Delaware: Will school vouchers provide better school Choice options?

Dear Supporters of School Choice,

Do you believe every parent in Delaware should have the ability to choose the type of education their child receives? Currently, parents do not have this ability. Our goal is to expand the choices parents have and to help them make the best education decision for their child.  You have the opportunity to help make education choice a reality in Delaware.  Continue reading for information, good news and how to take action.

School choice is a term you will hear used a lot. Let’s define this term before we go any further. School choice gives parents the freedom to choose their child’s education, while encouraging healthy competition among schools to better serve families’ needs. School choice lets parents use the public funds set aside for their child’s education to choose the schools—public or private, near or far, religious or secular—that work best for them.

School choice is provided in a variety of ways. One way is through educational savings accounts, which are becoming a hot topic in many states around our nation. What exactly are they and how do they work? Education savings accounts allow parents to withdraw their children from public district or charter schools and receive a deposit of public funds into government-authorized savings accounts with restricted, but multiple, uses. Those funds can cover private school tuition and fees, online learning programs, private tutoring, community college costs, and other higher education expenses. Educational savings accounts already exist is some form in five states: Arizona, Florida, Mississippi, Tennessee and Nevada. In fact, Nevada just became the first state to pass nearly universal education savings accounts. Read more about thathere.

There is a bill, HB 161, that was just filed this month in the Delaware legislature that would allow families of special needs children access to educational savings accounts. View this video to see first hand how Delaware families with special needs children feel about this bill. The legislation is waiting to be debated in the House Education Committee. This is where we need your help! The House Education Committee Chair, Rep. Earl Jaques, has the soul responsibility of adding this bill to the committee agenda. Here are some ways that you can help ensure that this bill is brought to the committee for debate:

  1. Email and call Rep. Earl Jaques directly at:
    302-744-4279
    earl.jaques@state.de.us

  2. Email and call your own Representative and Senator.  Tell them you support the bill and that you would like them to speak with Rep. Jaques about adding this bill to the committee agenda.

Find your legislator by simply typing in your address and a map will appear with the name of your Representative or Senator.

Email info@dechoiceed.org if you are interested in attending the committee hearing tentatively scheduled for Wednesday, June 24.

Your support will go a long way in bringing this bill to committee and ultimately to the House floor for a vote. Please take 5-10 minutes now to make some calls and send some emails. Parents all over the state need you.

Thank you in advance for your support,

Kristen Sherman

Parent Coordinator and Champion for Education Choice

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34 responses to “Delaware: Will school vouchers provide better school Choice options?

  1. HB161 establishes educational savings accounts for children with disabilities and “exceptional children” as defined by Delaware State code. ” ‘Exceptional child’ means a child with a disability or a gifted and talented child, as defined herein.”

    HB161 as it is written and the “Why Delaware Parents Need Education Savings Account” seems to me to gloss over (or ignore entirely) that this bill will make ESAs available to parents of gifted and talented children. Delaware code identifies gifted and talented in the following way:

    Such an individual, identified by professionally qualified persons, may require differentiated educational programs or services beyond those normally provided by the regular school program in order to realize that individual’s full contribution to self and society. A child capable of high performance as herein defined includes one with demonstrated achievement and/or potential ability in any of the following areas, singularly or in combination:

    a. General intellectual ability;

    b. Specific academic aptitude;

    c. Creative or productive thinking;

    d. Leadership ability;

    e. Visual and performing arts ability;

    f. Psychomotor ability.

    Maybe we want such children to have access to ESAs. Maybe we don’t. I don’t think we want a bill that lacks transparency so that it can be properly debated. This bill won’t be revenue neutral. How much is it going to cost? Where will the money come from? How many such children are there in Delaware that are currently in private school? How many more will be identified as such once we have voucher attached to such identification? I don’t know how difficult it is get one’s child identified as gifted and talented (or with a disability), but if such identification becomes a “golden ticket,” I suspect we are going to see a lot more such identifications by “professionally qualified persons.”

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  2. Worth sending the above comments & questions to the legislators sponsoring HB 161, and pasting them into the comment section below the youtube video linked above. The inclusion of TAG kids as beneficiaries of this bill should be part of the public discussion about its merits. Its exclusion in material distributed thus far to garner support for HB 161 is fishy. Surely parents of identified gifted & talented kids will be interested in making use of these ESA vouchers.

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    • Are you “for” or “against” inclusion of TAG kids getting ability appropriate education.?

      At present most TPS’s go to great lengths to avoid the designation of TAG students. Designating them as such requires the school to provide/ fund the appropriate atmosphere/ educational opportunities and those resources are scarce given the demand to funnel money into non-academic social services.

      Vouchers, like some charters, are a response to the TPS neglect (whether low achieving or high achieving). Parents seeking better opportunities.

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    • Publius e decere

      I believe that parents of TAG students would be very interested in directing their fair-share of public funds to the school(s) they prefer. Without the saccharine oversight of a system of vested interests which claims to “know” more about what their kids need in a school than they the families do Thus, competition among schools should be encouraged, to induce them to be attractive places for students. Academics, effort expectations, special needs, crime, bullying, whatever. If you have an interest and so does a compelling part of the public, there is likely to be a school (but not “all:” schools) which will arise to be sized and available to fulfill it. But if you have a narrow high-demand inflexible “right” mindset you might not find enough critical mass to justify a school for your niche.

      The challenge in all of this is that there might be 2000 students of special and TAG categories, plus another 2000 “regular” students, vying for 400 seats in a school. In this case, what is the fair way to allocate the seats? A serious question.

      Every such applicant views their case as special, distinctive, and deserving of special treatment. ‘”My” kid needs that school more than others’. So do we start rolling the random selection dice? Or do we use a standard questionnaire? Or a standard evaluation? Or a non-standard evaluation? Step out of the ivory tower and recognize that this is a personal environment and people work extra hard to get the best for their own kids. And yes, those who can work the system more effectively get better results. It has been this way since womankind left the cave. Deal with it. And yes, give reasonable supports to those who need help finding their place in the system.

      I can assure you that 100% of the families who get a seat in their target school will think the system fair — and at least 50% of the families who did not get a seat in their target school will think the system unfair All of which is, of course, biased by vested interest. Rather than let emotions rule you, like some bloggers in DE, let the environment motivate you to raise your game for your own benefit.

      In the end, the school “system” must, in the aggregate, give The People what they want. They do NOT want one size fits all. Americans never have wanted that. Some individuals within the system may contest the system (as exampled above) but a high majority of the people will recognize the system as fair “if” the standards are uniform and “if” the system expands over time to give people more of a match with what they want, and less of a forced participation in what they don’t want. Ability and drive must be rewarded. Entitlement should not.

      We could solve most of these problems today without the new tension of vouchers. Take a look at the system. Some schools have shoulder-high waiting lists (category B), while others struggle to attract students (category A). So let’s provide flexibility in the system to give more B’s than A’s. So to speak. Choice , magnets, charters, etc. There are what people want, and they can'[\t get in because of old-school people in power defending the school system of the last century.

      Newark Charter, Conrad Schools of Science, Charter of Wilmington, Cab Calloway School of the Arts, MOT Charter, Delaware Military Academy, Sussex Academy .. these schools and many more all have waiting lists a mile long substantially because adverse factions who want to limit those schools have set the limits on their enrollment thru legislation. These schools would likely admit many more students, and would invest in facilities to accommodate them, if it were legal and affordable to expand with demand. So let’s give them latitude (no enrollment caps) and tax largesse (capital).

      Vouchers will hit those same limits. Too many families applying to not-enough good schools. If you really want to give people freedom, then GIVE THEM FREEDOM by allowing good in-demand public schools to expand with public dollars (operating, capital, special, etc) and live with the likelihood that they general public may not choose the way you do.

      More than half of our county’s school-affected population has moved from an ossified entitlement mindset to a differentiated mindset of motivation and contribution and achievement. This is good. We have more distance to go. Let’s go there.

      Stop finding reasons to NOT expand schools in demand and start find reasons to enable them. Let’s do it.

      Publius

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    • lastDEconservative

      “Surely parents of identified gifted & talented kids will be interested in making use of these ESA vouchers.”

      Which solves the “fishy” exclusion of them in the propaganda material being distributed, eh?

      Exceptional or TAG … or neither. “Special” to who? Your child is not special to me. Mine is. Therefore s/he is qualified. May I decide then if yours is or not based on whether or not “special resources” are still available?

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  3. I guess this needs to be explained to me better but I always thought parents had the ability to withdraw their kids from public or charter schools and enroll them in private schools or home school them with private tutors and access the funds they deposit into their checking and savings accounts to pay for these educational opportunities.

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    • The money allocated by the state and district for your child goes to the public district your child “would” or does attend.
      -If your child attends a private school, the public district STILL receives the funding that your child would otherwise carry with them IF they attended a public school. So if you attend a private school, you pay taxes for the district (where your child doesn’t attend) AND you pay for your child’s private school tuition above what you pay in taxes to the district. The district gets the funding whether your child is there or not.
      -If you home school, the money allocated for your child goes to the district regardless of whether your child is there or not.
      -If your child attends a charter public school, the educational funds collected through taxes (not capital expenses for buildings) for your child goes to the charter school your child attends. These funds are withdrawn from the district monies. The district keeps the portion associated with capital expenses so it gets to use your money to maintain buildings your child is NOT enrolled in but the educational money is sent to the charter school. This is their gripe. They don’t get to keep all the money. It actually gets redirected to the charter school your child attends.
      -Vouchers would allow you, in a basic sense, to direct the monies associated with your child to go to the school they attend, whether private, home school or charter. This would allow you to use educational tax money (to go to the school your child attends). If you don’t pay taxes but still have children, I guess the state would give you the tax money contributed by others to allow you to send kids to private or other schools on the public’s dime without contributing. Interestingly weird. Not saying it is a manageable or is an efficient use of funds but more direct than what they do now.

      Not sure if that is really what you were asking.

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  4. Arthur- theoretically, every parent has the choice. In reality, many parents, especially from lower income backgrounds, really don’t. In order to access funds, they have to have funds to begin with…and the federal tax code is so confusing many parents fail to take full advantage of the deduction opportunities. This bill serves to remove the confusion and say to qualified parents, “Look, your child goes to an under-performing public school and but s/he’s stuck there because you can’t move out of your neighborhood and you don’t have a lot of money to leave. So here’s a program to help you. Now the ESA has to be monitored to prevent as much abuse as possible (like using money to buy lottery tickets or cigarettes), but it’s there for you to use, whether towards a private school, home-school activity, supplies, therapy…whatever your child needs that you’re not getting now, we will help you, because seeing your child have at least some success is preferable to having them become a ward of the state or in prison/state-run institution.”
    To answer Openaccess’ questions, the money comes from dollars allocated to public schools for that child. The Treasurer’s office will make a determination as to how much the ESA is worth, year by year. 10 percent stays in the public school, and 90 percent goes to parents. No new tax dollars are needed, since this is in place of what we have now, which is to hand money to school districts and then, IF the parent has the means or the luck, let them go to an alternative school than the local neighborhood school.
    The argument in favor is to think of the cost of jailing, or institutionalizing people who might be able to become productive citizens, given the right opportunity. Given the choice of providing for education for a few years, or providing a cell for part or all of adult life, the former is the better choice. ESA’s, which are a variant of the voucher program but which are NOT vouchers, is the first step on the road to improving education for all children.

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    • Sam,
      Yes, but Delaware has about 20,000 student that use non-public school alternatives (private or home school). These families do have the means (or time and ability). The state currently spends almost nothing on these students. If 15 percent of these students are identified as TAG and/or with a learning disability that is 3000 students. The state supplies roughly 60 percent of the total funding for public school students. Using the state average of about $13K per student this comes to almost $8K per student. This would estimate the added expense to $24,000,000. Exceptional children may be funded at above the average (I don’t know) making this number even higher.

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    • Sam, I have to admit you folks cut out a lot of the video when you filmed my son and I. As well, I wasn’t aware this bill was also for talented and gifted children as you sold it to me based on special needs children. I think it is a huge leap to assume special needs students who won’t get this will become wards of the state or institutionalized. Yes, that can happen, but there are also many varying forms of disabilities, not all of which have that outcome. I don’t think selling this bill as a fear tactic is going to garner a lot of votes. In theory it sounds good, but the implications of it could be a game-changer for many public schools already struggling to meet their operating costs. Furthermore, the private schools have absolutely no laws to protect students with disabilities. If they don’t like the actions whether it is a manifestation of the child’s disabilities or not, they can kick them out. Does that mean the parents can take away the rest of the allocated money, or would the private school get to keep it? There are so many details I would like to know about before I fully endorse or reject this idea.

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    • Hi Kevin- I didn’t edit anything, it was the production crew. Now I did ask them for more videos, because you and the other interviewees had a lot of good stuff to say. When I get more videos, I will post them.

      Special needs does not just mean students with learning disabilities…it can apply to any student whose needs are not being met by the local school.

      Kevin, if you’re happy keeping Jacob in the school he attends, that’s fine. HB161 allows you to spend money on things like therapy, counselling, textbooks for outside class, or tutoring.

      There is no fear tactic. This is just an effort to bring urgency to the table- Delaware’s public schools are mediocre. The proof is in the details- New Castle County, for example, has seen an outflow of families with young children to Chester County, PA, where the public schools are perceived to be of better quality. One factor businesses consider before choosing a location is on how good the education system is. Delaware competes with the world, not just Maryland, PA,VA, and NJ. No, I do not assume special needs children will become wards of the state, but think about all the students here and nationwide who graduate, barely able to read or write. Yes, this happens! What do you think happens to those students? And what can be done to turn things around?

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    • lastDEconservative

      “The argument in favor is to think of the cost of jailing, or institutionalizing people who might be able to become productive citizens, given the right opportunity. Given the choice of providing for education for a few years, or providing a cell for part or all of adult life, the former is the better choice.”

      It takes a strong constitution to write something like this Alinsky-esque whopper of a red herring argument. For shame. At best, this is an accusation that the average autistic child will soon become a miscreant, even a murderer, spending “part or all of adult life” in jail because I didn’t move my child out of the way to let someone else’s be better provided for.

      Who still wonders why there is no discernible, let alone functioning “right” in Delaware? The best case to be made (set aside whether the case should be made) is that of a preposterously false premise reminiscent of the best the “left” has provided us with for decades. Yeah. Watch the line form.

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    • KO “Furthermore, the private schools have absolutely no laws to protect students with disabilities. If they don’t like the actions whether it is a manifestation of the child’s disabilities or not, they can kick them out.”

      -Protect them from what? Are teachers in private schools whipping or putting children in the stocks ? Private schools are an individual choice and voluntary, not a government run entity and therefore do not have to comply with the myriad of guidelines (some good, some crazy). Wouldn’t a parent entering a special needs student into a private school ask the simple question of whether or not their child can be accommodated? Additionally if a special need is not disclosed to a private school and the child’s needs are above what the private school can provide, would that not be a failure of the parent to provide full disclosure? The private school, as a business is voluntarily chosen by parents and cannot be expected to provide something that it is physically or economically incapable of or unwilling to provide.

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    • lastDEconservative

      M made the point, “The private school, as a business is voluntarily chosen by parents and cannot be expected to provide something that it is physically or economically incapable of or unwilling to provide.”

      Which, of course, is why it is “UNFAIR”, “UNEQUAL”, and above all “INEQUITABLE” and cannot be permitted to continue until the last able and willing child from the majority is sitting in the corner drooling with the unable and unwilling minority. “Why, last?” “Obviously, because the choice is made by [SOME] parents, not ALL, so there has to be a law, or better, a bunch of laws to preclude such.”

      PS: TWO points for “putting children in the stocks.”

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    • lastDEconservative

      “So here’s a program to help you.”

      As opposed to the liberal/progressive/socialist mantra, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help you.” Clearly a bright, bold distinction.

      Yep. Delaware conservative (little c) leadership in the year of our Lord 2015. Brings a tear to my eye.

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    • Sam,
      “This bill serves to remove the confusion and say to qualified parents, “Look, your child goes to an under-performing public school and but s/he’s stuck there because you can’t move out of your neighborhood and you don’t have a lot of money to leave. So here’s a program to help you.”

      There are so many issues related to this statement which go unaddressed that you cannot possibly NOT know just how bad the statement is.
      #1. “qualified parents”- Who qualifies them, with what criteria, with what parameters and what priority?
      #2. Under performing public school- Is the school actually under-performing or is it just the population of the school that is under-performing? Is it the State or district that is hindering the performance? Is there a mechanism that will actually address and correct under-performing taxpayer supported schools and if so why isn’t that done vs. redirecting the funding?
      #3. “Stuck there”- stuck where? Stuck because of life choices that prevent having better choices for themselves, like taking education seriously? Stuck because they refused to avoid the obvious pitfalls of: teenage pregnancy, irresponsible mate choices, criminal activity?
      #4. Don’t have money…here’s a program- Don’t have money because of #3 and so society (i.e.: taxpayers and those who aren’t STUCK or DID consciously avoid the obvious pitfalls [an ever increasing minority of the general population]) should provide a means to circumvent and “correct” irresponsible, negligent behavior ????

      And this all ends up with: “It’s not the kids fault” so the high (left) road is to ignore all the above and attempt to come up with a new “creative” (read-convoluted, complicated and unmanageable) solution to the self induced problem.

      Crickets are deafening LDC.

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    • #1 “Qualified” for HB161 means $80,000 or less in income. State Treasurer’s office makes the final call on who is eligible, with parameters set by the General Assembly.
      #2 I’m disappointed because your argument makes it seem as though public schools should not be held accountable for poor performance. I frequently find the same ardent defenders of public school call for the government to shut down any charter school which also does not meet expectations while insisting traditional public schools just ‘need more money.” Yes, a lot of parents in some districts do not do a great job parenting. But where did the first generation of under-educated parents come from? Qualified teachers who leave due to violence/lack of job satisfaction, school districts and boards more worried about keeping their positions than standing up to the state and local administrators who send dictates from afar, and of course a system which has all but been ceded to D.C. (Capital School District is the exception- their board are true fighters for the kids).
      #3- the Annie E. Casey Foundation did a long-term study of students and found that about 90% of our inmates were students who could not read at grade level by the end of 3rd grade. In Delaware, according to the NAEP, 2/3 of Delaware students are not proficient in reading or math, and a Delaware student has a higher likelihood of dropping out than earning a bachelor’s or higher (De DOE). Yet many of those students are allowed to graduate. Who made that call?
      #4 there is no reason the government should actually be RUNNING school. The government has a poor record at managing more than the very basic services like the police, courts, DMV, and military/national guard. Taxpayers, like those who live in Christina (I do, for disclosure) did not vote that referendum down because they were selfish. I know because I asked a few residents who voted: their general response was frustration with the school district or the education system as a whole. It’s unfair for public school proponents to accuse No votes of not caring about schools without proof that this is indeed what happened. I personally do not object to funding public schools but I agree with parents that we deserve some results for our tax dollars.

      Our education system is broken, largely due to political interference in the classroom. Decisions, instead of being made at the building level, are made by people with little to no idea what happens in a school.

      And to follow Kevin, yes, it’s a parent’s right to have a say in their child’s education. The idea that parents should be required to send their children to public school, even a bad one, because someone like you “believes in public education” is unfair to the kids themselves. This outdated model of thinking is the basis behind bringing Education Savings Accounts to Delaware- a program to help the most vulnerable students be able to be educated in the manner that suits them best. The public schools have long argued that they are overcrowded and funding has not kept up. Here’s a chance to take the most challenging students and let some of them go to a school which is able to meet those challenges. Then the public school can focus on the students who remain.

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    • lastDEconservative

      If M and last can make a case, with no more platform than Kilroy’s, why can’t CRI, dechoiceed.org, DE Faith and Freedom, Mid Atlantic Education Something, and so on? Obviously, it’s not hard, as M and last are card carrying, founding father (generic gender term), proud charter members of the selfish, stupid and, I forget the rest, oh, unenlightened neanderthals impeding progress, unwilling to look away, unable to give quarter, incapable of imagining success being defined as an unnoticed crumb falling from the table.

      Why indeed. A. We aren’t looking for a seat at the table, we’re looking to turn it over. No Port and cigars with the destroyers. 2. We are under no illusion that the fight must be brought gently so as to earn back a share of our God given rights. D. Followers won’t appear behind incrementalists, nor be inspired. (can you imagine Washington suggesting the battle be gentle in hopes of -maybe- keeping Philadelphia, ceding the rest to the Brits?). Which makes me think of another argument of the incrementalists. “We don’t have enough support” (read numbers and money). Oooookay, have you asked yourself which is the chicken and which is the egg? When the GOMeToo stood for something, folks like me (and me) gave money and time. Now that it stands for nothing discernible, uh, uh.

      “Stop. He-ey. What’s that sound? Everybody look what’s going down!”

      Never mind. Just crickets.

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    • LastDEConservative- we can and will continue to make the case. However, we prefer to rely on data and not emotional opinions. Reviewing M’s comment shows that he is very much in favor of the traditional public school model, where we should just give the schools more money and then not care about the results. This way of thinking is a problem.

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    • lastDEconservative

      “M’s comment shows that he is very much in favor of the traditional public school model, where we should just give the schools more money and then not care about the results.”

      If that’s how you read the estimable M Ryder’s remarks, sir, you are indeed down the rabbit hole. THAT is a problem.

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    • lastDEconservative

      ““Qualified” for HB161 means $80,000 or less in income. State Treasurer’s office makes the final call on who is eligible, with parameters set by the General Assembly.”

      First of all, read that definition again. Ask yourself … what could go wrong?

      I do hope M tunes back in to this thread, but unless and until s/he gets here, let me take a whack at this one vis a vis the utter indiscernability of the so called “right” from the socialists/progressives/liberals/whatever.

      And Pmom, oh, dear, Pmom, are you out there amongst the crickets still?

      Here’s your answer! Your child is special IF you adults (can’t say parents) expend only enough energy to earn $79,999.00 … and stop (just to get into consideration) … AND your child is special IF a unaccountable treasury bureaucrat interprets incomprehensible legalese left behind in a departure windstorm by the elected elites, AKA General Assembly, who did so determined to leave no discernible fingerprints or clarity so as to be able to point at the administrative state and say to all the rejected, “not me!”

      Yep. Count me in. How could the lastDEconservative, let alone all my forebears, not rally to THAT cause?

      And for all the Delaware TPS grads reading this who can’t see the point yet, try this: on 99 44/100% of the days that will dawn or ever have dawned in Delaware, is it the so-called “right” or the entrenched left put in charge of the decision process about which the “right” is beating its chest? =Jeopardy theme plays= Yep. They win again.

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    • lastDEConservative- we wish all children would have access to a great education, but unfortunately many do not right now. Whereas other states like Arizona, Florida, Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Nevada have passed some form of school choice program, Delaware has not. Incredibly, many people seem to think a parent should not have the right to decide what’s best for the child.
      As for “left” versus “right”, that is not our battle. We focus on sound policy which best positions our state to improve its economy and quality of life.
      If you want a cause to rally to, just know that HB161 is the first step in helping our most vulnerable population, students with special needs, get the education experience best suited to help them. Florida and Arizona have tried choice for years, and both states have seen overall positive results for all groups, including students with special needs (I mean those with learning disabilities, not just “talented and gifted”).

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    • Sam,
      Are we talking about the same bill (HB161? This one is for special needs children.

      http://legis.delaware.gov/LIS/lis148.nsf/vwLegislation/HB+161/$file/legis.html?open

      This is different from the other ESA bill based on family income. I can’t find any means-based qualification for an ESA in HB161 (certainly no reference to your $80,000 number or some multiple of the poverty level of income).

      I’d still like to know where the money to pay for this bill is coming from (my earlier post estimated it at $24,000,000 — a reasonable number).

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    • openaccess- the money will come from state revenue which was allocated to the public school. 10 percent will stay with the district and 90 percent will “follow the child.”
      The bill needs to have amendments but our aim is to help special needs students and their families, and those who are in lower-income brackets who want the ESA’s will be first in line. Some of the complaints we’ve gotten is that if a parent wants to send their child to St. Mark’s, then a few thousand bucks won’t make a difference. We do not expect the parents who use these ESA’s to send their child to St. Mark’s. Some may even stay in the public school. But at least now the child can receive services they are not currently getting now.

      As for the cost, think about the long-term costs of paying someone to be on SSID. If it was possible to spend a little money now to help a child get skills to have some type of work, even if it’s not a high-paying job, would you agree that’s better than someone not working who could, collecting SSID and feeling unable to contribute to society? Too often we look at short-term spending decisions and not the bigger picture when deciding on policy.

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    • Sam,
      Have you read HB161? Your posts are misleading. There are no family income restrictions for parents of special needs children to qualify for the ESA.

      You wrote:

      We do not expect the parents who use these ESA’s to send their child to St. Mark’s. Some may even stay in the public school. But at least now the child can receive services they are not currently getting now.

      HB161 says:

      (a) Any parent of an eligible student shall qualify for the state to make a grant to their child’s education savings account if the parents sign an agreement promising:
      (1) To provide an education for the eligible student in at least the subjects of reading, grammar, mathematics, social studies, and science;
      (2) Not to enroll their eligible student in a public district or charter school.

      So you cannot get the money from the state for an ESA and send your child to a public district or charter school.

      Yes, I agree that people working is better than people not working and a small public investment to make this happen is probably a good investment. I”m not convinced that ESAs are the best choice for making this investment.

      As for funding, yes, I understand how the state money follows the student. You still have no response to the $24,000,000 extra needed for this bill (H161) to accommodate all of the students currently in non-public schools. I think it is great that this bill has the potential to save money for the state in the long-run (how much? when will we see those savings?). What is going to happen until these savings are realized to fund this bill?

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    • openaccess as I said, the money comes from dollars already allocated to public schools. No taxes or fees are needed to fund this.

      I reread the bill. They did not put the income qualifier in, which means you are correct that this is not in and is open to all students who qualify per lines 30-40.
      As for the requirement not to attend a public district or charter school, that is correct. However, should a school district set up a cyber school, there is no prohibition in the bill saying they cannot attend a publicly-funded cyber school to use the bill. The savings will likely come 3-4 years from when the legislation is enacted, when the graduates from the different grade schools have had time to be in their new school long enough to have been impacted. But can I promise this? I cannot. The goal of HB161 is to begin the discussion of what else we can do to improve education, not to say it’s passed and we’re done here.

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    • lastDEconservative

      ” … just know that HB161 is the first step in helping our most vulnerable population, students with special needs, get the education experience best suited to help them.”

      I give up. I won’t fault you for sticking to your position, but I sure will for sticking to a position that is so wrong. Wake up. My child has special needs. Pmom’s child has special needs. M’s child has special needs. And so on. Along with the faulty position, you engage in the bastardization of the language of the progressive/socialist movement to mask … wait for it … what’s really going on (what I always look for). “Special needs,” so fuzzy and warm. “Most vulnerable,” so ooohhh inducing.

      Smart, well stated points, open. He’s all yours. Good luck. Add muddled to misleading.

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    • lastDEconservative I understand your frustration. This is a new idea and you have no proof it works, and I cannot guarantee you that this will work. As I wrote in my post to openaccess, it will take time to know if the plan is working.

      if you are content with your child’s school, and you believe the public school system is serving your child well, then that’s fine. If you believe Delaware’s schools are doing a great job and you’re happy with the quality of education, that’s fine too. It’s your children, not mine, and I respect that. The goal is to improve the system long-term, but again, if you’re all okay with the quality of services, then I wish you the best.

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  5. lastDEconservative

    Remind me again, please.

    How is it that your child’s needs are “special” such that you deserve and get “special” consideration … and mine is not and does not? Thanks in advance.

    What a crock. As usual, the so-called right comes to the equivalent of the Battle of the Bulge with a soda straw and a spitball, seeking, no, begging a tiny incremental retraction of the capital S State’s bludgeoning methods, not the complete and total destruction of them based on what is, well, right.

    It opens with “Do you believe every parent in Delaware should have the ability to choose the type of education their child receives?” Note the word “every.” The balance of the missive then importunes the reader to support a new government program that allows ANYTHING BUT! Note the word “program.”

    Remind me again, please.

    How is it that another “program” from the same government whose “programs” have damaged all of us for decades is going to now make everything all better? Thanks in advance.

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  6. Pencadermom

    I love this:
    a. General intellectual ability;

    b. Specific academic aptitude;

    c. Creative or productive thinking;

    d. Leadership ability;

    e. Visual and performing arts ability;

    f. Psychomotor ability
    What kid wouldn’t qualify for at least one of those? Who qualifies as a professionally qualified person to give the go ahead? Family doctor? If my kids doctor wouldn’t sign a paper saying my kid at least had the potential to be creative, I’d probably find a new doctor.
    Seriously, I’d like to hear the answer too. What makes one kid more special and deserving than another?

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    • lastDEconservative

      Thanks for chiming in, mom. I almost missed your voice behind the sound of the crickets.

      “Who qualifies as a professionally qualified person to give the go ahead?” Why, “they” do, of course. Carrie, Jacques, Sokola, Kilroy, Joko Ono, Murphy, Beldar … just not “you.” Parent of your own child? Pshaw! What do you know from “the common good?” How can you be -objective-? Besides, you are already in unfair territory, your child is a tow headed right hander with straight teeth and blue eyes!

      I just read -another- study about how young kids advance at home with mom and, well, don’t, in the care of the govt. Which is why “early childhood indoctrina-, er, education” is being pushed like lifeblood itself. If govt doesn’t get them early enough, the govt’s odds of success diminish. Success how? For one measure, deciding who should work for Ernie Dianastasis or Ellen Kullman, based on E and E’s criteria, of course (and campaign support). Deciding if this one should be doomed to suffer in Mandarin classes for 14 years, at the expense of joyfully banged up knees on the playground, or God forbid, dance classes or the random torture of insects, perhaps with a piece of magnifying glass. Or if that one should be off to Bloom Box assembly training (not schooling, not education, training) as is done in … wait for it … the enlightened international community, which has wisely and long since determined it best for the chil’ren if some (some) adult decides by age 8 their fate, uh, best path in life, yeah, best path. Oh, for the day when “we” can get the great unwashed to comprehend our wisdom, good intentions, and societal genius!

      ((There it is again, hiding in plain sight; the next Next Big Thing. The next shiny object. The “I” word.))

      As to the debate, what gets under my skin every time, though you might never notice it 😉 is the so-called conservative argument and the arguers that grovel for crumbs. “”They” will never give up the entire [insert destruction mode here], so we need to fight for a nibble off the one edge, then try (try) to get another.” Right. A. When have the destroyers ever ceded a fraction of the ground thus far taken? 2. When, on the blue moon occasions that a nibble IS spirited away, have the destroyers shrugged it off and left it go? D. How are the great unwashed, the teeming masses yearning to be free, supposed to recognize the difference between those calling for right and those calling them dangerous when the difference is of a margin? I speak to, or should I say, at, those with or those who would have a platform. Helloooo, I can’t see yoooouuuu, you all look the same from here!

      In the narrow case at hand under examination, every child, every God blessed special child, should have a choice. Not by a generation long creeping restitution of right, but by an explosive recapture of it. If you want to argue mechanisms, okay, I’m in, because frankly, a big ol’ wide ranging discussion is needed, but don’t jump ugly on last here because I’m setting that aside for now. Get the premise settled, get the body politic enlightened and aware and awake and engaged and caring about a clear matter of conscience that is big and bold and obvious and right … then … duh … set about the ‘how.’

      Or step off the platform. A pretender is little better than a destroyer. IMHO.

      Still there mom? Trying to hear through the crickets.

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  7. Sam: “Look, your child goes to an under-performing public school and but s/he’s stuck there because you can’t move out of your neighborhood and you don’t have a lot of money to leave.”
    So basically, if you make 79K you have several options. If you make 80K then your choice is to pay for private school for all your kids, or suck it up.

    Like

  8. LastDel loves Delaware schools 😀 😀

    “Who qualifies as a professionally qualified person to give the go ahead?” Why, “they” do, of course. Carrie, Jacques, Sokola, Kilroy, Joko Ono, Murphy, Beldar … just not “you.” Parent of your own child? Pshaw! What do you know from “the common good?” How can you be -objective-? Besides, you are already in unfair territory, your child is a tow headed right hander with straight teeth and blue eyes!” Lastdel, was this answered? I haven’t had time to read this whole thread but skipped around a bit.. I caught the 80K, but that’s it? That’s all I saw in Sams reply. I thought it was special needs or gifted. Where did that part all go? I didn’t see it in his reply?
    ps lastdel, are you stalking me? 🙂 and by the way, the teeth are very straight only thanks to the almost 8K I shelled out on turtle appliance and braces and going on 5 years of orthodontics.. so if I make 80K can I put down that I lost 8K to the orthodontist and bring my income down to 72K and get some of these services?
    I’m not being sarcastic (ok, a little) but that’s the problem with putting income limits on stuff. I make too much money to get free or reduced dental and orthodontics and have three kids who need dental and orthodontics. I pay 100% of that cost myself. I’m not complaining, but that leaves me with that much less money to do something like, oh I don’t know, sell my house and move to another area if our feeder schools are underperforming.

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    • lastDEconservative

      Whew! I was getting worried you had bugged out Pmom. Isn’t Sam a great addition to the denizenry here? How anybody can come out of here thinking that M Ryder and I are all in with the govt system is waaaaayy beyond muddled, which I suggested above.

      Out of all that though comes the only really troubling part of a so-called conservative group (which now, it seems, CRI won’t even cop to that, rather hides behind, what was it, “not left-right, but sound policy”) is that the promulgated methodology relies yet again on layer upon layer of bureaucratic decisions … and the presenter then shouts he’s discovered fire!

      Maybe a denizen or two or an odd visitor who follows this thread with a bit of discernment will see the fundamental flaw, again, the layers upon layers, by watching Sam’s twisting and turning path from the initial offering whose dots one could not connect through his continuing struggle to insert dots when challenged ever so slightly on the blank spots.

      Stalking? Not since the whole red high heels thing last year. Promise. Check again, Carrie might be behind you with a match and some tinder.

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