My Thank You Note To The DE House of Representatives

House Bill 50, Parental Opt-Out of Standardized Testing

To the Delaware House of Representatives,

I just wanted to take the time to thank all of you, even those who voted no or were not able to make it, for the sincere discussion about House Bill 50.  I’m sure it goes without saying I am very much in support of the bill, but even the opposition has the right to voice objections, which in turn fueled further discussion on the matter.  And I’m sure were not done yet.  The important thing is Delaware parents feel like you are listening, and we want to take that momentum to engage in further discussion on how to best serve our children.  I’m sure a lot of you probably don’t want to hear the words “opt” and “out” for a while, so I will end on that note.


Kevin Ohlandt

Please take the time to thank your reps!  And get going on the Senate!

Delaware’s House Bill 50 Landslide Vote Hits The Washington Post & The Associated Press

House Bill 50, Parental Opt-Out of Standardized Testing

Randall Chase with the Associated Press wrote an article that appeared in The Washington Post about Delaware’s Parent Opt-Out legislation, House Bill 50.  Chase reached out to Governor Markell who said:

“I don’t think it’s a good bill,” Markell said, who touted recent improvements in state schools, including higher graduation rates, lower dropout rates and more students taking and passing advanced placement tests.”

“Markell also noted that members of the civil rights community in Delaware and other states have supported annual assessments as an effective way to identify and address the needs of minority students.”

I commented on the article, which can be found here.

“Sadly, Governor Markell is mistaken with his opposition of this bill. His own Secretary of Education, Mark Murphy, publicly told the House of Representatives there was no current growth model established for the Smarter Balanced Assessment. He also publicly stated parents aren’t allowed to opt students out of the state assessment. As Mercedes Schneider recently pointed out, 28 national civil rights groups stated their opposition to opt-out. Today, only 12 of those groups are speaking in opposition.

Of course Governor Markell would think this is bad bill. I believe he mistakenly attributes the progress made in Delaware schools to standardized testing, when the reality is Delaware has many effective and great public school teachers who are doing more with far less due to cuts Markell instituted years ago and never reinstated. This bill passed the House with a 36-3 vote with 2 absent. This sends a clear message to Delaware parents that state legislators understand parents fundamental rights and they do not believe in this assessment.

The very discussion of this bill has people all over Delaware talking about education like they never have before, from the most effective way to educate our inner-city students to what the best way to determine student outcomes is. Many in the state are fast realizing the Race To The Top and high-stakes testing have been nothing but a severe disruption and a money pit for our schools and students. Governor Markell could veto the bill, but the Delaware House and Senate could override that veto with a 60% vote in both.”

Markell has been utilizing the positions of civil rights groups in Delaware for months to bolster his opposition of the opt-out movement.  Mercedes Schneider, a Louisiana educator with the very popular Deutsch29 education blog, wrote on Wednesday about 28 national civil rights groups that petitioned the U.S. Congress during discussion about the ESEA reauthorization back in January.  When asked to declare a formal position on opt-out, only 12 of those groups participated in this statement, according to Schneider.

While Delaware State Rep. Stephanie Bolden was not present for the vote, she did have some very strong concerns in regards to inner-city students and opt-out.  I have decided to get this conversation started here:

The Delaware DOE Danny Short Theme Song

Delaware DOE

Mark Murphy’s New Outlook On Life

Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy

Delaware Parents Weekly Address To Governor Markell

House Bill 50, Parental Opt-Out of Standardized Testing

Delaware Senate Contact Information

House Bill 50, Parental Opt-Out of Standardized Testing

As promised, here is how to get in contact with Delaware Senators to ask for their support with House Bill 50.  I would get started on this as soon as possible, and keep doing it until you can convince them why a yes vote is the only sane option!  Please let me know what their responses are.  If they say they will vote yes, ask them if you can make that public!


Here is the master email list if you want to send it all in one fell swoop, just copy and paste:

District 1: Harris B. McDowell III, email: Facebook: 

District 2: Margaret Rose Henry, email:

District 3: Robert I. Marshall, email:

District 4: Gregory F. Lavelle, email:

District 5: Catherine Cloutier, email:

District 6: Ernesto B. Lopez, email:

District 7: Patricia M. Blevins, email:

District 8: David P. Sokola, email:

District 9: Karen E. Peterson, email:

District 10: Bethany A. Hall-Long, email:

District 11: Bryan Townsend, email:

District 12: Nicole Poore, email:

District 13: David B. McBride, email:

District 14: Bruce C. Ennis, email:

District 15: David G. Lawson, email:

District 16: Colin R.J. Bonini, email:

District 17: Brian J. Bushweller, email:

District 18: F. Gary Simpson, email:

District 19: Brian Pettyjohn, email:

District 20: Gerald W. Hocker, email:

District 21: Bryant L. Richardson,

Today Is Thank Your Delaware State Representative Day! #supportHB50

House Bill 50, Parental Opt-Out of Standardized Testing

As John Young noted on Facebook, please take the time today to thank your Delaware State Rep. for their votes on House Bill 50.  Or you can thank them all.  But do not, and I will repeat, do NOT confuse the Shorts.  Don’t be like the DOE, do your research! 🙂

And I’m going to be the big guy here, and include Jaques, Barbieri and Dukes, because nothing gets a movement going like vocal opposition.  These guys aren’t evil, they are just misguided.  Everyone has a chance for redemption.  We don’t know what roles these three may have yet to play in this saga, so it’s never a wise idea to completely isolate them.

Here is the emails for ALL of them:;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;

And please remember this very important thing:


Delaware DOE Comes Up Short In Their Lobbying Against House Bill 50

Delaware DOE

From Mike Matthews Facebook page.  I must have been so busy typing my article about the bill passing that I completely missed this.

Best comment of the HB 50 vote came just after the vote, when Rep. Danny Short from Sussex said that there’s some real education discussions we need to have in this state. He alluded to a serious disconnect with DoE when they called him recently to lobby him to not support the opt out bill. They told him “Representative, we can meet you in Wilmington any day.” Only problem? Rep. DANNY Short lives in Sussex. Rep. Bryon Short lives in North Wilmington. DoE couldn’t even differentiate between the Shorts in the House. Huge. Dis. Con. Nect.

All I can say is … WOW!  And these are the people we are supposed to trust to oversee education in our state?