I just sent Governor Markell and the DOE an email with a request for the final Accountability Framework Working Group meeting on Tuesday at 10am. Anything less than this will not be sufficient for myself and the growing number of parents who will exercise their parental rights to opt their child out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.
From: Kevin Ohlandt <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: Godowsky Steven (K12) <email@example.com>; Schwinn Penny <firstname.lastname@example.org>; Reyna Ryan <email@example.com>; Markell Jack <firstname.lastname@example.org>; O’Mara Lindsay (Governor) <email@example.com> Sent: Friday, November 13, 2015 9:53 AM Subject: AFWG Meeting on 11/17
Good Morning Dr. Godowsky, Dr. Schwinn and Mr. Reyna,
I understand there is to be another Accountability Framework Working Group on 11/17/15 at 10am in the Cabinet Room at the Townshend Building in Dover. I have to admit I was taken aback at Dr. Godowsky’s suggestion last week at the Delaware State Board of Education Retreat that he was not going to accept the AFWG’s recommendations for the Delaware School Success Framework.
What I am asking of the three of you for Tuesday’s meetings is actual documentation, on United States Department of Education letterhead, why Delaware would have to impose the harsh opt-out penalties based on US Congressionally approved laws and regulations. I’m sorry, but hearing from Dr. Schwinn vocally about what US DOE requires is not enough. I want to see, in writing, why this is necessary. Vague letters from an employee no longer at US DOE, and non-regulatory guidance from US DOE is not sufficient. Not for something this big. The letter from US DOE provided to then Secretary Murphy places the burden of opt-out on schools, meaning they cannot pick students to opt out. The law absolutely says nothing in regards to parental opt-out. While I agree schools should not make that choice as some have done in the past, it is fundamentally, morally, and legally wrong to infer that parents can not opt their child out of the state assessment.
I am writing this on behalf of all the parents who have either already opted their child out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment, those who will be doing so, and those who have intimidation and what amounts to bullying tactics perpetrated on them by schools in Delaware who are not honoring their parental rights which are the underpinnings of our society. Parents should not live in fear about consequences for a school if they choose to exercise their fundamental and Constitutional rights, as established by the U.S. Supreme Court on many occasions.
If this is a mandate from Delaware Governor Jack Markell, I would challenge him to come to this meeting in person to make clear his justification and reasoning for this. If he is unable to attend, then I would like him to craft a letter on State of Delaware Governor letterhead with a legal basis for this mandate.
To not honor parental rights and to punish schools for a parental decision is a slap in the face to parents and schools. If the intention is to punish schools for parental decisions, this is abhorrent and a disgrace.