Leg. Hall Insider: Education Hearing, Immunization Bill, Blood Bank


Race to the Top Hearing



House Education Committee Chairman Rep. Earl Jaques and Vice Chair Rep. Kim Williams held a special meeting of the House Education Committee this week with staff from the Department of Education to discuss programs, funding and outcomes of Delaware’s federal Race to the Top grant.


Committee members honed in on the fundamental questions about RTTT: How much money was spent? How much money reached the school and classroom level? Did this money result in better outcomes for Delaware students? Read more about this meeting and an earlier Joint Finance Committee hearing here.



Bill Would Add Language to Immunization Opt-out


Lawmakers this week announced a proposal designed to raise awareness of the risks involved with not immunizing school-aged children and to encourage families to have their children vaccinated.


The draft proposal, spearheaded by Rep. Sean Matthews, would amend the state’s religious belief exemption affidavit for the public school immunization program. Currently, Delaware requires all children attending public schools to receive vaccines for certain preventable diseases – such as polio, whooping cough, measles, mumps and rubella – while allowing parents exemptions for medical reasons or religious beliefs.


In Delaware, the Division of Public Health reports that 0.8 percent of children are exempted because of religious beliefs, while 0.1 percent are not vaccinated due to medical reasons.


Rep. Matthews’ proposal would amend Delaware’s religious belief exemption affidavit for public school immunizations, incorporating a section that expressly informs parents or guardians of possible outcomes of not vaccinating their children. The affidavit language is spelled out in existing state code and the affidavit itself must be notarized.


The section would spell out that should an outbreak of a vaccine-preventable disease in an area of the state be declared, any unvaccinated child could be temporarily prohibited from attending a public or charter school to prevent the spread of the disease. In that instance, even if an unvaccinated child doesn’t show symptoms, he or she could be barred from attending school until the declaration is lifted.


Read more about this proposal here.




Blood Bank Saves Lives


By Rep. Bill Carson


When I was a boy growing up in Smyrna, I remember waking up in the middle of the night to the ringing of the telephone. My father would answer and tell the person on the other end of the line that he was on his way, then he’d put on his coat and head out the door.


He was going to the hospital to save someone’s life, but my father wasn’t a doctor or nurse. He was a lifetime donor and member of the Blood Bank of Delmarva, and since his blood type was rare, he was on a special list of members to call when someone was in dire need of blood, day or night.


Following my father’s example, and witnessing the Blood Bank’s lifesaving work first-hand as a volunteer firefighter, I also became a lifetime member of the Blood Bank of Delmarva. My family is one of over 150,000 families on the peninsula who joined not only for the peace of mind in knowing there will be blood there for us if we need it, but also because of the opportunity we have to give back to our friends, neighbors and hundreds of other people in need who we will never know.


Continue reading this column here.