So much for sticking up for your own party Jack Markell! Delaware Governor Jack Markell not only found a way to kiss the rings of his Ponzi education reformer buddies, but also caused a rift between State Senator David Sokola and State Rep. Earl Jaques, made sure Meredith Chapman will become the next Senator of the 8th District, continued his favorite hobby of screwing over Delaware teachers, and proved he is the worst education Governor in Delaware history. Congrats Jack! You have cemented your legacy with this bonehead move!
The Delaware Senate passed a bill dealing with the Freedom of Information Act on Wednesday but placed an amendment on the bill. The amendment on Senate Bill 258 removes the terms “data dictionaries” and “file layouts”. By including those terms in the potential law, it would essentially prevent parents from finding out what type of student information is going to outside companies from the Delaware Department of Education. I wrote about this bill on May 19th in a very long article about student data privacy and technology in our schools. I emailed the entire Senate at the same time. As a result of my efforts, an amendment was attached to the bill removing the term “data dictionaries” and “file layouts”.
Sources informed me the state was receiving an abnormal amount of requests about the state IT infrastructure which caused much concern. While it is not unusual to receive these requests, one source who requested anonymity stated, “It was an excessive amount of requests within a short period of time. Red flags went up!”
By preventing parents from being able to find out this kind of information regarding student data, the bill could have violated the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). As part of FERPA, parents do have certain rights in asking for information about what records are released about their child. I am glad the Delaware Senate Executive Committee took this step and listened to my concern. I’m not sure if others expressed the same concern, but if they did, thank you! A special thank you to the sponsor of this legislation, State Senator Brian Bushweller, who immediately responded to my thoughts on the matter and took action.
Google describes data dictionaries as the following:
a set of information describing the contents, format, and structure of a database and the relationship between its elements, used to control access to and manipulation of the database.
Yesterday, the News Journal posted an article about one of the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission redistricting bill that was tabled in the House Education Committee. In the original article, it talked about how the House Republicans and two Democrat State Representatives prevented the bill from moving forward. In the update to the article, it appears State Reps. Sean Matthews and Deb Heffernan are ready to give the bill a full House vote.
“All along, my concerns have been related to funding – and there are still many hurdles to overcome. However, after conversations with my peers and leadership, I am now confident that they are committed to addressing those concerns. For this reason, I will sign the bill out of committee so that it may receive full consideration on the House floor,” Matthews said.
“I agree that this legislation deserves a full hearing in the House,” Heffernan said, while noting she wants more than “structural changes” in the education system.
In the House Education Committee, a majority vote is required for legislation to be released. The committee has 14 members, so 8 votes are needed. Only one of the votes from Heffernan or Matthews would allow the bill to move forward.
The committee will be having a special meeting next Tuesday, June 21st, solely designated towards House Bill 424 at 2:30pm in the House Majority Caucus room, located next to the House chamber. Before the committee can release the bill, a majority vote is required to lift the bill from its tabled status. My hunch is it will be on the House agenda for a full vote on Thursday, June 23rd.
While this is not the legislation that approves the redistricting, it is meant to assure legislators and Delaware citizens that if House Joint Resolution #12, which would approve the redistricting plan, that school boards across the state will not be able to raise school taxes without a referendum.