I received a letter from Governor Carney in my email today. So did over 900 other Delaware citizens. Two months ago, a push was made to send letters to Governor Carney concerning House Substitute 1 for House Bill 12. This is the pending legislation which would provide Basic Special Education Funding for students with disabilities in Kindergarten to 3rd grade. The state provides extra special education funding for all other students with disabilities who have an IEP, so why not these students who are just getting their start in elementary education?
For years, I have been advocating for this funding. So has Rep. Kim Williams. This is the second go-around with this legislation. House Bill 30, from the 148th General Assembly, sat around in the Appropriations Committee from early 2015 until June 30th, 2016 and died. I have yet to meet anyone who thinks this bill is a bad idea. I understand we have a deficit Governor Carney, but the purpose of state funding should have a top priority of those who need it the most. These students fit that criteria. Response to Intervention does not take care of these students’ needs, nor as it designed to. Please don’t perpetuate this myth. You did not include it in your proposed budget and I am calling foul on that oversight. I pray our elected officials in the General Assembly have the common sense to put children first when they approve the budget for Fiscal Year 2018. They are the future of Delaware.
The letter was dated March 7th, 2017, but I just received it today. I won’t bicker about that, but it is noteworthy. What I will mention is Governor Carney’s refusal to commit to this funding. I just don’t get it. It is a no-brainer and everyone knows it. Who is lobbying against this bill behind the scenes?
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.