Delaware: Email Your State Reps and Senators NOW About Parent Opt Out House Bill in Circulation

We are at a crucial moment with education in Delaware.  Today, State Rep. John Kowalko and Senator Dave Lawson put into circulation a House Bill that would allow parents the choice to opt their child out of the state assessment in Delaware, currently the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  This bill will be submitted next Thursday, so please email your House Representative or State Senator today.  Below is a list of all their names, district, and email.  If you are unable to find your district, you can go to the following website and put your address in to find:

District State Senator: http://legis.delaware.gov/Legislature.nsf/LDS?OpenPage

District State Representative: http://legis.delaware.gov/Legislature.nsf/LDR?OpenPage

As an example, I sent the below to my House Representative Trey Paradee, who I know personally, but I still kept it professional.  Please also include your address and phone number in case they want to reach out to you.  I would have emailed my State Senator, but he is one of the sponsors on the bill already.  And I think he knows I am very much in favor of this legislation!

State Representative Paradee,

Please lend your support to the House Bill currently in circulation regarding Parent Opt Out of Standardized Testing in Delaware.  I believe it is every parent’s Constitutional right to determine their child’s education, and I do not support high-stakes testing that has no direct bearing on my child’s educational outcome.  Furthermore, this current system has been used unfairly to judge our schools and teachers and does not take into account circumstances beyond their control.  Thank you for your support on this critical issue.

Sincerely,

Kevin J. Ohlandt

And without further ado, your 148th General Assembly State Senators and House Representatives:

Delaware Senators:

District 1: Harris B. McDowell III, email: Harris.McDowell@state.de.us
District 2: Margaret Rose Henry, email: MargaretRose.Henry@state.de.us
District 3: Robert I. Marshal, email: robert.marshall@state.de.us
District 4: Gregory F. Lavelle, email: greg.lavelle@state.de.us
District 5: Catherine Cloutier, email: catherine.cloutier@state.de.us
District 6: Ernesto B. Lopez, email: Ernesto.Lopez@state.de.us
District 7: Patricia M. Blevins, email: Patricia.Blevins@state.de.us
District 8: David P. Sokola, email: David.Sokola@state.de.us
District 9: Karen E. Peterson, email: Karen.Peterson@state.de.us
District 10: Bethany A. Hall-Long, email: bethany.hall-long@state.de.us
District 11: Bryan Townsend, email: Bryan.Townsend@state.de.us
District 12: Nicole Poore, email: Nicole.Poore@state.de.us
District 13: David B. McBride, email: David.McBride@state.de.us
District 14: Bruce C. Ennis, email: bruce.ennis@state.de.us
District 15: David G. Lawson, email: Dave.Lawson@state.de.us
District 16: Colin R.J. Bonini, email: senator-colin@prodigy.net
District 17: Brian J. Bushweller, email: brian.bushweller@state.de.us
District 18: F. Gary Simpson, email: gsimpson@udel.edu
District 19: Brian Pettyjohn, email: Brian.Pettyjohn@state.de.us
District 20: Gerald W. Hocker, email: Gerald.Hocker@state.de.us
District 21: Bryant L. Richardson, email:Bryant.Richardson@state.de.us

House Representatives

District 1: Charles Potter Jr., email: Charles.Potter@state.de.us
District 2: Stephanie T. Bolden, email: StephanieT.Bolden@state.de.us
District 3: Helene M. Keeley, email: helene.keeley@state.de.us
District 4: Gerald L. Brady, email: gerald.brady@state.de.us
District 5: Melanie George Smith, email: melanie.g.smith@state.de.us
District 6: Debra J. Heffernan, email: debra.heffernan@state.de.us
District 7: Bryon H. Short, email: Bryon.Short@state.de.us
District 8: S. Quinton Johnson, email: Quinton.Johnson@state.de.us
District 9: Kevin S. Hensley, email: Kevin.Hensley@state.de.us
District 10: Sean Matthews, email: sean.matthews@state.de.us
District 11: Jeffrey N. Speigelman, email: jeff.speigelman@state.de.us
District 12: Deborah Hudson, email: Deborah.Hudson@state.de.us
District 13: John L. Mitchell, Jr., email: john.l.mitchell@state.de.us
District 14: Peter C. Schwartzkopf, email: Peter.Schwartzkopf@state.de.us
District 15: Valerie Longhurst, email: Valerie.Longhurst@state.de.us
District 16: James Johnson, email: jj.johnson@state.de.us
District 17: Michael P. Mulrooney, email: Michael.Mulrooney@state.de.us
District 18: Michael A. Barbieri, email: michael.barbieri@state.de.us
District 19: Kimberly Williams, email: kimberly.williams@state.de.us
District 20: Stephen T. Smyk, email: Steve.Smyk@state.de.us
District 21: Michael Ramone, email: Michael.Ramone@state.de.us
District 22: Joseph E. Miro, email: joseph.miro@state.de.us
District 23: Paul S. Baumbach, email: paul.baumbach@state.de.us
District 24: Edward S. Osienski, email: Edward.Osienski@state.de.us
District 25: John A. Kowalko Jr., email: john.kowalko@state.de.us
District 26: John J. Viola, email: John.Viola@state.de.us
District 27: Earl G. Jacques Jr., email: Earl.Jacques@state.de.us
District 28: William J. Carson, email: william.carson@state.de.us
District 29: W. Charles “Trey” Paradee III, email: trey.paradee@state.de.us
District 30: William R. “Bobby” Outten, email: bobby.outten@state.de.us
District 31: Sean M. Lynn, email: Sean.Lynn@state.de.us
District 32: Andria L. Bennett, email: andria.bennett@state.de.us
District 33: Harold J. Peterman, email: jack.peterman@state.de.us
District 34: Lyndon D. Yearick, email: Lyndon.Yearick@state.de.us
District 35: David L. Wilson, email: David.L.Wilson@state.de.us
District 36: Harvey R. Kenton, email: Harvey.Kenton@state.de.us
District 37: Ruth Briggs King, email: Ruth.BriggsKing@state.de.us
District 38: Ronald E. Gray, email: Ronald.Gray@state.de.us
District 39: Daniel B. Short, email: Daniel.Short@state.de.us
District 40: Timothy D. Dukes, email: Timothy.Dukes@state.de.us
District 41: Richard G. Collins, email: Richard.G.Collins@state.de.us

If you are on the fence with this issue, please look at the below articles which state why this issue needs to be dealt with NOW!

To read the proposed legislation: https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2015/02/06/delaware-state-rep-kowalko-and-senator-lawson-sponsor-parent-opt-out-legislation-to-general-assembly/

A suggested opt out letter for parents to use: https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2015/02/05/smarter-balanced-opt-out-letter-for-delaware-parents-to-use/

The scare letter you may get from your school or district, and why you shouldn’t worry about it: https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2014/12/02/delaware-doe-citing-non-existent-law-against-parent-opt-out-of-smarter-balanced-nice-try-kilroysdelaware-ed_in/ and https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2014/12/11/delaware-doe-stop-bullying-lying-to-parents-re-opt-out-with-your-scare-tactic-letter-kilroysdelaware-ed_in_de-rceaprez-apl_jax-nannyfat-ecpaige-roof_o-delawarebats-badassteachersa-me/

If you want to make it public so there is NO misunderstanding about your opt out intentions, you can attend your school district or charter school’s board meeting this month:  https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2015/02/04/february-school-board-meeting-schedule-go-opt-your-child-out-of-the-smarter-balanced-assessment/

To join Facebook Opt Out Groups for your public school district or charter schools: https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2015/02/04/february-is-doom-aka-delaware-opt-out-month-how-to-opt-your-child-out-of-smarter-balanced/

If you want to hear me on the radio on February 11th, get the info here: https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2015/02/06/i-will-be-on-wdel-with-rick-jensen-on-211-from-3-4pm-to-discuss-parent-opt-out/

Delaware State Rep. Kowalko and Senator Lawson Sponsor Parent Opt Out Legislation To General Assembly

Parent Opt Out Legislation.  A House Bill.  Currently in circulation amongst members of the Delaware General Assembly.  This is it Delaware.  It is time to contact your state representatives and senators and give your support to this bill.  I will be posting an article soon with district maps for the House and Senate as well as each and every State Representative and Senators email address.  Contact them by next Wednesday, February 11th with your support for this potential game-changing legislation.

Sponsor: Rep. Kowalko & Senator Lawson

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES 148th GENERAL ASSEMBLY

HOUSE BILL NO.

AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATION ASSESSMENT.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE:

Section 1. Amend § 151(k), Title 14 of the Delaware Code by making deletions as shown by strike through and insertions shown by underline as follows and redesignating accordingly:

(k)(1) Notwithstanding any other provision in this section to the contrary, any parent or guardian of a student in any public school or charter school shall have the right to opt out of the statewide assessment.

(2) The parent or guardian must notify the student’s school in writing at least 2 school days prior to the scheduled exam. Schools shall honor any timely request and provide alternative educational activities during testing times.

(3) There shall be no academic or disciplinary repercussions on the student’s record for opting out of participating in the statewide assessment.

(4) The Department shall maintain a data system to track the student’s opt-out decisions.

(5) The Department shall report opt-out numbers in accountability ratings to provide context and impact on school and district ratings.

(6) Schools shall notify all parents or guardians of this right no later than 15 days after the start of the school year via school website and telephonic communication.

(7) A student having reached the age of majority shall solely possess the opt-out rights under this subsection. (l) Rules and regulations pursuant to this subchapter shall be proposed by the Secretary subject to approval by the State Board of Education.

SYNOPSIS

This bill creates the right for the parent or guardian of a child to opt out of the annual assessment, currently the Smarter Balanced Assessment System.

 

Delaware Schools, Are You Ready To Be Graded A, B, C, D, or F?

In the move we all saw coming, the Delaware Department of Education is moving ahead with their school grade rating system upon approval of the State Board of Education at their March meeting.  A new article released today by WDDE reporter Larry Nagengast went over the specifics of the upcoming School Accountability System.

This is based on the infamous online survey the DOE conducted last Fall that generated 6500 responses.

Asked about what grading system to use, 46 percent favored letter grades; 32.8 percent favored performance ratings like “distinguished,” “meets expectations” or “on probation”; 13 percent preferred the traffic light and rest preferred symbols.

Many people who looked at the survey felt it was obvious which choices would be picked by respondents and argued the DOE did this on purpose to get the results they already wanted.  Many felt it was just another whitewash of the Delaware public by a state department that has been shrouded in controversy for over a year.

Frederika Jenner, president of the Delaware State Education Association, wasn’t impressed with any of the options. She says she would have preferred “none of the above,” and says many people she spoke with share her opinion.

Even DOE employee Penny Schwinn gave comment for the article:

Schwinn says that at least half of the weighting for Part A will be assigned to measurements of student proficiency and growth – how well they are meeting benchmarks set in the Delaware Comprehensive Assessment System (DCAS) tests, which were phased out last year, and in the new Smarter Balanced assessments, which are being used for the first time this school year. Graduation rates, career readiness, how well the school is closing the achievement gap between its regular population and high-need students, and some school climate data will also be factored into the scoring.

It is obvious from this article these “grades” will be utilized to punish schools that “don’t make the grade” so to speak:

Awards or sanctions based on ratings could take effect in the 2016-17 school year, Schwinn says. The awards could be financial or they could be “less paperwork” required by the state, she says. Schools falling into the bottom grouping could be subject to transformation remedies, like those used for “partnership zone” schools under the recent Race to the Top federal grant and currently being implemented for six “priority schools” in the Red Clay and Christina districts.

I would love to see what they do with this system when parents start opting their child out of the state assessments en masse.  What are you going to do then Mrs. Schwinn?  It also doesn’t look like many members of the Delaware General Assembly are to enamored with the ESEA Flexibility Waivers either…

The full WDDE article can be read here: http://www.wdde.org/72897-report-card-grading-delaware-public-schools-coming

I Will Be On WDEL 1150 AM with Rick Jensen on 2/11 From 3-4pm To Discuss Parent Opt Out

Please listen to WDEL on Wednesday February 11th from 3:00-4:00 pm.  Rick Jensen and I will discuss the issue of parent opt out of standardized testing.  I look forward to giving this issue a wider span of media interest in Delaware as the Smarter Balanced Assessment will begin on March 10th.

The phone number for WDEL is 302-478-9335.  Feel free to call in with any questions or concerns you may have while I am on the air.  I welcome any member of the Delaware Department of Education, the Delaware State Board of Education or Governor Markell to call in and discuss the legality of the letter parents are receiving from schools when they inform the school they are opting their child out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.