Delaware NEEDS John Marino

I formally met John Marino when we both participated in the Delaware PTA Parent Opt-Out Rally at Legislative Hall in January 2016.  He was rallying alongside of the Delaware 9-12 Patriots group.  I was impressed that this group’s members, many with no children in the public school system, came out to support House Bill 50, which sought to codify a parent’s right to opt-out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.

While talking with John, I asked him what he thought about different issues in education.  He was unwavering in his disdain for the Common Core Standards, and he referenced the Constitution many times when he spoke about how educational issues should be decided upon by the individual states.  He went further to say that each district within our state has its own set of unique demographics and circumstances, and that power over education really needed to be given back to the people closest to delivering and receiving the services:  the teachers and parents of the students.

We also talked about how spending in education has become out-of-control, with most of the money going toward purchasing the Smarter Balanced Assessment, which really doesn’t give teachers in this state any useful information to help students.  We both agreed that if Delaware did away with Smarter Balanced Testing and the bureaucracy created at the Delaware Department of Education to regulate the testing, then Delaware could use that money for something much more useful.  One of the ideas we talked about was for Delaware to reduce class sizes by hiring more teachers in schools with significant populations of Special Education students and high-poverty demographics.  Any teacher will tell you that more manpower, above all other resources, is what is needed to help remedy the societal ills that accompany these very needy students.

After the rally was over, we went inside Legislative Hall to hear the House Legislative Session.  Both John and I were extremely upset by the cowardice shown by both sides of the political aisle when John Kowalko made a motion to suspend the House rules to conduct an override of then-Governor Jack Markell’s veto of House Bill 50.  This was a bill that had overwhelming support from the House, Senate, the teacher’s union, Delaware PTA, many school districts, a plethora of teachers, and most importantly, Delaware’s parents (the true constituents here).  However, the motion to suspend the rules was defeated with a majority of republicans AND democrats voting against it.  Even one of the co-sponsors of the bill voted “No” to the motion!  Both John and I attributed this bi-partisan cowardice to politicians being bullied by a lame duck governor who was conducting back-door deals in the weeks before the legislative session.

I asked John what he would have done if he were a legislator.  He stated that he would do what his constituents wanted him to do.  What a novel idea:  a legislator polling their constituents and voting to represent their collective decision!

Now, some may say, “But, DSEA has endorsed Hansen.”  Yes, they did.  And, they endorsed 8 years of incredibly BAD educational policy put forth by Jack Markell by endorsing him in his election and re-election campaigns, as far as I’m concerned.  I’ve attended many meetings at Legislative Hall where our current DSEA president did not represent us well at all.  In fact, if it weren’t for my colleague and two other teachers attending some of these meetings and signing up for public comment, teachers’ voices wouldn’t have been heard.  How much clout does a union really hold when only about 2,000 of its 12,000 members vote in a major union election?  Let’s face it; DSEA represents its own interests, NOT its teachers.

Furthermore, having been actively advocating for educational issues for the past two years, I have NO IDEA who this “Stephanie Hansen” is.  The only thing I know is that she is running for “Democrat,” because that’s what her signs say.  I took a screenshot of her educational issues section of her web page before some of my friends (who are democrats) finally got in contact with her to tell her that she needed to change it.  It was basically a page right out of the Jack Markell handbook.

I know John Marino (and I can reach him in an instant, unlike the time it took my friends to reach Stephanie Hansen).  I know him because he rallied at Legislative Hall for a bill that he thought was constitutionally right, even though his days of sending his children through public schools were over.  He didn’t have to be there, but he was.  And, he took the time to speak with me about educational issues and how they affect teachers and students in the classroom.  We’ve kept in touch since then and had many productive conversations.  I don’t agree with all of his stances on issues, but I know that he is right for education.  People keep saying that John doesn’t support referendums, which is false.  He wants to reform the system to include everyone contributing to education with a consumer tax.  He recognizes that Delaware is out of money and is in very bad financial shape.  Heck, Delaware has been controlled by a democratic majority since I was born, and it hasn’t brought prosperity.  Gone are most of the major corporations of yesteryear.  It hasn’t brought much of anything to this state, and that is why my family is considering a move to another state where the future seems much brighter.  We don’t trust that Delaware will have anything left to offer our young daughter in her later years.

This is why Delaware NEEDS John Marino.  Why not?  What does Delaware really have to lose, especially after 44 years of one-party control?  A vote for Marino could represent the spark that is needed to challenge Delaware and its complacency.  To me, a vote for Hansen represents the “Delaware Way,” which can only mean a continuance of legislators representing their own interests, or being bought by corporate interests, instead of representing the people.

If you are in Delaware’s 10th Senate District, vote for John Marino.  It’s time for Delaware to try something new.

With Gesty, there is NO Guessing!

I distinctly remember the first time I heard his name… It was during the 2014 election. No, it wasn’t the first time he ran, but it was the first time I noticed him.

Why?

I had become so disenchanted with both the Republican and Democratic sides of the political spectrum. I was frantically searching for other options. So, I took one of those online surveys to see where my current views aligned. It came out that I was more Libertarian leaning than anything else.

My next mission was to find out all that I could about the Libertarian candidates running for office. In doing so, I learned of Scott Gesty, and I was impressed.

Now, as a teacher, I couldn’t wait to present election information to my 5th grade students. It used to be difficult for me to just give the facts on the “two parties,” and I tried my best to be impartial but always felt that I leaned one way or the other.

Not this particular year!

Even though it wasn’t a presidential election, my school was going to have a mock election for the local candidates. I had my information ready to go. I felt really good about my
presentation that year, because it gave a great picture of lots of options: Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Green, and Independent.

Well, let me tell you about the unfortunate event that followed…

My students went to the computer lab for the mock election. And, as they were navigating through their choices, hands started rising into the air. I thought that there must have been some “technical difficulties.”

Nope. They were raising their hands to tell me that some of the candidates weren’t on the ballot!

We were all so disappointed. I mean, I had just finished telling them that they had several flavors of ice cream to choose from, not just chocolate and vanilla. And, well, we were reduced to choosing from only those two. Bummer.

I can only imagine what they really learned from my presentation and not being able to vote for some of the options I mentioned. It ended up being a lesson for me, as well.

Perhaps, I should have given them a lesson on what oligarchies are.

Now, back to Scott Gesty…

Scott Gesty takes the “guessing” out of who you should vote for in the Delaware race for Congress. In fact, he happily signed the “Candidate Pledge to Fight Federal Involvement in Local Education” put out by the organization Delaware Parents Involved in Education (DEPIE). He has pledged to “reject all federal mandates tied to federal funding. I will fight against federally mandated curriculum, standardized tests, and all illegal and unconstitutional mandates from the federal Department of Education.”

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Mr. Gesty believes that the best strategy for the Federal government to pursue in public education is to hand back as much authority and resources as possible to the school districts themselves. This is something that all educators can agree with. Who knows a district’spopulation and needs better than the district itself? Education cannot be a one size – fits all approach, as we have seen the ramifications of that for 16 years.

Scott Gesty’s website, http://gesty4congress.org/, goes more into detail about his thoughts on the issue of education. There, he states the following:

Federal dollars normally pay for only about 6% to 8% of public education spending in Delaware, but dictatorial Federal programs like No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top and now Common Core have seriously damaged our schools instead of helping them. Regulatory compliance with US Department of Education programs sometimes costs more than the total amount awarded to the schools. Almost no Federal money reaches our classrooms without strings attached that remove authority from parents, teachers, and locally elected school boards.

Before 1979, Federal involvement in public education was controlled by a sub-section of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. The US Department of Education has not materially improved student performance or school quality in thirty years, despite billions of dollars being poured into top-down initiatives every time a presidential administration changes. This has to stop.

The US Department of Education should be abolished, and the necessary funding and compliance services that constitute the Federal role in public education should be brought back under the Department of Health and Human Services. Except when prevented by statute law (e.g. special education funding), Federal funds for public education should be block-granted to the states, with a prohibition against the state departments of education taking more than 10% of the total as an administrative pass-through cost.

Now, compare this with the website of the Democratic nominee for Congress, Lisa Blunt Rochester. Her website (https://lisabluntrochester.com/issues) doesn’t even list K-12 education as an issue. Instead, Rochester chooses to focus on “Affordable and Accessible Education” (college). This should send up a red flag to educators and parents who are concerned about the whole movement for children to be “career and college ready” starting in pre-school. Rochester skips talking about all of the preliminary schooling and goes directly into affordability of college. Sounds like she is on the same sinking ship with the other educational reformers. Delaware needs help with the deep issues surrounding its K-12 schooling… This should be a priority of any candidate running for Congress!

Conversely, Republican Hans Reigle does mention education reform. His website, http://www.hans2016.com, states the following:

I believe that all children deserve a quality education. Education decisions should be at the state and local level so our schools are accountable to the communities they serve. Our teachers are now teaching to the test and our country will ultimately pay the price. Reducing federal bureaucracy will allow parents and communities to find the best solutions suited to the children in their local area.

College is not for everyone. Many successful people never went to college. I disagree with the plan to provide every high school graduate with two years of community college education. The plan itself is noble; however there are not enough resources to pay for it. Spending $60 billion over the next ten years is another burden on our already strained national budget. We need to focus on fixing programs already in place instead of creating new ones. Not everyone needs to attend college to earn a decent wage. There is a huge need for skilled individuals in the construction and trade fields. Many of the educational benefits of community college can be learned with improved high school curricula.

As provisions of Obamacare become law, there will be fewer dollars available to our public universities and schools. Education budgets will have to compete with other budget items to make up the difference. The Affordable Care Act and the way it is currently written is one of the reasons for the rise in college tuition costs and this issue needs to be addressed now.

Reigle’s ideas about education reform are not to be condemned. However, he fails to mention a plan to implement his ideas.

Scott Gesty is the only candidate that has part of the plan figured out. With the exception of funding special education, which is mandated by federal law, Scott wants to abolish the US Department of Education and wants the necessary funding and compliance services brought back under the Department of Health and Human Services. This is an excellent plan to combat federal overreach in education!

The blogger for Exceptional Delaware has also posted a well-written endorsement for Scott Gesty. If you haven’t read it, I encourage you to do so: https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2016/08/31/exceptional-delaware-endorses-scott-gesty-for-congress/

In conclusion, Educators to the Rescue is proud to endorse another Libertarian:

In Delaware, Scott Gesty takes the “guesswork” out of voting! Educators need to unite behind this man with a plan for giving control of education back to districts, schools, teachers, and parents.

VOTE GESTY FOR CONGRESS!

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Goward for Governor

If you are an educator or a parent of school-aged children in Delaware, there is one election this November that you should pay particular attention to…  And, it is NOT the presidential one!

No, the election that should be of utmost importance to you is the one for Governor.

We have spent the last 8 years drowning in bad educational policies set up by Jack Markell and his political cronies.  I challenge anyone to name one of those policies that really benefited the students in the Delaware public education system.  The truth is that the ONLY person who benefited from such policies and schemes is Jack Markell and the corporations he panders to.  Common Core Standards, Smarter Balanced Assessment, unfair teacher evaluations, the labeling-shaming-and punishing of our poorest and neediest schools, vetoing HB50 that was heavily supported by parents, teachers, and his legislative body…  I could go on-and-on!

We have allowed this to happen.  Now, what are we going to do about it?

Here is the first step:  Recognize that any Democrat or Republican political leanings will bring more of the same to Delaware education.

Heck, Democratic candidate John Carney’s “unveiling” of his plan for education was so lackluster that the News Journal even mocked him for “avoiding the hot button issues.”  He has refused to speak personally with several people who are strong advocates for education in Delaware.  He even refused to answer the Exceptional Delaware blog’s “32 Questions: Delaware Candidates For Governor On Education.”  

Colin Bonini, the Republican candidate, has listed education as one of his issues on his website; however, they are vague statements, at best, with no plan on how he intends to achieve them.  Also, he released a statement on September 5th on “Delaware Students Returning to School.”  Here is a part of the statement:

In many cases our state’s education system is failing our children. Less than 1 in 5 public school graduates are ready for work or college. Many of Delaware’s public school graduates require remedial coursework when they enter college. We consistently rank in the bottom 10 in SAT scores in the country…

I think the most hilarious part of the statement is when he goes on to blame “Democrat control in Dover.”  Why is it funny?  Because the very things that he mentions in his statement are the rhetoric that Jack Markell and several other corporate profit driven democrats have been touting for the past 8+ years!  Thus, we can only expect more of the same from a republican governor.  (BTW Colin, Delaware’s SAT scores are “low” as a result of administering the SAT to EVERY high school junior, even the ones who don’t plan to go to college.  Other states do not do this.)

Well, now you probably think you are out of gubernatorial options.

THINK AGAIN!

Educators to the Rescue proudly endorses Libertarian candidate for governor of Delaware, Sean Goward.

We are thoroughly impressed with Sean’s ideas, statements, and plans for the direction of Delaware education.  He is as real and personable as he looks, and his personality comes across as one of those people you’d like as your next-door neighbors.  He is intelligent, yet humble.  He knows that he is not an expert in education, and he seeks advice from stakeholders whom other candidates have either ignored or shunned:  real Delaware teachers.

How do we know this?  Sean contacted Educators to the Rescue when he first announced his candidacy for governor.  He scheduled a meeting with us to talk about what is going on in education, not only in Delaware, but around the globe.  We spent hours with him, as he listened intently and asked many questions.  In fact, we can tell that his statement on education comes partly from our meeting:

Our federal government has sold us a lemon with the Common Core curriculum.  We’ve been consistently told that our students are falling behind in the world economy and that we need to fix our system of education, and the US Department of Education has just the answer with No Child Left Behind, Every Student Succeeds Act, Common Core State Standards and the Smarter Balance Assessment System.  The fact is, they’re not.  in 2015, one of our main economic competitors, China, consistently ranked toward the top in math and reading on the PISA test, the test used to establish our standing in the developed world.  The US ranked 24th in math and 36th in reading.  Concerning as this may seem, China spends 60% of their class time solely on these subjects while our children receive a more robust education in multidisciplinary subjects.  In China, there is conditional advancement at every grade level ensuring that only the brightest and most economically well off students advance.  Here in the US, we give every student an opportunity to learn and chart their own life course regardless of aptitude or socioeconomic standing.  In fact, if we had such an abysmal system of education compared to China, why do we have 300,000 Chinese students coming here to study in our universities.  Something doesn’t add up until you follow the money.  The companies that lobbied for the Common Core State Standards stand to to take $16B out of our taxpayer pockets to fix a system that was never broken in the first place.  If you wanted solid evidence for the quality of our educational systems, the US has more Nobel Prizes than any other country (353), more Fields Medal winners for mathematics than any other country (33), more Freedom Awards for humanitarian relief and refugee freedom (26), the list goes on.  Our students are still succeeding even in spite of these government programs and the animosity that they generate between the DoE, School Districts, Administrators and Educators.

I will divert federal funding from the State Department of Education Administration to give our teachers resources to identify special needs students in grades K-3 instead of making them wait until they’re four years into their education.

Whether enacted by legislation or not, our education system will honor the Parent’s right to determine what is in the best interest of their child’s education; whether or not data is collected on their child, what that data is to be used for, or whether or not they will participate in standardized testing (without punishing our teachers).

School districts will be given the autonomy to develop and maintain their own curricula, student assessments, and teacher evaluation systems, and rather than spending so much time on teaching the test, they can focus on bringing a more robust educational experience to our students.

Sean Goward also took an incredible amount of personal time to answer each of Exceptional Delaware blog’s “32 Questions: Delaware Candidates For Governor On Education.”  If you haven’t had a chance to read the questions and answers, we highly encourage you to do so at:  https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2016/09/04/32-questions-delaware-candidates-for-governor-on-education/  Prepare to be amazed at his in-depth commentary on all of the “hot button issues”!

Furthermore, as teachers, we at Educators to the Rescue know that Sean Goward doesn’t just talk-the-talk.  He also walks-the-walk.  We know this because we have had the pleasure of educating two of his children.

One of his children required an IEP plan for Special Education, and he was such a supportive, caring parent.  In fact, one of his chief concerns was that his child hadn’t been identified sooner than 4th grade.  We explained to him that it was likely a K-3 funding issue, as his child’s disability was not severe and, therefore, would not have qualified for funding if the child was identified in kindergarten through third grade in Delaware.  Sean is committed to fixing this funding issue, as he has personally witnessed its ramifications.

Sean Goward is a supporter of parents’ educational rights, especially the right to opt their children out of standardized testing.  Again, he walks-the-walk with this, as he opts his own children out of testing.

Finally, Sean was eager to sign the “Candidate Pledge to Fight Federal Involvement in Local Education” put out by the organization Delaware Parents Involved in Education (DEPIE).  (Not only did he sign it, but he posted it to Facebook!)

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In conclusion, the only candidate that really “gets” what education should look like in Delaware is Libertarian, Sean Goward.  We know that both Carney’s and Bonini’s ideas are just more of the same failed ideas of the Markell era.

For educators and parents with children in Delaware’s public schools, there is ONLY one remedy to what ails education in our state…

VOTE GOWARD FOR GOVERNOR!

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