Senator Sokola Must Put House Bill 50 On Agenda By June 18th

I love the Delaware House of Representatives.  Things make sense there (for the most part).  Apparently the Senate does things VERY different.  For a bill to go to a full Senate vote, the Chair of the committee it was released from puts it on the agenda, as opposed to the House where the Speaker of the House does this.  So this means House Bill 50’s fate once again rests on the controversial shoulders of Senator David Sokola.  No word on an amendment for this bill.  So this means we have to email the hell out of Senator Sokola to have this bill come to a full vote.  If I can find a loophole, I will.  In the meantime, email him every day.  Email him three times a day.  Or as many times as you like.  Just make sure you email him, along with the rest of the Senate, asking for a Yes vote.  This must be put to a vote by June 18th, and I’ll tell you why shortly.

If this thing passes, Governor Markell is going to be faced with a monumental decision: Does he stick it to parents or does he stick it to all the education agendas he has dumped on Delaware for the past seven years?  Or does he drift into the night quietly by not signing it and allowing House Bill 50 to become law in 10 days and not having his name attached to it?  If he did that, the Senate would have to pass the bill by June 18th for the 10 day period to happen prior to the General Assembly adjourning for six months.  The House Bill 50 saga must come to an end at some point.  I’m praying for this month!

Tomorrow Is The Last Day To Give Public Comment On Academy of Dover, Freire, Prestige Academy & DE Design Lab

The formal review public comment period for the four Delaware charter schools officially ends tomorrow.  You can email comments to infocso@doe.k12.de.us and they must have them by 5pm est.  This is your last chance to get your say on the formal reviews for Academy of Dover, Prestige Academy, Freire and Delaware Design Lab High School.  Good or bad, this is it.

Secretary of Education Mark Murphy will issue his decision on the recommendations of probation by the Charter School Accountability Committee for all four charters next Thursday at the Delaware State Board of Education meeting.  The meeting starts at 1pm, but based on their schedule, I can’t see the charter part happening before 2:30pm.  You can give public comment at State Board of Education meetings, but not about the four charters.  These are the State Board guidelines for public comment:

Details

Time has been allocated at the beginning of the meeting for individuals or groups to address the State Board on general issues and on agenda items at the time they are before the Board for discussion. Board Agenda items with formal comment periods or discrete identified records, such as Charter School applications or renewals, Department of Education and Professional Standards Board regulations, and student disciplinary appeals,  are not open for comment at the Board meeting at which action is to be taken. At least 15 minutes prior to the meeting being called to order, persons wishing to address the Board should sign up on the appropriate form, giving their name and topic they will address. Comments should be limited to five minutes and each group should choose one representative to speak.  Speakers will be recognized by the Board President in the order their names appear on the sign up list. As circumstances require, the Board President may at his/her discretion, limit the number of persons allowed to speak, as well as designate the time for comments.

Please Note: Normally, the Board will not respond to questions by or engage in a dialogue with those offering comments during the Board meeting, but may respond in writing to a person or group.

BREAKING NEWS: Oregon Passes Strong Opt Out Bill

Go Oregon! You make us proud. I am hoping Delaware will be able to say the same in the next 19 days. We are waiting for a full Senate vote.

Diane Ravitch's blog

Despite the pressure exerted by the U.S. Department of Education and threats to cut off federal funding, the Oregon legislature passed a strong opt out bill, protecting parental rights.

From: Oregon Education Association

Oregon Senate passes HB2655–first step on path to a better way

Senate Passes “Student Assessment Bill of Rights”

Today the Oregon Senate overwhelmingly passed HB 2655 (24-6) — one of the strongest bills in the nation to support all students and parents on statewide standardized assessments. The bill establishes the Student Assessment Bill of Rights which requires assessment transparency by giving students:

the right to know the purpose of statewide assessments and how the results will be used

when exactly the assessments will be administered

the amount of class time required for the assessment

the learning targets that make up the assessment

how students can self-assess and track their own progress

when the results will be made…

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House Bill 50 Has Officially Been Released From Senate Education Commitee #supportHB50

According to Avi Wolfman-Arent with WHYY/Newsworks, House Bill 50 will be released tonight from the Senate Education Committee.

With that being said, please email the entire Senate not to pass Senator Sokola’s proposed amendment adding district-wide assessments to this bill!!!!  Please ask for President Pro Tempore Patricia Blevins to put this bill on the agenda as soon as possible and for the Senate to vote yes!  We are soooo close on this, and this has been a true team effort!

Harris.McDowell@state.de.us MargaretRose.Henry@state.de.us robert.marshall@state.de.us greg.lavelle@state.de.us catherine.cloutier@state.de.us Ernesto.Lopez@state.de.us Patricia.Blevins@state.de.us David.Sokola@state.de.us Karen.Peterson@state.de.us bethany.hall-long@state.de.us Bryan.Townsend@state.de.us Nicole.Poore@state.de.us David.McBride@state.de.us bruce.ennis@state.de.us Dave.Lawson@state.de.us senator-colin@prodigy.net brian.bushweller@state.de.us gsimpson@udel.edu Brian.Pettyjohn@state.de.us Gerald.Hocker@state.de.us Bryant.Richardson@state.de.us

**TITLE HAS BEEN CHANGED, OFFICIALLY RELEASED**

And it has been officially been released on the legis.delaware.gov website as well:

148th General Assembly
House Bill 50 w/HA 1
Primary Sponsor(s): Kowalko Additional Sponsor(s):    Sen. Lawson

Co-Sponsors: Reps. Bennett, Baumbach, Keeley, Matthews, Spiegelman, K. Williams, Yearick; Sen. Henry

Introduced On: 03/12/2015

Long Title: AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATION ASSESSMENT.

Synopsis of Bill: This bill creates the right for the parent or guardian of a child to opt out of the annual assessment, currently the Smarter Balanced Assessment System.

Current Status: Out of Committee   On  06/11/15

Senator Sokola Is Disgracing Parents With His Foul & Disgusting Games On House Bill 50, Email Him Now!!!! #supportHB50

Delaware Senate Joint Resolution #2, directing the Department of Education to do an inventory of assessments and to form a “discussion group” surrounding these issues unanimously passed the full Delaware Senate today.  As well, Senate Bill 122, directing the State Board of Education to look at reorganizing school boundaries and district lines passed the Senate 19-1 with one member not voting.

What is interesting about this is these two bills, along with House Bill 50, were all part of the agenda for the Senate Education Committee yesterday.  House Bill 50 took up most of the meeting, Senate Bill 122 was given public comment by Tony Allen with no other members of the committee present except for Senator Sokola, and SJR #2 was not even discussed except as a counter to HB50 by opponents of the opt-out bill.  But Senate Bill 122 and SJR #2 were both released from the committee in time for the Senate Legislative Session yesterday, put on the agenda for a full Senate vote today and passed.  Meanwhile, no word on House Bill 50 being released from the committee.

At this point, I do not believe anything coming from Senator Sokola.  He is railroading this bill.  I know others will vouch for him, but this is deliberate.  I am not going to be patient, nor should any parent who has endured the disrespect and intolerance by the heads of both education committees in our General Assembly who will side with corporate interests and the DOE over fundamental parent rights.  I had a long conversation with Sokola last evening, and at no point did he come out in support of HB50 or did he state why he wanted district assessments added to HB50 as an amendment.

These people do not want parents to exercise their rights for their children, and they have bought off legislators to continue to peddle their outright lies and intimidation.  We all know who they are: Rodel, the Delaware Business Roundtable, the Delaware Chamber of Commerce, and more.  NO MORE!

We need as many people as humanly possible to email Senator Sokola and cc the Speaker of the House, Patti Blevins, and feel free to unleash your displeasure with the Senator who would care more about data and rigor than the best interest of children and parental rights.  This is ALL on Senator Sokola’s dirty hands right now, and the Speaker of the House needs to see this.  Their emails are as follows:

David.Sokola@state.de.us

Patricia.Blevins@state.de.us

The Lies We Are Told By The Rodel Foundation…

In the News Journal today, the Rodel Foundation of Delaware and several civil rights groups posted a full-page ad opposing House Bill 50 and supporting Senate Joint Resolution #2.  These are NOT important tests.  In fact, they are designed so companies like Rodel can continue to absorb more funds which should be going into our classrooms so the very same low-income, minority and special needs children can get the resources they need.  There is more than enough data, and the Smarter Balanced Assessment will not give timely or important information other than how bad kids do on standardized tests.

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We must have been a completely broken society before this standardized testing craze.  In the eyes of these folks, humanity must have become civilized at the dawn of the assessment age…  I am reminded of a song from the 1980s…

Testing Does NOT Promote Civil Rights or Equity

As a parent of a special needs child, I resent any civil rights group trying to represent my son in pushing for psychologically damaging testing that has no growth model nor has it been validated. I want the best education for my son, but this isn’t it. It isn’t the schools that are failing these students, it’s the “rigor” of the corporate education reformers who are plundering our schools, labeling and shaming our schools, pushing for damning teacher evaluations, and destroying public education right before our eyes. Now that their back is against the wall, they are using civil rights groups and playing them like a fiddle in their quest to stop parent opt-out.

We all need to wake up with education. That includes you President Obama. You spoke at Beau Biden’s funeral last Saturday in Delaware about how he was a man with broad shoulders. I am waiting for you to become that man and lead our children out of the quagmire that has become public education. You do not serve companies, you serve the people of the United States of America. Please take a look around you Mr. President. The very children these groups are attempting to represent are being subjected to assessments that are a danger to education. It isn’t that we don’t want them to succeed. We want that, but testing all students like little guinea pigs is not the answer. The proficiency march has to end somewhere. Your legacy will be if it ends in investors wallets or in true education reform where children are not tortured with this nonsense.

Diane Ravitch's blog

This is a sad, sad story. At the very time that increasing numbers of parents, researchers, and educators agree that testing in American schools is out of control, the caucuses in the House of Representatives representing children of color have taken a strong stand in favor of high-stakes testing.

According to the Washington Post, they want schools held accountable if children fail to meet targets two years in a row.

“Now the Congressional Tri-Caucus has sided with dozens of civil rights groups and the Obama administration. In a letter to the Senate on Wednesday, more than 80 members of the Tri-Caucus said they cannot support the bill without key changes, including a requirement that states take action at schools that are failing to serve subgroups of children, such as those who are low-income, African American or English learners, or those who have disabilities.

“Specifically, the Tri-Caucus — made up of…

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Vast Majority Of Delaware School Administrators Have No Confidence In Delaware DOE

 “We believe this lack of confidence is due to a failure to engage the education community in a shared decision-making process and the failure of the leadership of the Department to implement reform without creating trust.” -Kevin Carson, Executive Director of the Delaware Association of School Administrators (DASA)

In a Delaware News Journal article published last night, nine out of ten Delaware school administrators that voted on a survey showed no confidence in the Delaware Department of Education.  They join the Delaware State Educators Association and their local chapters in the Christina and Red Clay school districts, the Delaware PTA in regards to the Smarter Balanced Assessment, several legislators, and several parents in the state.

The DOE responded to the survey in a statement by their spokeswoman, Alison May:

“If we had to choose between making extraordinary progress together and avoiding controversy, we would choose progress for our students every time.”

It is the very nature of this progress that is the rudimentary question these days.  Many folks in Delaware do not see standardized assessments as a true measure of progress for students.  With the roll-out of Smarter Balanced this year, this feeling has only intensified as the test has not been validated nor does it offer an actual growth model.

As well, the DOE seems to thrive on controversy these days and are not engaging in true stakeholder input.  Perhaps they are just putting on a tin shell to defend themselves from all the potshots that are lobbed their way with statements like these, but it certainly doesn’t help their cause.

Another strong indictment against the DOE by DASA is the fact that the DOE has “flawed systems for evaluating teachers and schools and has stumbled to find a better way to pay educators,” according to the article written by Matthew Albright.

Relations between the DOE and the most essential stakeholders in the state have deteriorated to an all-time low.   When the most important groups in education have NO confidence in the rigorous work you are doing, at what point do the light bulbs finally turn on?  Will the entire state have to endure Secretary Mark Murphy until Governor Markell leaves office?

Exclusive: Senator Sokola’s Proposed House Bill 50 Amendment

I spoke with Senator Sokola this evening, and he informed me exactly what his amendment to House Bill 5o, the parent opt-out of the Smarter Balanced assessment legislation, would entail.  It would include any state assessment and any district-wide assessment.  It would also change some of the timeframes involved in notifying parents.  He did say a Delaware Senate attorney will be looking it over and he hopes to have it in circulation tomorrow.

Originally, House Bill 50 included any state assessment.  When the House voted on the bill on May 22nd, it was changed to just the Smarter Balanced assessment in an amendment introduced by State Rep. Sean Matthews.  If passed, this amendment would change the bill for a third time.

Sokola is a firm believer in standardized assessments and believes in international benchmark standards for education.  He referenced Singapore, China, Finland and Quebec in Canada as areas around the world who perform the best in education.  He believes teachers should be great, and there are schools in Delaware who are getting it right and the rest of the schools should be copying what they are doing.

He stated that usually there is a limited public comment time during the Senate Education Committee, but last week he allowed additional comment time to the parents of Autism children for Senate Bills 92 and 93, and since House Bill 50 was not heard on last week’s agenda, he wanted to extend the courtesy this week.

What remains to be seen is the actual amendment and the exact wording of it.  We shall know more later today…