with Iron Fist
NOTE: Sussex Beat is a mix of news, analysis and commentary by Eric Magill, publisher of Sussex County Online.
Governor Thomas R. Carper isn't going to help his U.S. Senate campaign against popular incumbent William V. Roth with the kind of heavy-handed governing tactics he exhibited today.
The governor, in what can only be viewed as a retaliatory measure against the General Assembly rather than an effort to do what is best for public education in this state, is now seeking legal means to institute some of the Educator Accountability measures that the GA wisely decided to table until January when it met in special session on Thursday, Oct. 28, 1999.
Amazingly, after the Student Accountability debacle the governor and his Department of Education foisted on the state, the governor is upset that the General Assembly actually looked at the Educator Accountability bill for teachers and administrators this time and added so many amendments that a vote couldn't be taken Thursday night.
So instead of waiting for the legislators to present the amendments to their constituents and study the new bill themselves for further discussion and a vote in January 2000, the governor is considering a couple of actions to try to force the Educator Accountability bill into law before the start of the New Year.
For one, the governor is considering forcing the General Assembly to return for another special session this fall to debate the bill and vote on it.
But he has also instructed his legal counsel, Thomas P. McGonigle, "to immediately begin an exhaustive examination of the rules and regulations" that would enable him to implement some of the Educator Accountability measures without the GA's approval.
A two-page press release from the governor's office on Friday, Oct. 29, states in part: "Carper also pointed out that a great deal of educator accountability measures could be accomplished through implementing rules and regulations."
The governor was then quoted in the release as saying, "Educator accountability has been talked about for nearly a year and I have no inclination to put this off until next year. Students are now accountable and it's only fair that educators be held accountable, too."
Of course, the governor conveniently neglected to mention that the reason the Educator Accountability bill stalled Thursday night is precisely because of the problems the Student Accountability measures, particularly the Delaware Student Testing program, have created.
Legislators didn't forget how they voted on that bill without really understanding it just because they trusted the governor and the Department of Education to have all of the bill's Is dotted and Ts crossed.
"I'm disappointed to hear that," said Sen. George Bunting (D-Bethany Beach) of Carper's examination of potential legal measures to institute Educator Accountability measures.
"It's his prerogative, but we have 61 other legislators representing all of the districts in the state. I hope he won't take that tact. It sounds like he's trying to get back at us. We should wait until January. It (special session) probably shouldn't have even been done last night."
Sen. George Bunting (D-Millsboro) said too many issues have come to light on the Student Accountability program to fully consider the Educator Accountability bill.
"I think we need a couple of months to get things ironed out," he said. "We were presented last night (at special session) with a whole lot more questions than answers. We just found out at the 12th hour last night that the state could do something for special education students. That's why a lot of people are getting very questionable about a lot of things. I think we all need a little cooling off on this thing."
Personally, I like the intentions of the state's education reform efforts, but it's obvious they haven't been well-planned, and that's why I support the GA's decision to thoroughly examine the Educator Accountability bill before voting on it.
The governor should be grateful, too, because it's unlikely the bill could have passed Thursday night, anyway.
"I have been governor for seven years and I have never been more disapppointed in the General Assembly than today," the governor said in the press release.
I, for one, have never been more disappointed in the governor.
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The Delaware Office of Planning Coordination web site at http://www.state.de.us/planning/ includes the controversial document, "Managing Growth in 21st Century Delaware: Strategies for State Policies and Spending", that has Sussex County officials up in arms. Also posted on the site are the Delaware Assistance Handbook for Local Governments and the LUPA Reviews Page detailing proposed land use changes under review under the Land Use Planning Act.
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