Rethinking Carney

I’ve been pretty hard on Delaware Governors in the past four plus years.  But sometimes they do things that make me think about things they do that are not directly related to bad education policy.  Things that will make Delaware a better place in the long run.  Two weeks ago, Delaware Governor John Carney signed Executive Order #24 which makes Delaware a trauma-informed state.  This is something we need in Delaware.  Delaware is not the best state for mental health services.  Families are crying out for help.  Sometimes they get it but a lack of training or proper services can turn that help into an issue. Continue reading

Delaware School Safety Report Shows Severe Limitations In Our Schools For Controlling Violence

If we are to have a chance to reduce and reverse this type of behavior, it is necessary to begin early and to start in the home. Efforts must be made to reach out students and to provide them with positive new directions in elementary school. Several committee members pointed out that “middle school is too late.”

“If joining a gang is the only way to survive, the kids will join gangs,” one committee member said, adding, “A lot of teachers don’t know who gang members are. You, as a teacher, should know how to interact with kids and parents because kids and parents may not have the ability to interact with us.”

The committee discussed the possibility of cell phone bans in schools, but public schools in Delaware have not done so because parents want to be able to reach their children by phone.

These were just a few of the topics discussed in the Special Committee on Public Safety.

School safety.  Two words that mean so many things to so many people.  To some, it means making sure every single student and staff member is protected from violence.  To some it means reporting requirements.  Many think of Sandy Hook or Columbine.  Others think of a mounting problem that can never be corrected.

Earlier this year, in the wake of two very violent deaths in Wilmington, a group was formed by Senator Robert Marshall.  Marshall is the Chair of the Senate Public Safety Committee.  He formed a group that met twice to discuss school safety issues with various topics introduced.  Out of these meetings, Senate Concurrent Resolution #83 formed a Special Committee on School Safety.  The final report was given to the President Pro Tempore of the Delaware Senate and Governor Markell yesterday.

The below report has a great deal of information.  It is very long but it is worth the read.  Take the time to read it.  Every single word.  Whether you are for or against School Resource Officers or Constables in Delaware schools, it is important to know what is happening out there.  It affects every single citizen of this state.  Issues in schools can explode outside of schools often, but issues outside of schools are brought into schools all the time.

The one thing I took out of this report is there are no easy answers.  Issues around funding and legality are some of the biggest obstacles to making schools safer.  Trauma plays a huge role in our high-needs schools.  Family issues outside of school are one of the biggest obstacles to safe schools.

There was one recommendation coming out of the final report that I didn’t see discussed anywhere in the meeting minutes.

Provide funding for the Delaware Department of Education to conduct a voluntary, statewide survey among students, parents, and teachers to get their thoughts on improving the learning environment and ways to make our schools safer.

It can’t be a report on education in Delaware without the Delaware Dept. of Education inserting something they want, which usually involves them getting more money.  One important thing to take note of in this report is that Delaware Senator David Sokola and State Rep. Earl Jaques were both listed as members of this committee but neither went to any of the meetings on it or bothered to assign a designee to attend in their absence.

The parts about Senate Bill 207, which I also issued severe problems with, were echoed by many in regards to future under-reporting of incidents in schools.  I thank God the House added an amendment to the bill that still requires mandatory reporting to the Delaware DOE.  But there is one line about Senate Bill 207 in the final report which will give any Delaware citizen severe anxiety.

Is The State Of Delaware Closing All State-Run Mental Health Day Treatment Centers?

Last night, a friend of mine asked me if Delaware was closing all their day treatment centers.  I had not heard of this before.  But apparently there is confirmation from a few organizations in the state that this will happen in two months.  This would not include the day treatment centers run by hospitals, like Dover Behavioral Health.

Many parents of children with disabilities, specifically autism, rely on these services for their children when the public school system is unable to give the services these children need.  In social media postings, several parents are desperately trying to get confirmation of this.  I reached out to a couple of legislators and one confirmed it is happening while the other had not even heard of this.

On Monday, the Delaware Economic Forecast Advisory Council (DEFAC) announced the state was looking at a $167 million deficit in their latest projection.  Last night at a “Meet and Chew”, Delaware Governor candidate John Carney said he fears this will rise to $300 million in the coming months.  While I don’t know if this is related to the possible shutting down of state-run day treatment centers, it would certainly save the state a considerable amount of money.  But what happens to these children who depend on these services?  Our schools can’t service them.  The private day centers lack the space to accommodate all these kids.  As one parent said on Facebook, “this is a disaster waiting to happen.”

If I were a parent of a child who uses these services, I would be freaking out!  I highly recommend all of these parents contact the Department of Service for Children, Youth and their Families (DSCYF) as well as the Department of Health and Human Services (DHSS).  They should also contact their state representatives and senators.  If you don’t know who your state rep or senator is, you can look here for your Senator and here for your State Rep.

One Delaware Senator told a parent they want written confirmation from DSCYF on this matter and expects to receive that today.  Why is it always the children who need the most help that get crucial services cut first?  If this happens, I fully expect parents to rise up and fight the state on this.

One parent was told this would not affect the residential treatment centers, where students actually live there to get help.