Okay, that wasn’t the headline you ever expected to come out of me on here! There is a distinct reason why this bill bothers me so much. House Bill #48 came out on Thursday and like all the other bills from past legislative sessions, it asks for the full allotment of state funding for students labeled as Basic Special Education in Kindergarten to 3rd Grade in Delaware’s public schools. So what is it about this bill that gives me pause?
It is the fact this is the third time State Rep. Kim Williams has brought this bill forward. It came out four years ago for the first time in the 148th General Assembly. It should have been a no-brainer. It got out of committee but it was never heard on the floor of the House. In the last session, the 149th, it came out but it morphed into a part of the state budget which offered part of the funding for it.
When Governor Carney announced his weighted funding plan a week and a half ago he did not include this in his proposal. While I am all for equitable funding, the basic special education funding should have been utilized years ago when the unit-based funding formula changed during Governor Markell’s first term. The fact we have the same bill in a third legislative session really ticks me off. While I greatly appreciate the partial funding that was granted last year it is appalling to me that the state will not grant the full funding in this area.
If the Delaware DOE can demand students with disabilities reach certain proficiency levels on horrible and flawed state assessments than they damn well better give the full funding these students deserve. These are kids. Kids with issues and disabilities forming that they aren’t ready for. Not that anyone with disabilities is ever ready, but these kids need that rock solid education foundation. And when they aren’t getting the support and services they need they are losing out. With that being said, I know their teachers (most of them) will do whatever they can to reach that child to the best of their ability. They will use what they can when they can. It is not their intention to see any student fail. But they can’t do it alone. They need help.
Delaware is great at talking the talk but there is resistance to walking the walk when it comes to education. Even Carney’s weighted funding attempt is not a permanent thing. It is more of a trial than a commitment. We demand so much out of our students and teachers but consistently fail in giving the funding to achieve this. And then we put it on the districts to come up with those funds. But then our state will pour millions of dollars each year into the Smarter Balanced Assessment. It makes zero sense.
I have nothing but the utmost respect for Kim Williams. The fact she has to continually put this bill out, year after year, is a true picture of what an awesome human being she is. But we need ALL 62 of our legislators not only approving this, but shouting it from the rooftops, up and down the state. Rome wasn’t built in a day, I get that. But to ignore the needs of children who need help the most is an insult that shouldn’t continue. Because all they are doing is creating more problems for these students down the road that wind up costing more money than if they just funded it to begin with.
The 150th Delaware General Assembly MUST approve this bill and lock it permanently into the state budget. It is a moral imperative and the question of if they can afford it shouldn’t even be a part of the conversation. And Governor Carney, for all my critiques and rants against him, needs to reach into his soul and not even question it. And when I say Governor Carney, this includes his most trusted advisors who seem to want to dictate the money flow in Delaware.