Mike Ramone Wants Street Cred With Bill That Proposes 20 Year Term Limits For Delaware General Assembly

In a bill filed today, House Bill #33, State Rep. Mike Ramone is proposing ALL members of the Delaware General Assembly, be they a State Representative or State Senator, be limited to 20 consecutive years in their role.  But the devil is in the details which gives Ramone more time in the General Assembly, if he doesn’t get ousted in the 2020 election… 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

Exceptional Delaware Endorsements For Election Day In Delaware

Finally! All the talk can stop about who is better.  After tomorrow we will know.  I felt obligated to give my endorsements for all the races.  Some will care, some won’t.  Some may shock you while some will be all “duh, didn’t see that one coming!”  Just do one thing tomorrow- VOTE!  It’s one of the strongest ways you can make your voice heard in your state and country!

Here are my “official” endorsements: Continue reading

One Month Until The Delaware Primary! Your Guide To The Candidates!

The Delaware Primary election is one month away!  And there are plenty of statewide and district races for Delaware citizens to vote on.  I would go so far as to say the Primary is just as important as the General Election this year.  The heat is on! Continue reading

Bunting Has Technical Wiggle Room But That Is Also A Lie

Yesterday, I posted a controversial article about how Susan Bunting failed to disclose vital information to the Delaware Auditor’s office.  There was at least one (as of this writing) complaint against Indian River’s former Chief Financial Officer, Patrick Miller.  Since then, new information has materialized that sheds some additional information on what I am calling Millergate.  Once again, as in yesterday, there is language in this article that is not safe for work. Continue reading

The “Automatic” Winners In The Delaware Election & Current Balance of Power In The Delaware House & Senate

After the filing deadline today and the final list of Delaware candidates for Delaware Election 2018, there are some things we can say for certainty.  Some candidates are running unopposed.  Sure, there is a chance opposing parties could nominate someone for an unfilled seat for their party, but that doesn’t happen very often.  So for now, I am tentatively going to call the following candidates “winners” and look at what it means for party leadership in the Delaware House and Senate. Continue reading

Delaware General Assembly Demographics Show Huge Gaps With Women & Minorities

The 149th Delaware General Assembly just completed at 8:30am this morning.  An upcoming election will bring many new faces to Legislative Hall as ten State Representatives are either retiring or, in two cases, running for the Delaware Senate.  That is almost 25% of the House.  On the Senate side, three of them are retiring as well which represents a little over 14% of the Senate.  On the House side, 6 Democrats are retiring and 4 Republicans.  For the Senate, 2 Democrats and 1 Republican are retiring, including the ONLY African-American in the Senate.  There are many female and African-American candidates running for seats which could improve the below numbers.  There are NO African-Americans in either the Republican House or Republican Senate.  But that could change as well!

 

SENATE (21 seats)

 

Men: 17 members, 81% (2 leaving)

Women: 4 members, 19% (1 leaving)

 

White: 19 members, 90.5% (2 leaving)

African-American: 1 member, 4.75% (1 leaving)

Hispanic: 1 member, 4.75%

 

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES (41 seats)

 

Men: 32 members, 78% (8 leaving)

Women: 9 members, 22% (2 leaving)

 

White: 37 members, 90% (8 leaving)

African-American: 3 members, 7.25% (1 leaving)

Hispanic: 1 member, 2.25% (1 leaving)

 

OVERALL

 

Men: 49 members, 79%

Women: 13 members, 21%

 

White: 56 members, 90%

African-American: 4 members, 6.5%

Hispanic: 2 members, 3.5%

 

DELAWARE 2010 CENSUS DEMOGRAPHICS

 

Men: 49.4%

Women: 51.6%

 

White: 62.3%

African-American: 22.8%

Hispanic: 9.3%

Other: 5.6%

 

When you compare Delaware’s population to that of our legislators, the numbers don’t match up.  That is, in large part, based on how the districts are mapped for State Rep and State Senate seats.  As well, it also depends on who votes!  I predict, with the 2020 census, the Hispanic population will be bigger.

There are more women in Delaware but they only make up for 22% of our legislators.  Those numbers could change in the next election, along with African-Americans but it will be tough to get them to match up with Delaware’s population.  We could see some new minorities enter the mix come January 2019 as well!

Get Ready For A War Between Governor Carney & Democrat Legislators!

When the Delaware Democrat leadership in the House and Senate decided not to bring House Bill 460, the budget smoothing bill, up for a vote, Governor Carney was NOT happy.  As a result, he decided to go ahead and do it anyway.  With an Executive Order!  Well, not yet.  That will go down at 4:30pm today.  This will not go down smoothly with the Democrats in the General Assembly!  Get ready to rumble!  This all but assures Carney will get a Primary in 2020!

 

Delaware Governor John Carney

MEDIA ADVISORY

TODAY: Governor Carney To Sign Executive Order on Budget Smoothing

 

DOVER, Del. – At 4:30 p.m. today at Legislative Hall, Governor John Carney will sign an Executive Order to implement recommendations of the DEFAC Advisory Committee on budget smoothing. Following the signing, Governor Carney will be available for media to answer questions on the final day of the 149th General Assembly. 

 

WHAT:          Governor Carney will sign an Executive Order on budget smoothing, and hold media availability on the final day of the 149th General Assembly. 

 

WHO:             Governor John Carney

     Mike Jackson, Director, Office of Management and Budget

     Rick Geisenberger, Secretary, Department of Finance

     Jeff Bullock, Secretary of State

     Michael Houghton, Chair, Delaware Economic and Financial Advisory Council

 

WHEN:          Saturday, June 30       

4:30 p.m.

 

WHERE:        Governor’s Office

                        Legislative Hall

                        411 Legislative Avenue

                        Dover, DE 19901

 

###

** UPDATED ** Governor Carney Put Forth New Nomination For State Board of Education President

Last weekend, I reported Governor Carney nominated three new State Board of Education members and also nominated existing member Dr. Audrey Noble for President of the board.  Due to health reason, Noble asked to be withdrawn from consideration.  Instead, one of the three new State Board members Carney nominated was confirmed as the President yesterday.

Whitney Townsend Sweeney is the new President of the State Board of Education.  As I reported the other day, Sweeney is an Investment Director at Schroders.  She is a University of Delaware graduate and served on the Delaware Financial Literacy Institute.  I don’t see much in terms of education background with Sweeney based on her LinkedIn profile.  This will be interesting to see.

She will replace outgoing State Board President Dr. Dennis Loftus who resigned this month.  As well, the two other nominees were confirmed by the Delaware Senate yesterday.  They are former State Rep. Vincent Lofink and Candice Fifer.  I look forward to meeting all three.

The General Assembly website does not indicate when Noble’s nomination for State Board President was withdrawn but shows it was introduced on 6/22/2018.

Teacher License Suspension and Pay For Success Bills Pass General Assembly

Two bills closely tied with public education passed in the Delaware House of Representatives today which clears them through the General Assembly and await Governor Carney’s signature.  Another bill passed but goes back to the Senate due to an amendment.

Senate Bill #234, which gives the Delaware Secretary of Education the ability to suspend a teacher’s credentials due to an arrest from abuse or other egregious crimes, passed the House with a 41-0 vote.  As written in the synopsis of the bill, this will… “include situations involving felony crimes against children or where there is a clear and immediate danger to student safety or welfare“.

Senate Bill #242, which will establish Pay for Success programs in Delaware passed with 39 yes, 1 no, and 1 absent.  The sole no vote belonged to State Rep. Rich Collins.  An amendment placed on the bill in the Delaware Senate would create a working group to explore how Pay For Success would be implemented in public education, both early childhood education and K-12 education.  I am still torn on Pay For Success but this would allow some time for the Working Group to really take a look at how this would work to make sure it didn’t conflict with existing federal laws (such as IDEA) and to set up parameters.  Pay For Success is where an outside investor would come in, pitch a program with measurable outcomes, and if approved, would set out on this program.  If the program works with those outcomes, the State would pay the company back.  If it doesn’t, they wouldn’t.  The bill sets up Pay For Success for all state agencies.

Senate Bill #172, which is meant to increase the transparency of education funds, passed the House but an amendment clarifying some language on the bill which causes it to go back to the Senate for a final vote (provided they don’t put any amendments on it).  That bill passed in the House with 41 yes votes.

On the Senate side, they passed House Bill #268 which deals with Senior property tax credits, but due to an amendment placed on the bill in the Senate, it will go back to the House.

Finally, Delaware Governor John Carney signed both the budget bill and a bill giving one-time bonuses to state employees and retirees.  Both the Bond bill and the Grant-In-Aid bill will come up for a vote on the last day of the Delaware General Assembly, Saturday June 30th.

Governor Carney’s Three Nominations For State Board of Education & Who Will Become President?

Governor Carney presented three nominations for the State Board of Education on Friday.  And another State Board member has been nominated to replace Dr. Dennis Loftus as the President of the board.  Who are the nominees?  One of them is a former legislator! Continue reading

Delaware Senate Passes The Budget Bill 10 Days Before Legislative Session Ends & Paid Parental Leave Up For A Vote

The Delaware Senate just passed the FY2019 budget bill.  With a vote of 19 yes, 1 no, and 1 absent, Senate Bill #235 will go to the Delaware House of Representatives.  This is a far cry from a year ago when the General Assembly didn’t pass the budget until after June 30th.  They wound up passing the budget in a rare continued session which lasted until July 2nd.

The sole no vote belonged to the perennial budget naysayer, State Senator Colin Bonini.  Senator Catherine Cloutier, who has been ill of late, was absent.  I fully anticipate State Rep. John Kowalko attempting to put the charter school transportation slush fund amendment on the bill to end that practice.  This could be the year!  But it would have to go back to the Delaware Senate at that point.

What this also means is no more money is going into the budget unless an amendment specifically says so.  This point actually caused a ruckus last week between Senator Dave Lawson and Senator David Sokola.  The Senate Education Committee did not release the bill.  The main reason was the budget bill was already decided upon but Senator Lawson’s bill would have added $65 million to the FY2019 budget.  It caused both the Senators to put Facebook videos up defending their points of view.

A slew of school safety bills are pending in the General Assembly right now.  Only one, HS1 for House Bill #49, has been sent to Governor Carney.  A House Bill was supposed to be heard in the House Education Committee today with an ask of $10 million for a school safety fund but it was removed due to a Senate bill asking for $15 million.

At this moment, the paid parental leave for state employees legislation, House Bill #3, is about to get a vote in the Delaware Senate.  The Director of the Delaware Association of School Administrators, Tammi Croce, is testifying about teacher shortages in our schools.  Paying for substitutes, she said, would cost more on the local side of education funding on top of paying more on the local share for a teacher’s potential 12 week leave.  She said her organization is opposed to the legislation. Senator Nicole Poore said teachers already take leave to which Croce responded most mothers take about 6-8 weeks while fathers take 1-2 weeks.  Poore said New Jersey offers a paid parental leave similar to this legislation and they don’t suffer the retention issues Delaware faces.  I will update this discussion.  It is rather fascinating.

Senator Sokola supports the bill.  He said this bill could be seen as a recruiting tool to get more teachers in Delaware.  As well, it could inspire more retired teachers to come back to long-term substitute because they would be in the same classroom as opposed to getting shuffled around different classrooms.  Croce invited Sokola to do some long-term subbing to which he said he might since DuPont dropped him three years ago.  Lieutenant Governor Bethany Hall-Long said if they have a spinning wheel in there Sokola would jump at it!

Senator Greg Lavelle, who is a sponsor of the bill, said Croce makes some good points.  He said the bill was introduced on April 5th so why are the school districts just bringing this up in the last 4-5 days?  He said it was an abdication of duty for the school Superintendents to wait this long to oppose the bill.  He said he supports what they are saying but seems offended they waited until now.  In other words, Lavelle is being Lavelle.

Kristen Dwyer with the Delaware State Education Association is testifying right now.  Senator Poore said she understands male teachers are unable to take paternity leave unless they use sick time to which Dwyer said yes.  Dwyer said 76% of their membership are women but most of them are of child-bearing age.  She said many teachers take the 6-8 weeks of paid leave now but many of them have to take more time as unpaid leave.  She expressed how many women many have complicated labors which cause that additional time.  She said new teachers in the first five years of the profession are leaving at a rate of 39%.  She said teachers are looking for benefits just as much as salaries.

Senator Simpson asked if she is concerned about the ability of school districts to hire more substitutes if this legislation passes.  She said the incident of substitute shortages is not because of this bill.  She said she has been in discussion with others to get more pay for long-term subs.  Simpson keeps trying to press the substitute teacher issue.  Dwyer said this bill does not change what has been an ongoing issue with finding substitutes due to the pay involved.

Poore asked Dwyer if her members want this bill.  She said yes.  DSEA represents 13,000 educators and this bill represents a class of that total.  Poore said 446 births a year are attributed to teachers.  Senator Hocker said this would be about 110-120 births each quarter of the year.  Simpson said he has gotten letters from teachers in DSEA who do not support the bill.  She said she has not but she has heard of teachers who would have not received this benefit since they are past child-bearing age.

Senator Simpson said he can’t support the bill.  Senators Marshall and Sokola asked to be co-sponsors on the bill.  Simpson asked what effect this could have on private employers.  He said it might impact families who decide not to come to Delaware.  Editor’s note: this guy will find any reason not to support this bill!  Now he is bringing up how the Department of Corrections has been experiencing shortages for years.  He feels as though this will add to that shortage.

Senator Poore is giving statistics about how Chase gives 16 weeks of paid parental leave and Bank Of America gives 18 weeks.  She said this is one way to invest in the next generation.  She feels this is to incentivize teachers to stay in the profession.  Senator Simpson asked what non-banks are giving?  Poore didn’t know.

Simpson introduced an amendment to reduce the time from 12 weeks to 6 weeks.  He said it is a “reasonable compromise”.  Roll call on the amendment: 5 yes, 15 no, 1 absent.  Amendment failed the Senate.

Now he is introducing Senate Amendment #2 which adds a three-year sunset to the bill.  He feels the bill is a “grave” mistake.  Roll call- 7 yes, 13 no, 1 absent.  Amendment failed the Senate.

Roll call on the bill.  Wait, Lavelle wants to talk again.  Said he supports the bill.  He said paraprofessionals are a part of the IEP, which his son has.  He said his wife as well as Senator Poore are fighters for IEPs.  Senator DelCollo supports the bill as well.  Senator Walsh said companies don’t have 39% attrition.  Said he supports the bill to support his union brothers and sisters in Delaware.  Wants to be added as a co-sponsor.  Hansen, co-sponsor as well.  Rose Henry, wants to be co-sponsor.

Everyone is calling for the roll on the bill- 16 yes, 4 no, 1 absent.  Bill passes!

**UPDATED**The Clock Is Ticking For The State Board Of Education

The State Board of Education still has four members.  Which is their quorum amount.  Governor Carney, with ten days left in the 149th General Assembly, has not put forth ANY nominations for replacements.  Delaware State Code mandates four members on the State Board.  If Carney does not put forth nominations until after the General Assembly goes into recess from July 1st until mid-January 2019, he could order the Delaware Senate back into session to confirm nominations.  That isn’t unusual but typically doesn’t happen until October when it does occur.  Which means our State Board of Education is operating at a bare minimum for the next four months.  Which means if just one member doesn’t attend a meeting they can not take action on any item, even approving their minutes.

I have an extreme issue with keeping this body at four members.  Any regulation or appeal the State Board hears would only have four members voting.  One no-show could shut something down very fast.  It is a recipe for disaster.  Simply put, they cannot operate the way they are supposed to.  As an example, what happens if Secretary of Education Susan Bunting decided to put a charter school on formal review for some reason?  The State Board would have to vote on that.  Is four members enough to give that conversation the full weight for a matter that serious?  There is a reason there are seven members.

I was told by Jon Sheehan, Governor Carney’s Education Policy Advisor, the State Board of Education would be restored by June 30th.  So where are the nominations?  Since there are none today, that leaves one last Senate Executive Committee meeting to do this, which would be next Wednesday.  At that point it is the last week of the General Assembly.  I would worry about the quality of the nominations if it is rushed at the last-minute.

Two weeks ago, the Joint Sunset Committee released the State Board of Education from Sunset review.  The only unanswered question is who the State Board’s Executive Director will report to- the State Board, the Delaware Department of Education, or a hybrid of both.  Meanwhile, the deadline for applicants to replace Donna Johnson expired June 9th.  Which means someone will most likely get that job soon.  But will there even be a functional State Board of Education for them to direct?

I still feel as though the State Board of Education should be elected by the people.  Having a Governor hand-pick who he wants on the State Board of Education all but ensures people will get picked who would follow his agendas.  It is something our legislators could change but nobody wants to tick off the Governor.  Many of them agree but lack the stones to actually do it.  I say have an elected State Board of Education and get rid of “Secretary-only Regulations”.  Those are the ones, like Regulation 225, that the State Board of Education does not vote on.  Which is preposterous in my opinion.

Updated, 3:37pm: I spoke with Jon Sheehan a short time ago who assured me that three nominations will be introduced next week and he anticipates a full State Board of Education by June 30th.

Pay For Success Bill Passes Senate But Gets Amendment Creating A Working Group To Create Procedures For Education Before Implemented In This Area

Sometimes you just have to make some noise.  But it turns out I wasn’t the only one.  Last evening, before I even began writing my article about Senate Bill #242 needing changes, State Rep. Kim Williams and Senator Jack Walsh were already in discussion about placing an amendment on the Pay For Success legislation.

The amendment forms a working group to basically set the parameters for how Pay For Success will work in not only Early Childhood Education but also public education (K-12 schooling).  While public education was not directly mentioned in the bill, it left it open.  This amendment codifies and puts in writing how this will be moving forward.  I am VERY pleased with this outcome and I salute Williams and Walsh for doing this!  I don’t tend to get heated up over legislation like I did in my early blogging days.  It took me by surprise but I felt it was important and I am very glad that others saw some of my same concerns and acted on it.

The amendment passed the Delaware Senate with 17 yes, 4 absent.  Senate Bill #242 passed with 18 yes, 3 absent.

This Amendment requires that specific procedures be established for Pay for Success contracts that involve early childhood education or public education. This Amendment also creates a working group that will make recommendations to the Office of Management and Budget regarding these procedures.                    

 

Delaware House Passed Very Important Autism Bill

On Tuesday, the Delaware House of Representatives unanimously passed an Autism bill that will delight many parents and advocates in The First State.

State Representative Earl Jaques released the following statement on the House vote:

The House has unanimously passed my bill to enhance services for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. HB 292 would focus on implementing parent and family input through the enactment of the Parent Advisory Committee, along with additional review boards.

We want to help all students have a quality, inclusive education experience, and this bill will help accomplish that. The hope is to better help children get the Autism services they need in their local communities. The legislation also has the net benefit of creating more educational autism specialist jobs.

This is the synopsis for HB #292:

This Act implements the recommendations of the March 2015 Autism Educational Task Force report regarding § 1332 of Title 14, the Program for Children with Autism and its Special Staff. Enacted nearly three decades ago, this law established a network of educational programs initially within a separate school structure known as The Delaware Autism Program (DAP). Today, this network continues as a combination of both separate school programs and within local school district support services. However, the current model does not reflect current practices in special education, especially regarding inclusive education, and parents’ desire to have their children educated in their local communities. In addition, the increase in students with an educational classification of autism spectrum disorder (“ASD”) has made it difficult for the Statewide Director to provide the level of services and support that once was offered. This Act establishes the qualifications and duties of the Statewide Director and enhances the current mandatory committee structure to include a Parent Advisory Committee, in addition to the Peer Review Committee and Statewide Monitoring Review Board, to increase family input, monitoring, and protections. This Act creates a 3 year pilot program that revises the concept of DAP toward a system in which the statewide Director will work in collaboration with a team of experts to provide technical assistance and training to districts and educational entities. It allows for and provides adequate resources for all students with ASD in Delaware by eliminating the distinction between DAP-approved programs and other in-district options and by providing in-state experts at a lower cost than out-of-state residential treatment and consultants. The pilot program created under this Act makes changes that recognize and support the need for specialized technical assistance and training staff to be available to build capacity for teachers in all districts and other programs educating students with ASD. These changes expand available supports so that excellent, evidence-based training and technical assistance can be made available to all Delaware schools and the students who attend them. The pilot program created under this Act establishes a technical assistance team of educational autism specialists numbering a ratio of 1 for every 100 students (currently estimated at 15 positions). The fiscal mechanism to support the pilot program will be accomplished through mandated district participation that is consistent with the current needs-based funding system in Delaware and by redirecting state spending towards lower cost, community-based supports from out-of-state residential placements. The number of training specialists will be phased in over several years or until the pilot program ends. Finally, this Act is known as “The Alex Eldreth Autism Education Law” in memory Alex Eldreth, who passed away unexpectedly on November 24, 2017, and his dedication to this work.                    

Congrats!  The bill was also released from the Senate Education Committee yesterday.  It has not appeared on the Senate agenda but I anticipate final passage of this bill by June 30th.

Bump Stock Legislation House Bill #300 Goes To Governor Carney For Signature

After months of debate, House Bill #300 with its many amendments passed the House today and will go to Delaware Governor John Carney for signature.  I expect he will waste no time signing this huge legislation.

This bill makes it a crime to sell, transfer, buy, receive or possess a trigger crank or bump-fire device designed to accelerate the rate of fire of a semiautomatic rifle, making such weapon function more like an automatic weapon. A bump stock was used by the gunman in Las Vegas in October 2017. Violation of this provision is a Class E felony.

To see the final engrossment with all the amendments included, go here: House Bill #300

Updated: Only two State Representatives voted no- Richard Collins and Michael Mulrooney.  Representative Charles Postles did not vote and Reps. David Bentz and Deb Heffernan were absent.

Update #2: It looks like Senate Bill #163, the assault weapons ban, will get a full Senate Vote.  Blue Delaware is reporting he will ask for this to be heard in the Delaware Senate on Tuesday which would require a suspension of rules.  Last week, the bill was not released from committee.

Teacher License & Student Protection Senate Bill #234 Passes Delaware Senate, Heads To House

After a fresh overnight look at the language of Senate Bill #234, the legislation passed unanimously in the Delaware Senate.  The bill gives the Delaware Secretary of Education the authority to immediately suspend a teacher’s license in the event of an arrest for certain crimes against a child.

The bill was released from the Senate Education Committee yesterday.  It was placed on the agenda for the Senate later that afternoon.  During discussion of the bill, Senator Anthony DelCollo wanted some clarification on the legalese in the bill.  Senator Bryan Townsend laid the bill on the table to take a second look at the language of the bill but it cleared that hurdle because no amendment was placed with the bill and went to a full Senate Vote.  Today, 18 Delaware Senators voted yes on SB 234.  Three were absent.

Senate Bill #234 will go to the House Education Committee.  I anticipate this being placed on the agenda for next Wednesday.

Currently, the ability of the Department to take licensure action (i.e., suspension, revocation, limitation) is, in certain cases, contingent upon the public school employer first taking employment action (i.e., dismissal, termination). The Department believes that its ability, as the agency issuing professional teaching credentials to educators, to undertake licensure action should be separate from any action by the public school employer. Further, the Department seeks to expand the circumstances in which the Secretary may automatically suspend teaching credentials, specifically to include situations involving felony crimes against a children or where there is a clear and immediate danger to student safety or welfare. This bill removes the requirement of employment action before disciplinable offenses may be handled by the Department, making this licensure disciplinary structure consistent with how other licensed professions are handled in this State. The bill also creates the power to impose temporary emergency suspensions in those rare instances where a teacher poses a threat to student health, safety, or welfare. Finally, this bill creates the confidential letter of concern that is non-disciplinary and may be used in those instances where a teacher’s behavior is not in violation of the code, but indicative of a practice that is a matter of concern. These two provisions also make teacher licensure discipline more similar to other licensed professions in the State.                    

My Email To Delaware Senators About The Highly Flawed Pay For Success Legislation

Last night I wrote an article about the Delaware Pay For Success legislation, Senate Bill #242.  I stand firm in my convictions and I am calling on ALL Delawareans to contact their Delaware Senator and urge them to either table SB 242 or vote no today.  The more I thought about this legislation, the more disturbed I am with it.  Say the Pay For Success program an investor initiates does not reach its objectives.  The state won’t pay the investor for this “project”.  But what happens with all the data collected during the program?  Does the investor get to keep that?  As we all know, in the 21st Century, data is currency.  It is bought and sold all the time.  When that data concerns children, we have cause to worry.  The whole point of the “investment” could very well be the data collection that comes with it.  We see massive data collection on pre-schoolers in these kind of programs going on across the country.  Investors love social-emotional learning and are investing millions of dollars for that treasure trove of data collection on students.  Children.  Think about that.

Let this sink in for a minute- the person pushing this the most is a DuPont.  A member of a family that is worth billions of dollars.  Someone with deep connections and the ability to snap their fingers so things go his way.  His brother already runs Zip Code Wilmington, a coding school.  There runs the Longwood Foundation.  He is heavily involved in the Delaware Community Foundation which funds the Rodel Foundation.  We need to wake up and question motivations here.  They are already “invested” in Delaware education.

Good evening distinguished members of the Delaware Senate,

I am urging you to table Senate Bill #242.  This bill, dealing with Pay For Success programs in Delaware, is being fast-tracked through the General Assembly. 

My concerns with the bill are the eventual forays Pay For Success programs will make into public education.  While this bill is being touted as an economic development bill (which I support), it will also be used for “social programs”.  There are not enough safeguards in this bill to prevent potential fraud and abuse.  I also believe any programs like this, that would use our children as guinea pigs for an investor, is fundamentally and morally wrong.

I have put out the call for Delaware citizens to attempt to stop this bill.  But given that it was introduced Tuesday, released from committee today, and will be on the Senate Ready list tomorrow does not fill me with hope.  I attended the committee session today and voiced my concern.  I was pretty much told to trust the system and if problems arise those could be fixed later on. 

This is a huge program that the general public knows NOTHING about.  It was put in a committee that does not usually generate much citizen traffic aside from lobbyists.  There was no big splashy article from the News Journal on this bill as we see so often with other bills.  It is my contention the intention was to get this through as soon as possible which is not a sign of transparency whatsoever.

I put up an article on Exceptional Delaware tonight which goes more in-depth with my concerns.  I urge you to table this bill or even vote no on it.  I am not opposed to some parts of the bill, but I believe it should be held over until the 150th General Assembly.  Let the public weigh on it.  Let’s do some research into who this benefits.  Please, let’s look at some of the very controversial ways programs like this are being used.  The Salt Lake City program, run by Goldman Sachs, is praised by the investment community.  But the data in that program was flawed to begin with.  And it dealt with finding ways to reduce future special education services for students with disabilities.

I respect both the prime sponsors on this legislation, but it needs to be looked at very carefully before we rush into this sort of thing.

Thank you,

Kevin Ohlandt

Dover, DE

I contacted Mike Matthews from the Delaware State Education Association and urged him to have DSEA weigh in on this bill.  After I emailed all the Delaware Senators, I forwarded the email to all of the State Representatives.  I begged them to do what is right and to do their due diligence with this legislation should it pass the Senate.

Good evening members of the Delaware House of Representatives,

I sent the below email to every single member of the Senate.  Several other Delaware citizens are sending similar emails to them as well.  If this bill should happen to pass the Senate tomorrow with no changes, it would fall on the House to do what is necessary.  I am not 100% opposed to this bill.  But there are very real dangers that will come out of it.  We talk about unintended consequences with education all the time.  While this is not an education bill, it will dip into that sector.  Please do what is right.

Thank you,

Kevin Ohlandt

Dover, DE

I spread the message far and wide last night.  The clock is ticking.  If you want to take action and contact your Delaware Senator but aren’t sure who they are, please go to this map: Who is my Delaware State Senator?

I have no doubt defenders of the bill are emailing the Senate at this very moment saying things like “This is a great bill that will help the Delaware economy”, or “This is from a blogger who thinks everything in education has some nefarious motive”, or “Just ignore him”.  So I will ask the Delaware Senate this question: do you value children or profits?  Because you have the chance to do something good here.  To do what is right.  Do it!

The Senate adjourns at 2pm today.  It is #7 on their agenda but bills can be switched around.  Time is running out…

FINAL ** All Delaware 149th General Assembly Education Legislation Passed, Defeated, Pending, Tabled & Vetoed

The 149th Delaware General Assembly is finished!  All bills either passed or didn’t.  If it is in black, it passed.  If it is in red, it didn’t.

Legislators: If you find any errors, omissions, or want to provide clarification on the status of a bill, please let me know.

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