs, using my name, sometimes with sarcasm, sometimes with wit, sometimes my demeanor flops.  The problem, Christina, is that you are not communicating with me.  You are not telling me where you want to go. You are, unfortunately, leaving yourself open to wide speculation.  And that worries me.  From the outside, it appears your ship has metal fatigue. You have too many heads doing their own damn thing.

Here are the rumors that you need to address if you have a hope and dream of passing our referendum:

  • Will you give your schools to Red Clay?  If you do, won't that result in the need to for less tax dollars? not more?
  • The word is that Red Clay wants all of your city schools. But, they also want 8 years of weighted funding.  How much is that price tag?
  • Will any of the new replacement operating funds be sent to Red Clay with the schools?
  • The City provides approx. 20% of the districts tax collection. What percentage of suburban generated funds will sent to Red Clay or harvested to pay the $24 million priority price tag?
  • Have you successfully ensured that your teachers will keep their jobs in the city schools?
  • Have you communicated to the families of City students regarding redistricting?  Where will this year's city fifth and eighth graders go to school next year? Their families want to know.
  • Have you considered engaging Red Clay as the management organization for your priority schools, ensuring that CSD students remain CSD students.
  • You are held up across the state as the district with no choices. What are doing about that?  Where are our magnet schools? alternative grade level configurations? 
  • Are you planning to go to capital referendum next? Cause that's your rumor.
  • What happens in the suburbs when the city goes to Red Clay? Will you maintain the population needed to operate three high schools in the burbs as you also compete with the newly opened Newark Charter High School. Or will we see school closure in the next 10 or 15 years?  
  • When are you going to do something with Executive Drive?
7. The last thing I hate today: Leaders who want to fleece little old ladies and who float that threat right before the two biggest districts in the state go to referendum.  Gov. Markell are you trying to render your traditional districts helpless? Your education policy has hurt students, teachers, and families deeply over the last six years. I know, you don't care.  But, come on, going after little old ladies and their purses?  That's just plain wrong.   

Well, now that I've gotten that off my chest, there's a good chance that I will once again disappear into oblivion.  Reality wise, this blog has run its course and my words are less valued and appreciated than ever before. Writing a blog takes time and thick skin.  As I become less politician and more mother, my skin looses its thickness. I'm a wimpy girl in a wimpy world. We can only wonder which direction the wimpy wind will blow.

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