Could this have been what that meeting in Governor Markell’s office at Legislative Hall was about after the WEIC redistricting House vote? It turns out the two WEIC bills, House Joint Resolution #12 and House Bill #424, will not have to go through the Senate Education Committee. Instead, they are going to the Senate Executive Committee.
The Senate Education Committee is the designated committee these bills should have gone to. I looked in the Senate Rules from Senate Resolution #3 and there is nothing in there that states a bill can be petitioned out of committee unless it is not heard in committee for 12 consecutive legislative days. And it has to be agreed upon by the majority of the full Senate. While there could be a stipulation in Mason’s Manual of Legislative Procedures (which is the go-to guide in case something isn’t covered in the rules), I find it very unusual they would skip that step. The only scenario I can think of is there won’t be another Senate Education Committee from now until June 30th. Which I just confirmed is the case. The President Pro Tempore of the Senate is the one that assigns bills to a committee when they come from the House. So Senator Patti Blevins is the one that assigned this to the Senate Executive Committee.
The members of the Senate Executive Committee are as follows: Senator Blevins (D) (Chair), Senator Henry (D), Senator Lavelle (R), Senator McBride (D), Senator McDowell (D), and Senator Simpson (R). That is four Democrats and two Republicans folks. Which means if all those Dems vote yes for release from committee it will go to a full Senate vote.
If the Senate Education Committee is NOT meeting again this year, that could have a huge impact on bills still in the House or recently passed in the House. Like House Bill 399, the teacher evaluation bill, or House Bill 435, the charter school audit bill which faces a full House vote today. House Bill 399 was assigned to the Senate Education Committee so there would have to be a suspension of rules to get it to a full Senate vote. Which can only happen if the Chair of the Senate Education Committee requests it. That would be Senator David Sokola…
It must be the last week of June in Delaware folks! Shenanigans rule the day!
We haven’t seen a new Wilmington Education Improvement Commission redistricting bill in a few weeks. This one actually made me laugh. Not only does it re-summarize the last bill but it also guarantees funding (for future General Assemblies to make sure the funding is there) for what WEIC will give Red Clay if the House Joint Resolution passes. How much more legislation does this thing need? And people said opt out took up a lot of time last year! But the key part of this is the clause at the end which talks about “encouraged, but not required”.
Don’t get me wrong. I love that this would eventually give basic special education funding throughout the state to all kids in Kindergarten to 3rd grade. But here is the big question: will the rest of the districts and charters get a curve on the 3rd grade Smarter Balanced Assessment because they don’t have this funding yet? This whole WEIC thing is supposed to about righting wrongs and equity, right? So here we go, once more, setting up inequity to address equity.
What is this whole part about “school districts are encouraged, but not required, to match up to 30 percent of said funding.” Right there you are saying the state will only give about 77% of the funding for these high-needs kids. What if the districts don’t feel so encouraged to provide that funding? Will the state pony up the rest or is it just a “too bad, so sad” kind of situation? And that is in the synopsis. In the actual House Bill 425 legalese part all it says is “recommendations on resources”. There is nothing in the actual law that states this 30% language. And doesn’t this bill ignore the part in the WEIC redistricting plan that states all New Castle County schools would have all this funding in the next few years? That doesn’t sound like one a year. And how do charter schools fit into this funding mechanism? When do they get these extra funds? I like State Rep. Stephanie Bolden, and I think she has a very big heart. But everyone is bending over backwards to get the redistricting plan passed, we now have three pending bills our General Assembly will have to pass in their next six legislative sessions in order for this thing to move forward. This monster keeps growing more limbs! This “once in a lifetime chance” has more stakes in it than a beer tent at Firefly…
At least now we know what this three county thing is that Larry Nagengast mentioned a few weeks ago. But what the hell? You can’t write laws with words like “encouraged but not required”. It gives all of them an in or an out. How can we talk about equity when there is a choice for some to take part and some not to? They are either ALL IN or ALL OUT, no squeezing through the cracks here. And, oh yeah, where is this NEW money coming from? You know, the funding that would go to Indian River and Capital. I didn’t see that in the budget. We have 21 days left until June 30th. Expect fireworks!
In the meantime, I want to put up “encouraged, but not required” in the 2016 Hall of Fame along with “shall vs. may”…