Demand Funding For Delaware K-3 Basic Special Education Students

The Delaware Special Education nightmare has gone on long enough.  Years ago, Delaware Governor Jack Markell signed a bill to give extra funding for special education students.  With categories such as basic, complex and intensive, this unit-based funding model allots funds based on the number of special education categories there are in each grade at each school.  For basic special education funding for students in Kindergarten to 3rd grade there is no difference in the funding than their peers in regular education in those grades.  Last year, State Rep. Kim Williams introduced House Bill 30 which would give this funding to students in those grades.  It was released from the House Education Committee soon after but it has sat in the House Appropriations Committee ever since.  Meanwhile, our Governor, in his latest proposed budget for FY2017 has failed once again to give that funding.

The result of this is hundreds of Delaware students not getting proper special education services, required by Federal law.  This is what happens: a parent requests an IEP.  Many schools in Delaware deny the IEP in those grades since they know they won’t get the funding for it unless it is a higher category.  If they do approve it, they have to use the miniscule federal IDEA-B funding they get and the rest comes from their local funding.  In many cases, services written into the IEP such as occupational therapy or counseling are not given to students because of this obscene lack of funding.

The Wilmington Education Improvement Commission is misguided if they truly believe any funding for their redistricting plan will give funding for students in K-3 who are considered basic special education.  The Governor did not put it in the budget.  But they still present to public bodies that these students will get these funds.  And every time I call them out on it, someone tells me “we’re working on it”.  If it was truly a priority, it would be there.  No questions asked.  I’ve been telling them this since day one.  The Wilmington advocates can talk about how many generations of students have lost because of no services.  How about the millennia of people with disabilities who have always been cast aside with education funding as if they aren’t even worth it.  Federal law requires the funding to be available to be provided for students with disabilities.  If you want to talk about discrimination and mistreatment, please remember that.  And also remember many African-American students also have disabilities, statewide.

Our Delaware Department of Education and Governor Markell want to provide $18 million in funding to early education for the next fiscal year.  One of the goals of this, according to them, is to reduce the amount of students needing special education services in their first few years of school.  On the surface, this looks honorable, but be assured that it is not.  What Markell and the DOE have failed to recognize (or know completely) is the fact that disabilities are neurologically based.  By giving them the extra support in those early years and then putting them into Kindergarten without the funding to sustain those services, these children will suffer.  It is not right to put the bulk of this funding on the local education agencies.  By not giving this funding, these children have suffered.  No amount of Response to Intervention is going to cure a disability.  I firmly believe it is a tactic by which these special needs children are purposely denied this funding.

These students don’t do well on state assessments.  Markell and the DOE have always known this.  State assessments are not designed to make students proficient.  They lose their meaning if everyone does well.  So the powers that be want these students to do bad on the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  I have heard horror stories this year from teachers who say it takes students with disabilities five times longer to do sections of the test than their regular peers.  And they still won’t reach this mythological proficiency.  This was something that could only be carefully planned.  It is why the Governor gave NO allocations for it in any budget since he signed the needs-based funding bill.  It would interfere with his Education Inc. testing buddies and their huge hedge fund returns.  It is also far easier to give these students a career path towards menial jobs than to give them the funding they deserve so they could perhaps have a shot at success.  You may fool people all the time, but you have NEVER fooled me.  One only needs to look at Delaware Online Checkbook to see this strategy of yours has hurt many students and families over the past four years.

So please sign the change.org petition: https://www.change.org/p/peter-schwartzkopf-pass-house-bill-30-in-delaware-giving-basic-special-education-funding-to-students-in-k-3 and demand our General Assembly pass House Bill 30.   The time is NOW for this bill to move forward.  We can no longer sit by and watch while the most vulnerable to students suffer needlessly.  Tonight at the Red Clay board meeting, Superintendent Dr. Merv Daugherty told the board and the audience to support HB30.  Their board passed a resolution supporting it.  All Delaware school boards need to do the same.  I asked the Capital Board of Education months ago to do the same thing but they have not addressed this at all.

redclayhb30resolution

 

WEIC Redistricting Bill Tabled in House Education Committee To Add Proposed Amendments

At the House Education Committee meeting today in Delaware, House Joint Resolution #12 which would have allowed the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission redistricting plan to move forward, was tabled.  State Rep. Charles Potter, in his introductory statements, recommended the bill be tabled to add amendments which would otherwise have caused the plan to die in the House Education Committee.  While no amendments have been added to the legislation as of yet, it is most likely in regards to the issue of property assessments.  One of the recommendations of the redistricting plan is to allow the Red Clay Consolidated School District Board of Education to incrementally raise property taxes without a referendum.  Many House Republicans oppose this.  Once the amendment is added I will certainly put it up.

Several supporters of the bill gave public comment to urge the General Assembly to move forward.  A few opposed the legislation based on inequality for students throughout the state.  Many members of the House Education Committee were either not present or skipped the meeting entirely.

While some spoke about how this will provide extra funding for students with disabilities, there is no mention of this in Governor Markell’s proposed budget.  I advised I support the bill if that funding is restored AND State Rep. Kim Williams’ House Bill 30 is approved to provide this essential funding for ALL students with disabilities in basic special education in grades Kindergarten to 3rd grade.

State Rep. Helene Keeley gave a very powerful speech before the committee voted about the situation with students in Wilmington and how the drug epidemic has ravaged the city.  The committee will meet next week to discuss HJR #12 with the soon to be added amendment.

The Test Secrets Revealed……

kavips

Since I’m in Delaware, I couldn’t reveal my signed obligations… But someone in New Jersey can… And likewise, I can reveal questions off the PAARC in New Jersey, whereas no teacher in New Jersey can…..

And it is all legal.  Neither of us violated our signed statements.

Here is what every parent needs to know is on the PAARC for fourth grade.

On the Spring 2016 PARCC for 4th Graders, students were expected to read an excerpt from Shark Life: True Stories about Sharks and the Sea by Peter Benchley and Karen Wojtyla. According to Scholastic, this text is at an interest level for Grades 9-12, and at a 7th Grade reading level. The Lexile measure is 1020L, which is most often found in texts that are written for middle school, and according to Scholastic’s own conversion chart would be equivalent to a 6th grade benchmark around W, X…

View original post 1,700 more words

Kilroy’s Legacy On Senate Agenda Today For Full Senate Vote

House Bill 61, the school board audio recording legislation, is up for a full Delaware Senate vote today.  This bill has a long history in the Delaware General Assembly.  Many districts and the State Board of Education already record their board meetings and put them up on their website.  This bill would make so they all have to, including charters and vo-techs.

HB61SenateAgenda

In the 147th General Assembly, it was House Bill 23.  It was released from the House Education Committee but never progressed from there.  State Rep. Deb Hudson reintroduced the bill last year as House Bill 61.  It cleared the House Education Committee last year and passed the House this year.  A little over a month ago it was released from the Senate Education Committee.  The Chair of the Senate Education Committee is the legislator that puts it on the agenda for the Senate, which would be Senator David Sokola.  Finally, after many years, Kilroy’s dream is about to come true.  Others fought for this as well, but Kilroy was the one really pushing it.  If the Senate passes this (and I can’t think of any reason why they wouldn’t), it goes to Governor Markell for signature and then it would be the law of the land.

Never underestimate what hard work and perseverance can accomplish.  Don’t give up, even when you think all is lost.