ABLE Savings Accounts For Individuals With Disabilities Comes To Delaware With House Bill 60

Delaware State Rep. Melanie Smith introduced House Bill 60 today which will bring the Federal program called Achieving a Better Life Experience to Delaware.  Under this proposed law, individuals with disabilities would enjoy tax savings similar to 529 accounts.  With this law, funds could be used not just for education but also to help with disability expenses.  Read the full legislation with a mammoth 26 sponsors between the House and the Senate!

 

 

Governor Markell Wants A Conversation But Parents MUST Be An Equal Party

From the Delaware.gov website, my thoughts on the bottom.

Governor Initiates Statewide Plan for Future Education Offerings

Date Posted: Thursday, March 19th, 2015
Categories:  News Office of Governor Markell

Bookmark and Share

Announces review of public schools and programs to address unmet student needs

Dover, DE – Governor Markell today announced a needs assessment and strategic planning process for the future of Delaware public schools, including charter, vocational-technical, and magnet schools. The State will review current opportunities available to students, analyze trends, and quantify areas of unmet needs for Delaware families.

“Many amazing schools and programs across the state are offering students diverse and innovative opportunities to meet their individual needs,” said Markell. “However, not all of our students have access to the programs of their choice. Many schools are oversubscribed and should be expanded or replicated. At the same time, we don’t want our districts to start new programs, and we don’t want to open new charter and magnet schools, if families aren’t asking for what they offer.

“This effort will ensure that state and district plans are designed to best meet individual students’ needs and spark their interests.”

Launching the effort during a meeting of the State Board of Education, the Governor specifically referenced the tremendous progress made at Vo Tech schools in each county, noting that they don’t have the capacity to serve all of the students who select them in the school choice process.

Other trends include four new middle and high schools that will open in the City of Wilmington this fall, reflecting the desire for new options in the city. In addition, programs focused on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills that are needed for jobs in growing industries, like those offered at Conrad Schools of Science, as well as the college prep courses at Mount Pleasant High School, have garnered increased interest. However, no process has existed to systematically ensure that more students can gain from the experiences they want at traditional, magnet, and charter schools.

The strategic plan developed through the Governor’s Statewide Review of Educational Opportunities for Delaware Students will quantify programs where demand exceeds the state’s capacity and analyze demographic trends to project future needs. That will help the state, school districts, and charter school operators know where and how to invest, from which dual-enrollment programs are most valuable and popular to the types of curriculum from which more students would benefit.

“For the past two years, the State Board of Education has referenced the need for the state to develop a comprehensive analysis of our portfolio of public schools, a thorough needs assessment to identify strengths, weaknesses, saturations, as well as opportunities for success and innovation,” said Teri Quinn Grey, President of the State Board of Education President. “We believe that such an analysis would aid the state in the development of this strategic plan, as well as be a useful tool for local boards and school leaders in deciding school programming decisions, facility decisions, and other educational opportunities. It also will be a tool to be utilized by policy leaders, community members, and businesses to evaluate opportunities for further investment and expansion in Delaware.”

The review announced today was inspired by a proposal by the Wilmington Education Advisory Committee (WEAC) – a group formed by the Governor last year that has urged the state to be smarter and more strategic about the growth of educational opportunities, particularly for charter schools in Wilmington. Markell said he agreed with the Committee’s recommendation, but also believes we can’t limit this effort to one city or county, or to charter schools alone.

“It can benefit our education system statewide,” said Markell. “All schools are part of the solution.”

WEAC Chair Tony Allen voiced support for expanding on the group’s recommendation.

“There is no question that charter schools will remain a critical part of public education in Delaware and that many students throughout the state will be served by them, and in many cases served well,” said Allen. “However, we cannot continue to operate two systems with little interaction and coordination and expect the quality benefits that all of our children deserve. It is our hope that a plan for charter schools extends itself to public education in Delaware broadly and forces stronger collaboration across the traditional district, charter and vo-tech boundaries.”

Representative Charles Potter Jr. (D-Wilmington North), who the Governor recognized at the event for his advocacy in establishing WEAC as an opportunity for members of the community to have a stronger voice on issues involving education of Wilmington children, voiced his support of the plan as well.

“I’m in support of the governor’s efforts to undertake this statewide strategic plan,” said Rep. Potter. “I feel strongly that we have to take a comprehensive look at what is happening in Wilmington and address those issues as well.”

It sounds like someone is realizing education is a mess in this state.  I think the people are the ones who need to control this conversation though.  For every person in this group, you need to have an EQUAL and state-wide amount of parents.  And not parents who are in this group or that group.  I’ve been to meetings like that.  We need down to earth, grassroots parents.  It is very easy to pick out the good and capitalize on that, but if you aren’t looking at the bad, the rot will still be there.

Nobody knows children like a child’s parent.  I defy you to find anyone that knows more than a parent that loves their child.  I think we are willing to hear a conversation, but we want to be an EQUAL part of it.  Otherwise, this just isn’t going to work Governor Markell.

 

Delaware State Board of Education Approves ESEA Waiver, Unanimous Vote

Delaware General Assembly May Produce Bill To Ban Charter Enrollment Preferences

“I don’t know how much longer we can talk about the high-performing charter sector if there’s an asterisk next to some of them” because of the preferences, she (Jennifer Nagourney) says.

Jaques says the House Education Committee may consider legislation this spring to remove preferences from the admissions process.”

According to this article from Larry Nagengast on WDDE, the 148th General Assembly may see a bill introduced to get rid of charter school enrollment preferences in Delaware.  Discussion in the article was around the whole charter school environment in Delaware, but this shocker towards the end caused my jaw to drop.

I think it’s great that Jennifer Nagourney with the Charter School Office at the Delaware Department of Education is taking a hard look at the reality of charters in Delaware, specifically Wilmington.  With a pending ACLU complaint being looked at by the US DOE’s Office of Civil Rights, as well as clarification from a leading national charter school organization, the writing is on the wall.

At the last meeting of the Enrollment Preference Task Force, which stemmed out of House Bill 90, Alex Medler with the National Association of Charter School Authorizers told the task force any specific interest enrollment preference should only be used if it would allow needed students into the school, i.e. low-income, minority, special needs, etc.

Finally, Delaware State Rep. Earl Jaques says something that makes sense!  One thing is for sure, this would change the conversation about choice in Delaware.

To read the full article, please go here:

http://www.wdde.org/74292-charter-schools-1

The Aspen Institute: How They Shape Delaware Education & Reap The Profits

The Aspen Institute is a think tank that deals with global issues with a very large emphasis on education.  Eight citizens of Delaware are part of its fellowship program: Governor Jack Markell, Secretary of Education Mark Murphy, Dr. Paul Herdman of the Rodel Foundation, Senator Chris Coons, Tom Kovach, Collin O’Mara, Chief Justice of the Delaware Supreme Court Leo Strine and Portia Yarborough with DuPont.  Mark Murphy’s predecessor Lillian Lowery is also a fellow.

Their website describes the organization as:

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC.  Our mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues.

Their website gives nine areas where they deal with these critical issues: Community & Family Prosperity, Culture & Communication, Economy, Education, Energy & The Environment, Health, Justice & Equity, Philanthropy & Social Enterprise, and Security & Global Affairs.

The President and CEO of The Aspen Institute is Walter Isaacson, a former CEO of CNN/TimeWarner.  He also serves on the board for Teach For America.

They also happen to have some of the biggest movers in the corporate education reform movement: US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, KIPP Founder Richard Barth, Great Schools CEO Bill Jackson, Education Pioneers CEO Scott Morgan, LearnZillion CEO Eric Westendorf, ten of the biggest Teach For America executives in the country including COO Elisa Villanueva Beard, John Luczak with Education First Consulting, Senior Vice President Laura Slover of Achieve Inc., three executives from the Achievement First chain of charter schools, Leah Hamilton with the Carnegie Corporation, Relay Graduate School President Norman Atkins, Uncommon Schools CEO Brett Peiser and Managing Director Julie Jackson, no less than seven high level officials with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Ed Kirby with the Walton Family Foundation, Russlynn Ali and Shivam Mallick-Shah with the US Department of Education, John Bailey and Patricia Levesque with Foundation for Excellence in Education, Marc Porter Magee with 50CAN, CEO Jean Desravines of New Leaders for New Schools, Leslie Kerner and Larry Berger with Wireless Generation (now Amplify), COO Gloria Lee and three other associates with NewSchools Venture Fund, Co-founder Joann Gama of IDEA Public Schools (Charters), President Tim Daly with The New Teacher Project, Dan Katzir with The Broad Foundation, Founder John Danner of Rocketship Education, Executive Director Chris Eide of Teachers United, CEO Kevin Hall with Charter School Growth Fund, and CEO Eva Moskowitz of Success Academy Charter Schools.  All items in bold are explained below.

Add in companies like Google, Facebook, Goldman Sachs, Foot Locker, Bank Of America, J.P. Morgan,  McKinsey & Company, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, and many more.

So what does a fellow do at the Aspen Institute?  They have projects they work on for the betterment of their chosen area.  For Governor Markell, Paul Herdman and Mark Murphy, they are all in the education sector.

Markell’s project is below: Continue reading The Aspen Institute: How They Shape Delaware Education & Reap The Profits