I’m looking forward to getting down to business today at the DSEA Representative Assembly. For those who aren’t aware of this annual event, it’s where DSEA member delegates from across the state come to Dover to discuss and vote on issues affecting the union in particular and greater education issues in general. This will be my third RA and I am learning more with each passing year.
This year I’ve done something different. I decided to take a leap and submit two new business items. I’m the only one who’s offered up new business items/resolutions this year and I’m looking forward to a good discussion today. Now, these resolutions and new business items are completely non-binding; there’s really no way to enforce them on a larger level because, well, DSEA is not a law-creatin’ or law-enforcin’ body! But, what can be done is DSEA can engage in larger debates that bring in more key stakeholders. And that’s just what I attempt to do today.
The first new business item I’ve submitted is in relation to school capacity formulas. Under the School Construction Manual as outlined by the State Department of Education, all elementary schools are to have 24 students in each instructional classroom that is between 736 and 914 square feet. No matter the school, this same formula is used. My new business items seeks to get a new dialogue going between DSEA, state legislators, and other key education constituencies in that I believe students in low-income and high-needs schools REQUIRE smaller class sizes. However, nothing in the law differentiates between a school with 5% low income and a school with 95% low income. I think this needs to be addressed. In short, I believe school capacities MUST be tied to a school’s percentage of low-income students. The higher that low-income rate goes up, the lower class sizes must come down. Let’s get talking about this!
My second new business items involved the Neighborhood Schools Act and what I feel are inherent inequities in its application when, in fact, the law states that equity is to be assured at all steps. Well, not all of our schools are participating in the same programs in which some of our other, less-high-needs schools are participating. Neighborhood Schools Act provides for the same availability of programming across the board no matter the school. I’m thinking specifically of Talented and Gifted programming, though there are others. The mere fact the some schools have and others don’t, I feel, is a violation of the law. In the very least, I’d like to see DSEA initiate an impact study of that decade-plus law.
There’s lots to discuss in education today. I hope to get a few people talking today and for a good long while going forward. Let me know your thoughts! I hope my new business items pass!