If you’re not reading The Delaware Libertarian, you should.

Steve Newton is blogging again and has been prolific thus far. He has jumped in on a variety of issues with his unique and thoughtful analysis and internet web gems like the study on the efficacy of diversity training.
Of significant note, Steve blogs education issues and the hot ones since he started blogging again have been charter schools and school board elections. Since we are taking a break after all the venom about charter schools, Steve has joined the fray on elections.
The hot buttons are money and where it comes from, playing nice, and Kilroy’s Delaware’s role in the blogging space of education and elections. For those uninitiated, there is a 501(c)4 called Voices 4 Delaware Education Action Fund (as an aside I find it hilarious that the alt character on the #4 on a keyboard is, drum roll please: $) that has backed “issues” since they can’t back candidates and they do so by disparaging sitting boards and highlighting their preferred candidates without saying “vote for” or “elect” (known as magic words in 501(c)4 land). Steve wants the world to know that this 501(c)4 is merely acting to counteract the longstanding stream of money coming from teachers unions to support their candidates.
I want the world to know that too, in fact Steve had a very good blog post mocking my “realization” of this point which I found to be clever and on point. I detest the 501(C)4 approach because is allows, in this case, a cast of Delaware (and at least one from Ohio) characters to send messages to voters somewhat anonymously. Greg Harris, Paul Herdman, William Keenan and Sylvia Banks would all be completely nameless if it were not for bloggers chasing down incorporation paperwork, making connections, and then trying to make counterpoints.
And that’s where I’m at. Making informed decisions is key. Just like our policy makers and Governor routinely ignore research when making policies about everything from merit pay, to teacher evaluation, to completely blowing up under performing schools without engaging the community, to the indignity of topicless 90 minute PLCs…to the….well, the list is seemingly endless, I do not want voters to make a selection without knowing that the money on one side supports certain things and the money on the other side supports other things.
We make these conclusions most easily by identifying the people in the organization and reflecting on their actions. It seems to me that by choosing to remain anonymous, these folks do not want us to pay attention to their actions….it’s almost like they are sending out these messages and then saying this:
meanwhile the house of Delaware Education is on fire and exploding, right in plain sight.
I’ve made no pretensions about who I back: I back educators.
I believe we need more educators on school boards so we can make better education decisions. I do not understand how the Business Roundtable, Rodel, Vision 2015 and Innovative Schools fit into a PUBLIC system, other than as vendors and ideologues bent on making themselves feel good about helping create a system where kids can test but not think.
Which brings me back to Steve. He makes me think. And he signs his own name. Two traits that have me back everyday to his blog. Keep up the good work Mr. Newton.
I’m waiting for the sun to go down in the West…..

9 thoughts on “If you’re not reading The Delaware Libertarian, you should.

  1. snewton929

    Thanks for the gracious plug, John.

    The sun setting in the West is normal at Transparent Christina, which is why it doesn’t make news.

    It’s only those other days . . . .

  2. There is an insipid problem with allowing business to intervene with education. Insipid. Their goal is to make money; not educate your kids.

    Therefore they spend huge dollars on marketing to get themselves the contract, and huge dollars on PR to maintain that contract. Now this, is way to obvious. In order to then show a profit for the massive amounts they spent to get and maintain the contract, they will cut back on the dollars spent towards the actual education of your child…..

    Two examples in New Castle County, are Harris School of Business, and Dawn Career Institute. Both of these institutions take people off the street, promise them free education fully funded by private and pubic loans, then turn them out with little to show for their effort. Professionally these schools are considered a joke. But the students, sucked in with ads, don’t find that out until reaching the job market. The average pay back for them is then $20,000… It is a safe investment because all their tax return is obligated to first pay off past due educational loans.

    Education is too important to leave in the hands of those only concerned with how well their investment is making a return.

  3. snewton929


    Neither Dawn nor Harris has a thing to do with public education, and their little shils are about on par with payday loan centers.

    You can do better than that.

    Consider this: it has become a popular refrain over the past decade, to attribute the “failing” of public education to business and corporate interests. Certainly they have played a role, even a major role. But high-stakes testing; standards-based assessment; the de-emphasis of art, music, phys ed, and other subjects in favor of a relentless focus on math and reading; NCLB; the Little Red School House–all of these were brought to us by education researchers (and all sorts of research “proofs” that they worked, John 🙂 ) and none of those people paid any attention to teachers, either.

    More to the point: neither the NEA, DSEA, or any other –EA has ever put out a comprehensive, research-based approach to public education. They waver between cutting the best possible political deal between bureaucrats, ed researchers, and corporate types, and assuring us that all will be well if we just get out of their classrooms and trust their experience.

    The problem is: that’s never actually worked, either.

    So while it is completely legitimate to decry the increased role of corporate and business types in public education

    1. John Young

      But high-stakes testing; standards-based assessment; the de-emphasis of art, music, phys ed, and other subjects in favor of a relentless focus on math and reading; NCLB; the Little Red School House–all of these were brought to us by education researchers (and all sorts of research “proofs” that they worked, John 🙂 ) and none of those people paid any attention to teachers, either.

      Key word is “proofs” of course….and the term “education” researchers does not clarify their bona fides Right now, the corporate side is rife with studies financed by Gates, Dell, Broad, Wallace, etc on subjects ranging from seat time, to urban charter myths, to teachers as widgets, etc… we have to be careful not to lump these confirmation bias treatises into legitimate research and let them supplant as peer reviewed research that demonstrates real efficacy.

      Ignoring teachers is so common its passe indeed. On that we agree. I like coolspringer’s term from Kilroy’s comments…she’s a self titled “stability junkie”…we are so apoplectic as a society, it just bleeds right on into our schools. Kids crave stability….and since I know you have your “sides” thesis, my side wants to stabilize the schools and break the status quo of constant change

      Ever notice how all the things we say we miss as a society are now gone as a result of the USA converting to a 24/7 economy. Stores open all night, people working while their kids are sleeping and sleeping when their kids are awake…..families being destroyed by a society full of so much information no one can sort it out…..

  4. John Young

    The problem is: that’s never actually worked, either.

    Especially that part about getting out of their classrooms……and that is my main point….. the only stable part of education policy is chronic instability.

  5. snewton929

    the only stable part of education policy is chronic instability.

    Unfortunately, you’re right, but the problem goes back at least 20 years. I remember when I was asked to co-chair the Social Studies Commission for Pat Forgione’s “New Directions,” and all the veteran teachers laughed, then said, “This will last for about 5-6 years, then we’ll be on to the new ‘new’ thing.” They were right, of course.

    But it is like an onion, keep peeling layer after layer off, and go all the way back to Brown vs the Board of Education, which came just before the “New Math.” Guess what? It has always been this way, and the teachers, who are trained by the education researchers, are just as susceptible as anyone else to the lasting passing thing.

    What I sometimes suspect is that if you get all the way back to before “the latest passing thing,” all you’ll find is Laura Ingalls Wilder in the one-room schoolhouse on the prairie.

    As the man said, “Maybe there’s no ‘there’ there.”

  6. delawareway



    Wilmington News Journal 04/29/2012, Page A31

    Just who is running for our school boards?

    Anyone who has been fol­lowing national politics will have to wonder what impact the newly permitted “Super PACs” will have on the upcoming presidential campaign.

    Many Americans are con­cerned that elections will be won on the basis of money spent and not necessarily on the character and qualifica­tions of the candidates.

    While the national election might seem a little far re­moved, surprisingly, a similar movement is occurring in Del­aware with the upcoming board of education elections.

    A recent e-mail was sent to various individuals by a group called Voices4Delaware.

    It urged recipients to con­tribute $600 to various board candidates that this group supports.

    Four districts, including Appoquinimink, were targeted as being “strategically impor­tant” to their mission.

    I am not knowledgeable enough to comment on the qualifications of the candidate that was being endorsed for Appoquinimink, nor do I have an issue with him.

    The only information that was given about him in the e-mail was that he had attend­ed a Christian school, was an active member of the Repub­lican Party and had attended Leadership Delaware training.

    When I contacted the spokesperson for Voices4Dela­ware, I was shocked to learn that none of the other candi­dates running for the board in Appoquinimink were even vetted, leaving me to wonder how could the most qualified candidate be promoted.

    School board elections may not have the stature of national elections, but they are abso­lutely critical to the well-being of the communities they serve. I would hope that we would consider all candidates who are running and would ask some very critical questions of each one.

    Are these candidates run­ning to serve their schools and community or do they have some personal agenda?

    Are these candidates in­volved in our schools so that they understand the critical issues facing education today?

    Will these candidates work on behalf of all students in the district?

    Do these candidates have enough confidence in the pub­lic school system to send their own children to them?

    Hopefully, as the school board elections occur, we will be wise enough to keep ram­pant politics out of the race and elect school board mem­bers who represent kids – not Super PACs or political parties or unions.

    Real reform will come to our schools when caring com­munity members who are will­ing to do the right things for the right reasons are elected to boards of education.

    Tony J. Marchio is the former superinten­dent of the Appoquinimink School District.


    TONY J.


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