House Bill 269, sponsored by Delaware State Rep. Kim Williams, was introduced today and assigned to the House Education Committee. The legislation deals with school choice and offers some substantial changes to how Delaware deals with school choice. This bill is not expected to get a vote tonight and will most likely be looked at in January of 2018. While I have not fully read the bill, I did take a cursory glance and I like a lot of aspects to it.
Sometimes a State Representative surprises me. Today, Delaware State Representative Melanie Smith filed House Bill #10, which would change recess requirements in the State of Delaware for public schools. Bring the play back to schools!
This Act entitles all students from kindergarten through the 8th grade who are enrolled in a Delaware public school to morning and afternoon recess periods and a lunch period that is at least 30 minutes in length. Morning and afternoon break periods must be at least 10 minutes in length each. Under this Act, students are entitled to morning and afternoon breaks and a lunch period only on a full day of school.
Can I get an Amen? Before everyone starts with the “this should be a local decision”, I feel some bills should make every school district be uniform with certain things in education. This is one of them. Let’s get real. This bill would not come about if our districts and charters were doing this already. Many of them are, but not all of them. And not enough. Children need to play, especially during school. I wish those recess requirements were longer, but it is a start. We need to be emulating countries like Finland where recess is just as important as Language Arts or Math. They also have shorter school days there and are considered to be one of the best countries in the world for education.
The Chair of the House Education Committee announced today there will be one more House Education Committee meeting on Tuesday, June 27th and this bill will be heard in that committee. I am very happy to see some sanity coming back to public education. I will take the small steps while they come. Thank you for this bill Rep. Smith! I would like it if you could attend the House Education Committee meetings though!
*Updated with new legislation, votes on the floor, and committee agendas for tomorrow
Confused by all the Education legislation floating around in Delaware? Can’t keep track of it all? Don’t worry, I can’t either sometimes. But I felt it was necessary to reestablish my old tradition of putting it all together. I will update this as the Delaware 149th General Assembly finishes off the first half of this session on June 30th and when they reconvene in January 2018. Below are all 50 of the education bills that have come up in the 149th General Assembly just this year alone. More legislation will come by the time it is all done on June 30th, 2018. Continue reading “ALL The Delaware Education Legislation In The General Assembly: Signed, Passed, Pending, & Tabled”
It looks like the anti-cursive police are done in Delaware! The Delaware House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed House Bill 70 yesterday. The only no was State Rep. Jeff Spiegelman and State Rep. John Kowalko did not vote. State Reps. Kenton, Viola, and Hensley were absent.
When this bill was heard by to the House Education Committee, it was met with opposition by a woman named Kate Gladstone. She spent the next couple of weeks after that trying to convince my readers why cursive is horrible. Any disagreement with her kept it going. I never thought I would see the day when I would see an anti-cursive rant on this blog, but c’est la vie!
Some legislators reached out to me for my thoughts on this bill. Some felt this is a decision best handled by local school boards. I agreed with that, however NONE of them stepped up at all to make this a reality. I do not mind some decisions mandated by the state.
The bill did have an amendment added to it which changes the date of implementation to the 2018-2019 school year if it passes. The bill will go to the Delaware Senate Education Committee.
Here we go again! House Bill 60 is on the agenda for the House Education Committee meeting on Wednesday, June 14th, at 2:30pm. It is the ONLY bill on the agenda. Most educators should be done with school by then. Parents, teachers, students, and Delaware citizens: I invite you to attend this committee meeting and give public comment on why you feel this bill should pass!
Delaware Governor John Carney has been very quiet on the subject of opt out. When he was a U.S. Congressman, he voted against a part of the reauthorization of the ESEA which would have honored a parent’s right to opt their child out of the state assessment prior to the bill becoming the Every Student Succeeds Act. When the last opt out bill, House Bill 50, overwhelmingly passed the Delaware House and Senate, former Governor Jack Markell vetoed the bill within weeks. An attempted override of that veto led to a lot of shady deal-making between Markell’s office and legislators and the attempt failed.
While opt out has not been a huge topic, it is more important than ever. I feel the bill should also include personalized learning assessments and any “stealth” assessments embedded in digital technology. While these aren’t the norm in Delaware yet, they will be. These mini assessments will replace the once a year test in a competency-based education arena.
Due to an actual “gag order” by National PTA concerning opt out, we will not be able to get support from the Delaware PTA this go-around. So any participation in this committee meeting will have to be a grassroots effort by parents. Please spread the word. If you are unable to attend the meeting, please email the members of the House Education Committee asking for their support of House Bill 60. As well, you can sign this petition on Change.Org which can be found here: Please release House Bill 60 from the House Education Committee
Here are their emails:
One vote last night signifies that it might be. The VERY controversial Senate Substitute 1 for Senate Bill 5 passed the Delaware House last night and goes to Governor Carney for signature. The bill dealt with late-term abortion. Without getting into the whole pro-life/pro-choice argument, I was against this bill at first but did grow to support it. State Rep. Earl Jaques, along with Rep. Gerald Brady, were the sole Democrats in the House who voted no. Jaques claimed it was because the majority of his constituents were against the bill.
No matter what side of the political fence you are on, Roe v. Wade is one of the cornerstones of politics. Pro-choice is about as Democrat as you can get. Could Jaques’ vote indicate he will not run in 2018 for his House seat? I would say yes. In conversations with Earl over the past couple of years, I can sense a feeling of closure. I believe his swan song will be some type of school district consolidation bill which I anticipate will come out in the next three weeks. By voting no on this bill, even though he stated many of his constituents were against the bill, it is a very un-Democrat vote.
This would leave a vacancy for the Chair of the House Education Committee. Could Vice-Chair, State Rep. Kim Williams, fill the void in 2019? It is very early in the guessing games for this stuff. But I would say out of all the State Reps involved in education, she has certainly earned that position.
House Substitute 1 for House Bill 85 is on the agenda for the
Sokola Senate Education Committee on Wednesday, June 7th at 3:30pm. State Senator David Sokola has stuffed the agenda with six bills, but in a half-hour time span. Most of the other bills shouldn’t raise too many eyebrows though. The House Education Committee canceled their meeting on Wednesday. Even though most people have their eye on the budget, it is always a good idea to see what else is going on. Between this bill, the Coastal Zone Act reorganization, legal marijuana, death penalty, and Lord knows what else will come up, we need eyes and ears more than ever down at Legislative Hall!
I will say upfront I oppose this bill because of the House Substitute that removes the Christina School District Wilmington students from this. This added language (which was insisted on by Senator Sokola) only serves to benefit one school: Newark Charter School.
To see what is on tap for ALL the committee meetings, this week, please go here: http://legis.delaware.gov/CommitteeMeetings
House Bill 16 will get a vote today. This bill would repeal the estate tax in Delaware. State Rep. John Kowalko issued the following statement last evening concerning this bill:
Today 5/18/17, a bill to repeal the “estate tax”, has been placed on the House Agenda by Speaker Schwartzkopf. It will require a suspension of rules due to notification inadequacies but more importantly it will guarantee less revenue for the state and amounts to a giveaway to the Republicans and the wealthy. This tax garnered $9.3 million in revenue in 2016 and to date there have been no suggestions from leadership of either party or the JFC as to how that revenue loss will be replaced. I have asked this question of all of my Democratic colleagues and have not received one suggestion. This bill should not receive one Democrat vote but it will as deals have been cut to the detriment of Delaware’s taxpayers to ensure passage. This is irresponsible and abhorrent behavior that contradicts true Democratic party principles and ideals and all Democrat legislators should reject this or be held accountable. -Representative John Kowalko
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 in favor of students 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!