House Bill 50 WILL Be Voted On By Delaware State Reps Either Next Week or Week After

House Bill 50, which would allow parent opt-out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment, will be on the floor of the Delaware House of Representatives either next week or the week after.  And this is coming from the Delaware Speaker of the House Pete Schwartzkopf.  I will certainly let you know once it is on any agenda.  But I need your help!

Please email your Delaware State Representative, not once, but twice, or even a third time.  Call them as well.  They need to know you support this bill, because at the end of the day, it is the people of Delaware they serve, not the Governor, not the DOE, and not the many corporate business entities in our state that opposed the bill yesterday.  Let your legislator know that WE ARE DELAWARE!  Let them know you want your email to be a part of the public record.  Let them know that parent rights are more important than test scores.  Because at the end of the day, that is all your child is to those who would test them incessantly with the Smarter Balanced Assessment: they are a test score and data, and the scores and data they receive will NOT help your child.  They won’t even get the data until after your child has left their grade level.  And do not believe for one second the hollow threats about Federal funding cuts because there is no law or regulation in Delaware or on a Federal level which would allow any Federal funding to be cut in regards to parent opt-out.

Let these legislators know you believe in the right of parents to determine what is best for YOUR child.  Your child is not owned by the state.  I would not go into Mark Murphy or Governor Markell’s house and tell them what is best for their child, and I do not expect them to do the same with mine.  Even if you think the Smarter Balanced Assessment is the best test in the world, this is about a parent’s right.  If you believe in school choice for your child, that is also a parental right.  WE ARE DELAWARE!

Delaware House of 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

As well, please sign this petition, and this will be presented to every single Delaware State Representative prior to the meeting.  The link says House Education Committee, but the wording has been changed to represent the FULL House vote.  Please sign the petition!

US DOE Letter To Mark Murphy About Parent Opt-Out, This Is An Empty Threat And Here’s Why…

The Delaware Department of Education provided me with the letter Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy referenced yesterday from the United States Department of Education in regards to potential losses of $90 million.  You can read the letter below.

Nowhere in this letter are any dollar amounts referenced.  Nowhere is an indication this WILL happen to any schools or districts.  But the most important part, and this is crucial, the entire letter is about what the schools and districts have to do.  I don’t know of any school or district not ensuring that the state assessment is provided for every student.  No school in Delaware has said “We aren’t giving this test to students.”  This is the key to the 95% game the US DOE and the Delaware DOE have been playing.  If the SCHOOL or DISTRICT fails to administer the test, or in simple terms, if they don’t give the option to every student, then they are out of compliance.  If a parent opts out after the school has ensured they will give the tests to all students, that is not on the school.  They have already provided their due diligence in allowing all students to take the test.  Nowhere in this letter does it state a parent cannot opt their child out of the state assessment in ANY state.  Nowhere in this letter does it state that due to opt out would a state lose Federal funding.  If the school, district or state DOE tells students, “you don’t have to take the test” and they go below 95%, that is when the law kicks in.  As for a law a state may have in regards to allowing parents to make this decision, this letter states nothing about that.  So all the threats of funding cuts from the Feds have been easily thwarted thanks to a letter from the US DOE!  Thank you!

I would highly recommend every single Delaware State Representative and State Senator receives a copy of this letter along with my information about this letter.  It is obvious far too many have been sucked in by the empty threats thrown their way by the DOE, Mark Murphy and Governor Markell.

Who Stands For Parents In Delaware? Fall-Out From House Education Committee Meeting

Yesterday, by a vote of 8-6, the Delaware House Education Committee released House Bill 50 which would allow parent opt-out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment to become a part of state law if passed.  I have received the exact votes from the members of the committee:

Yes: Kim Williams, Sean Matthews, Edward Osienski, Charles Potter, Michael Ramone, Sean Lynn, Kevin Hensley, and Harvey Kenton

No: Earl Jaques, Deborah Heffernan, Michael Barbieri, and Stephanie Bolden

Absent: Joseph Miro and Timothy Dukes (was at meeting but must have left early)

The following organizations were NOT IN SUPPORT of House Bill 50 and parent opt-out:

Delaware Department of Education, Delaware State Board of Education, Delaware Business Roundtable, Delaware Chamber of Commerce, Metropolitan Wilmington Urban League, First State Montessori Charter School, One Parent, A special education teacher in Milford School District, four legislators, Brandywine Superintendent Dr. Mark Holodick

The following organizations SUPPORT House Bill 50 and parent opt-out:

Delaware PTA, Delaware State Educators Association (DSEA), Delaware Parents & Teachers for Public Education, Several Parents, Several Teachers, eight legislators, Exceptional Delaware, Delaware Parents & Teachers for Public Education

The following school district boards in Delaware have passed resolutions similar to House Bill 50 in the respect they will honor parent opt-out and will not penalize the opted out student: Capital, Christina, Red Clay Consolidated

Our work needs to focus on the entire Delaware House of Representatives and the Speaker of the House Pete Schwartzkopf.

Brian Touchette No Longer Director Of Assessment at Delaware DOE

Brian Touchette, the former Director of Assessment at the Delaware Department of Education, has stepped down from the role but is still an employee.  Dr. Carolyn Lazar is serving as the Interim Director for the Office of Assessment.  This was confirmed with the Human Resources Department at the Delaware DOE.  Touchette is still listed as the K-12 lead on the Smarter Balanced website for Delaware, but I believe this information is outdated as well, as it has Touchette’s DOE Role in the Exceptional Children Resources Group, a role he had prior to the Office of Assessment.

I first noticed this when I went to look for any information on the letter Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy spoke of at yesterday’s House Education Committee meeting from U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan regarding potential federal funding cuts for Delaware in the event an opt-out law is passed.  I found no letter, which I have formally requested from the DOE, but I did find this:

Office of Assessment Contact Information

Carolyn Lazar, Ed.D.
Interim Director, Office of Assessment
Email:Carolyn.Lazar@doe.k12.de.us
Phone: (302) 857-3391
Fax: (302) 739-3092

I made a few calls and this has been confirmed.  While no details were given in regards to the change, which I would not expect, I have to wonder if Touchette is the fall guy for the opt-out movement in Delaware.  This is merely speculation on my part.

HB 50 Point of Clarification: HB 50 does not opt the state of Delaware out of testing. (click to read)

Thanks for getting this out there! At that meeting yesterday I felt like I could have answered a lot of the questions they were throwing at Kowalko.

Meet the Parents Who Started a Revolution

Diane Ravitch's blog

Donn Esmonde of the Buffalo News sat down to talk with three of the parent leaders of the historic Opt Out movement in New York state. Although the mainstream media has trouble understanding that the movement is led by parents, Esmonde got it.

They don’t look or act like radicals. None dress in camouflage. All three are parents who vote, pay their taxes, stop at red lights and salute the flag. But Eric Mihelbergel, Christine Cavarello and Jodi Hitchcock – and thousands like them – form the roots of a revolution.

It would be one thing if they were a disaffected minority, a grumpy niche, a band of eccentrics. But their numbers have swelled to the point where they – and their message – can no longer be ignored. Not even by as large, autonomous and irrepressible a bureaucracy as State Ed.

The three are part of a mushrooming legion…

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