The Washington Post, owned by the owner of Amazon, just published an editorial about the potential override of Delaware Governor Markell’s veto of House Bill 50, our opt-out legislation passed overwhelmingly by the Delaware House of Representatives and Senate last Spring. They are very much against the override. The owner of The Washington Post, Jeff Bezos, is a very well-known charter school supporter. Many feel the true purpose of tests like the Smarter Balanced Assessment and the PARCC tests is to label and shame traditional public schools to the point where they are put in “turnaround” status and then become charter schools.
I found the editorial staff’s column to be absolutely wrong on so many levels.
Credit to Delaware Gov. Jack Markell (D), then, for standing up for accountability in vetoing a bill that would encourage parents to exempt their children from state tests.
The accountability where he made our Delaware Department of Education impose harsh opt-out penalties on our Delaware School Success Framework after our Secretary of Education said it would most likely not happen? Accountability where students with high populations of minorities, low-income and poverty students, and students with disabilities don’t perform well on “the best test Delaware ever made”? But yet Jack Markell can’t be accountable to the legislators that voted overwhelmingly in support of parental rights. He dishonored them and parents with his cowardly veto.
In fact, parents can already prevent their children from taking these tests. But the legislation would give an imprimatur of state approval that would lead more parents to think it’s okay, even desirable, for children to duck these tests.
The legislation says absolutely nothing about that whatsoever. It merely codifies a parental right and stops school districts and charter schools from strong-arming parents when they opt their children out. If parents can already prevent their children from taking these tests, than why is our state not doing anything to stop school districts and charters from intimidating and bullying parents? And yet, this editorial says absolutely nothing about the protections offered to students: they are to have alternate educational activities and they will not be punished by the school for the parent’s decision.
That, as Mr. Markell told us, would be bad policy. “Assessments are an important tool for teachers and families to have,” he said. Backing his decision are civil rights groups that fear minority and other at-risk students will slip through the cracks if there is no objective measure of performance and business groups that believe results should be measured when billions of dollars are spent on schools.
The same civil rights groups that get massive donations from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation? They are full of it and care more about their own bottom line than the students they claim to represent.
No doubt there is frustration with what some see as excessive testing, but the solution is not a knee-jerk boycott. Instead, there needs to be, as is being done in Delaware, a thoughtful inventory of tests to eliminate those that are redundant or otherwise unnecessary.
That thoughtful assessment inventory where the ONLY parent on the task force is one appointed by the Governor? And stacked up with many of his education go-to legislators? The one that will most likely get rid of assessments that actually do help students and will give rise to more Smarter Balanced interim tests? That thoughtful process?
If they want to continue to have bragging rights in improving education, they need to preserve accountability and not give in to interest groups that oppose a clear view of how their schools are performing.
Trust me, the only ones bragging about Delaware education are the Governor and our DOE. We know how our schools are performing, thank you very much, and it is all based on a lie called standardized tests used not for their original purpose but to test, label, and punish our schools. They are socio-economic in nature and all they do is tell us what a child’s zip code is in many cases.
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