Opt-Out Obliterates The Rigor Imposed On Our Kids, Is It Enough To Change Education In Delaware?

Will the eight members of the Senate Education Committee vote yes or no for House Bill 50 tomorrow?  My gut tells me yes.  It’s what happens afterwards that concerns me.  The legislation needs to move to a full Senate vote as soon as humanly possible after tomorrows vote.  The Delaware General Assembly has numerous bills in front of them.  Due to the Beau Biden viewing at Legislative Hall on Thursday, there is now one less day for legislative action this month before it comes to an end on June 30th.  And say it passes the Senate.  Will Governor Markell pass it, veto it, or sit on it?

Meanwhile, the News Journal is giving full court to parent opt-out and House Bill 50 opinions.  Delaware State Rep. John Kowalko and I wrote a piece which will appear in tomorrow’s newspaper (oddly enough, only I got credit for it but it was a co-authorship).  You can read this here: http://www.delawareonline.com/story/opinion/contributors/2015/06/02/parents-know-smarter-balance-test-bad-kids/28383361/

I really wanted to delve into the Smarter Balanced field test scores.  I always knew they were much lower than even I expected for the children in sub-groups of low-income, African-American and students with disabilities.  But actually studying them, and comparing them to DCAS scores was very revealing.  It really drove home the realization this test is designed for nothing more than failure, especially for these three sub-groups.  Which is also why I can’t believe any civil rights group would stick up for the effectiveness of this test.  This test is not about reaching that “higher bar”.  It’s about one thing, and one thing only: money.  Not money that will ever reach the classroom, but money that goes straight into investor pockets.  It’s the greatest scam of our generation: using education “need and necessity” to basically steal taxpayer money to get rich.  I can’t even keep track of all these education reform companies out there anymore.  But when all this is said and done, watch  them fold up their tents like a cheap carnival trying to get out of town as fast as they can.

What comes after?  Is there an easy solution?  I’m already hearing rising talk about school vouchers and more “personalized learning” on computers.  Meanwhile, district funding and how schools use their money is coming up more and more.  Apparently, it’s not even just charters being investigated in the State Auditor’s office, it’s also some school districts.  Education is reaching a boiling point in Delaware.  Radical ideas will come up.  It’s going to take a revolution to fix all this.  But I can promise you one thing, parents WILL be a part of whatever comes next.

We will not allow the future of our children to be tied into corporate money-making schemes ever again.  We closed our eyes when this all started, but our eyes are wide open now.  We won’t be fooled twice.  The DOE may or may not realize this false ideology is falling apart.  If I were a DOE employee, I would be getting my resume together fast.  When it does collapse, and all stands revealed, I would not want my name associated with any of it.

The more these civil rights groups and Delaware business leaders push this damaging test, the more citizens will being to wonder why they are advocating for such an irresponsible and short-sighted test.  If any of these businesses or groups are concerned about public perception, they might want to reconsider their DOE/Markell tainted stance.  Will the “Delaware Way” be enough to stop the wave of parents demanding accountability and transparency for the funds involved in this education craziness?  I doubt it.  If opt-out has proven anything, it’s that parents do have a very loud voice, and the more you fight us, the louder we get!

IEP Task Force Legislation Clears The House With 40-0 Vote, Governor Markell Needs To Sign & It Is Law!

Senate Bill 33, the IEP Task Force bill, cleared the Delaware House of Representatives with a unanimous 40-0 vote, with one representative absent.  Short and sweet.  No one had any questions about it, just went straight to roll call.  Now the bill goes to Governor Markell’s desk for signing.

IEP Task Force Bill To Get Delaware Senate Vote Later Today

Senate Bill 33 is on it’s last stop before Governor Markell’s desk.  Nicknamed the “IEP Task Force Bill”, the Delaware House of Representatives will vote on the bill today.  This long journey began June 24th last year when the US Department of Education labeled Delaware as one of three states needing intervention in Special Education.  Then Lieutenant Governor Matt Denn put together Senate Concurrent Resolution #63 which created the IEP Task Force.

The group met from September to December last year, and a report was issued to Governor Markell in January.  Senate Bill 33 went through some rough patches on the way, but once that was done, it sailed through the Delaware Senate and the House Education Committee.  For those who haven’t seen it, this is what Senate Bill 33 will do for special education and IEPs in Delaware:

And also Amendment #3

What Happened When a Student with Special Needs Took the Test

Diane Ravitch's blog

Dawn Neely Randall, a teacher in Ohio, is a passionate crusader for the rights of children. She posted this comment on the blog.

“Let me just tell you what stands out the most to me from a meeting I attended with legislators and educators about high stakes testing after school tonight. It wasn’t what the Senator said. It wasn’t what the State Rep. said. It wasn’t that the president of the college attended. It wasn’t that there were superintendents there (and I finally had the opportunity to mention how many were bullying parents for opting their children out of tests).

“What was it that stood out? It was the comment made by a teacher of special needs students who said that she had one student who pulled out every single eyelash the child had during all the hours of PARCC testing. Every. Single. Eyelash. Let that one settle on you…

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Showdown Tomorrow on Opt-Out Legislation vs. “Staying In” Resolution

On Wednesday, June 3rd, the parent opt-out bill, House Bill 50, will face off against Senate Joint Resolution #2, the assessment inventory resolution.  The supporters of standardized testing have been out in full force in opinion pieces in the News Journal and the Dover Post, but so have the supporters of opt-out.  Backed by a 36-3 vote in the House of Representatives, House Bill 50 has a great deal of momentum coming into the Senate Education Committee meeting tomorrow at 3pm.

The monkey wrench in the House Bill 50 path is SJR #2.  Whether this “assessment inventory” legislation was created by the sponsors, Senator Sokola & House Rep. Jaques, or Governor Markell’s office, or the DOE is immaterial.  It was created to distract from parent opt-out.  The opponents are realizing this bill could clear the Senate very easily, and are attempting to put up ever possible roadblock they can think of.  The civil rights groups in Wilmington are out in full force arguing the merits of the Smarter Balanced Assessment with very little facts, even bringing up Brown v. The Board of Education from 50 years ago.  The argument simply shows further segregation of low-income and minority students as evidenced by standardized testing scores since No Child Left Behind began.

Meanwhile, the Delaware PTA, the Delaware State Educators Association, many teachers and a legion of parents are supporting House Bill 50.  For one simple reason: they do not want their children taking the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  The flaws are out there for every one to see.

SJR #2 is now referred to as the “Staying In” resolution because of Dr. Teri Quinn Gray’s editorial in today’s News Journal where she states she wants parents to have the courage to “stay in” with the Smarter Balanced Assessment instead of opting out.  She even brought up her own child in the editorial who is a sophomore in college and not subject to the SBAC.