This Week At Legislative Hall: IEP Task Force Bill, Parent Opt-Out, Assessment Inventory & More!!!!

148th General Assembly

This will be one busy education week at Legislative Hall in Dover, DE.  Many education bills are moving to their next phase in the legislative process.  Here is what’s on the docket:

Senate Bill 33 w/Senate Amendment #3: This is the legislation that came out of the IEP Task Force.  It is up for a House vote, and if it passes, it goes to Governor Markell’s desk.  I like this bill with one exception: they took out a part about parent groups at schools.  Originally, it was supposed to be parents who first ask for an IEP will have an opportunity to meet with newly constructed parent groups at each charter school or district.  Now it is only for “existing” groups.  Even if Jack signs it, it won’t go into effect right away, so I would suggest parents get these “existing” groups going now.  No one knows what to look for in IEPs more than parents who have been through the process.

At the House Education Committee meeting on Wednesday, June 3rd, at 2:30, the following bills will be discussed: Senate Bill 62: regarding transportation of students, House Bill 144: another transportation bill dealing with appropriations, House Bill 146: Kim Williams bill dealing w/waiving of teacher licensure fees, and House Bill 148: Helene Keeley’s bill creating the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission.

And last, but certainly not least, we have the Senate Education Committee meeting at Wednesday at 3pm.  House Bill 50!!! Parent Opt-Out!  Also Senate Joint Resolution #2: the evil assessment inventory resolution the DOE thinks will stop House Bill 50.  Also Senate Bills #92 and 93, dealing with Autism, and Senate Bill #94, dealing with military identification for students w/military ties in their family.

If you plan on coming Wednesday, GET THERE EARLY and wait for the doors to open up if you want a halfway decent seat!

Bleeding Hearts

Life and Death

I went to bed last night at 8pm.  This is very unusual for me, but I think I know why.  I was exhausted, emotionally and physically.  For months now, I’ve been writing non-stop on here, hoping for change.  I woke up at 2:10am this morning, came downstairs, and caught up on some reading.  I go to work at 6am, and I knew I wouldn’t be falling back asleep.  There was something more to all of this though.  My subconscious was well aware of something.

Two years ago, I woke up to the phone ringing.  It was 3:30am in the morning.  I knew exactly why the phone rang and what it meant.  I wasn’t at my house, I was up at my parents house in Pennsylvania.  That phone ringing meant only one thing.  My mother passed away.

She was on hospice in her home, and my father was taking care of her.  She didn’t want to pass anywhere else, with machines and tubes.  She had been ill for a very long time.  I knew the end was coming, which was why I went up there a few days prior.  I’ve always had a sense for this type of thing.  I’ve never been sure if that was a blessing or a curse.

I went downstairs and my oldest brother just looked at me and said “She’s gone.”  I heard my father on the phone talking to the hospice nurse who would soon be coming over.

I went outside about fifteen minutes ago, and I watched as the blue-green-orange hue started to come up in the east.  Above me, the stars were shining bright in the night sky.  It was quiet and peaceful.  These are the times when I think of my mom the most, when there is nothing else distracting me.

My mom and I are a lot alike.  We both have a very deep passion for the things that bother us.  We also fight like hell for our kids.  She taught me that.  But she also taught me it isn’t just about your own home, it’s about the world that we live in.  We all have a responsibility in this world, to be what we are supposed to be.  We fail at this constantly.  And we never know what this purpose is, I guess, until we drift into the afterlife, into the arms of whatever we believe in the most.

Sometimes I can feel my mom watching over me.  I remember over a year ago when I was going back and forth whether to tell my son’s story on Kilroy’s Delaware.  I knew it would be a bold thing to do, and once I did it I could never go back.  I wrestled with this thought for weeks.  It was at one moment, when I looked over and saw it.  The sign.

A few weeks after my mom passed, I was at Lowes.  I wanted to get a particular plant my mom always loved, bleeding hearts.  I remember as a child my mom showing me how to open them up and see what’s inside.  I always thought it was one of life’s more interesting tricks.  I bought the plant, came home, and put it in a corner near my house.

The bleeding hearts didn’t fare too well that summer.  I watered them all the time and made sure they didn’t suffocate from the weeds.  By the end of the summer, the plant dried up and I saw the stem start to brown.  The bleeding hearts died.  As the summer warmth faded to fall’s crisp embrace, I mowed the lawn one day and accidentally ran over the withered corpse that had been my connection with my mom.

Seven months later, one May morning, I sat on my porch.  I hadn’t been in my backyard too much and I knew I had to mow the lawn soon.  I walked past my fence and that was when I saw it- the bleeding hearts, in full bloom.  What the plant had gone through was just the natural ebbs and tides of life.  but I took it as a sign.  I emailed Kilroy with the first part of my son’s story that evening.

I can’t explain why I do what I do.  I wrote last week about synchronicity and fate.  But what if it’s more than that?  What if this is my thing?  I will never know, but even when I am criticized and blasted by my critics, when things seem at their lowest, I still believe.  I still think things can change.  I think there is more to all of this than what we know.  We can change, we just have to come together.  We need to do this for the kids.  Not for ourselves, not for our own advancement or personal glory, but for them.  They need us.  That’s why I can’t accept all these things going on in education.  If it’s not good for kids, than it really shouldn’t be there.  We just have to find common ground to work from and really turn education into what it is meant to be.  Not just for my own son, but all of Delaware’s kids.  It’s what my mom taught me.

As the seasons pass, and the dawn leads to the day, my heart bleeds for the lost kids in our state.  I pray that we can do right for them and carry them out of the darkness.  It’s always been about them, not ourselves.