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Saturday, October 31, 2009

(DE) Visions 2015 Is Racing to the Top for Arne Duncan's Money
Today’s Visions 2015 “resume” and yesterday’s “Positioned for Educational Success” articles published in this newspaper (Delaware News Journal), give the distinct impression that folks are making a pitch for some of US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s $4.35 billion giveaway for education reform or “Race to the Top,” as he puts it.  Even the University of Delaware seems to be getting into the act by hosting the Visions 2015 conference on Tuesday where Secretary Duncan is expected to speak.  Everybody and his/her uncle seem to be “positioning” for their share of the pot.  I ask: How does the State Department of Education (DOE) fit into the mix?  Do we need a Department of Education when everyone else seems to have a plan for educating Delaware’s children?  Further, where are the District Superintendents and the Boards of Education?  How much money are we talking about and exactly what’s the apportionment plan?  Will the funds go directly into teaching and learning or will we follow the recent national pattern and fill more bureaucratic pockets instead?  I ask our Governor and legislature to eliminate waste and redundancy and be vigilant to ensure equity in distribution as we “Race to the Top” with the people’s money. 10/23/09
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2:11 pm edt 

On Poverty, Disrespecting the President, Immigration, Latinos, Maurice Pritchett, the DE Christina School District...
A few decades ago, I believe it was President Ronald Reagan who said there was no poverty in America.  He was wrong then as are some who now believe there is no need for a “public option” in the health care debate.  I agree with the notion that many of us like our health insurance coverage and should be allowed to keep it!  However, how do we answer the question:  What shall we do with the least of our people—those 35 million or so who can’t afford medical care?  We send billions of dollars on a yearly basis to support (prop up) other countries with their health care and related poverty issues without batting an eye; yet, some continue to believe there is no poverty in America. 10/26/09
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As an immigrant to this country and, hence, an American citizen by choice, I am beginning to question whether I made the right decision.  With the recent disrespectful treatment of President Barack Obama, I cannot help but wonder: What road are we choosing to define our destiny as a nation?  After electing the first black president, I felt we had turned a corner with issues of fairness, diversity and tolerance.  However, it seems clear that some citizens are committed to undermining this president because of race rather than strictly political standing.  That is, under the guise of conservatism some are having a field day showing their true colors!  It is now permissible, some may rationalize, to be openly racist, channeling such feelings and actions at the most visible black person—President Obama.  Our prestige as a country and world leader is shifting rapidly.  When citizens are prompted to publicly call the president a liar to his face, poison the populace with maligning thoughts and preach them to those who would listen and follow suit, I say we are quickly becoming a third world country acting against our better interests.This is not the same country with the high ideals I chose over 40 years ago.  Instead of working together to solve the many problems confronting us at this dangerous time in our history, I see too much strife and opportunistic behavior designed to catapult us into failure.  I think we are grown up enough to discuss our issues intelligently without boisterous name calling and discriminatory activity.  We are better than that!  Let us move on, accept the recent election results, as we have done so many times in our illustrious past, and build a better nation for our children and the future of the country and the world; for we have always been more successful at solving problems than destroying civilization.  9/17/09 
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As perhaps the first Latino to write bilingually in The News Journal several years ago as a Community Advisor and Columnist, I applaud the efforts of Mr. Pilonieta-Blanco to provide expanded bilingual reporting to Delaware communities.  This would be a great benefit to the more than 50,000 Spanish speakers in our State with a growth rate of over 136% in the last 10 years.  While El Tiempo Hispano already does a nice job with bilingual reporting for the benefit Latinos as well as non-Latinos, I would encourage it to be more transparent in its coverage of the real issues facing Latinos in Delaware including references to black Latinos.  I ask the News Journal to do the same.  Let us focus, enhance and promote the pluralistic nature of our society; especially now, in these times of backbiting and animosity aimed at disenfranchised populations.
  9/15/09
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I salute Maurice Pritchett for all that he continues to do for students in Delaware and for bringing to our attention the important role parents and mentors play in our education reform initiatives.  Indeed, when all is said and done, it won’t be about who can write a better lesson plan or how many tests students take!  The key to effective education has been how involved we are as parents and community supporting the education of youngsters and how we control discipline in the classroom.  Well functioning and disciplined students are any teacher’s dream.  As an educator for over 30 years, ten of which were in the public classroom, I can testify that when I had positive parental/community involvement and disciplined students, I was able to do much more with teaching and learning.  11/08/09
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I read in your papers of November 22 (Delaware News Journal) that the Christina School District will be paying Cambridge Education LLC to review instructional synchronicity and other curriculum issues in their schools.  Governor Jack Markell has asked all state agencies to make significant budget cuts in order to survive our current economic crisis.  Here is the question: Why is the Christina School District allowed to spend $350,000 for such activities when we have District and Department of Education staff hired to perform this service?  I can think of much better things to do with this money in our schools beginning with increasing the salaries of underfunded teachers to providing more resources in our classrooms to paying stipends for mentoring activities.  If our Governor is serious about State economic shortfalls, then I say hold Christina School District Administrators and all its School Board Members accountable for this excess by executively disallowing this unnecessary and outrageous expense.  Moreover, Christina School Board Members should explain to their constituencies why they secretly approved this senseless spree.   11/09

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2:01 pm edt 


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