Baumbach At It Again Trying To Turn Local Issues Into Statewide Legislation

Enough already Paul Baumbach!  In his second attempt at lowering school board terms, State Representative Paul Baumbach filed House Bill #278 yesterday seeking to lower school district board member terms from five years to four years.

In 2015, Baumbach’s House Bill #333, which sought to lower those terms to three years went nowhere.  It was assigned to the House Education Committee but never came up.  Due to heavy resistance to the bill, Baumbach did state he would probably come back with this bill at a later date.  And he did!

Why is Baumbach so adamant about messing with school boards?  Why does he not include charter school boards in this legislation?  The answer is simple: he does not like certain school board members in the Christina School District.  Which is fine and he is certainly entitled to his opinion, but his judgment is impaired when it comes to translating this to a statewide issue.  I get that State Representatives are supposed to represent the district they were elected to, but they also pass laws for the entire state.  It is not beneficial to make local issues a statewide issue.  And once again, we have the very real question about WHO is asking for this legislation and how much of it is directed towards certain board members who frequently and publicly go against bad education policy in the state.

One thing I can say is State Reps in Delaware are elected every two years.  So this is not a case of legislators being hypocritical.  School board members do this because they want to.  It is unpaid and requires a great deal of time and effort to be on a school board.  I don’t think any school board member takes their responsibilities lightly.  I wish more school board members would question things which Baumbach seems to have a problem with.

Yesterday, the News Journal Editorial Team covered the highly inappropriate school board member removal bill that is currently in circulation for sponsorship.  They just so happened to throw in a part about school board member terms:

Also, lawmakers should consider shortening school board members’ five-year terms. Why should they have to face voters less frequently than governors, legislators and mayors?

Come on!  Who are we trying to kid here?  Is the News Journal Editorial Team now a part of Team Baumbach when it comes to this kind of crap?  They just happen to say this on the SAME day Baumbach filed House Bill #282?  I don’t mind term limits for any elected position, but school boards are NOT the same as governors, legislators, and mayors.  There is a learning curve, but there is also the heart of a volunteer.  There are charter school board members who have sat on their boards for over a decade!  But not one word about that from the would-be demolisher of local board control Baumbach or this Editorial Team.  I don’t always agree with some board members out there, but I do not think lowering the term for this function is a good idea at all.

Baumbach needs to re-examine his priorities and actually support the second largest school district in the state instead of trying to interfere with their governance process.  Attending more of their board meetings would be a start.  He wouldn’t dare interfere with Newark Charter School but it’s open target season on Christina.  Could you be less transparent here Baumbach?  Stop listening to the mouths of the few and start coming out with real and meaningful legislation that benefits the state.  This is not good for your political health.

To read Baumbach School Board Terms 2.0, please see below:

 

 

Advertisements

State Rep. Paul Baumbach Asking For Ouster With Pending Legislation Allowing State Board of Education To Remove Local School District Board Members

I’ve seen some insane legislation in my day.  This one takes the cake.  State Rep. Paul Baumbach has put forth legislation which would give the State Board of Education the power to remove a sitting school district board member.  Way to take the local out of local control and hand it over to the state there Paul!  Are you kidding me?  I wish this was some horrible joke, but it isn’t.  How would Baumbach feel if some board could take away HIS power?  This guy is begging to be primaried and removed from office.  You can’t even make this stuff up! Continue reading “State Rep. Paul Baumbach Asking For Ouster With Pending Legislation Allowing State Board of Education To Remove Local School District Board Members”

17 Who Will Make An Impact In 2017: State Rep Paul Baumbach

paulbaumbach

A month ago, I participated in a forum on Delaware education funding at the monthly Progressive Democrats for Delaware meeting.  State Representative Paul Baumbach from the 23rd Rep District also discussed the issue.  Baumbach is very supportive of implementing a weighted education funding formula in Delaware.  Last Winter, Baumbach and then Deputy Secretary of Education David Blowman presented a report on a weighted funding system to the Education Funding Improvement Commission.  That commission was unable to get a consensus on any particular funding apparatus and ended the 148th General Assembly with no final report.  The WEIC redistricting plan also called for implementation of a weighted funding system.

Education funding, with implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act, will take center stage in 2017.  As more and more citizens realize the system we have now is not working for all students, attempts at fixing the problems will appear.  The Wilmington Education Improvement Commission and their redistricting plan for Wilmington Christina School District students is still bubbling under the surface.  Last night, Christina’s board voted 4-3 to settle on a lawsuit filed against them and the Delaware Dept. of Education by 15 charter schools that receive students from Christina.  The charters claim Christina was filing exclusions that were “improper” to the Delaware DOE and the DOE signed off on them.  While the settlement has not been made public, it will assuredly have an impact on local funding formulas going forward.

Baumbach’s plan is to have more money go to students with higher needs, such as low-income or poverty, English Language Learners, and students with disabilities.  Currently, students with disabilities do receive additional funding based on a unit-count system (with the exception of basic special education for students in Kindergarten to 3rd grade).  This system determines how much staff each district or charter school receive based on their September 30th count of students.  With the funding system Baumbach is pushing for, the money would follow the student based on their needs.  Another question involving this funding system is if Talented and Gifted students would be considered high need as well.

This is not equality funding but equity funding.  Schools who have less sub-groups of students with higher needs would receive less money.  Final accountability regulations for ESSA will require each public school in America to show the amount of funding per student based on local, state, and federal funding.  The biggest problem with education funding in Delaware is property assessments.  No county in Delaware has increased their property assessments in decades resulting in severe imbalances to what the current assessed values would be.  As well, referenda held by school districts have had mixed results.  Adding to this mix is the potential of school vouchers coming to Delaware if President Donald Trump and his pick for U.S. Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, get their way.  Baumbach argued against a bill that would allow vouchers for special education students last Spring and stated it would be a violation of Delaware’s Constitution to send state funds to a religious private school.  Trump also announced he wants to incentivize new charter schools across America.  Capital costs for school buildings is also a major issue.  Delaware has many outdated schools that have serious structural issues with the recent Christina mold problem as a glaring example.

Baumbach will most likely bring forth legislation in 2017 to change how we fund our schools.  As well, there is increasing talk in Delaware about re-examining property assessments.  Some state officials have even suggested consolidating school districts to save money, possibly to a county school district system with New Castle County having two districts based on the population.

For my part, I can’t support ANY changes to our education funding system until we can get more assurances the money we are already spending is used with fidelity and honesty.  The recent audit investigation into Indian River showed very clearly that this district was not being honest.  We’ve had far too many Delaware charter school leaders and employees committing major fraud with funds that are not getting to students.  Our state auditor is supposed to audit each school district every year and publish the results.  This is not happening.  Charter school annual audits, usually, do not have the ability to catch financial fraud.  The State Auditor of Accounts Office, run by Tom Wagner, is massively understaffed.  Why in the world would we dump more  money into education when we can’t accurately keep track of the money already there?  This is the viewpoint of many conservatives in Delaware, but more on the left are also waking up to a reality that can no longer be ignored.

As the chief legislative advocate for a weighted funding system, Baumbach will have his hands full in the first six months of 2017.  If the Republicans manage to take control of the Delaware Senate after the special election for Bethany Hall-Long’s Senate seat, the voucher conversation will become very loud at Legislative Hall.  Tony Allen also warned that time is running out to fix education for Wilmington students and advocates may file a federal lawsuit against Delaware which could leave education funding and districting in the hands of a federal judge.  The icing on this education funding cake is the very flawed measurement of success for Delaware schools- the standardized test.  If we use them as a barometer of success or need, the system will continue to be a confusing mess with no end in sight.

No matter how you slice and dice money for education, no system will please everyone.  This has become painfully obvious.  We need to look at what is best for Delaware students and not those of corporations who seek to profit from education.  As corporate education reform is more embedded in our schools, more administrators are implementing the very bad policies from those reformers thus turning them into profiteers of education.  Yeah, Baumbach is going to have a big fight on his hands with any legislation involving this system!

To read the final report conducted by Hanover Research for the Delaware DOE on a weighted funding system, please read below: