An Appoquinimink mother, Tara Greathouse, asked me to share her letter to the Senate Education Committee in support of House Bill 50. Way to go Tara! The letter speaks for itself.
Dear Senator Robert Marshall, Senator Bethany Hall-Long, Senator Margaret Rose Henry, Senator Ernesto Lopez, Senator Nicole Poore, Senator Bryan Townsend and Senator Brian Pettyjohn,
It is an honor and a great privilege to have the opportunity to write to you today regarding HB 50. I believe we can all agree that education is a top priority and should be a constant moving build first between parents and teachers to ensure the foundation and principles needed for the success of our young learners. This relationship and engagement will help lead them into how to be compassionate and driven leaders to enable college and career readiness in an ever changing world. I am confident that we will get there; however, with the absence of teacher and parent involvement and education being driven by non-teacher and non-parent agendas of the state and federal government, the current strategic model will only destruct their educational experience and will affect their generation and future generations to come. The cascade effect of that will be felt by all of us decades later.
I would like to give you some background on how I was able to make an informed decision for the best interest of our 5th grader, whom we opted out of the Smarter Balanced assessment this past March. We have two other children and one day they will be faced with Smarter Balanced if we don’t do something about this dangerous path now.
In December 2014, right before Christmas break, my son brought home his agenda book like he does every day. We review and discuss the agenda book together daily. I noticed he wrote “Smarter Balanced reviewing and practicing” as an agenda item with no other details or information to support it. I asked him what Smarter Balanced was and he shared that it was going to be a test he would have to do soon. This test was scheduled the week of March 16-20, 2015. I became very concerned because this was the first I had heard of these words, Smarter Balanced. What does that mean?
I began searching for answers starting with his teacher. I asked her some questions and she shared that it was a state assessment but that it is does not affect nor is it written in his school performance and results of the test would not be back until after school year end which is after he moves on to the next grade. Right away, as I mom, I felt something was terribly wrong. I went directly to the DOE website and found no evidence of research and data to support this assessment nor was there an academic growth measurement model to confirm whether or not this assessment would be beneficial for our son. This is when I began digging and took to the internet looking for facts, not opinions.
On January 24, 2015, I attended a town hall debate at UD Clayton Hall. I learned about this event via Facebook. I was informed through this invitation that our very own DOE would be there with other speakers on both aisles of the debate and knew right away this would be it to gain a clearer picture and understanding of the facts behind Smarter Balanced. There was only one problem, DOE never showed up as they had confirmed they would attend this event to the event host. Then I noticed the House Education Committee Chair was there, Earl Jacques, and looked forward to hearing from him on this topic but not a word from him. Instead of our own Delaware leaders and educators speaking to us on this topic, I learned that the four panelists that did show up were from other states; Florida, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Nebraska and they were: Sandra Stotsky, Peg Luksik, Kathleen Jasper and Judy Short. Delaware leadership had an opportunity to have a conversation about this with teachers and parents; however, they failed to attend to bring transparency, knowledge sharing and understanding to the people of Delaware. I learned some facts in this town hall that enabled me to then re-confirm the facts through other various reliable resources noted at the end of this letter about Smarter Balanced and the following facts remain:
- SBAC was not driven, written and implemented by experienced educators nor was teacher and parent input considered
- SBAC is not an accurate measurement of a student’s academic achievement
- SBAC did not go through a research and data channel to confirm the validity and accuracy of measurement
- SBAC was designed not for the sole benefit and purpose of a child; rather the child is used in this experiment to label and punish schools and teachers and quite frankly, this is morally wrong
- SBAC is to help continue the pattern of removing traditional education that have sent men to the moon and it will continue to remove local district community control
- SBAC is costing our state a fortune and removes critical funding needed inside the classroom. We don’t need ineffective funding outside of the classroom where SBAC is being housed.
- SBAC requires a minimum preparation of three months of teacher and student classroom time. Therefore, taking more critical time away from the classroom to educate our children.
- SBAC district knowledge sharing sessions happened after most of the children participated in the SBAC assessment in March.
- SBAC has been noted by our DOE that there will be a 70% failure rate. How do we help our children of our future understand that one?
I have always been in support of standardized assessments; however, given the facts above is where I reside and stand today as a concerned parent of public school education in our state.
I ask that you please allow for teachers and parents to be heard and to not let this bill rest. The majority of our House of Representatives message is very clear to every parent and teacher. Please let those voices be heard just as they did. Please be open to hearing from those that you serve that have elected and placed their trust in you. Please consider supporting this bill with the same compassion and commitment you had when you first began serving the people of Delaware. God bless.
Below are resources that I utilized to do my due diligence on SBAC.
Founded on Truth
Common Core and Associated High Stakes Assessments Town Hall at University of Delaware Clayton Hall 1/24/15
University of Arkansas – The Department of Education Reform
Truth in American Education
NY Teacher Speaks for Kids: Strongly Objects to Common Core Testing
United Opt Out: The Movement to End Corporate Education Reform