Education bills introduced in Dover

    As Delaware’s legislative session enters its final weeks, a couple of education bills come into play. One bill concerns student teachers, the other parents.

    A couple of bills introduced Wednesday in Dover would help make Delaware schools safer and encourage parents to get more involved in their children’s education.

    Senate Bill 245 would require the hundreds of student teacher candidates each year to undergo criminal background checks similar to public school employees before being placed in a school.

    John Hartman, Director of the Office of Clinical Studies at the University of Delaware, made the trip to Legislative Hall to support the bill as it was introduced in the Senate Education Committee.

    Hartman says the bill is a matter of safety, and more.

    “Student teaching is actually a rehearsal for your real honest-to-goodness teaching,” he said. “So we want to hold our candidates to the same standard that they would be held for when they’re gainfully employed. So we need to know in advance whether or not there would be any issues.”

    Another education bill introduced Wednesday would  encourage parents to become more involved in public schools.

    Senate Bill 261 would require parents of public school children to sign a compact at the beginning of each school year, agreeing to abide by the “Parent’s Declaration of Responsibilities.”

    According to the bill, the Declaration would be prepared with input from statewide and local parent/teacher organizations and representatives of teachers and school administrators.

    It will identify responsibilities for parents and families as well as the commitment of the public schools to actively collaborate in promoting student success.

    The bill’s sponsor, Sen. David Sokola (D-Newark) says the bill can’t force parents to sign the compact, but it provides one more way they can get involved.

    According to the legislation, parental involvement in children’s schools is an essential element of a successful education.

    “It’s that bonding for something that you share as valuable, and education is valuable,” Sokola said. “That’s the kind of thing that when you promote it, it can hopefully improve student performance.”

    Sokola says he’s optimistic both bills can move through the House and Senate before the end of the legislative session on June 30th.

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