Will Delaware Governor Jack Markell veto House Bill 50, the parent opt-out legislation in Delaware that passed the House of Representatives and Senate in the First State in June? According to Red Clay Consolidated School District Superintendent Dr. Merv Daugherty, indications are pointing to him not vetoing the controversial bill. At their board meeting on Wednesday July 8th, Daugherty said the district is preparing for the legislation to take place later in the summer. He indicated the district may have to notify parents in both September and in the Winter so they are given the options at the start of the school year and prior to the next round of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.
Weeks later, and Markell has not even asked for House Bill 50 to be brought to his desk. Once he does that, if he fails to do anything with the legislation, it passes into law in ten days. The opt-out legislation would stop Delaware schools and the Delaware Department of Education from bullying and intimidating parents when they decide to opt their child out of the high-stakes assessment. As well, it would stop the opt-out students from counting in the school’s accountability rating and would not count against teachers in their evaluations. Sponsored by State Rep. John Kowalko, a Democrat, and State Senator Dave Lawson, a Republican, the legislation had a five month battle in many areas of Delaware: schools, Legislative Hall, the DOE, the Governor’s office, homes, and on social and print media.
In New York, New Jersey, and the state of Washington, many opt-outs went far below the 95% Federal threshold for test participation. Threats of federal funding cuts have been just that: empty threats. Despite all the posturing and bullying by both the US DOE and the Delaware DOE, no school has received funding cuts due to opt-out by parents. While the Smarter Balanced Assessment scores haven’t been released yet in Delaware, it looks like high school juniors may have gone below the 95% mark.