Yesterday, Delaware Governor Jack Markell did a puff piece about Common Core on NPR. Why are people still buying into this? Markell stated “what is not at all being driven from any kind of top-down basis is what are the curricular materials”. Really Jack? Do you honestly expect us naïve citizens to believe that? Cause I went to a Governor’s Advisory Council for Exceptional Citizens a few months ago where Brian Touchette, the testing guru at the Delaware DOE, stated the curriculum wasn’t changing, but they are introducing “guides” to help teachers better align their curriculum with the Smarter Balanced Assessment tests. Who are we kidding here? You aren’t leaving it up to the districts, because they had no say in the whole reform process to begin with.
When student DCAS scores were released last month, the DOE said they know scores will drop even lower with the new tests. Will suggested “guides” become a mandatory thing? To bring up the test scores? Have you taken the test yet Governor? If so, I would like to know what your score was.
This whole education reform has absolutely been driven from the very top, the US DOE. They dangled money to all the states as they were getting out of a recession, and Delaware gladly took the money without any voice from the people who put you into office. When there was a chance Smarter Balanced could go away after the state Senate voted against it on June 27th, you sent your team in to tell them the vote didn’t matter, because the test would come whether they turned it down or not. Then the House did a revote after that little arm twisting, and House Bill 334 became law. That’s some shoddy politics Jack. You care more about what Rodel thinks than your own citizens. We all know you are in bed with them and Arne Duncan. What are your plans after your last term as Governor ends?
Delaware, don’t let our Governor tell you how education should be. Let the school districts decide, not a government that has so many financial vested interests. When your children are suffering in the 2014-2015 school year because teachers are pressured to “teach to the test” and worrying about their job security with the BS Teacher Evaluation system they just passed in Delaware, remember this. Parents need to opt-out of these jacked-up tests. As Kavips said, who cares if it’s legal. It’s the right thing to do!
And here comes the science “common core” standards. This means in the next 8 years, my son will be taking English, Math and Science. For 7 hours a day. Three subjects. Say goodbye to history, music, art, health, and all the other subjects that are just as important in education. Stop the madness!
When my son was born, I knew he was special. He had a long journey ahead of him, full of wonder and hope. We lived in California when he was born, but after a few months, we moved back east to be closer to family and friends. He was a very loving, playful child. As he got older, and started talking, he would always tell us he loved us.
As the years went by, I quickly realized my son would struggle a good deal of his formative years. I thought this was a cruel twist of fate for the longest time, and I blamed God. It took me a long time to realize God put my son in this place. My wife and I were put in his life for a reason as well, to advocate for him to the best of our ability. This wasn’t something I ever thought I had inside me. A child with Tourette’s Syndrome, ADHD, OCD, Sensory Processing Disorder, and a bit of ODD at times is a challenge. I won’t deny that. But I’m learning to see through the disorder and see him in my mind as the vulnerable child who needs his Mom and Dad more than anything else in this world.
Once I realized I had to advocate for my son, I thought that was it. But I soon realized God wanted more from me. He wanted me to advocate for more than my son. Sometimes the ideas that pop into my head for stories are things I have never even thought of. It’s like one door opens to an idea, only to find myself travelling through a whole house of words. My wife complains my stories are too long sometimes. And I agree with her. I’ve tried to keep them a bit shorter. But when I am doing a long story, like my investigative series on the DOE in Delaware, I find so much stuff out.
My name is Kevin Ohlandt, and I am proud to be a special needs father, a husband, and an advocate for any special needs child in need. And what we need is change. Change in our education system, as well as special education. Say no to high-risk testing special needs parents. Opt-out if you have the courage, not for yourself, but for your child. Once the genie is out of the bottle, it will be hard to put it back in. That genie is Pearson or Smarter Balanced Testing. Don’t let our government change IDEA and IEPs so much that they do not benefit the individual child. These are my goals, and we all need to get together and say this out loud. Join my Facebook group, EDPAST, so we can become so large they can’t ignore us. Thank you for all you have done for my son already. I couldn’t have done this without the trailblazers who are already out there.