McDowell ‘strived to improve the lot of his fellow man’

DOVER — Some notes and quotes between headlines and deadlines…

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Last Sunday, we published an obituary for Floyd E. McDowell Sr., a longtime educator who advocated for school and health care reforms. He was an occasional contributor to the Delaware State News opinion page.

There was a fitting line in his obituary that read, “He was a champion of the disenfranchised and a quixotic dreamer who strived to improve the lot of his fellow man.”

Dr. McDowell had a lengthy career as an educator and he often championed ideas to improve schools.

His last commentary to appear in the Delaware State News was about 11 months ago.

Along with it, he had sent this editor a short note that read, “Of all of the more than 150 articles I’ve had published in professional journals and newspapers, none had more research-proven program and cost-effective evidence than the two programs explained in this article. I count 606 words in the article. I am confident parents of preschoolers and adolescent students will welcome this information. Also, taxpayers.”

It was, indeed, somewhat short for a Dr. McDowell commentary. Nevertheless, it was spirited.

He wrote:

“Thorough research-proven program and cost effective information about these two needed programs has been given to the following elected and appointed state education decision-makers: State Legislators; Governor, his appointed Secretary of Education and State School Board; State P-T-A and Delaware State Education Association. All have ignored this valuable information I sent them as Chair of our Delaware Coalition. All are directly and indirectly supporting the corporate world’s sole agenda which is to destroy our public schools so they can be privatized as cash cows like they are trying to privatize social security and Medicare/Medicaid.

“Their key weapon in this continuing destructive assault is superimposing irrelevant, disconnected, costly, useless standardized test driven projects accompanied by draconian regulations that place strait jackets and handcuffs on teachers, other building level program staff, students and their parents.”

In that opinion, he went on to tout the Dollywood Foundation’s Imagination Library program that provides books

Floyd E. McDowell Sr.

once a month from birth through ages 4 and 5. Research, he said, showed the effort led to higher achievement, graduation rates and success in higher education.

His second urging was to start days for middle and high schools later each morning. Adolescents need the extra sleep, he said, citing a number of studies.

“All of these research studies revealed that no matter what time our adolescents go to bed, they don’t fall asleep until around 11 o’clock,” he wrote. “This research informs us all adolescents need a minimum of 8 1/2 hours sleep on school nights and preferably 9 1/2 hours. The simple, no-cost solution to this serious health and school problem is to change their school start time to at least 8:30 a.m. and preferably 9 a.m.”

In his memory, we would love to read your opinions on either of these issues.

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There is a matter of the public’s “right to know” addressed on Page 1 of today’s Delaware State News.

The state has changed the way it informs the public about unclaimed property. In years’ past, the Delaware State News published a massive list of names from the state escheator’s office in an attempt to reunite Delawareans with their property.

To alert readers, we would run a front page header that read “Is the state holding your property?”

That’s not happening this year.

Legislators earlier this year changed the law. It now requires a letter to the owner’s last known address and placement of advertisements twice a year to direct residents to a website search.

Read reporter Matt Bittle’s story today so you know when and how to protect your interests.

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Our latest edition of “Outside the Oval” is now available online and on select newsstands Monday.

The Delaware State News publishes the booklet twice a year as race fans flock to Dover International Speedway in advance of next Sunday’s Apache Warrior 400.

Dale Earnhardt Jr., who is making his final start on Dover’s high-banked, mile oval, graces the cover.

In Dover, his most memorable race was a victory on Sept. 23, 2001.

Riding a wave of patriotism with 140,000 fans watching the first NASCAR race after the events of Sept. 11, he celebrated by holding an American flag out of the window of his car in an unforgettable victory lap.

Delaware State News reporter and veteran racing writer Mike Finney asked Denis McGlynn, president and CEO of Dover Motorsports Inc., about it.

“No one who witnessed that moment, coming less than one year after the death of his father, will ever forget it,” said Mr. McGlynn.

Also in this edition of Outside the Oval, you’ll want to read Kathy Willes’ feature on LeRoy Betts — the man Melvin Joseph asked to lead the construction effort in 1967. Mr. Betts, who grew up on a family farm in Felton, was just 28 years old at the time.

Mr. Joseph is a local legend, as many of you know, who started his construction company in 1940 with just one truck and a shovel.

Visit the Special Sections link at www.DelawareStateNews.net to view Outside the Oval here.

Reach editor Andrew West at awest@newszap.com

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