Governor Markell Shuts Parents Out Again! SAIL Afterschool Program Has Dangerous Red Flags! Beware!

21st Century Learning Centers, House Bill 240, SAIL Program

I just don’t get it.  What is it with this Governor and parents?  House Bill 240, the legislation behind the Statewide Afterschool Initiative Learning (SAIL) Program was officially released today.  I have several issues with this legislation.  Before I get into that though, I do believe afterschool programs for kids are extremely helpful if done right and in moderation.  But I have grave reservations with this program due to data release, the use of non-profits in this, and the amount of time kids are away from their homes.  I agree that activities students can get involved in after school are very dangerous, especially in our cities.  But this bill seems like it is very rushed.  It is already on the Delaware House Education Committee meeting tomorrow.

First off, as per the below legislation, the whole purpose of this is so students can “meet challenging State academic standards“.  As part of this program, a new council would be developed called The Statewide Afterschool Initiative Learning Council.  Sure, you would want to have some type of organization for a program like this.  Surely parents would be a part of this, right?  Wrong!  There are NO slots for parents on this council.  But it will have three members of non-profit organizations.  No Delaware PTA representation, no teachers, no special education teachers, no charter school representation, no health providers, no psychologists or psychiatrists, and NO PARENTS!  They want Delaware students and schools that “meet the approved state indication for low socioeconomic status” to be eligible for the SAIL program, but they don’t want ANY parents on this council?  They expect to have children staying afterschool for four to five days a week for three hours and they don’t want parent input?

Since this looks like it will be partly run by non-profits, the idea of a “data share” between teachers and the afterschool coordinators that are NOT employees of the state or the schools is frightening in my opinion.  “A computer based student information system” will be implemented with what?  What safeguards are in place to prevent student data from getting out there more than what it already has?

As a “means to measure the program“, school attendance and grades and at least one (but it can be all) of these factors shall be used: behavior evaluation through school discipline reports, surveys of teachers, standardized test scores, criminal justice records, physical health evaluations, student and parent surveys, class participation, course completion, homework completion, and afterschool program attendance.  That is a huge amount of data that would be put into outside hands, away from the school district and local control.

It seems like Delaware and the feds want children from low socioeconomic backgrounds to essentially became wards of the state for the vast majority of their academic lives.  And the potential data sharing has red flags all over it.  I could easily see Rodel becoming involved in this initiative.  I would NOT want my child’s health or behavioral or any type of information going to them, period.  And who decides who gets the program and who doesn’t?  The Delaware Department of Education.  I cannot support this bill as written.  I’m sure more will come out about it, and I would hope to God our legislators have the good sense to ask all the questions I have and more.

According to the Every Student Succeeds Act, these “21st Century Community Learning Centers” will require 95% of the grant funds will go to the Local Education Authority (districts or charter schools), only 1% can be used for administrative purposes, and the rest can be used for state activities.  If this law is already indicating non-profits must be used, isn’t that already stripping the local school districts of any control over how the program is created?  Yes, there are three Superintendents on the SAIL Council, the DSEA President, and the Secretary of Education (or his designated representative), but that is an extremely small amount of representation for programs that have 95% of the funds going to the districts or charters.  And sorry, I don’t trust the DOE or their ability to disperse these funds with fidelity and honesty.

According to this release  from the National Council of State Legislatures, activities for these programs can include “music and the arts as tools to support student success through the promotion of constructive student engagement, problem solving, and conflict resolution.”  I’m sorry, I didn’t realize that was the purpose of students learning music and art.  I thought it was so they could expand their creativity.  Who writes these things?  It doesn’t sound like anyone who is around children and teenagers too much.  This guidance also states “mental health services” could be used at the learning centers.  The potential for abuse and manipulation in that arena is too frightening for words…

Schools are not parents.  They will never replace parents.  I recognize that students in poverty and neglect suffer immensely without proper parental supports, but this solution is very radical and very dangerous.  Valerie Longhurst may have put this bill together, but this legislation is just a small part of the corporate education reform movement that is taking students away from parental control more and more every single day.  Our children are OUR children, and they don’t belong to you.  I would really like it if they get their grubby hands out of our children’s minds and schools.

To read the full legislation, please read below:


7 thoughts on “Governor Markell Shuts Parents Out Again! SAIL Afterschool Program Has Dangerous Red Flags! Beware!

  1. There is a desperate need for after school programs for children with disabilities so that parents can work past 2 or 3 pm. Since Variety left Delaware there are no quality afterschool programs for kids with disabilities. This legislation will do little to address that critical need unless they will fund the kind of support and training needed (often one on one). The current 21st Century programs are supposed to allow students with disabilities, but funding is based on students with typical needs so programs struggle to support them (and parents don’t send them). Also, there are no representatives on this new board who understand the specific needs of our kids.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I don’t understand how you craft after school programs without the people already doing it?! How about including B&G Club and other local daycare centers like the one I have that has made awesome accommodations for my ASD Kid since she was 4? Seriously. Superintendents of these districts don’t get it – if they did they would already have an after school program. Also just attended a meeting with Nurses & Kids who refused to take my daughter but accepts typical kids in Milford. They are now playing catch up and trying to craft an Autism program. This is all so frustrating!


  3. Having parents on committees is overrated. It’s always the usual suspects who end up as parent representatives on these committees anyway. It is better for parents to attend meetings as a member of the public than to be committed to the entire schedule of meetings. Just keep their feet to the fire to make sure agendas are properly posted in advance and minutes are available online.


  4. I agree with you Jenn C. Seems like a overlap with Boys and Girls Club. How can they ask for all this money to start a new program when the state is in a deficit? Couldn’t they work with programs already out there and perhaps improve upon them. Doesn’t surprise me that there are no parents invited to the table. The politicians will turn it around and say why weren’t parents involved in the discussions? Because no one ever reaches out to them. I think we need to clean up what is being offered to the students during the day before we extend their day even longer. Make better use of the time they are there. If music and art wasn’t cut in the first place to make room for a heavy emphasis on Math and English for the test scores, there wouldn’t have been a need for this program.


    1. I thought this was an afterschool program, wherein they can introduce whatever they want? So why not add music and art….it is well known that both of these are necessary in a kids life. That being said, this program appears to be a great start for underpriveleged children in the state of Delaware. Sure there are afterschool programs already in place, but they are not funded by the State but by the individual who can AFFORD to pay for such a thing.

      I think this Bill could be the start of a good thing. As much as we want kids spending more time with their families, there is a huge discrepancy between low income and those who can already afford these programs. In addition, the low income families HAVE to work past school hours but they don’t make enough for after school programs. I remain hopeful that this is a good bill for the State of Delaware.


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