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.