Might Need Reform
NOTE: Sussex Beat is a mix of news, analysis and commentary by Eric Magill, publisher of Sussex County Online.
Just a reminder that Gov. Thomas R. Carper will hold a town meeting on Education Reform in the Woodbridge High School auditorium in Bridgeville on Wednesday, Oct. 20, at 7 p.m.
One of the meeting's main topics will be teacher accountability standards, but the Governor and the state's Department of Education still haven't convinced parents and legislators that they've gotten the student accountability part of their reform efforts right.
In a practice run for the official test next June, more than half of Sussex County students tested below standards in Math and Writing and 40 percent tested below standards in Reading.
The controversial tests used to determine if a student can move on to the next grade or graduate have come under heavy criticism from parents who say the test is too difficult and that it puts too much pressure on students to have one test determine if they are qualified to move on to the next grade.
A mother from New Castle wrote a letter to state Sen. George Bunting (D-20, Millsboro), complaining that the test's questions are far above the grade level of the students they are testing. She cited the findings of William Penn teachers that the third grade test should actually be given to fifth graders.
Detractors also wonder about the state's plans for special education students, who they say have little chance of meeting the standards.
Those detractors are also concerned about the state's plans for staffing public schools next summer if results next June correlate with the practice run's results and require that half of the state's students attend summer school.
Further controversy flared this week when the test's managers, Harcourt Brace of Dallas, Tex., revealed that some student's scores were inaccurately calculated and had to be recalled.
Those are all issues Gov. Carper, the Department of Education and the General Assembly need to address first, before worrying about teacher accountability.
It appears that Sussex Countians have a ways to go to reclaim the title of World Champion Punkin' Chunkers.
On Saturday, Oct. 16, 1999, the Aludium Q36 Pumpkin Modulator of Illinois won the chunkin' championship at the Morton, Ill. Punkin' Chunkin', while the top Sussex County finisher was the Road Warrior, owned by William Thompson of Harbeson.
The Q36 Modulator won the Illinois event with a blast of 3,539 feet, or 800 feet more than the Road Warrior's third-place shot of 2,730 feet.
Thompson and the other Sussex chunkers will have to do some major tinkering with their punkin' cannons if they hope to re-claim the Punkin' Chunkin' title that rightfully belongs here in Sussex County, where the sport was born 14 years ago.
The Sussex County contingent's next chance to unseat the defending world champion Q36 Pumpkin Modulator will be at the World Championship Punkin' Chunkin' in Harbeson on Nov. 6-7. The Road Warrior finished second in the Pumpkin Hurling Festival in Busti, N.Y., the weekend of Oct. 9-10.
More information on the 1999 World Championship Punkin' Chunkin' is available at the official Punkin' Chunkin' web site.
I guess some people are excited that Wal-Mart is moving to the central and eastern parts of Sussex County with stores planned for Georgetown and Rehoboth Beach.
I, for one, just can't get excited about America's top department store chain.
I've never felt that I've saved money shopping at the Wal-Mart in Seaford versus shopping at K-Mart or Rose's in Rehoboth Beach, and I've never noticed a difference in the quality of help at Wal-Mart versus the quality of help in K-Mart or Rose's. Wal-Mart employees were just as clueless as the other major department stores' employees.
It would probably be something to get excited about if we didn't already have plenty of retail options in the county.
I can remember growing up in Ocean View in the 1970s and having to travel to Salisbury or Dover to buy just about anything but groceries, but that is no longer the case with the super stores and retail outlets in Rehoboth, the many specialty shops catering to tourists in the resort communities, and the super stores and shopping plazas on U.S. 13 and U.S. 113.
Frankly, these Wal-Marts just don't figure to provide us with anything we don't already have.
The Dagsboro Volunteer Fire Co. should be commended for its donation of a rescue truck to the Northeast District Fire Company in flood-ravaged Duplin County, N.C.
The 1973 Ford rescue truck was driven to North Carolina Saturday night, Oct. 16, along with gear, hoses, air packs and tools donated from other Delaware fire companies.
The Dagsboro fire company recently replaced the 1973 truck with a new vehicle.
Flooding from Hurricane Floyd cost 22 of the Northeast District Fire Company's 24 members their homes and possessions.
Frankford Town Council will meet Friday, Oct. 22, 1999, at 7 p.m. to fill the council vacancy created by the resignation of former council member Kenneth Lynch at the Sept. 7, 1999 meeting.
The town received letters of interest in the position from Ralph Holloway and Michael Magathan and will decide between them at the Oct. 22 meeting. Bernard Lynch originally expressed interest but withdrew from consideration.
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