The Latest Basic Special Education Funding Bill Really Ticks Me Off!!!

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.

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Breaking News: Carney & Bunting To Announce Weighted Funding “Phase One”. Let The Education Hunger Games Begin Again.

Next Tuesday, January 15th, Delaware Governor John Carney and Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Susan Bunting will hold a press conference at Legislative Hall to announce a weighted funding system for Delaware students.  Luckily, this blogger got the details of it this evening.  The devil, as they say, is in the details. Continue reading

Breaking News: All-Nighters At Legislative Hall Not Allowed!!!

According to Delaware Senate President Pro Tempore David McBride, the party is over on July 1st!  For security and safety reasons, Legislative Hall will shut down at 1am on July 1st.  If the legislators need to finish business they will be called back at 4pm later on the same day.

This was my favorite day/night of the year!  According to McBride, driving can be a challenge after pulling off the infamous General Assembly all-nighter.  For McBride, who would be driving south north this should be going against beach traffic.

Yes, this was the big announcement from Senator McBride today.  This launched a group of us on social media wondering if he was going to retire.  Nope, just putting a halt on the all-nighters!

Typically, the last day of session is on June 30th.  But because they don’t go back until late in the afternoon, the marathon session extends into July 1st.  And they leave when they are done.  If they don’t pass the budget (like what happened in 2017), they may stay all night and come back on a Sunday!  But no more according to McBride.  Meanwhile, ice cream vendors are crying foul.

A Rookie State Senator Might Get A Spot On The Joint Finance Committee

Sources around Legislative Hall are speaking loudly about a very unusual committee assignment in the Delaware Senate.  It appears to be a sure thing that a rookie Delaware State Senator will get a spot on the Joint Finance Committee.

While some think this is a most excellent idea others are fuming.  While I won’t name the Senator just yet, I can say they are a Democrat.  With a spot on JFC, this also gives a Senator or State Representative more money.  Almost $10,000 extra a year.  While the average salary for a State Rep. or Senator is around $45,000 a year, that is a big percentage more to be on JFC.  But I will say the bump is necessary because they do spend most of February and other weeks in hearings to help determine the final state budget for the next fiscal year.

A spot on JFC is something many legislators covet.  While the salary bump is nice, many legislators do not rely on their General Assembly salary as their primary income.  It is, however, a very powerful position.  This is where all the financial decisions for the entire state budget are made.  A voice on this committee is huge!  Most members of JFC earn it over the years so for a seat to be given to a rookie is extremely rare.

Rep. Paul Baumbach To Christina: “Keep Moving As Fast As You Can”

At the end of the Christina School District Board of Education meeting last week, State Representative Paul Baumbach spoke before the board.  He thanked the board and the district for the changes they implemented in the past year and “strongly encouraged” them to keep doing it.  There was a specific reason Baumbach did this.  He admitted the General Assembly doesn’t help. Continue reading

Delaware House & Senate Vote On Leadership For Each Caucus

As the News Journal reported the other day, the Delaware House and Senate met tonight to choose the leadership for each caucus.  This was met with scrutiny by some because this is normally done a week after the election.  But both parties want to get the ball rolling early for the 150th General Assembly.  Who is in? Continue reading

Your Guide To The New Delaware 150th General Assembly

In January, 2019, Delaware will embark on the 150th session of the General Assembly.  Yesterday’s election changed the face of our legislative body in a big way!  Who runs Delaware for the next two years?  Who makes the laws?  All can be seen below.  If you don’t recognize some of the names, do some research.  If you want changes in our laws, seek out your State Representative or State Senator.  If you are having issues that aren’t being taken care of, call your elected officials.  Whether you agree with the party or not, your elected officials are there to represent YOU, not themselves.  If they don’t help, call them out for it. Continue reading

Earl Jaques Planning To Draft Legislation That Would Put Christina In Receivership By The State

State Representative Earl Jaques has some mighty bold plans in the 150th General Assembly.  The biggest and most controversial will be a bill that would have the state takeover the Christina School District.  It is in the works and he is looking for sponsors. Continue reading

When Bunting, Sokola, & Jaques Have Lunch, How Soon Will Legislation Come Out About State Takeover Of School Districts?

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Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Susan Bunting informed the State Board of Education yesterday she had lunch with State Senator David Sokola and State Rep. Earl Jaques.  As heads of the Senate and House Education Committee, Bunting said it was to discuss upcoming legislation.  Could this lead to state takeover of school districts in Delaware? Continue reading