DE legislative roundup: Bill would boost schools’ outreach to parents

    Wide range of proposed Delaware legislation addresses children’s issues, recycling and prison safety.

    Legislation unveiled in Dover Thursday would encourage more parental involvement in Delaware schools.

    The measure would motivate schools to take more steps to engage parents in their children’s schoolwork, in light of universal agreement that parental involvement has a direct impact on student success.

    Lt. Gov. Matt Denn says encouraging schools to make extra efforts to involve parents is difficult, but critical.

    “Increasing parental involvement is tough,” he said. “Unlike government programs, we can’t just turn a switch or pass a law and make things happen. But the steps that this bill will put in place are solid, concrete ones that will encourage our schools to expand their efforts to involve parents in their schools.”

    If passed, the legislation will cause schools to ask parents at the beginning of the school year to enter into voluntary compacts regarding their level of involvement with their children’s schoolwork, at home and in school.

    Statewide curbside recycling plan being tweaked

    A fresh version of a proposal for statewide curbside recycling pickup service is being circulated by Gov. Jack Markell’s administration. The draft bill would set Delaware’s municipal waste recycling targets at 50 percent for 2015 and then rise to 60 percent by 2020. The state currently recycles about 30 percent of its waste.

    Kids Caucus sets agenda

    The Kids Caucus, a bipartisan panel with members from all four caucuses in the House and Senate, has released legislation addressing children’s issues such as health care, education and child care.

    One bill filed Thursday would allow high schools to teach American Sign Language and the students would receive graduation credits for these classes.

    Another bill would prohibit schools and school districts from using an artificially low standard in assessing the needs of students with disabilities. Other legislation would allow children who are leaving foster care to have access to the Student Excellence Equals Degree (SEED) scholarship, without the condition that they begin their higher education immediately after high school.

    The Kids Caucus is also supporting a bill that would provide insurance coverage for the diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorders in people younger than 21 years old.

    Panel examines safety in state prisons

    An attack with a homemade knife that hospitalized a correction officer at Smyrna’s James T. Vaughn Correctional Center has lawmakers asking about the state of security in Delaware’s prison system and how to improve it.

    As a result of the attack, Correction Commissioner Carl Danberg says he’s ordered a change in a longstanding department policy and will now seek immediate prosecution of any inmate caught in possession of the homemade knives, known as shanks.

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