At 3:30pm today, the Delaware House Education Committee meets to decide whether to send a parent opt-out bill to the next level. For some of these legislators, it’s a no-brainer that they support a parents right to opt out. For State Reps. John Kowalko, Kim Williams and Sean Matthews, I salute you. For the others, I’m really not sure. I want to believe with my heart and soul that you all support this inalienable right. But history shows otherwise.
Last May and June, the members of the 147th General Assembly had to decide on another bill, intrinsically tied to the parent opt-out legislation. House Bill 334 would allow the Smarter Balanced Assessment to replace DCAS as the Delaware state assessment. Prior to the House Education Committee meeting, the Delaware DOE and State Board of Education had a meeting with the Delaware legislators to give a presentation on the Smarter Balanced Assessment. This meeting was not open to the public, nor are there any minutes on it. So by the time the bill was on the floor in the House Education Committee, the legislators knew everything they had to know about the test to make a decision. As a result, there was virtually no discussion during this meeting.
As you can see from these minutes, the legislators released the bill from the committee by a vote of 10-3. From there, it went to the floor of the House where it passed on a 30-9 vote. The names listed are those who voted yes for the Smarter Balanced Assessment and now serve on the House Education Committee:
As well State Rep. Hensley, who was not in the 147th General Assembly, has gone on record in opposition to this legislation.
These are the folks who need to be swayed today, in my opinion. The wild card is State Rep. Sean Lynn, who is new to the General Assembly. I have to admit, I gave Lynn a hard time when he was running based on comments he made at a primary debate and his key endorsement by former State Rep. Daryl Scott, but what I have seen so far from Lynn has impressed me.
All eyes in Delaware will be on this meeting today. I believe the greatest achievement in the world would be State Rep. Deb Heffernan voting YES. Her husband serves as a board member for the Delaware State Board of Education, and a yes vote from her today would shut me up about any bias she may have as a result of her husband’s position.
I urge all the legislators on this committee to look beyond their preconceived notions of what education ought to be and look at the reality of what it is. It is an environment that truly has become a dark place for students.
In summary, we find out if the majority of our state legislators on this committee serve the will of the people and their rights, or if they serve the Governor and the Department of Education. It comes down to a matter of the very foundations this country was built upon, the inalienable rights of the people.