Senate Cancels Executive Committee Meeting, Only Item On Agenda Was Wali Rushdan

The Senate Executive Committee canceled their meeting tomorrow.  The only item on the agenda dealt with Governor John Carney’s nomination of Wali Rushdan for the State Board of Education.  The Executive Committee must clear any nominations before the Delaware Senate can vote as a body for that nomination.  No reasons were provided for the cancellation of the meeting.

Things that make you go hmmm…

Controversy Erupts On Social Media Over Special Education Funding Task Force Resolution

House Concurrent Resolution #34, introduced on June 29th last year, will be on the agenda for the House Education Committee meeting tomorrow.  One line in the legislation offended many, including myself, when it was brought to my attention.

WHEREAS, special education represents a growing financial burden on school districts as the need for services increases.

I can pretty much guarantee any parent of a student with disabilities would take offense to that wording.  While it is true that special education costs have risen over the past decade, referring to those costs as a “financial burden” is not a wise choice of words.  Schools have an obligation, under both state and federal law, to provide those services regardless of cost.  Which is exactly how folks took it on social media last night.  I do not think that was the intent of the legislators who sponsored the bill.

As well, parents took offense to there only being one slot on this task force for a parent.  That seat would be determined by the Delaware PTA.  The bill has an odd mix of sponsors.  With the majority of the sponsors as Republicans, some wondered why Democrat State Senator Nicole Poore would sign on as the prime Senate sponsor.  In addition,  Democrat State Rep. Ed Osienski also signed on as a co-sponsor.

State Senator Brian Pettyjohn joined in on the conversation and doubted the resolution would appear in the Delaware Senate.

Last week, news from Texas regarding allegations against the Texas Education Agency shocked Americans everywhere.  A report said the TEA was limiting the number of special education students in The Lonestar State since 2004.  Their special education population dropped from 11% to 8% over a seven-year period even though most states saw dramatic increases in those student populations.  Many blame caps instituted by the Texas legislature on special education funding.  Which is eerily similar to the recommendations a task force like this could come out with.

While I don’t believe there was ill intent with this legislation, the optics on it could not be worse.  In conjunction with the news from Texas, a lawsuit filed by the Delaware ACLU today against the state has special education funding as part of the overall complaint with education funding.

I have been saying for years that Delaware needs to revamp how they submit payments in their state financial system.  No one follows the recommended spending codes so it is impossible to track how money is being spent.  Especially with special education.  That should be an easy problem for our legislators to fix but no one wants to take up the baton.  Not sure why.  It isn’t a change to the Delaware Constitution.  It would be a simple bill mandating our school districts and charter schools accurately code expenditures in a uniform process.  And the Delaware Department of Education would have to oversee this and implement regulations in regards to Delaware state code.  Any task force, committee, workgroup or other such thing looking at any facet of education spending is useless until this is done first.  Which legislator wants to twirl a baton?  Anyone?

Meanwhile, HCR #34 is on the agenda for tomorrow’s meeting.  Delaware State Education Association President Mike Matthews said DSEA does not support the legislation on one of the Facebook posts that came out last night.  I would hope that when legislation like this comes out that our state legislators would look at the wording of their bills or resolutions.  The people are watching them.

Education Funding Lawsuit Filed By Delaware ACLU, What Happened To That Other Complaint?

I heard about this one last week.  Tony Allen, the Chair of the Wilmington Education Committee, warned about this a year ago.  Now the Delaware American Civil Liberties Union, on behalf of the Delaware NAACP and Delawareans For Educational Opportunity, filed a lawsuit against the State of Delaware over education funding.  Unbeknownst to most Delawareans, however, another Delaware ACLU complaint disappeared.

According to The News Journal, the Delaware Dept. of Education released the following statement about the suit:

The Delaware Department of Education has not seen any complaint from these groups and will respond to any litigation against it in court. It is the goal of the Department to assist Delaware’s schools in preparing every student to succeed in college or career and life.

Yeah, pretty much the same thing the DOE said back in 2014 when a complaint against them and Red Clay was filed with the Office of Civil Rights over discrimination in Delaware charter schools.

Who is named in the lawsuit? Governor Carney, Secretary of Education Dr. Susan Bunting, State Treasurer Ken Simpler, and the heads of each county finance office.

To read the complaint, please see below with some exclusive news appearing shortly after.

Jessica Bies at the News Journal wrote in the above article:

According to the lawsuit, the state is failing students from low-income families, students with disabilities and students who are learning English. Test scores for these disadvantaged students are far below state standards set by the Delaware Department of Education in its new plan, the Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA.

What the lawsuit wants seems to contradict with what Delaware Governor John Carney wants:

But Gov. John Carney, listed as a defendant in the lawsuit, has said he is not in favor of needs-based funding, in part because it gives extra money to school districts serving at-risk kids without holding them accountable for how they use it. He has also said there is neither the financial nor political support for such a measure.

Yeah, okay Carney.  Whatever.  We both know how you exert pressure on the General Assembly to do YOUR bidding.

But whatever happened to that old complaint filed in December, 2014?  The one the Delaware ACLU filed with the Office of Civil Rights alleging discrimination in certain Delaware charter schools?  The Office of Civil Rights rejected that complaint.  This never made the press and the Delaware ACLU never released anything on it.  Nothing can be found on the Delaware ACLU or OCR websites.  But it happened.  I reached out to the Delaware ACLU early last week to get information on this.  They directed me to Richard Morse, who is now with Delaware Community Legal Aid.  Mr. Morse did not return my call.  I guess someone wanted that complaint to die a quick and painful death.

This lawsuit cannot be ignored though.  It was filed with the Delaware Chancery Court today.  This could be a game-changer folks!

On Facebook last week, I wrote about knowing some things coming up but I couldn’t write about them yet.  This was two of them.

 

Breaking News: Governor Carney Nominates Cerron Cade As Secretary Of Labor

This information JUST came out:

 

Delaware Governor John Carney

Governor Carney Nominates Cerron Cade as Secretary of Labor

Cade currently serves as Delaware’s Director of Small Business, Development, and Tourism

 

WILMINGTON, Del. – Governor John Carney on Tuesday announced his nomination of Cerron Cade – Director of the Delaware Division of Small Business, Development, and Tourism – to serve as the next Secretary of the Delaware Department of Labor.

Cade’s nomination must be approved by the Delaware Senate. 

As Labor Secretary, Cade would lead a 420-employee department that oversees workforce development and training programs for the State of Delaware, unemployment insurance programs, labor law enforcement, and economic forecasting for the state.

“Cerron has a proven ability to lead, and the knowledge and experience necessary to take on this important role,” said Governor Carney. “The Department of Labor’s work connecting Delawareans with relevant job training and workforce development programs has never been more important. Cerron understands the needs of Delaware businesses from his time at the Small Business Division and, before that, at the Delaware Economic Development Office. I’m confident that Cerron’s experience will serve Delaware and Delaware workers well. I look forward to the Delaware Senate considering his nomination.”

Last year, as Acting Director of the Delaware Economic Development Office (DEDO), Cade managed the dissolution of DEDO and the creation of the new Division of Small Business, Development, and Tourism within the Delaware Department of State. Currently, he serves as the Division’s Director, leading a team responsible for providing key services to Delaware businesses, administration of the Delaware Strategic Fund, and marketing Delaware as a premier tourist destination.

During his time at DEDO and the newly-created division, Cade has led the state’s efforts to attract businesses and good-paying jobs to Delaware, keep them here, and ensure that Delaware remains a leading state for businesses to grow and thrive. If confirmed by members of the Delaware Senate, he will bring that experience to the Department of Labor, where he will lead state efforts to connect Delaware businesses with talented workers, and develop relevant workforce development and training programs. 

“I am honored to be nominated by Governor Carney to lead the Department of Labor,” said Cade. “Connecting Delaware businesses with skilled employees has been a large part of my focus as DEDO has transitioned into the new Division. If confirmed by the Senate, I look forward to using that experience to help the state’s workforce thrive in this changing economy.”

Cade would replace Secretary Patrice Gilliam-Johnson, who will join Delaware State University as Dean of Graduate, Adult, and Continuing Studies next month. Gilliam-Johnson will leave office as Labor Secretary on February 2.

“Secretary Gilliam-Johnson has led the Department of Labor with distinction during a time where we have faced many challenges across state government and have been focused on the importance of building strong, inclusive environments where people feel valued and supported,” said Governor Carney. “I could not be more grateful for her service.”

Cade grew up in Washington D.C. and moved to Delaware to study Political Science and Law Studies at Delaware State University. Driven by a desire to make a positive impact and following his passion for public service, Cade has worked as a Legislative Aide for the Delaware State House of Representatives, New Castle County Deputy County Director for U.S. Senator Tom Carper and State Projects Director for then-Congressman John Carney.

Cade joined Governor Jack Markell’s staff as Legislative Liaison in 2015. Last summer, Governor Carney appointed Cade to serve as DEDO’s Acting Director to lead the office’s transition, where he previously served as Deputy Director.

Cade lives in Wilmington with his wife, Kasmira, and two daughters, Jonnie and Toni.