New 149th General Assembly Education Legislation Deals With Special Education, ESSA & Attendance

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Kilroy’s Legacy On Senate Agenda Today For Full Senate Vote

House Bill 61, the school board audio recording legislation, is up for a full Delaware Senate vote today.  This bill has a long history in the Delaware General Assembly.  Many districts and the State Board of Education already record their board meetings and put them up on their website.  This bill would make so they all have to, including charters and vo-techs.

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In the 147th General Assembly, it was House Bill 23.  It was released from the House Education Committee but never progressed from there.  State Rep. Deb Hudson reintroduced the bill last year as House Bill 61.  It cleared the House Education Committee last year and passed the House this year.  A little over a month ago it was released from the Senate Education Committee.  The Chair of the Senate Education Committee is the legislator that puts it on the agenda for the Senate, which would be Senator David Sokola.  Finally, after many years, Kilroy’s dream is about to come true.  Others fought for this as well, but Kilroy was the one really pushing it.  If the Senate passes this (and I can’t think of any reason why they wouldn’t), it goes to Governor Markell for signature and then it would be the law of the land.

Never underestimate what hard work and perseverance can accomplish.  Don’t give up, even when you think all is lost.

Kilroy’s School Board Audio Recording Bill Passes House With 40-0 Vote!

Kilroy’s School Board Audio Recording bill, sponsored by State Rep. Deb Hudson, passed the Delaware House of Representatives unanimously just now.  The final vote was 40 yes and 1 absent.  House Bill 61 is the second time this bill has been in the General Assembly.  House Bill 23, from the 147th General Assembly, never got a full House vote.

This is Kilroy’s legacy to Delaware.  He has fought hard for this bill for years.  The first time I ever went to Legislative Hall was for my failed attempt to get House Bill 23 up on the agenda.  This was my thanks to Kilroy for letting me write a very long story about my son on his blog before I started this one.  A lot has happened since then and the need for transparency from our school boards has never been greater.  It still has to go through the Senate, with the Senate Education Committee first.  But there is no reason why it shouldn’t pass there.

Congrats Kilroy!  I’m glad I got to hear it live!

State Rep. Earl Jaques said it was a great bill!

State Rep. Kim Williams thanked State Rep. Hudson for sponsoring the bill!

I emailed Kilroy a VERY BAD audio recording of the vote on the school board audio recording bill!