Mike Matthews (and many others in Delaware) Plea To the 148th General Assembly @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de @RCEAPrez @ecpaige @Apl_Jax @DelawareBats @nannyfat @Roof_O #netde #eduDE #edchat #Delaware

Mike Matthews Facebook page is one of the first places I go when I am looking for information on education in Delaware.  Today, I found this:

This post is directed at the House Democratic caucus, which will be meeting tomorrow to determine leadership positions for the next General Assembly: House members, for the past two years our education system has continued to remain under attack by a Department of Education and Governor that refuse to address the real issues impacting our schools and instead rely on punitive labels and bad pieces of legislation driven by the ‪#‎edreform‬ movement. I’m going to be very frank: Current House leadership has generally aligned itself too closely to the governor’s agenda. There has been little pushback on matters of education outside of a cabal of reliable Democrats who’ve rightly voted against the Governor’s education agenda. Regardless of how the leadership vote goes tomorrow, all in the House — and Democrats in particular — must do a better job in 2015 of introducing and debating education legislation that’s good for kids.

I’m in full agreement with Mike.  I have to add Republicans need to do a better job.  If Greg Lavelle seriously wants to run for Governor in 2016, he needs to step up his game big time.  When Markell’s house of cards crumbles, people will be looking at who aligned with him.  The first place people will look is how legislators voted on key education bills.  In particular, the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  The legislators never received the chance to vote on Common Core, but they had their chance with Smarter (as the DOE now calls it).

We need the voices of sanity in our legislature.  I would love to see Senator Dave Lawson on an education committee.  I know this hasn’t been his forte in the past, but he has shown a keen interest in education in the past year.  It wouldn’t shock me to see him run for Governor in 2016.  He introduced legislation on the last day of the 147th Assembly to ban common core and everything that goes with it.  It was a futile effort, and he knew that, but he planted the seed.  Now it just needs to grow.

What’s Up With The IEP Task Force? Are Parents No Longer The Focus? @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de @Apl_Jax @RCEAPrez @ecpaige @nannyfat #netde #eduDE #edchat #Delaware

The IEP Task Force in Delaware has met five times.  The last session was very reminiscent of the second meeting.  Both of those meetings were very heavy on the side of the schools and not the parents.  The largest matter concern parents receiving a copy of the IEP draft prior to an IEP meeting.  There is also the matter of the group’s transparency.  Lieutenant Governor Matt Denn, the chair of the task force, always had the groups minutes and audio recordings up the next day.

The IEP draft was a hot topic the other night.  In prior meetings it had been discussed and most felt it was a good idea for parents to have a copy of the draft before a student’s IEP meeting.  But members were acting like it was a bad idea the other night.  Mary Ann Mieczkowski, the Director of the Exception Children Resources group at the Delaware Department of Education, said she worries about the legal implications of giving parents a copy of the draft.  Like parents don’t know what is a draft and what isn’t.  C’mon Mitch, I think parents can recognize what is and isn’t a draft.  I even overheard members, including a special education teacher, state parents get ten days after the IEP meeting to sign the document.  That is only if they choose to do so and aren’t pressured to sign the IEP right then and there.

There is also the matter of the group’s transparency.  Yes, the DOE pushed them out of their prior room and there were problems with the video conference “thingamajigger” as Denn put it, but Denn promised the public full transparency.  Here we are four days later, and nothing new is on the website.  Has anything happened between the fourth meeting and this one?  Something called an election?  Denn got the votes, and when asked if he would continue to chair the task force after his inauguration as attorney general, he didn’t answer.  Denn already suggested having the group continue after the report to Governor Markell.

The legislators come and go as they please.  Some arrive late, some leave early, some don’t even bother to show up.  In the beginning, most of them were very vocal during meetings, but now they barely say anything.

I had emailed Denn about including IEP denials as a topic in the next meeting.  I received a response from Kim Siegel indicating it would not happen, but the group does want to increase how the state audits IEPs and hold them more accountable.  To say I was disappointed is an understatement since I have been pushing for this since day one.  But yet things like vocational schools and services for the blind (mainly covered by the Department of Health and Social Services) are topics discussed at length during meetings.  What is the point of this task force anymore?

We will all know when the draft of the task force is released to the public what made the cut and what didn’t.  I sincerely hope the task force can bring it back yet again to the parents, but more importantly, the student with special needs.  They need to remember, as one task force member said, what got them there in the first place.  It wasn’t to discuss matters that did not put Delaware in hot water with the Feds and put the state on a “needs intervention” label.