Cursive. Love it or hate it, I support Delaware’s pending legislation to make it mandatory. But at the House Education Committee meeting earlier this month, where the bill was released by the committee, one opponent of the bill was very adamantly against the bill. And she wasn’t even from Delaware. This got my radar up, so I looked into this woman who had such a passion against the bill. What I found shocked even me, and I’ve seen a lot of things writing this blog! Continue reading “Does A Critic Of Delaware’s Cursive Bill Have Something To Gain By The Bill NOT Passing?”
It seemed to be an even split between advocates and those who oppose the bill, but State Rep. Andria Bennett’s House Bill was released from committee today with 12 votes. Next stop, the House Ready list. Many of the folks who opposed the bill were not in favor of student’s learning cursive but felt that was a decision best left to the local school board and not a mandate from the state. The Delaware Department of Education opposed the bill for the same reasons, along with the Delaware Association of School Administrators and the Delaware School Boards Association.
Both sides cited research or studies weighing the pros and cons of the bill. I supported it and gave public comment on how my son seemed to like cursive more than regular writing. Another advocate for students with disabilities, Robert Overmiller with the Governor’s Advisory Council for Exceptional Citizens, also supported the bill because of the beneficial nature for special needs students. A retired teacher supported the bill.
State Rep. Bennett said her idea for this bill came last Christmas when her own daughter was unable to read her grandmother’s cursive writing in a Christmas card. Some advocates said it is important children know how to read original historic documents, such as The Declaration of Independence. One gentleman said he would not hire someone at his company who didn’t know cursive since so many old property deeds and paperwork were written in cursive and they would not be able to understand those documents. One parent stated they were vehemently against the bill and that it shouldn’t matter if kids can read historic documents in cursive because it is all available online. She also said grandmothers are texting and using Instagram more and more these days. State Rep. Joe Miro said with our state budget deficit we should not be mandating curriculum at the state level.
If you are in favor of this bill, please contact your state legislator and let them know! I know I will call my own State Rep, Trey Paradee and ask him to support this bill!
The Delaware General Assembly returns today! It was supposed to happen yesterday, but the impending doom of the snowstorm that didn’t quite live up to its potential postponed the return. Today is Committee day! House Bill 50 WILL be heard in the House Education Committee today. Say what? Didn’t former Governor Jack Markell veto that bill? Continue reading “House Bill 50 To Be Heard In House Education Committee Today…. Say What?”
The 149th General Assembly officially began on January 10th, this past Tuesday. But the first few weeks tend to be slow. Especially when it comes to education. But we already have seven education bills submitted by the Delaware House of Representatives. No Senate education bills have come forth at this point.
The biggest of these is a carryover from the 148th General Assembly, that of funding for basic special education for students in Kindergarten to 3rd grade. State Rep. Kim Williams made a ton of noise about the need for this funding during the last go-around, and she needs to keep making more noise! There should be NO question whatsoever about the need for this bill. NONE! It should not come down to fiscal concerns either. It needs to happen even if they have to cut some slush fund somewhere. House Substitute 1 for House Bill 12 will be a bill I advocate for this year, no doubt about it! I have to say I am disappointed there are NO Delaware Republicans that signed on to the substitute for this bill although Reps. Spiegelman and Briggs-King did sign on for the original House Bill #12. This is on the agenda for the House Education Committee meeting on Wednesday, January 18th at 2:30pm.
State Rep. Earl Jaques’ House Joint Resolution #3 would ensure both the House and Senate Education Committees see the Delaware Every Student Succeeds Act state plan before it is completed and sent to the United States Dept. of Education. That is a step, but I would prefer the General Assembly has authority to accept or reject the plan before it goes to the US DOE! This is also on the agenda for the House Education Committee meeting on Wednesday, January 18th at 2:30pm.
The drop-out age and school attendance came out roaring through the legislative gate! State Rep. Sean Matthews submitted two bills while State Rep. Tim Dukes submitted one. Dukes’ House Bill #17 would increase the drop-out age from 16 to 17. It would also include truancy. Matthews’ House Bill #23 takes it a step further and would require a parent or guardian to agree to a student dropping out if they are over the age of 16. Where this could get a bit sticky is what happens if a student is 18? They are of legal age at that point. Some students with disabilities attend school until the age of 21. Matthews’ House Bill #24 would require a parent conference if a student misses five consecutive days without an excuse. My take on this is if parents don’t know their kids are missing five days of school and just wandering around somewhere, it will be tough to get that parent to come to a conference if they are already so disengaged they don’t know what their kid is doing. All of these bills are meant to discourage dropping out and keeping students in school. I wholeheartedly agree with that. The trick is in the details.
This is another carryover from the 148th. State Rep. Deb Heffernan had this one ready to go on June 30th but I have to believe there simply wasn’t enough time to get to every bill that night/morning. But it is back with House Bill #15 which would make computer science a graduation requirement for high school students. This is also on the agenda for the House Education Committee meeting on Wednesday, January 18th at 2:30pm.
It wouldn’t be a General Assembly in the 2010s without some type of librarian legislation from State Rep. Paul Baumbach! House Bill #34 would increase the participants in a very long-sounding scholarship name.
As Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Steven Godowsky spends his last two weeks in the role, the House Education Committee gave Godowsky a fond farewell at the end of their committee meeting today. Together with Speaker of the House Pete Schwartzkopf and House Majority Leader Val Longhurst, the committee brought Godowsky up to the podium and a few members gave eloquent praise to the Secretary of Education who could only be seen as an improvement over his predecessor, Mark Murphy.
State Rep. and House Education Committee Chair Earl Jaques stated Godowsky became a dear friend which was echoed by State Rep. Kim Williams. Williams thanked Godowsky for always being there to answer her many questions and said she would miss him. Godowsky informed me his last day will be January 24th. Governor-elect John Carney named Indian River Superintendent Dr. Susan Bunting as his choice for Delaware Secretary of Education. Bunting will appear before the Delaware Senate on January 18th for her confirmation hearing.
I asked Godowsky if he was counting the days. He stated he has mixed feelings about leaving. He said he is sure on his last day he will be ready but he will miss working with the people. But he is not done with education in Delaware. While no formal announcement has been made about his post-Secretary plans, I have no doubt Godowsky will still be in the education arena. He even joked at the tribute today that he will be “babysitting” education in the First State.
Despite my many articles about education policy and procedures, Godowsky was very much a sea change from Mark Murphy. On a personal level, Godowsky was always approachable when I saw him and he would always say hello to me. I can’t imagine leading the entire Delaware Dept. of Education. The honest truth is I have no idea how Dr. Bunting will be as Secretary of Education. So much of that will be based on the environment around her and what John Carney plans to do with that environment. One issue she will face right off the bat is the education funding issue, especially in relation to Delaware’s projected $350 million dollar deficit heading into the FY2018 state budget talks. I’ve been a bit rough on her on the Indian River audit investigation and the fallout from that scenario. Time will tell. In the meantime, best of luck to Secretary Godowsky and may good health and luck find you in your next plans.
While the Delaware House Education Committee grew, it appears the Senate Education Committee is shrinking. What used to be eight is now five with new members appearing and longtime members now gone. It appears to be a boy’s club now! Continue reading “Delaware Senate Education Committee’s MASSIVE Shake-Up”
The Delaware 149th General Assembly goes back into session next Tuesday, January 10th. The Delaware House of Representatives leadership picked the members for their committees. Some surprising changes are going on with the House Education Committee. Continue reading “New Faces In The Delaware House Education Committee”
The Christina School District Board of Education will review the amount of spending their Superintendent can spend before they have to get board approval at their monthly meeting tonight. The current limit is $20,000. Previously, it had been $50,000 but after their second failed referendum attempt in 2015, the board lowered the amount.
$50,000 is a key figure with Delaware Superintendents. In Delaware code, any contract of $50,000 or more has to go through the request for proposal process in the state. Many school districts circumvent this by having contracts for $49,000-$49,999. These kind of budgets can be controversial. School boards lose some power when the districts write those kind of vendor contracts.
As well, the board is reviewing this type of spending for school principals with another proposal to raise that amount without a signature from $10,000 to $25,000.
With many citizens in Delaware demanding greater transparency of school district funding, this could be seen by those advocates as more continuous evaporation of schools and districts not giving crucial financial information to the public.
The board also has an item on their agenda, if approved, would give the board more ability to participate in legislation and regulations that could affect the school district. If implemented, this would give a board member the ability to go to Senate and House Education Committee meetings as well as State Board of Education meetings and give public comment on behalf of the board. The policy would also mandate that any board member speaking about education policy would have to state in public these are individual thoughts and not reflective of the Christina School District of Board of Education. For the past two years, the board has declined to join the Delaware School Boards Association which usually has their own representative at these types of meetings.
The board will also discuss the upcoming implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act and what that could mean for the district. I highly recommend board members participate and comment on this confusing legislation and make sure their voice is heard.
The board meeting will be at Gauger-Cobbs Middle School beginning at 7pm this evening.
FISCAL MANAGEMENT POLICY
CONTRACTS & REAL ESTATE POLICY
She does the right thing. There is no other reason than that to vote for Kim Williams in the 19th District. But for those few and far between in Delaware who may not know Kim Williams, let me explain why I am endorsing her.
Kim Williams is the Vice Chair of the House Education Committee. She has served on that committee since she was first elected in 2012. In that time, she has dealt with charter school reform, opt out, charter school audit, teacher evaluation, special education, education funding, Smarter Balanced, the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission, bullying, and so much more. She votes with her conscience every single time. Not how others vote, or the popular vote, but how SHE wants to vote. And behind that vote is her love of children. Not just the children of her district. Not just the children in the Red Clay Consolidated School District. All the children of Delaware.
If there are issues going on at a school, she is there. She isn’t afraid to ask questions when it has to happen. If there is something big going on in education, she is there.
My favorite “Kim Williams” moment was when I was talking to a friend that lives in a school district 45 minutes south of me. Kim’s district is way up in Newcastle County. This friend told me how she was working with Kim on an issue. I was amazed that Kim would help someone who lives so far away. That’s just who she is.
But she is more than just an “education” state rep. She is the people’s representative. To me, she is the heart and soul of Delaware, at least what I would like it to be one day. I wrote a fake article last year called The Last Exceptional Delaware Post. In this imaginary future, Kim Williams was the Governor of Delaware in the year 2024. I’m not ruling that out!
In writing this article, I wanted to find a picture of Kim that represents who she is. It was very hard. As I looked through her pictures on Facebook, she is always surrounded by people. All the time. Whether it is her family, her friends, her constituents, her peers in the General Assembly, she is always with people!
Please check out Kim’s State Rep. Facebook page to see how engaged she is with not only her constituents, but all of Delaware. For those wishing to donate to Kim’s campaign, please go here: Contribute to Kim Williams, State Rep. 19th District Campaign
The District-Charter Funding War of 2016 has officially been declared over.
While this topic will assuredly come up again, Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Steven Godowsky sent a letter to the Delaware House of Representatives and the Delaware Senate stating no changes will be made to choice and charter school funding this year. This includes any changes in exclusions. The Delaware Dept. of Education is putting a “hold” on what the exclusions had previously been until this blew up a couple of weeks ago in the public eye.
Please note how Godowsky frames the origin of this as “district to district” concerns. That is an absolute lie. We all know exactly where this originated from- Newark Charter School. We also know the Delaware DOE was willing to stab school districts in the back in order to please the charters by circumventing state code any way they possibly could. What they didn’t count on was the public openly revolting against them. As I’ve been telling people, if you make enough noise, things will change. We need to take this momentum and do more with it. Markell, for all intents and purposes, is a lame-duck. Godowsky will be gone in the next six months. The DOE, at least their leadership, looks more like incompetent buffoons by the day. This was a big mistake on their part. Very big. It would have been one thing if they made this a public matter. Another if they clued the districts into it instead of all this cloak and dagger drama.
While this “resolution” doesn’t completely finish the job, the non-transparency role of this saga will end. Any meetings going forward on this will be in the presence of the House and Senate Education Committees. There is still one guy at the DOE who I believe has a lot to answer for. I’m talking to you Mr. David Blowman.
I had a sneaky feeling this was going to be the outcome on this bill. While Senate Bill 161, sponsored by State Senator Gerald Hocker, passed the Delaware Senate last week, it did not have the required votes to get out of the House Education Committee. Since the bill passed last week in the Senate, a growing chorus of opponents to the bill reached out and feel this kind of decision should be made by local school district boards of education. They did not feel this should be a statewide decision. Currently, some districts in Sussex County already begin school after Labor Day. Once the official details on the vote count in the House Education Committee come out, I will update this article. It appears only 3 or 4 of the legislators in the committee were in support of the bill which is far short of the But for now, it appears there will be no more action on this controversial legislation.
Senate Bill 161 had a good ride, and I thought it may have a shot. But many of the members of the House Education Committee are fervent supporters of local control as opposed to state control. We can consider this matter closed. Until the 149th General Assembly that is!
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!
At the House Education Committee meeting today in Delaware, House Joint Resolution #12 which would have allowed the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission redistricting plan to move forward, was tabled. State Rep. Charles Potter, in his introductory statements, recommended the bill be tabled to add amendments which would otherwise have caused the plan to die in the House Education Committee. While no amendments have been added to the legislation as of yet, it is most likely in regards to the issue of property assessments. One of the recommendations of the redistricting plan is to allow the Red Clay Consolidated School District Board of Education to incrementally raise property taxes without a referendum. Many House Republicans oppose this. Once the amendment is added I will certainly put it up.
Several supporters of the bill gave public comment to urge the General Assembly to move forward. A few opposed the legislation based on inequality for students throughout the state. Many members of the House Education Committee were either not present or skipped the meeting entirely.
While some spoke about how this will provide extra funding for students with disabilities, there is no mention of this in Governor Markell’s proposed budget. I advised I support the bill if that funding is restored AND State Rep. Kim Williams’ House Bill 30 is approved to provide this essential funding for ALL students with disabilities in basic special education in grades Kindergarten to 3rd grade.
State Rep. Helene Keeley gave a very powerful speech before the committee voted about the situation with students in Wilmington and how the drug epidemic has ravaged the city. The committee will meet next week to discuss HJR #12 with the soon to be added amendment.
The Delaware House Education Committee released Senate Bills 92 and 93 yesterday at their weekly meeting. The unanimous release was expected, but an amendment on Senate Bill 93 was taken off by the committee. If the full House passes Senate Bill 93, it will go back to the Delaware Senate since the amendment previously approved by the Senate was taken off. Since there is a fiscal note for both bills, they are going to the House Appropriations Committee. The amendment that was removed by the House Education Committee states the following:
AMEND Senate Bill No. 93 by deleting lines 58 through 60 and substituting in lieu thereof the following:
14) A representative from the Delaware Collaborative for Educational Services (DCES) or, until DCES is created, the Special Education Officer for Strategic Planning and Evaluation at the Delaware Department of Education;
15) A representative appointed by the Division of Prevention and Behavioral Health Services;
16) A parent or caregiver of a child or adult with ASD from each county in Delaware;
17) An individual with ASD.
FURTHER AMEND Senate Bill No. 93 by inserting the following after line 102:
(t) The Network and the Network Director shall collaborate with the Delaware Collaborative for Education Services (DCES), an entity to be created out of recommendations from the Special Education Strategic Plan, a plan directed by language in the FY15 Budget, Section 307 Epilogue. The collaboration shall begin after the DCES is formed. In particular, the Network shall collaborate with DCES to develop coaching, professional development, and technical assistance in areas where there is overlap with services provided to people with Autism Spectrum Disorders as well low incidence disabilities, including but not limited to visual or hearing impairments, or simultaneous visual and hearing impairments; significant cognitive impairments; or any impairment for which a small number of personnel with highly specialized skills and knowledge are needed in order for children with that impairment to receive early intervention services or a free appropriate public education.
|This amendment adds a representative from the Delaware Collaborative for Educational Services (DCES) or, until DCES is created, the Special Education Officer for Strategic Planning and Evaluation at the Delaware Department of Education as a voting member of the Interagency Committee on Autism (ICA). It also adds a new paragraph (t) at the end of the bill containing provisions for the collaboration between the Network and the Network Director and the DCES, after it is created.|
Many members of the Delaware Autism community did not like this amendment and felt the Delaware Department of Education was overstepping quite a bit. I wrote about this a few weeks ago. Apparently the legislators in the House Education Committee agreed.
That was quick! In the same day the WEIC redistricting plan turns into pending legislation, the bill is also placed on the House Education Committee agenda for next week! I’m not sure what this fast-track means. But we are well into May and the General Assembly finishes up on June 30th. But there are some other potentially controversial bills on the agenda as well!
House Joint Resolution #12, the now famous Wilmington Education Improvement Commission redistricting bill introduced today, turns all the WEAC and WEIC recommendations into a bill. The WEIC did what they had to do, the State Board of Education finally passed it in March, now it is the General Assembly’s turn. This is where this bill could either move forward or actually die in committee. While you can’t go by who the sponsors are on a bill, it is a good sign of who will definitely say yes when it comes up for a vote. But with this bill being so Wilmington and New Castle County specific, it would stand to assume that those who are legislators up there and support the redistricting would sponsor the bill. The House Education Committee has 14 members. The following members are sponsors on the bill: Jaques, Bentz, Bolden, Lynn, Osienski, and Potter. Red Clay legislators Kim Williams (Democrat), Joseph Miro (Republican) and Michael Ramone (Republican), who also serve on the committee, are not sponsors on the bill. There are no House Republican sponsors whatsoever on the bill. Which leads me to believe (and this is only speculation on my part) none of them will support this. Which also takes Dukes, Hensley, and Kenton off the yes list. That leaves two other Democrats on the House Education Committee who aren’t sponsors on the bill but also come from the Wilmington area: Sean Matthews and Deb Heffernan. Both of them did not vote on Senate Bill 122 when it had the full House vote last June, along with Mike Ramone. So this bill could die in committee with 6 yes and 8 no. Specifically, the bill would be tabled.
Once again, this is merely speculation on my part and I have not heard anything from anyone on this. I imagine Kim Williams could be swayed if House Bill 30 were also given equal merit and taken out of the appropriations committee. But it would still face a full House vote. If it passed then, it would go to the Senate Education Committee, and if released from there it would be up for a full Senate vote. That is a lot of variables. If I that were my bargaining chip, I wouldn’t cash it in until House Bill 30 is signed by the Governor! But it still needs a majority vote.
To get out of the House Education Committee, House rules state:
Bills and resolutions shall be reported out of committee by a majority of the committee or subcommittee by signing the backer. A bill or resolution may be tabled in any committee or subcommittee by a majority vote of the full committee or subcommittee.
This is assuming everyone attends the committee meeting as well. I could picture some members who don’t want to be put in a position of killing the WEIC bill to just not show up! It wouldn’t be the first time. But this is also an election year. If the majority of the constituents in your district don’t support WEIC and the bill winds up passing, an absent from committee could potentially change an election if it ticks off enough voters. This chess game could get a checkmate next week!
But there are other bills on the agenda as well:
A somewhat odd school choice bill would give priority to students who have certain medical conditions. House Bill 229 states “if a parent, relative, guardian or caregiver can demonstrate that they would be able to respond quicker to an emergency at the selected school, the student will receive a priority consideration.” This one could open a big old can of worms!
The Restorative Justice Senate Bill 207 which seeks to reduce suspensions unless it is for fighting, drug offenses are other such serious infractions has a lot of support. The bill would also put restorative justice techniques in Delaware schools. But with the recent Howard High School tragedy, I wouldn’t be surprised to see an amendment or two tacked on this one!
House Bill 355, which was just filed on Tuesday, would make computer science a mandatory course in high school and the credit would go towards the math or science graduation requirements. When I put this up the other day, many folks on Facebook were shocked this wasn’t already a requirement. I expect this will get a quick release without a lot of discussion.
If I know the WEIC crowd, this will be a packed House (literally) next week. Especially after this article comes out! As I said yesterday, get there early!
The House Education Committee has been updated and will include the following: House Bills 161, 333 and 349 and Senate Bills 92 and 93.
Vouchers, Autism, Student Loans and School Boards! I am hearing from several different sources that there will be fireworks over a few of these bills. I can’t believe they crammed all these in for one meeting. If you plan on going, I would get there early! The meeting starts in less than an hour folks!
I wrote earlier this week about the massive amount of education meetings going on next week. Add one more to the list: The House Education Committee on Wednesday, May 4th. On tap is House Bill 161 sponsored by State Rep. Deb Hudson which covers The Parent Empowerment Education Savings Act (school vouchers for special needs students), Senator Margaret Rose-Henry and State Rep Earl Jaques’ Senate Bills 92 and 93 dealing with autism, and State Rep. Paul Baumbach’s House Bill 333 which looks to lower school board terms from five to three years. Hudson’s bill was on the agenda a few weeks ago but disappeared. The Senate Education Committee meeting will take place at 3pm, but as usual, no agenda is up for it. That usually doesn’t happen until the day before.
After a two-week recess, the Delaware General Assembly returns tomorrow Both the Delaware Senate and House Education Committee meetings have some controversy coming on Wednesday in the form of two bills. Both of these bills may draw a crowd, so get there early! And two very popular bills will finally get a vote this week.
In the House, the Education Committee will meet at 2:30pm to discuss State Rep. Hudson’s school voucher bill. House Bill 161, introduced a year ago, would take the state funding allocated to a particular student and put it in a “Parent Empowerment Education Savings Account”. So, as an example, say a student gets $11,000 in state funding from Lake Forest School District. If the student goes to a private school, those funds would be deposited into the savings account and it would go towards the tuition at the private school (which can also include books, tests, and more). The bill does specify this would only be used for “exceptional children” as defined by state code. When this bill first came out, many thought it would not just mean a child with a disability, but also talented and gifted students. An amendment, added to the bill last June, eliminates that option. This bill is just for students with disabilities.
The problem with school vouchers is it is more funds disappearing from the local education district. The referendums are bad enough, but this would just add fuel to the fire. Many folks who are anti-referendum want school vouchers and they don’t want their local taxes paying for public education. In my opinion, if a parent makes a choice to send their child to a private school, you should still have to pay school taxes. Every state has school taxes, and Delaware is no exception. School vouchers are very popular with Republicans, but the results from other states have been very mixed.
At 3pm, the Senate Education Committee will hear Senate Bill 165. After the controversial Red Clay referendum last year, Delaware Senator Karen Peterson introduced Senate Bill 165. This legislation would cut polling places in school board elections and referendums, and all voting would be done through the U.S. mail. As well, all voters would have to be registered to vote. To add more heat, all school board elections AND referenda would be on the second Tuesday of May. For districts that don’t have a referendum pass, they would have to wait another year to have another one.
A lot of folks do not like this bill at all. Ironically, First State Liberty, the organization in Delaware that makes robo-calls during Christina referenda, is vehemently against this bill. To be honest, I haven’t talked to anyone who supports this bill. This one will draw a crowd. I imagine some folks may want to attend both meetings, so I could see a mad rush to get through the House Education Committee meeting and then folks literally running upstairs to get to the Senate meeting half an hour later.
The Senate meeting will also have a presentation from the Parent Advocacy Council for Education (PACE). Another bill which will be heard in the House meeting will be State Rep. Kim Williams very awesome House Bill 232. This bill would allow public comment on any action item, be it a resolution, a charter school action, or anything else the State Board of Education votes on. Currently, the State Board does not allow public comment at any of their meetings on any action item unless they give explicit permission (as they recently did with the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission redistricting plan). As well, the House Education Committee will hear Senate Joint Resolution #8, which honors Delaware State University for their 125th Anniversary.
School vouchers, referenda, and school board elections. While I don’t expect any of these drawing a crowd like House Bill 50 (the opt out legislation) did last year, I already know people who will be there. The votes from the committee members will be very interesting on these bills.
Two bills released from the Senate Education Committee last June will be given a full Senate vote on Thursday. Senate Bills 92 and 93, both dealing with Autism (see the Education Legislation tab at the top of the page). April is also Autism Awareness Month, so it is fitting these bills will get a vote this month.
The Delaware House Education Committee held their first meeting today after the long Joint Finance Committee break. On the agenda was one bill, House Bill 234, sponsored by State Rep. Kim Williams. As well, the University of Delaware gave a presentation on their overall enrollment trends.
House Bill 234 concerns wellness centers in three traditional school district high schools: Appoquinimink High School, St. George’s Technical High School, and Conrad Schools of Science. These three are the last remaining high schools in the state (not including charters) which have no wellness center. A wellness center is not just a school nurse. They also provide counseling services as well. The bill was unanimously released from committee. Several folks gave public comment in support of the bill: Red Clay Superintendent Dr. Merv Daugherty, Brandywine Superintendent Dr. Mark Holodick, President of DSEA Frederika Jenner, and a representative from Red Clay. Rep. Williams read a letter she received from a high school student. The young man was going through a depression and he credited the wellness center at his high school for getting him through this very troubled time.
There was some debate about which schools would get a wellness center first if the bill passes. Rep. Williams felt it should be the oldest school first, but State Rep. Charles Potter felt it should be needs-based. Rep. Williams indicated the JFC would determine this in the budget as the bill calls for each of the schools receiving the wellness centers at one per year for the next three fiscal years.
Dr. Nancy Targett, the Acting President of the University of Delaware gave a long presentation on enrollment trends and a general overview of the university. She showed many slides about minority enrollment, retention rates, and graduation rates. Afterwards, during a question and answer with the members of the House Education Committee, things got a bit more tense. State Rep. Charles Potter was very concerned about minorities being placed in the Associate program at the University of Delaware. This program is for students who need more help when they enter college. When asked about what may be holding these students back by Rep. Williams, Dr. Targett was unable to give a clear answer but did promise the committee she would get more information. Many civil rights advocates feel the University of Delaware under-enrolls African-Americans. Dr. Targett did say this is her number one priority and many universities across the country are dealing with these issues.
Dr. Targett felt the recent announcement about the pilot program concerning SAT scores not counting towards admission credentials could allow for more minorities to be accepted at University of Delaware. She said the University understands not all students do well on tests like that and a student could just have a bad day. They want to focus more on students’ actual Grade Point Average and other activities.
After the meeting adjourned, I asked Dr. Targett about an omission in her presentation: students with disabilities. She said she didn’t know the numbers offhand but gave me her email address so she can find out. Which I will certainly take her up on!
Yesterday, Red Clay Education Association President Mike Matthews posted on Facebook regarding a News Journal article about cuts to the homeless in the Fiscal Year 2016 budget. Matthews wrote:
“Shameful. Poor folks get $15 less per month but we found $1,000,000 to go to a few charter schools.”
The ensuing conversation was very much in agreement with Matthews original comment, until Delaware State Rep. Earl Jaques joined the fray…
Obviously, this brought teaching into this conversation in a huge way. The comments started flying:
Is Earl suggesting that underpaid teachers should make up the difference of cuts to the poor? Since Earl is part of the General Assembly, what is he recommending be cut to get that money back to the poor and when is he going to formally propose those cuts? Does he have any idea of what Mike already does for the poor? Real classy.
Earl — I don’t want to hear that argument so don’t sell it here. The argument is (expletive deleted) and you know it. Cutting general assistance to the poor so Newark Charter can build a new lab is disgusting and you know it.
But I agree with the bottom part of your comment. I just wish we had more legislators willing to be brave and do the right thing.
Earl Jaques has reliably demonstrated, with both his words and actions, that he is both incapable and unconcerned with helping public schools best serve students and parents.
The step increases will perhaps cover the additional healthcare costs borne by the educators. I wouldn’t know, I’m at the top of the scale and don’t get steps anymore. But I still advocated for them for my fellow employees.
How about he cut HIS pay and give to the poor?
Most teachers I know give to the poor in real, tangible ways. Has EJ ever, with his own income ever purchased a coat, a pair of shoes, a backpack for a poor child? How about pay a family’s electric bill? Find an air conditioner for an asthmatic child, provided a graphing calculator for a motivated high school student who could afford her own? Figure out how to get eyeglasses for a struggling student, paid for a field trip, or year book for a child NOT related to him? Purchased a novel on CD that an English language learner could not read?
These are things that teachers do. No one forces them. It is not required of them. But many will ho-hum this litany of giving.
They expect teachers to give as they expect missionaries to lay down their lives for the faith.
And they want no reminders of the needs they choose to ignore.
I mean, who lobbies for the poor, anyway?
Allow teachers to give willingly and then try to shame them for not giving more.
Now if I were Earl Jaques, I would have probably walked away from this. Trying to compare cuts to the poor to expensive labs in charter schools is not a wise idea in the current fiscal environment in Delaware. Especially since this charter already got grants from other sources for this lab, including the Longwood Foundation. But this morning he came back with the following which drew a brilliant response from Matthews:
- Earl Jaques What you miss was that the budget is a balancing act. Everyone had needs and we try to fill as many needs as possible, but unfortunately we can’t fill every need to the level we would like. Also teachers aren’t the only state employees.
- Mike Matthews $250,000 for a Newark Charter School expansion, Earl. This school serves a limited low-income population and they’re already at huge levels of proficiency on the state test. So why do they “need” that money? You can say all you want about everyone having to sacrifice a little, but it’s disingenuous to not qualify the level of “need” for NCS vs. the level of need of those on General Assistance.
Yes folks, this is the Chairman of the House Education Committee in Delaware!