Hey Terri & Yvonne! DE PTA Needs To Get Back On The Opt Out Bus! If NY PTA Can Do This, You Should Too!

As part of the Every Student Succeeds Act, the United States Department of Education is required to issue regulations associated with the new law.  Of course U.S. Secretary of Education John King saw this as his big chance to make his national mark for his corporate education reform buddies, so he stuck with the accountability script and harsh rules about opt out of high-stakes tests.  The New York Parent Teacher Organization wrote a letter to King as part of their public comment for the regulations.

Something to keep in mind is the National PTA’s bizarre stance on parent opt out.  They are against it and don’t want the state PTA’s advocating it either.  Last February, they threatened Delaware with severe sanctions if they continue to advocate for a parent’s right to opt out.  This caused a complete shutdown with Delaware PTA on the issue.

Here is the letter the NY PTA sent to King:

There are a few other things readers need to be aware of when it comes to this issue.  Sanctions against the NY PTA would not be as damaging as ones against Delaware PTA.  If even ten percent of NY parents belong to their PTA, that is still at least ten times the amount of members as Delaware PTA.  Which means they have a lot more cash and pull with National PTA.  Plus, New Yorkers are a hell of a lot fiestier than Delawareans.  That doesn’t mean I would seriously mess with the Dynamic Duo of Dr. Terri Hodges and Yvonne Johnson.  I wrote a few articles about this issue last winter, as well as poking a bit at Johnson’s involvement with the Christina School District.  I caught holy hell for that.

But I do wish Delaware would follow New York’s lead on this.  They are basically telling John King AND National PTA “We don’t care what your stance on opt out is.  We are going to tell parents what their rights are.”  New York leads the way with opt outs, followed by New Jersey.  Yes, Delaware’s PTA could get into a heck of a lot of trouble with National PTA if they get back on their opt out positions, but who cares?  This a PARENT-TEACHER organization, not Laura Bay and Friends.  If the former district testing coördinator wants to hate on opt out, let her.  But she should not get a whole parent organization to stop doing what they feel is best for parents.  It’s kind of what they are there for Ms. Bay!

In the meantime, the next few months will be very interesting, not only in Delaware, but across the country.  As these regulations go forward, I predict a lot of pushback from many states, teacher unions, parents, schools, and advocates for public education.  Hopefully, the members of Congress who like to call out John King on a monthly basis will continue to do so.  If they don’t, John King gets his way, and the punitive mandates of Race To The Top will still be here.

Something Doesn’t Add Up With National PTA’s Intimidation Letter To Delaware PTA…

PTABullying

I was thinking about this a lot the past two days.  Since I posted the National PTA “Comply Or We Will Make You” letter to the Delaware PTA, something didn’t feel quite right.  Was it the absolute absurdity and gall of National PTA, or the timing of it?

The Delaware PTA heavily advocated House Bill 50, the Delaware opt-out legislation that our cowardly weasel of a Governor vetoed last July.  When an attempt  to have our legislators do the right thing and override Markell’s veto, the Delaware PTA staged a rally outside of Legislative Hall in Dover.  This was a month and a half ago.  The very next week, the Delaware PTA announced National PTA would be coming out with a position statement against opt-out very soon.  They did so in the beginning of February.

Let us flash forward to last Wednesday.  The Wilmington Education Improvement Commission has their post-State Board meeting where State Board of Education President Dr. Teri Quinn Gray is grilled and served on a plate by Wilmington school districts and members of the Commission.  State Board Executive Director Donna Johnson is most likely highly embarrassed about the allegation she advised State Board members how to vote on the WEIC plan.  The very next day, President of Delaware PTA Dr. Terri Hodges gets the comply or die letter from Laura Bay, the President of National PTA.  Right before the assessment inventory meeting at the Delaware Department of Education.  Right before.  As she walks into the meeting, handouts are provided to the committee and members of the public.  One of them is the National PTA position statement on assessment and opt-out.  It was a very odd choice for a hand-out.  Especially since it was NEVER discussed at all during the meeting.  Dr. Hodges attended the previous meeting, and I’m sure the DOE knew some type of Delaware PTA representation would attend the meeting.  I’m not coming right out and saying this, but I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this.

Yes, the National PTA did issue the position statement against opt-out.  For what reasons, I absolutely cannot fathom.  But Kilroy’s Delaware did present something very interesting today in regards to National PTA President Laura Bay.  It turns out she is the coördinator for assessment and instruction in her Washington school district.  And she essentially runs National PTA.  But was there some outside influence to have Bay pull a sword on Delaware PTA?

We have January and February of 2016 as two key months with a lot of Delaware PTA/National PTA/State Board of Education/Delaware DOE/WEIC activity.  All involving some very key players in this very bizarre game of Russian Roulette with parental choices.  Add in some referendums, priority schools, and redistricting and we have a huge mess on our hands!

In the backdrop of it all: a very power-hungry Delaware Governor Jack Markell and John King, the very controversial figure at the US Department of Education who is hoping to become the next US Secretary of Education instead of Acting.  Surrounding all of this is the massive tome called the Every Student Succeeds Act.  The mammoth legislation that has not been clearly defined but will in the coming months when the US DOE begins issuing regulations around it.  To make matters more complicated, this will be going on during most state’s testing windows for their state assessments, including the Smarter Balanced Assessment in Delaware.  Also during an election year.

The bridge between Delaware PTA and National PTA has one person on both sides: Yvonne Johnson.  She serves as the Vice-President of Advocacy for Delaware PTA and is a board member of National PTA.  The Governor was not pleased with the Delaware PTA’s defense of House Bill 50 at all.  The Delaware PTA has some choices ahead of them.  Fight, submit, or secede.  None will be easy decisions.  Secession is not an easy thing.  Fighting could result in major issues for them.  Submit will assuredly permanently scar the organization that has made a name for itself over the past year by supporting a parent’s right to opt their child out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment in Delaware.  Dr. Hodges is not one to surrender quietly.  This will definitely be something to watch over the coming months.  Perhaps a little push is in order…

 

 

National PTA Forces Delaware PTA To Back Down From Honoring Parent’s Right To Opt-Out, Time To End That Relationship!!!!

Immediately cease advocacy efforts in support of the Delaware PTA Position Statement on Parent Opt Out HB50 including but not limited to website promotion, action alerts, e-newsletters, media interview and information flyers.

Per National PTA SOA Policy, if you are unable to comply with the SOA requirements by April 26, 2016 (60 days from this notification), a support team will be assigned to Delaware PTA to help create and implement a plan to move your PTA back into compliance.

Unbelievable!  It’s one thing to say you don’t agree with someone for doing something.  But then you force them to take a position on it? And if they don’t you will make sure they do?  I say the Delaware PTA renames itself and kicks National PTA to the curb!  Who do they think they are?  What a bunch of arrogant jerks!  It is the PARENT-Teacher Association.  Not the “we got more money from Bill Gates so we are going to force our state PTAs to shut up about opt-out” Association.  What a bunch of sell-outs!  What the hell kind of parent organization doesn’t honor parent’s rights?  Terri and Yvonne, do the right thing for the parents of Delaware, not this bureaucratic nightmare in Washington D.C.  Absolutely ridiculous!

And the Delaware PTA sent some questions to National PTA:

Yeah, they may not say places like the Gates Foundation won’t fund you if you support opt-out.  But guess what, they just won’t give you money in the future.  National PTA knows this.  Time for a clean break Delaware PTA!  Meanwhile, Delaware PTA President Terri Hodges sent this out to the Delaware PTA membership this afternoon:

PTA members and supporters,

            As you are aware, National PTA issued an updated position statement in January 2016 regarding state assessments. The position statement, developed by the National PTA Legislative Committee and approved by the National Board of Directors, also outlines National PTA’s opposition of the growing parent opt-out movement across the United States.

            When the position statement was released in January, we were initially informed that our advocacy of parental rights was not in conflict with the updated position statement, as Delaware PTA has never encouraged parents to opt of testing. However, upon further review National PTA has determined that our advocacy of parental rights is in fact in conflict with the updated position statement. As a result, Delaware PTA has received the attached DE Sanctions Letter from National PTA informing us that as a state association we are not in compliance with the Standards of Affiliation.

            As a state association, we are obligated to comply with the National PTA Standard of Affiliations which governs the relationship between National PTA and the state associations. Similarly, our bylaws define the relationship between the state association and our local units in that the local units may not collectively take up any position that contradicts the position of Delaware State PTA and by extension National PTA. As indicated in the letter, the position statement can only be amended /rescinded by the voting body. This will be an action item on the agenda for our upcoming Board of Managers meeting, where we will also accept a motion to amend the legislative priorities at the next state convention. In the interim, Delaware PTA is required to cease all advocacy related to parent opt out.

            We recognize that with the support of parents and teachers, several of our school districts have adopted policies, resolutions and/or procedures for honoring a parent’s request to opt out of the state assessment. National PTA’s prohibition on our advocacy only extends to the state association and thus the local units. This position does not have any impact on individual activity and advocacy.

            We want to ensure our members that we have done our due diligence in sharing our concerns with National PTA and requesting complete transparency around the new position statement via the Questions posed to National PTA(attached). Delaware PTA remains committed to our membership and advocating for the students of Delaware. PTA is a multi-issue advocacy organization. As such, we will continue our advocacy in the following key areas:

  • A reduction in testing across all grade levels
  • A reliable and valid state assessment that measures student growth
  • A fair and representative teacher evaluation system
  • Weighted funding
  • Anti-Bullying compliance

            We thank everyone for your continued support. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us at de_office@pta.org

 Delaware PTA

American Parents Go It Alone As National PTA Opts Out of Opt-Out

Sending a very confusing message to American parents, the National PTA will be issuing a position statement on testing and opt-out in the next couple days.  In anticipation of this, the Delaware PTA issued a press release indicating they still support House Bill 50 because it supports parent’s rights, and in turn, children’s rights.  The National PTA will not support the opt-out movement according to the Delaware PTA statement.  The Delaware PTA has always advised they do not tell parents to opt out or tell them not to.  But they have done a lot for opt-out in their support for House Bill 50.

As state teacher’s unions and the national unions, National Education Association and American Federation of Teachers, have never really supported the movement one way or another, the focus for all these groups has now become the nature of testing.  In other words, the reformers have won.  They have convinced the biggest organizations concerning schools that the problem isn’t with these upstart parents opting their kids out, it is the actual tests.  Which is why we are seeing these assessment inventory committees popping up all over the country.

The end goal will be the same tests parents object to, but in smaller chunks, embedded in tests throughout the year.  As students reach the end of units they are learning in their personalized learning environment, they will be given unit tests.  They will still be standardized assessments, but not on the surface.  Students will only progress when they have become proficient on the material.  Based on “their” material.  Not the standards most people grew up with, but the Common Core standards.

It is a disgrace.  I still believe the only way to stop the takeover of our children by these reprehensible companies and organizations is to make a lot of noise and opt-out.  The PTA’s and unions have been lulled into a false sense of security by these animals.  They still don’t get what the essential problem is here.  But many parents do.  It is Common Core.  It is the resources pouring out of the classroom and into corporations that disguise themselves as think tanks and non-profits.  Where their CEO’s make more than most people make in six years.  Where they buy off legislators and politicians with their big money and big words.   With promises of power and security at the expense of children.

I have felt many betrayals in the past year and a half, but none have stung like the ones in the past two months.  Organizations and people I thought were allies.  They know who they are.  If they don’t, be assured I hear a lot.  Much more than you probably realize.  Delaware isn’t that big.  People who think the world will stop revolving if they don’t make sure they are heard.  I respect the Delaware PTA for getting this out there ahead of time.  I joined the PTA back in September so I could hopefully get some more access to things.  That never happened, despite assurances from someone that it would.  So I will not be paying my “membership fee” again.  I truly can’t support an organization that thinks a parent’s right to opt their child out of the Smarter Balanced is okay but still thinks Common Core is a good thing.  I always knew this day would come, but it happened much sooner than I expected.

Delaware and American parents are on their own.  We can’t rely on anyone but ourselves.  We must shoulder the fight for our children by ourselves, without any true support.  And you know what, I kind of like it better that way…

Delaware PTA Releases Petition For HB50 Veto Override! Please Sign Today!

The Delaware PTA created a petition on Change.org to support the override of Delaware Governor Markell’s veto of House Bill 50.  HB50 is legislation codifying a parent’s right to opt their child out of standardized assessments.  It passed the Delaware House and Senate with an overwhelming majority.  House Bill 50 does not “allow” a parent to opt-out, despite what other media may have written in the past.  Parents already own that right.  This bill honors that right and protects them and schools from bullying and intimidation when an opt-out choice is made by a parent.

Please sign the petition here: https://www.change.org/p/delaware-state-house-delaware-state-senate-vote-to-override-delaware-hb50-veto?recruiter=135941660&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=copylink

Once you sign, please copy and paste the link and share it on Facebook, Twitter, email or anywhere you can think of.  Our legislators need to hear our voice on this issue.  This will be presented to all the legislators in the Delaware House of Representatives and the Delaware Senate to lend support for the crucial vote.

Thank you Delaware PTA for making this happen!!!!!!!!!

15 Who Made An Impact In 2015: Hodges & Johnson

DEPTA

Hodges & Johnson is not the latest detective show hitting television.  But it is an appropriate name for the powerhouse behind the Delaware PTA.  They really stepped up this year for parent rights.  President Dr. Terri Hodges and Vice-President of Advocacy Yvonne Johnson started the year off with a bang by announcing two town halls for those interested in opting their child out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  I will fully admit to being blown away when I heard this but I quickly got in touch with Dr. H and let her know I was in full support of this.

In March, the duo held the first opt out town hall in New Castle County.  To say the first town hall on opt-out was controversial would be an understatement.  Confession time again: I truly thought I was advocating on my own for opt-out.  I knew others in the state who supported it and a couple school boards were behind it, but in terms of rallying the troops I thought it was going to be a solo act.  With that first town hall I knew there was massive support for the rising movement in Delaware.  Around the same time, the very controversial House Bill 50 was introduced in the General Assembly, State Rep. Earl Jaques was blasting opt-out parents, and Governor Markell was taking steps in his failed effort to squash the movement.

By the time the second opt-out town hall in Kent County happened a couple weeks later in early March, Brian Touchette from the DOE and Donna Johnson with the State Board of Education were forced to admit there was no law preventing parents from opting out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  This was a major breakthrough in the opt-out movement and cleared the path for everything that went down at Legislative Hall over the next four months.

Johnson & Hodges, or at least one of their carefully chosen representatives, were present for every single opt-out meeting or vote at Legislative Hall.  By the time the Delaware Senate finally passed the bill on June 25th, summer was here and everyone who supported the bill needed a well-earned break.  But not even a month later, Delaware Governor Jack Markell vetoed House Bill 50 and spit on parental rights everywhere.  Immediately the talk went towards overriding the Governor’s veto, but the General Assembly went out of legislative session for six months.  Since then, Hodges & Johnson, with the PTA membership, have been gearing up for next month when the legislators return.

In the past few months, the Delaware PTA again stepped up to help prevent the harsh opt-out penalties as part of Delaware’s new state accountability system.  Unfortunately, Secretary Godowsky caved in to pressure and recommended the opt-out multiplier penalty as opposed to districts and schools having to come up with a plan to prevent opt-out.  The State Board of Education approved the final part of their ESEA Flexibility Waiver last month and they are awaiting word from the US DOE on final approval.

I have no doubt that will happen, especially given the stab in the back from the US DOE announced today about definitive funding cuts for states who dip below the 95% participation rate two years in a row.  But the Delaware PTA is on it, and the recently announced House Bill Veto Override Parent Rally at Legislative Hall on January 14th will show the legislators parents should not be underestimated.  In the thick of it will be Yvonne and Terri, Delaware’s own Hodges & Johnson!

Both of them truly believe parents have a voice in education, and they have proved it time and time again.  While I don’t agree with 100% of everything the PTA endorses, I respect their ability to draw consensus from a large group of parents for whatever they decide as a group.  That is how it should be in education, but we have too many Markells and Rodels in our country.

Delaware PTA To Host Override House Bill 50 Veto Rally At Legislative Hall On January 12th

SAVE THE DATE!!!!

Delaware PTA

Override House Bill 50 Veto Rally

January 12th, 2016

2:00 PM

Legislative Hall

Dover, DE

The Delaware PTA wants ALL parents, teachers, and students who support the opt-out movement to come to Legislative Hall on January 12th, 2016 at 2pm.  Not so coincidentally, this is also the first day the Delaware legislators are back in session.  We need to send a strong message to our legislators that we do NOT support Governor Jack Markell’s veto of House Bill 50.  We also want our legislators in the House and Senate to override the veto.  More details to come, but please make every effort to come, whether or not you are in the Delaware PTA or not.  Every single voice counts!!!!

This is not about reducing assessments in Delaware.  This is about a horrible state assessment inflicted on our children.  We say no more!  We do not like the whole environment associated with the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  Yes, the overall goal should be getting rid of the test altogether, but until then, opt-out is the preferred path for those who choose to do so.  Overriding a bill made for parents showed a severe lack of disrespect on the Governor’s part.  Nowhere in his long-winded press release on the veto did he talk about parental rights and honoring those rights.

More details to come!

 

#StopESEA @DelawarePTA @DSEA1 @gacecoffice Don’t Drink The Kool-Aid!!!!

Delaware PTA, DSEA & Governor’s Advisory Council for Exceptional Citizens:

You  hold a great deal of power in your groups.  We the people need you to band together and unite for the students of Delaware.  The ESEA reauthorization is all about more testing, more federal mandates and waivers, and even “social impact bonds”.  I know your bosses in the National PTA, NEA and Governor Markell are all behind this federal legislation.  But that does not mean you need to endorse legislation that has not even been seen by the public yet.

Delaware PTA: You know I love you for your support on the opt-out movement and House Bill 50!  We need you to take a serious look at the personalized learning models and competency-based education supports embedded in this legislation.  These are not good for students over the long-term, especially those students who are most in need.  This bill is big on accountability systems created at the state level, and we all know what that kind of power can have in a few corrupt minds in our state.  Please, do not endorse this bill and let your National PTA know they shouldn’t either.

DSEA: I have to admit, you folks are an enigma to me!  From my perspective, the best words I can think of are this- you always want a seat at the table but don’t realize you are actually on the table as the main course.  I’ve seen this with the Delaware School Success Framework, teacher evaluations, and Race To The Top.  I know you wish there didn’t even have to be opt-out, but the plain simple fact is that it is here and it is necessary for parents to do this.  I get that teachers endorsing opt-out could put them in rough waters, but they are already in that position because of the state and federal mandates coming down.  Please do not endorse this bill that will make sure teachers lose even more voice.

GACEC: You are a Governor’s council run by the state, which puts you under the shadow of Governor Markell.  But your mandate is to look out for exceptional citizens, those with disabilities.  Please tell me how supporting the Governor against opt-out helps those citizens.  Please tell me you truly want the best outcome for children with special needs.  Please tell me you do not support this latest edition of the ESEA reauthorization.  We’ve seen the outcome of Smarter Balanced for our children with disabilities.  They are now further behind.  That isn’t progress, and I’m sure you have seen how Delaware wants these children to go from 19% proficiency to 59% in six years.  That is insanity, brought on by Governor Markell.  Please stop siding with the DOE on matters that only negatively impact our kids.

 

Delaware PTA President-Elect Bill Doolittle Steps Down

The Delaware PTA President-Elect announced he is stepping down from that position today at the Delaware PTA State Convention held at Del-Tech in Dover.  Bill Doolittle has been with the Delaware PTA since 2011, and has probably served on more committees and task forces in our state than most.

Bill is a good guy, and he is a strong advocate for students with disabilities.  I know him from the IEP Task Force.  I wasn’t a member, but I attended every meeting so I got to know him pretty well.  I also saw him in action as a member of the Accountability Framework Working Group the past couple months.  Doolittle was not happy with the opt-out penalty, even if the DOE’s minutes from last Winter may have suggested otherwise.

Doolittle will remain with the Delaware PTA as part of their advocacy committee run by Yvonne Johnson.  And he still holds a seat on the Governor’s Advisory Committee for Exceptional Citizens.  I have no doubt Bill will continue to be an active voice for our special needs kids here in Delaware!

Dr. Terri Hodges remains the President of Delaware PTA, and Ashley Dalzell-Gray was voted in as the first Vice-President of Delaware PTA at the convention today.

Delaware PTA Issues Statement On Smarter Balanced Assessment Results

The Delaware PTA just unveiled a press release to their members on their views of the recently announced Smarter Balanced Assessment results.  These are questions everyone in this state should be asking, especially our legislators.  They voted this into state code, and as far as I’m concerned, they can vote it right out!

DELAWARE PTA

9/8/2015

 

Will Delaware State Board of Education & DOE Throw Delaware PTA Under The Bus For Smarter Balanced Scores As Well?

I found this very interesting item today… On October 5th, there will be a tentative special Delaware State Board of Education Workshop on the Smarter Balanced Assessment and Accountability.  While it is not on the State Public Meeting Calendar, they already have the agenda up if you go to the above link, along with documents to be used in the presentation.  I wrote yesterday about the DOE’s plans to use teachers as scapegoats for the Smarter Balanced Assessment results, and from the looks of this, the Delaware PTA may be used in similar fashion.

State Board Workshop on State Assessments and Accountability 10/5/2015 – 5:00 PM

Date, Time and Location all TBA

Below are resources that may be helpful in providing additional information about Delaware State assessments

Here is the link to the Smarter Balanced practice test: http://sbac.portal.airast.org/practice-test/

A website with lots of resources and information on Delaware’s standards and assessments: http://delexcels.org/

Additional information about the Smarter Balanced Assessment: http://bealearninghero.org/classroom/smarter-balanced

Smarter Balanced Assessment Guides developed by Delaware PTA and the National PTA:
http://delawarepta.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/smarterbalancedassessmentguide.pdf

http://www.pta.org/files/PTA%20Assessment%20Factsheet%20FINAL.pdf

Resources to review specific skills aligned with Smarter Balanced Score report information by grade level: http://bealearninghero.org/skill-builder

Grade by grade overview of English and math standards: http://www.pta.org/content.cfm?ItemNumber=2909

That’s a whole lot of mention of Delaware PTA in just one part of this presentation.  This will be a couple weeks after parents get the kid’s Smarter Balanced scores, and they will be freaking out.  Here comes the State Board to the rescue.  They are going to make this a big thing.  all parents are invited.  Media will be on hand and probably already got their “save the date” email.  The State Board will say “We didn’t design the test.  Teachers contributed and the Delaware PTA directed parents where to go.”  And that will be all parents need to hear: teachers and an organization to help shoulder the blame.  The State Board and the DOE will promise to look into this. They will assure parents they will do everything they can to make this assessment more tolerable this year and will work with the schools and districts to make sure they are doing it right. And then comes the usual “we want all children to succeed,” most likely from State Board of Education President Dr. Teri Quinn Gray.

Unless some soothsayer blogger predicts this a month and a half ahead of time and publishes it on his blog… 😉

What the State Board of Education and the DOE may not realize is the Delaware PTA was the biggest advocate of parents opting out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment. While they did provide links to the Smarter Balanced Assessment, it was a way for parents to find out what this test is really about. They came right out and said they don’t think the Smarter Balanced Assessment is an effective measurement for student success. I would be hard-pressed to find anyone more dedicated to parent engagement than Delaware PTA President Dr. Terri Hodges and VP For Advocacy Yvonne Johnson. One of them was at every single debate and meeting on House Bill 50, the parent opt-out bill, at Legislative Hall. They formed the town halls on opt-out that ignited the fire. They know how bad this test is.

If parents want to blame someone for the Smarter Balanced Assessment, they can look to the following individuals and groups: Delaware Governor Jack Markell, Former Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy, the un-elected Governor appointed Delaware State Board of Education, the entire leadership of the Delaware DOE (including David Blowman, Penny Schwinn, Chris Ruszkowski, Susan Haberstroh, Karen Field-Rogers and Michael Watson), U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Delaware Senator David Sokola, Delaware State Rep. Earl Jaques, former Delaware State Rep. Darryl Scott, Rodel, The Vision Coalition, the Delaware Business Roundtable, and the Delaware Charter Schools Network. If parents want to take action on their frustration with these people, there is no easier way to do that than to say NO MORE! Refuse the Test for your children! Opt-out! And email-bomb every single member of the 148th General Assembly: State Reps and Senators, demanding they override Governor Markell’s House Bill 50 veto the first day they come back to legislative session in January 2016. And while you are at it, demand legislation removing the Smarter Balanced Assessment as the state assessment of Delaware! Parent’s voices were heard with House Bill 50, and those who voted no will be held accountable. But the vast majority voted yes, and they will again when the override comes. Especially when they receive ten times the amount of emails, calls, Facebook messages, tweets, and messages.

I encourage anyone reading this to keep coming back to this link. So when the big news does break with the scores, and enraged parents get on Google and start researching Smarter Balanced Assessment and Delaware PTA, this will be the first link they see on Google. Share it, spread it, email it, write it down and put it on cars at the mall!

Delaware Legislators, When Yvonne Talks, You Better Listen!!!! #REFUSETHETESTDELAWARE

The following came from the amazing but tough Delaware PTA Vice-President For Advocacy, the one and only Yvonne Johnson.  I will say no more, because Yvonne says it best:

Some key points our legislators need to hear regarding HB#50

The following key points on HB 50 has been sent to every legislator in the state. If you haven’t already done so, please reach out to them and urge them to override Governor Markell’s veto of HB 50.

 

  • As a reminder the votes on HB# 50 in both the house and the senate were overwhelmingly in favor of the parent opt out bill; House 33 to 3, Senate 15 to 6.
  • HB#50 was intended for the SBAC assessment. The bill is not about other assessments. Clearly parents want a choice without the fear of retribution to opt their student out of the SBAC.
  • DDOE promised to have results to parents in early August, which in and of itself is ludicrous, it is now expected to be in parents hands in late fall.
  • This bill was driven from parents and educators recognizing that the SBAC assessment does not offer the data that is valuable.
  • Parents want assessments that give nationally normed references, give immediate results, and measure their child’s growth within the current school year in which the test is administered; SBAC does not do any of above.
  • Educators want assessments that inform instruction within the current academic year; SBAC does not do this.
  • The people have spoken! The results of the vote on this bill in The General Assembly, are a direct result of constituent concerns regarding SBAC.

 

It is time for action from our elected officials. Unfortunately Governor Markell has ignored the wishes of YOUR constituents. There is no other resolution to this but to override his veto.

This is the only and the right thing to do for the hundreds of parents and teachers that you all have heard from.

Representing over 7000 members, Delaware PTA asks you to take action today and override the veto!

VP of Advocacy,

Yvonne Johnson

You don’t disregard Yvonne Johnson if you want to make it out of Delaware with all your teeth!  But seriously, if you agree with Yvonne, and I KNOW most of you do, please email our legislators.  If you are having any problems finding your legislator, don’t despair.  Email ALL of them!  Just copy and paste:

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 Charles.Potter@state.de.us StephanieT.Bolden@state.de.us helene.keeley@state.de.us gerald.brady@state.de.us melanie.g.smith@state.de.us debra.heffernan@state.de.us Bryon.Short@state.de.us Quinton.Johnson@state.de.us Kevin.Hensley@state.de.us sean.matthews@state.de.us jeff.spiegelman@state.de.us Deborah.Hudson@state.de.us john.l.mitchell@state.de.us Peter.Schwartzkopf@state.de.us Valerie.Longhurst@state.de.us jj.johnson@state.de.us Michael.Mulrooney@state.de.us michael.barbieri@state.de.us kimberly.williams@state.de.us Steve.Smyk@state.de.us Michael.Ramone@state.de.us joseph.miro@state.de.us paul.baumbach@state.de.us Edward.Osienski@state.de.us john.kowalko@state.de.us John.Viola@state.de.us Earl.Jaques@state.de.us william.carson@state.de.us trey.paradee@state.de.us bobby.outten@state.de.us Sean.Lynn@state.de.us andria.bennett@state.de.us jack.peterman@state.de.us Lyndon.Yearick@state.de.us David.L.Wilson@state.de.us Harvey.Kenton@state.de.us Ruth.BriggsKing@state.de.us Ronald.Gray@state.de.us Daniel.Short@state.de.us Timothy.Dukes@state.de.us Richard.G.Collins@state.de.us

Delaware PTA Statement On House Bill 50 Parent Opt-Out Veto & Link To Petition For Legislators To Override Veto

Thanks to Dr. Terri Hodges, President of the Delaware PTA for letting me post this in it’s entirety from the Delaware PTA website.

A message from the State PTA President, Dr. Terri Hodges

On Thursday June 16, 2015, Governor Markell vetoed HB 50 on the parent opt out. You can read Governor Markell Statement to House of Representatives Vetoing House Bill 50

We are deeply disappointed in the Governor’s decision to veto HB 50. Even more so, we are disappointed with the reasoning outlined in his letter to the General Assembly. His statements clearly demonstrate a lack of understanding of not only HB 50, but also of the motivations behind parent support of this Bill. We are deeply saddened that the Governor has chosen to defend his right to exercise his veto power on the backs of our minority and at risk student populations. Many national civil rights organizations have clearly shown that these types of high stakes tests only serve to widen the achievement gap. As such, Delaware PTA denounces the Governor’s arguments. Furthermore, the argument that this assessment is the “only objective” tool we have to measure student growth and school performance is categorically false.

As we have stated before, this Bill is very straight forward, in that it codifies a parent’s right to opt their child out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment. However, opponents of the bill and subsequent amendments took the argument down a very convoluted and confusing path. Even those that are well versed on the subject and familiar with the bill were confused at times. To help alleviate any confusion or misconceptions with regard to parent motivation and interest in HB 50, Delaware PTA attempted to meet with the Governor on numerous occasions, but he did not acknowledge our requests or attempt to meet with us. In fairness, his Education Policy Advisor did agree to speak with me for about 10 minutes via phone towards the end of the legislative session. Out of fairness to the thousands of members we represent and given the enormity of what was at stake, we felt a more genuine conversation was warranted.

HB 50 passed both the chambers with more than a 3/5 majority. Your legislators worked very hard and fought for your rights as parents. They listened to you. For that they should be commended.

Although the Governor has vetoed this bill, it is not dead. Our legislators still have the right to override his veto when the general assembly resumes in January 2016.  This is an election year and we know the legislators will continue to work hard to represent their constituents.

During the last 24 hours, we have heard from many of you asking “what’s next?”, and many more have taken to social media to express their discontent with the Governor’s decision.
We came together before to get the bill this far, and we are asking for your support once again.

 

  1. We need each and every one of you to contact the legislators and thank them for their support on HB 50. Ask them to stand firm in their convictions, support their constituents and honor their first vote by overriding the Governor’s veto of HB 50. 

 

  1. Sign this petition to override the Governor’s veto of HB 50

 Here you will find the  HB 50 Roll Call listing all the legislators and how they voted. In addition, here is the contact information for the Delaware Legislators 2015 

Dr. Terri L Hodges,

State PTA President

I have to admit, I wasn’t the biggest fan of the Delaware PTA before this whole opt-out movement.  But even before that, when they wrote a letter against the priority schools initiative, they started to turn me to their side.  And then the opt-out movement hit, and the Delaware PTA went right up to bat and hit a grand slam home run with their Town Hall meetings on opt-out.  They haven’t looked back since.  They have been at the forefront of every single meeting, decision, and supporting it front and center.  My most sincere thanks to the Delaware PTA on this!  While I may not agree completely with their stance on the Common Core state standards, I know they will listen.  But for now, go PTA!

Please sign the petition Dr. Hodges provided a link for, and lets get these legislators to override Governor Markell!!!!!!!

And once again, if this is your first time seeing the message, opt-out is dead, we are now REFUSE THE TEST DELAWARE!

Delaware PTA’s Yvonne Johnson Will Be On WDEL w/Rick Jensen Tomorrow at 2:30 AND On Delaware Way w/Larry Mendte May 9th on Me-TV

The Delaware PTA has been a HUGE advocate for parent opt-out in 2015.  They hosted Parent Opt-Out Town Halls in Newcastle County and Kent County.  They have gone to many meetings at Legislative Hall.  They passed a resolution supporting parent opt-out.  Now Delaware PTA’s own Yvonne Johnson is on the media circuit.

Tomorrow, May 5th, she will be on WDEL with Rick Jensen at 2:30pm.  This should be a very interesting interview based on Governor Markell’s potential veto of House Bill 50.  When I say potential, that’s if it passes the Delaware House and Senate.

Then, in a pre-recorded segment, she will appear on Larry Mendte’s Delaware Way on Me-TV on Saturday May 9th (time to be announced).  If you don’t live in Wilmington, Mendte puts all his Delaware Way videos up on Youtube a few days later.

Is Yvonne running for Governor?  Just kidding on that one.  I’m glad to see the PTA being so active in this movement.  It’s all about parent choice and their rights!

Delaware PTA slams Governor Markell and Delaware DOE over their latest harebrained scheme!

I am loving the Delaware PTA this year!  After Governor Markell and the Delaware DOE announced their little “we’re scared of opt-out so why not brainwash more parents into thinking their kids won’t have to take remedial classes in college” scheme, many stakeholders were not happy.  Including the Delaware PTA who has been very vocal in support of parent opt-out.  They are fast-learning that there is no collaboration in Markell’s nation!

Delaware PTA’s Response to Press Release on SBAC and DE Higher Ed Institutions 

In a statement made today by Governor Markell, Delaware PTA learned that the four colleges; Wilmington University, University of Delaware, Delaware Technical and Community College and Delaware State University have all agreed that the outcomes of the 11th grade Smarter Balanced Assessments is a good indicator of college readiness. In addition, these institutions have all agreed to accept the assessment in lieu of other placement exams.

At a time when there is so much turbulence in our public education system, we are disheartened to learn that the conversations that proceeded this major conclusion did not include input from any of our major stakeholders. The Delaware Department of Education and the Governor’s office have publicly committed to greater transparency and collaboration with the broader community, yet Delaware PTA, the Delaware State Education Association, state legislators and other community stakeholders were not only excluded from these conversations, but we only learned of this decision a few hours prior to the public announcement.

We believe the lack of a collaborative process has resulted in misguided decisions regarding the efficacy of the Smarter Balanced Assessments, further misleading parents and students.

While Delaware PTA supports the use of assessments with a growth model that will effectively and adequately measure student growth and college and career readiness, we stand by our previous statements, citing the following concerns with the Smarter Balanced Assessments:

1. In its current form, the SBAC does not provide a true growth model;

2. In its current form, the SBAC is overly subjective and not an accurate assessment of student knowledge, skills and abilities;

3. Our educators have not had sufficient time to teach and our students have not had sufficient time to learn;

4. In its current form, the SBAC does not provide parents or teachers with the individual diagnostic data necessary to work together to support student success.

Although we believe that this most recent development is a knee jerk reaction to HB 50 on the Parent Opt Out, Delaware PTA remains fully committed to engaging in collaborative and transparent discussions on developing a state assessment that provides meaningful data for parents, students and teachers.

Decisions made in a vacuum often lead to outcomes that are misaligned and unsuccessful. Delaware parents, students and teachers deserve better. 

Dr. Terri L Hodges, State President 

Yvonne Johnson, VP of Advocacy

Delaware PTA Hits A Home Run For The Priority Schools!

The Delaware PTA has released a message indicating it is in agreement with the iPetition several hundred people have already signed in regards to the six Delaware priority schools.  This is a great endorsement by this organization, and many people will be very impressed with them, including this writer!

Happy New Year PTA families,

We wanted to take a moment and reach out to you regarding the petition that is currently circulating online regarding the 6 identified Priority Schools. The petition rejects certain elements of the Delaware Department of Education’s Priority Schools Plan. Delaware PTA DOES SUPPORT the petition, and we are asking for your support as well. If you have not already done so, you can sign the petition using the following link http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/lets-make-priority-schools-a-real-priority-2

Delaware PTA has identified the following three primary areas of concern with the current memorandum of understanding between the Delaware Department of Education, Christina School District and Red Clay Consolidated School District:

  1.       The proposed MOU from the DDOE does not provide the necessary funding to adequately and effectively support the districts in their efforts to address the needs of the identified Priority Schools.
  2.       The proposed MOU does not address the sustainability of any progress the schools make. We believe the MOU should clearly outline how the changes will be sustained beyond the turnaround time frame.
  3.       Although the Delaware Department of Education has extended the timeline for the Christina School Board to submit its Priority Schools plans, we believe the time frame for submission should be such that each district has adequate time to develop robust, comprehensive plans. In addition, the time frame should allow sufficient time for parents and other stakeholders to become informed and offer thoughtful input with the level of depth and breadth necessary under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).

Regardless of whether or not you reside in the impacted districts or have students attending one of the identified schools, your support is critical, as the outcomes of this Priority Schools process has larger implications for all public schools in Delaware and their ability to make decisions that best meet the needs of their community.  We have had conversations with both school districts and the Delaware Department of Education, and offered possible solutions. We look forward to working with and supporting the districts, schools and parents on developing and implementing an effective plan.

 Thank you for all that you do

Delaware PTA

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Delaware PTA Won’t Do What Oklahoma PTA Has Courage To Do #netde #eduDE @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de

Diane Ravitch wrote an article today on how the Oklahoma PTA has called for an end to high-stakes testing in Oklahoma Schools.  http://dianeravitch.net/2014/08/14/oklahoma-pta-unanimously-calls-for-end-to-high-stakes-testing/

This something the Delaware PTA has not done.  Instead, if you go to their website, you will find this: http://delawarepta.org/common-core/assessments/

With all the controversy surrounding Common Core and standardized testing, many parents in Delaware seem oblivious to the dangers here.  Perhaps it is because the media in our state, like the News Journal and others do not reflect the true feelings of many of the citizens that reside in Delaware.  Perhaps they are more worried about advertising dollars.  But I have yet to see the major media in this state do a true and accurate story about what people are thinking with these issues.  Bloggers like myself, Kilroys, Kavips, Parents Of Christina, Transparent Christina and Children & Educators First do our part, but we know we aren’t reaching the vast majority of our intended audience.  The only people I have found in Delaware who support Common Core and Smarter Balanced Assessments are those who either a) have a vested interest in it, b) work for the DOE, or c) are obviously afraid to speak out against it.  I don’t hear the average parent saying “I love Common Core.”

And then you have an organization like the Delaware PTA, who should be representing the Parents and Teachers of the state.  Instead, based on their statements and events, very mixed messages are being sent about who they represent.  Last Spring, they funded an event at Dover Downs where teachers and students could glorify how great Common Core was.  It was a huge event, with members of the DOE and Governor Markell there to celebrate.  In my opinion, any PTA is supposed to be a roundtable of parents given equal voice to deal with issues, not to bow down to the governmental policies on education.  But when a state PTA is not showing what parents feel, and are expressing opinions of a small group, there is something fundamentally wrong.