Frederika Jenner & Jeff Taschner: DSEA Needs To Side With Parents On The Veto Override Of House Bill 50

The Delaware State Education Association needs to speak up.  Many parents have fought for teachers rights for many years.  It is past time you stepped up and did the same for parents.  We thank you for supporting House Bill 50, but as I’m sure you are well aware, the battle is not over.  The Governor vetoed the bill.  I know I ticked you off when I didn’t agree with your support for the assessment inventory legislation, and we are seeing exactly why I didn’t support it now.  Legislators, the Governor, and testing supporters are using this as a defense against the override.  The plan isn’t even due until June 30th which does nothing for parents this year.  We both know Smarter Balanced won’t be a serious part of this conversation.  We both know House Bill 50 and opt-out are parent’s reaction to the Smarter Balanced Assessment.

Delaware Parents need your full support in our effort to have Governor Markell’s veto of House Bill 50.  Please help us to make this happen.  Thank you.

The Washington Post article chimes in about DE Parents Opting Out and the needed data!

DelawareFirstState

I am a parent of two DE public school children, I am a former DE PTA president, a former Red Clay school board member, I am currently a DE State Representative and Vice Chair of the House Education Committee. I found this article to be quite interesting. The writers of this piece truly do not understand what is going on here in Delaware regarding the current state assessment and the ignored and meaningless data that is produced from it.

The Washington Post article states that opting out “undermines the collection of the needed data.” I find that sentence just fascinating! I wonder if the authors of this piece understand that the needed data comes after the student has moved on to the next grade level. The needed data arrived in the mail addressed to the parent after their child moved on to the next grade or moved up to another…

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Delaware House Republicans Weigh In On Veto Override Of House Bill 50

Within 10 minutes of Rep. Kowalko’s veto override e-mail to fellow House members on Wednesday afternoon, the state Department of Education (DOE) issued a press release noting it was eliminating the Smarter Assessment as the state test for high school juniors beginning this spring.
In the latest newsletter from the Delaware House Republicans, they wrote about the potential of the House Bill 50 Veto Override:
NEWS:

Student Testing “Opt-Out” Bill Could

be Subject of Rare Veto Override Attempt Next Week
An effort to override Gov. Jack Markell’s veto of a bill that sought to allow parents to remove their children from academic assessment testing is expected next Thursday.
 
House Bill 50, as amended, would have allowed students to opt out of the statewide Smarter Balanced Assessment as well as any district-level assessment.
The Smarter Balanced Assessment is aligned with the contentious Common Core standards in English and mathematics.
Earlier this week the legislation’s prime sponsor, State Rep. John Kowalko, D-Newark notified his House colleagues that he intends to bring the bill to the floor on Thursday, January 14 for “reconsideration in order to override the governor’s veto.”
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Such a move requires a “suspension of rules” with a simple majority vote (21 of the 41 state representatives).  That would be followed by the override vote, which requires at least a three-fifths majority (25 votes minimum).
The Senate would have to take similar action to successfully override the veto in that chamber.
Previous votes on the bill indicate an override could be a possibility. The measure cleared the House of Representatives twice: 36 to 3 and 31 to 5.   It was approved twice by the Senate as well: 14 to 7 and 15 to 6.  All four votes had majorities exceeding the three-fifths threshold.
However, some of those familiar with the legislative process note that overriding a veto involves more than just a simple weight of numbers.  Other factors are likely to come into play, including partisan considerations involving the Democratic majorities in the House and Senate and their party’s top state office-holder, Gov. Jack Markell.  Such complications are one of the main reasons veto overrides are rarely attempted.  The last one reportedly took place nearly 40 years ago.
In vetoing the bill in July, the governor said the legislation would weaken “the only objective tool we have to understand whether our children are learning and our schools are improving.  It has the potential to marginalize our highest need students, threaten tens-of-millions of dollars of federal funding, and undermine our state’s economic competitiveness.”
The Delaware State Teachers Association and parents’ groups had supported the bill, citing classroom time lost to testing; increased stress on students and teachers; and questions about its usefulness in helping educators identify and address students’ needs.
The Delaware State Chamber of Commerce (DSCC) was among those opposing the legislation.
The bill had strong bipartisan support.  State Rep. Jeff Spiegelman, R-Clayton, who was among the bill’s co-sponsors, said immediately after the veto that the action was misguided.  “Parents already have the option of removing their students from testing, but this bill would have provided protections for the schools and school districts from being held accountable for decisions that are out of their control.”
Within 10 minutes of Rep. Kowalko’s veto override e-mail to fellow House members on Wednesday afternoon, the state Department of Education (DOE) issued a press release noting it was eliminating the Smarter Assessment as the state test for high school juniors beginning this spring.
DOE officials said a redesigned SAT is being launched that is aligned to the Common Core State Standards, making the Smarter Balanced Assessment duplicative for 11th grade students.  Delaware has been administering a school-day SAT to all public school juniors at no cost to students since 2011.
The state will continue to administer the Smarter Assessment in grades 3 to 8.

House Bill 50 Gives Protection For Student Rights And Honors Parental Rights

The biggest fear any parent has when they opt their child out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment in Delaware is that their child will be punished by school officials.  They do not want their child suspended or told they won’t be able to go to the next grade or told they have to go to summer school.  They don’t want their child to sit around all day when other students take the test.  They don’t want to be told not to bring their child to school that day.  House Bill 50 guarantees these student rights just as much as honoring the parental right to have parents make this choice.

In all the conversation about House Bill 50, and what it is about, this is what is missing from the conversation.  It protects the student.  I recently heard something discussed at the first Delaware PTA Town Hall from last February.  A student was told to lie to other students about being opted out of Smarter Balanced.  This was done so the student couldn’t encourage other students to opt out.  Since when is it okay for anyone in a school to encourage a child to lie?

House Bill 50 states: “Schools shall honor any timely request and provide alternative educational activities during testing times” and “there shall be no academic or disciplinary repercussions on the student’s record for opting out of participating in the statewide assessment”.

Student rights are just as important as a parent’s right.  It is a given that preventing opt-out is doomed to failure.  The Governor actually understands this now, according to the infamous Washington Post editorial, as do our schools, teachers, and legislators.  House Bill 50 does not allow opt-out, which has been mistakenly written in the News Journal a number of times.  It honors the choice and offers protection.

I sincerely hope our legislators in the Delaware House of Representatives and Senate do not forget these very important facts and recognize those two things, choice and protection, are the most important part of their decision.  Why would they not want to protect student rights and honor parental rights?