Schwartzkofp and Longhurst Ignore House Rules During Kowalko’s HB50 Veto Override Attempt

Audio Of Parliamentary Inquiry, Delaware House, 6/29/16

Tonight, I witnessed the death of a dream.  That our Delaware House of Representatives would finally do the right thing for our children.  Delaware State Representative John Kowalko brought back House Bill 50 tonight, the Delaware opt out bill that overwhelmingly passed the Delaware House and Senate a year ago.  Delaware Governor Jack Markell vetoed the bill less than a month later.  The last time the House considered this bill was for an override of the Governor’s veto on January 14th.  Kowalko received bad information from the House Attorney on how to present a veto override.  He was told he had to have a suspension of rules prior to a vote on the reconsideration.  I can’t speak to the lack of knowledge or the reason this attorney gave bad advice to Kowalko.  I do know House Attorney’s are not employed by the State, but retained from law firms.  But Kowalko found out it was not necessary with carefully vetted research into veto override attempts in Delaware.  He brought up what is known as a Parliamentary Inquiry to the House tonight.  Had he been able to explain how the legal advice given to him by someone who is supposed to know House Rules and Mason’s Manual of Legislative Procedure in the event a situation is not covered by House Rules, the House would have understood what he was doing.  The Delaware House could have voted on the reconsideration of the Governor’s veto back in January without a suspension of rules.

Instead, what we got was Val Longhurst and Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf turning it into a power play and putting forth a point of order motion.  It was a trap, probably planned ahead of time since Kowalko told the House Attorney he would be requesting the Parliamentary Inquiry.  He had a representative lined up to second the motion for the Parliamentary Inquiry.  As Kowalko brought it up, Longhurst interrupted Kowalko while he was speaking and stated House Bill 50 was not on the agenda.  Kowalko knew this and stated he was talking about a Parliamentary Inquiry.  Schwartzkopf said Kowalko was out of order even requesting a Parliamentary Inquiry, which Kowalko challenged.  Kowalko appealed Schwartzkopf’s point of order.  Val Longhurst seconded it, said “Oh shit” (nice conduct of an elected official during a legislative session) and then retracted her second as the floor of the General Assembly burst into laughter as Schwartzkopf said “Jiminy Christmas” and said the motion was dead.  Gavel went down, case closed.  But is it?  By denying an elected official the ability to request a parliamentary inquiry under the guise of a point of order given while the elected official was speaking which had nothing to do with the matter at hand could be ruled as illegal.

Once again, we have Democrat leadership in the House who don’t know the policies of the floor they are supposed to govern.  They have committed themselves to a lame-duck governor at the expense of our high-stakes tested children.  There are good legislators in Legislative Hall, but the vast majority are in it for themselves and don’t know what they are doing except how to put forth legislation from corporate lobbyists or to further their own careers.

Prior to Kowalko’s motion, the House had just voted on a very emotional budget bill.  It passed, but eight voted no.  Some voted no who have voted before, but State Reps. Stephanie Bolden and Charles Potter voted no due to the lack of funding for the WEIC redistricting plan and the Senate’s refusal to move forward with the legislation.  Even State Rep. Miro, who voted yes on the budget, gave a well-intentioned speech about how the state is not doing well economically and it will be worse next year.  Kowalko objected to the budget after he filed an amendment to take the charter school transportation slush fund out of the budget.  The amendment failed but eight voted yes.  Which fell in line with the budget vote, 31 yes, 8 no, and 2 absent.

I firmly believe our state needs a serious fiscal and ethical investigation by the Federal government into where every single penny of our state funds are going and who is profiting off of shady backroom deals.  They need to start with Governor Jack Markell and work their way down through the House, the Senate, the DOE, vendors, school districts, charter schools, the auditor’s office, the treasurer’s office, the Department of Health and Social Services, and pretty much everywhere anyone gets funds from the State of Delaware.

Our children are used as guinea pigs.  We see it from Sokola, the DOE, Markell, Schwartzkopf, Longhurst, Melanie Smith, McDowell and others.  Godowsky puts on another face constantly.  He tries to save face with the Governor when he knows the stuff they are pedaling out of his building is absolute crap.  None of these people care about kids.  Not a single damn one of them.  I’ve tried to deal with the legislators in Legislative Hall.  I’ve tried to reach out to some of them in good faith.  They don’t respond.  Those that do know who they are and I know you are trying your best, but when the majority is corrupt, the whole building is.  I see many of you get upset when good bills that will truly help the children of Delaware go nowhere.  Our DOE is not a State Agency.  It is a collection of education reformers and lobbyists, selling our children out to the highest bidders.  A great deal of the legislation passed in Delaware for education allows them to do this.

When a State Representative votes against a budget because of the rampant corruption in our state, they are a hero.  They are not unpatriotic.  If patriotism is following orders and never questioning anything and allowing children to suffer while you remain in power Rep. Melanie Smith, then you may want to look at what the patriots who founded this country actually did so you could hold elected office.  You allow a great deal of bills that go through that will only please corporations at the expense of the citizens of Delaware.  Tonight, I was ashamed to say I live in Delaware.  Everything the other legislators said about the budget was from the heart, not quotes from books or a Tedx talks speech.  It is a legislator’s responsibility to pass a good budget, not a bad one.  This was a bad budget.  You can do all the glad-handling and take the applause for getting it passed, but it is still filled with pork.  You know it, and I know it.  We all know it.  We know who this budget truly serves, and it is not in the best interest of children or the citizens of the state who by your own admission deserve more.

For someone who wants what is best for Delaware, why have you, Pete Schwartzkopf, consistently gone with the Governor’s wishes and not the will of the people.  You are the Speaker of the House.  It isn’t your House.  It is ours.  The people of the state.  Until you learn that valuable lesson, you will continue to be called Sneaky Pete all over the state until your time is done.  Because you refuse to find out the answer concerning how the State Representatives would vote on the override of Markell’s veto, you are not a friend to parents in the state of Delaware.

 

House Bill 50 Is Not Dead! Sign The Petition To Pete Schwartzkopf For A Full House Vote On The Veto Override

SchwartzkopfPetition

Despite what others have said, House Bill 50, the opt-out legislation in Delaware, is not dead.  It isn’t finished.  It is merely hiding in Delaware Speaker of the House Pete Schwartzkopf’s desk drawer.  It is on the ready list, but Schwartzkopf has not put it on the agenda for a full House vote.  What is he afraid of?  That the House and Senate will pass the veto override?  That the lame-duck Governor Markell will be upset if his veto is overturned?  We the people demand House Bill 50 gets a full vote for the veto override in the Delaware House and Senate.

I am giving this petition a long time to breathe because the General Assembly doesn’t return until March 8th.  I need all your help to make this happen.  I need you to share this petition with every single person you know in Delaware.  I want Schwartzkopf to see this with no less than 20,000 signatures from Delaware citizens.  We have a month to make this happen! Let’s Do It!!!!! To go to the Change.org petition, please click the link:

Pete Schwartzkopf: Put HB50 On The Agenda For A Full House Vote On The Veto Override!

State Rep. Briggs-King : The Serial Flipper For Student & Parental Rights

BriggsKing

In keeping to my word in my December 29th article, I need to show how one State Representative in Delaware completely went back on her word to me on the House Bill 50 Veto Override.  She can sit there and say she never votes yes on a suspension of rules, but I find that to be completely irrelevant since she plotted behind the scenes with the ridiculous alternatives to House Bill 50.

On January 1st, Rep. Briggs-King responded to my request for support on the veto override, knowing it would be made public.

From: “BriggsKing, Ruth (LegHall)” <Ruth.BriggsKing@state.de.us> To: Kevin Ohlandt <kevino3670@yahoo.com> Sent: Friday, January 1, 2016 7:21 PM Subject: Re: House Bill 50 Veto Override

I supported the original legislation and my position is firm.  I will not waiver

Thanks

Ruth 

Ruth. Sent from my iPhone

*Bolded for emphasis

I graciously thanked her for her support:

On Jan 1, 2016, at 7:28 PM, Kevin Ohlandt <kevino3670@yahoo.com> wrote:

Ruth,

Thank you very much for your support!  It is much appreciated!  Happy New Year, and I have a funny feeling you will be seeing me lurking around Legislative Hall in the next six months.  Take care,

Kevin

Not even a week later, she did a complete 180 degree turnaround based on the SAT announcement.  So much for a firm position she would not waiver from…

From: “BriggsKing, Ruth (LegHall)” <Ruth.BriggsKing@state.de.us> To: Kevin Ohlandt <kevino3670@yahoo.com> Sent: Friday, January 7, 2016 6:29PM Subject: Re: House Bill 50 Veto Override

Kevin

As you can imagine there has been much activity regarding the override this week. I am pleased with the new Secretary of education as well as the recent announcement of dropping the smarter balance test and using the SAT for juniors

I want you to know I’m considering the options on this potential veto.

Thanks

Ruth 

Ruth. Sent from my iPhone

*bolded for emphasis

Two emails, two different positions, one flip, one result.  Keep in mind Rep. Briggs-King originally said “not voting” on the suspension of rules for House Bill 50 yesterday.  And then, since she is early in the alphabet and upon hearing most of her Republican Housemates voting no, she changed her “not voting” to “no”.  Let us also keep in mind she voted yes for House Bill 50 twice last spring.  She is a serial flipper…

For any opponent choosing to run against Rep. Briggs-King this year, I will gladly forward you the actual email on this.

 

Delaware PTA, House Bill 50, House Resolution 22, House Bill 243: What Happened Today

Chaos.  There is no other word for it.  The rally went great, we got a good turnout, and there was a lot of media there.  By the time Rep. Kowalko brought the suspension of rules motion to the floor, I had an ominous feeling.  Too many of the reps, who know who I am, were not looking at me.  The suspension of the rules was seconded, and a voice vote was called.  13 yes, 26 no, 1 no vote, and 1 absent.  I can say Rep. Bennett, who was absent, reached out to me a couple weeks ago giving her support for this.  Unfortunately she was not able to attend today.

State Rep. Byron Short gave a long talk about standardized testing and how he wants a valid look at what we are doing with state assessments.  He indicated this last Spring, but he felt he wasn’t heard.  Short was NOT talking about the assessment inventory currently going on, but the state assessment.

State Rep. Debbie Hudson indicated she had brought two bills to be filed regarding opt-out, but they were not filed before today’s session.  She indicated that they had “wasted their time” on House Bill 50.  Speaker of the House Pete Schwartzkopf indicated the bills would be filed today.  Rep. Kowalko indicated he wanted House Bill 50 put on the ready list.  This means it would come to a full House vote… if Schwartzkopf puts it on the agenda.  If anyone wants to know what this means, Kilroy got Hudson to introduce legislation in the 147th AND 148th General Assembly.  Both times it went out of the education committee, but Schwartzkopf NEVER put it out for a full House vote.

I made a point to thank as many of the legislators who voted yes on the suspension of rules that I could.  I went up to Rep. Hudson and told her flat-out, “I’ll be sure to tell my son who was physically assaulted nine times after I opted him out that you thought this was a worthless bill.”  She came up to me and Yvonne Johnson, Teri Hodges, and Ashley Sabo and indicated she wanted to show us the new bills.  As we ventured down into the Republican office, I had a bad feeling in my stomach again.  This feeling was soon realized when State Rep. Mike Ramone, with a huge smile, showed me House Resolution #22.

While this certainly looks good, as I wrote a couple weeks ago, a House Resolution in Delaware is not enforceable and it is only passed by one chamber.  So while it looks like the answer, I knew it was not.  Then I was given a copy of the as-yet unnumbered House Bill 243.

HB243

Again, it looks great and it stops the DOE from implementing opt-out penalties against schools on the Delaware School Success Framework, or the school report card.  Fantastic!  NOT!  Here is the fatal flaw.  The DOE already submitted their ESEA waiver at the end of November.  They will most likely get that back in the next few weeks.  That is then tied to Federal Law, ESEA, which does not expire until the end of this year.

So the unenforceable House Resolution and the bill that would get tied up in education committees and protects schools more than parents and students, is not a win at all.  I don’t view either of these as good solutions to House Bill 50.  But the very bizarre nature of today is yet to come.  While all this is going on, there was a corporate tax bill introduced by Valerie Longhurst the other day.  It gets fast-tracked out of the appropriations committee, but it still requires a suspension of rules to get to a vote today.  Now this is a bill, who many legislators told me, would NEVER be introduced by a Democrat.  Longhurst is a Democrat.  Longhurst is very loyal to the Governor, who suggested this last week.  So it is more than obvious this bill is coming from Governor Markell.

As the legislators were in caucus discussing all of this I’m sure, I sat with the PTA and legislators slowly drifted out.  The Republicans two bills were talked about, and originally Reps. Williams and Kowalko were willing to be co-sponsors on it.  However, two other legislators informed us the House Resolution does nothing, and the House Bill does nothing for parents.  It protects the schools.  As well, without support from the Senate, House Resolution #22 is just a piece of paper.  To get something with strong support from both sides that would not require the Governor’s signature and is enforceable would be a concurrent resolution.  Legislative Hall is a funny place.  If you are at the right place, at the right time, you can hear people talking.  There are enough columns and stairs and hallways on the first floor of that building.  I heard folks talking about HB50.  And HB235.  And how the Republicans will get that.  It is more than obvious there was a deal made.  Most likely from Governor Markell himself.

Back to legislative session.  Secretary Godowsky, Susan Haberstroh (from the DOE), Lindsay O’Mara (Markell’s Education Policy Advisor), and State Rep. Earl Jaques are huddled around each other.  To be a fly on that wall!  I made a point to talk to Rep. Charles Potter about House Bill 56, the charter school “freeze” bill where no new applications for charters in Wilmington could be submitted until the state figured out what to do with all this transition.  I advised him of the Wilmington charters that are submitting modifications to increase their enrollment and add grades.  He said he would take a look at that.  House Resolution #22 was introduced and floated around to the legislators.  Rep. Joe Miro is the primary sponsor.  Which told me the House Republicans behind this were still going through with their idea.  Schwartzkopf said House Bill 50 is now on the ready list.  But once again, the ready list can either be a full House vote or the limbo list like Kilroy’s bills.  State Rep. Stephanie Bolden talked about House Joint Resolution #10 which is a bill whereby Delaware officially apologizes for slavery.  I fully support that bill, however the discussion that ensued from some legislators, especially the one who talked about honoring the rights of people and the other who talked about the Bible and scripture, you know, the book that actually does go into parental rights quite a bit, I found it all to be a little hypocritical given their earlier votes.  After that ended (which passed), House Bill 235 came up.  The corporate tax bill.  The suspension of rules was put forth by Longhurst, and seconded by a few voices in the chamber.  Kowalko asked for a roll call.  And it came, numerous yes votes.  Many who VOTED NO ON THE SUSPENSION OF RULES FOR HOUSE BILL 50.  I kept track of all of them and published it right away.  Aside from the one Yearick vote I messed up, they are all here.  As I was getting ready to walk out the door, Rep. Mike Ramone whispered to me about how Kowalko goes on and on and their bills are better.  I whispered back to him, “I don’t trust any of you.”  As I walked out of Legislative Hall today, with House Bill 50 in limbo, crappy bills trying to take its place from Republicans so desperate not to get publicly thrashed over their vote today they would thrown anything to the wall to see if it sticks, a clear indication of who in the Delaware House cares an iota about parents and who doesn’t, and knowing the PTA would support these upcoming bills, I just smiled.

After a nice dinner with my wife and son and a trip to Toys R Us, I came home to a billion Facebook notifications, tons of emails, and knowing I had to write this.  House Resolution #22 passed after I left.  So did House Bill 235.  The Delaware PTA issued a statement on today’s events, which once again, looks good to read…

All Is Not Lost With The Parent Opt-Out- Discussion Still On The Table

It is important to remember that we had 3 primary goals with HB 50:

  1. Protections in place for parents that chose to opt their student(s) out of the state assessment
  2. Alternate academic instruction for students not taking the assessment
  3. A clear and consistent opt out process implemented statewide

Even with all the events that took place today at Legislative Hall, we are still primed to meet those goals, and it is looking like that is going to happen! Interestingly enough, we spoke with enough legislators today to see that they are definitely not supporting the Governor’s agenda and firmly believe that parents and schools should be protected during the opt out process.

As a recap to the events today at Legislative Hall, the House voted against a suspension of House rules on HB 50. While we are disappointed in our legislator’s actions, we do not see this as a loss. After conversations with multiple legislators with regards to their vote, we were informed that if HB 50 and been voted down under a suspension of the House Rules, the bill would have been dead. Given the mood in Legislative Hall today, it is likely that the bill would not have passed. HB 50 has been placed on the House Ready list.

In an unexpected turn of events, the House Republicans informed us of their intent to introduce legislation that would prohibit the state from using participation rates against a school or district. Delaware PTA supports this. The bill has been filed as HB 243. (See Below)

They also introduced a Resolution that prohibits schools and/or districts from penalizing students/parents from opting out. In addition, it requests that the Department of Education develop several options that outline a uniform opt out process. (See Below). Although a Resolution cannot mandate action from the Delaware Department of Education, Representatives Miro and Jaques both confirmed that they had spoken with interim Secretary of Education Dr. Godowsky and that he has committed to following the resolution and developing several options for a statewide process on parent opt out. In addition, our Vice President of Advocacy spoke with Dr. Godowsky to request parent input on the development of these options. We were informed that even though the Secretary cannot be compelled to act under this resolution, he has indicated that he will do so and he has the authority to mandate compliance from the schools/districts.

Everyone should be very proud of the energy that they put into advocating for parent rights, but our work is not done. We have never seen so many parents and teachers come together on a single issue as we have with the Parent Opt Out. We realize that sometimes compromise is necessary to achieve the ultimate goal. Our goal is to ensure that neither schools nor districts can send threatening letters to parents choosing to opt their child out of the assessment. We want to make sure that every district respects a parent’s decision and that they clearly communicate the parent’s options with regards to opting out of the state assessment.  Our message was definitely received. We will continue with our advocacy with the same amount of fervor that you have seen over the last several weeks. We must keep the pressure on, so please keep sending those emails to your representative. We will be reevaluating and disseminating the next steps in our advocacy plan in the coming days and weeks.

Thank you to everyone that has supported parent’s rights and our advocacy efforts.

 Delaware PTA

I truly have to think this one through.  Our legislators could have passed HB50 in the House today.  They could have overridden the veto in their chamber.  They chose not to.  So now we have Republicans, obviously working with Earl Jaques of all people and the DOE and the Secretary of Education, and not telling anyone about this, for weeks (I know this because Mike Ramone told me they have been working on this for a while.  When I said you could have given me a heads up, he said “We couldn’t.”  Makes sense, get the crowd to show up for the rally, stick the knife in parents and students backs, and then try riding in on the cavalry saying “We have something better!”  Nice try.  First off, I don’t trust Dr. Godowsky.  This is the man who said “looks like harsh opt-out penalties won’t rule the day” and then said he is recommending those very same opt-out penalties with no logical justification as to why.  Second of all, he indicated he “has the authority to mandate compliance from the schools/districts”.  If he has this magic wand, why hasn’t it been used already?  Why didn’t Mark Murphy use this all of a sudden too great to be true authority?  Why does it take all of this for them to get it?  And would I ever trust anyone at the DOE to determine opt-out policies for our schools and districts?  Furthermore, the PTA newsletter indicates a request was made to Godowsky to have parents as part of this process.  There is no answer from Godowsky on that very important issue.  Many parents who have opted their children out do not belong to the Delaware PTA and do not believe everything the Delaware PTA believes in.  And the due date for these “policies” is “on or before May 1st”, well into the testing window for Smarter Balanced when most students have already taken it or are finishing up.  Not a lot of protection for parents.  Not a lot to protect students.  Nothing to indicate schools will honor the spirit of this.

So where do we stand with opt-out in Delaware?  Pretty much the exact same place we were a year ago.  So once again Delaware parents, I beseech you to search within your hearts to do the right thing, and make the right choice for your child like I did with mine.  And I pray none of you have to experience what happened as a result of my decision.  As always, I am here to help and guide, and call out any school who gives you a hard time if that is what you wish.

For the citizens of Delaware, I would take a very strong look at my post about the votes today.  I would look at those districts, and if you know anyone who wants to run, tell them to do it.  If they are on the fence, explain how those House reps went against parents.

For the House Reps who voted yes today on the suspension of rules: thank you.  For those who voted no on those rules for HB50 and yes on the rules for HB235, everyone will know.  I will make sure of it, every day if need be.  You betrayed parents today.  We heard you, loud and clear.  And don’t think for one second that your “rescue legislation” means anything.  It is tied to the DOE, Markell, and tainted in legislative blood money.  This is not solely directed towards Republicans, but Democrats as well.  All of you who did this today.  The 13 who voted yes are safe.  Rep. Bennett is safe.  The rest… I have no words…

These are the things revolutions are made of.  This is how America was made.  When the rights of the people are violated, they will demand change.  And it will come.  Nothing stinks more than betrayal.  I told all of you, a vote of no on a suspension of rules is the same as a no vote on the override.  You lost the right to say “I would have voted yes” because you hid behind another vote.  Your motivations and affirmations are gone.  They don’t matter.  You played cards with the devil and now you are on the table.  You are all cowards and weak, all 27 of you.  And trust, that is gone with me and MANY others.

One last thing, for those who mock John Kowalko, I want to make something clear.  Don’t whisper in my ear about him.  Don’t talk about how he shouldn’t be in that chamber.  This is an honorable man.  He has conviction and passion.  He will fight like a dog, but he will do it with honesty.  Compared to what I saw from many of you today, I would take that any day of the year.  House Bill 50 was NOT a waste of time.  It was a simple bill, grounded in what is best for students and parents.  It wasn’t based on what the DOE wanted to do.  It wasn’t based on what was best for the districts and charter schools.  It was about parental rights and students.  I believe you all knew this.  Which makes what you did today so horrible, and morally wrong.

And Jack, don’t think you are slipping away.  As the rumor mill talks about your upcoming job at Alliance for Excellent Education, a corporate education reform company that has more Kool-Aid coming out of each word in its website than I have ever seen before, and the rumor mill talks about a crazy thought about you actually getting a payout to make sure House Bill 50 didn’t go through, be assured I will find out the truth to ALL of that.  You and I aren’t done yet.  You may be fooling people into thinking you are done in a year and you are just winding down, I know you are at your most dangerous now.  I know you fear opt-out more than anything that has ever come before your desk.  We both know what opt-out does.  How it undermines what you and your buddies have planned.  For our children.  I know.  I am not fooled.  Everything you touch is tainted with this plan.  Delaware children are not your children.  And tell your buddies, America’s children are not their children.  You will all be hearing from us VERY soon, you can take that to the bank.

Jacob’s Opt-Out

Right now, I am sitting in a coffee shop while my son is at school.  The Delaware PTA sponsored rally to override the veto of House Bill 50 is going to happen today outside Legislative Hall in Dover at 1pm.  I hope to attend and speak.  Below is what I will be saying and what I emailed to the Delaware House of Representatives today.  Should circumstances not allow me to be present at the rally (as I am writing this at 10am), I wanted to make sure this got out there.  This is the heart of my personal reasons why I have fought so hard for House Bill 50 and a parent’s choice to opt their child out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.

Jacob’s Opt-Out

I want to thank everyone who could make it today. Thank you to Yvonne Johnson, Terri Hodges, and the Delaware PTA for their incredible and outstanding support on House Bill 50.  Thank you to the DSEA for their support of a parent’s right to opt their child out of standardized testing.  Thank you to Rep. John Kowalko and Senator Dave Lawson for seeing the wisdom in bringing this bill forward in support of student and parental rights.  Thank you to all the legislators who voted yes for the bill last Spring, and I pray you will find it in your hearts to echo your votes today.

While all of this has been going on for the past year, I have been unable to talk about my personal experience with opting my son out. Many have asked me what kind of response I received, and I said that I didn’t believe there was any.  Now that matters have been resolved with my son Jacob’s former district, I feel it is important to let folks know what happened to him and my family when we opted him out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.

My son had an IEP at his school. It was a very difficult IEP process as my son’s disabilities are very unique.  There was a great deal of conflict with some of the members of his IEP team, I will not shy away from that.  But we were always at the table and able to work through the issues.  Until I opted my son out in a letter to the Delaware State News on October 7th, 2014.  Immediately afterwards, my son’s situation at his school deteriorated.  We received a very threatening letter from the district superintendent within days of the article posting, even going so far as advising us we would not be allowed to be involved in our son’s IEP process unless we “behaved”.  While the letter did not mention opt out, it became more than obvious the school was not in the same collaborative mood they had been previously.  At the end of October that year, my son was denied social skills services that were a part of his signed IEP.  Accommodations were not being followed with fidelity.  Communication over things going on with my son came to a stop.  The principal would not address me at all.  On December 23rd, after eight physical assaults against my son at his school, he received a concussion.  He went on homebound instruction for the rest of the school year, and we had no choice but to pull him out of his district and send him to a private school, at great personal pain and expense to my family.

I love my son more than anything in this world. He suffered immensely, I believe, due to my decision to opt him out.  I wrestle with guilt over that every single day, but I stand firm in my belief that I made the right decision for him.  My son is not a test score.  He is not data.  He is a human being.  I support House Bill 50 because it is about protecting a parent’s choice and it gives protection to students.  I firmly believe, with every fiber of my being, that if House Bill 50 was put into law in October 2014, my son’s life would be completely different.  This is Jacob’s story, and I hope and pray no student ever has to go through the pain, loneliness, and depression my son went through.  No parent should ever have to question decisions they make for their child when it is supported by something they feel is right for their child after careful research and consideration.  This is something I haven’t shared with anyone until now because of how personal it is, but I believe now is the time.

To the Delaware House of Representatives: Please vote yes for both the suspension of rules and the override of House Bill 50 today. Please put aside the political bickering over suspension of rules for this one issue today and vote for what is right for the students and parents of Delaware.  The people of Delaware are watching you and they want their voices to be heard.

How The Legislators Vote Today Will Determine How The People Vote In November

2016Election

You are an everyday normal Delaware citizen.  You have two kids in school.  One of them does well, the other struggles.  You usually vote Democrat in elections, but you are on the fence with some issues this year.  In your district, a Republican and a Democrat are running.  You aren’t sure who to vote for.  You get a flyer in the mail from one of the candidates.  It talks about how their opponent decided not to vote yes for a bill about parental rights.  You look into the issue and see it was a bill about parents opting out of standardized tests.  Your one child came home stressed and miserable during those testing days.  You thought about opting him out but the school pressured you into having him take it.  That bill would have prevented that.  You make up your mind: You are now firmly on the side of the candidate that sent the flyer.

For those legislators who are big on not voting yes for a suspension of rules, this could result in you being suspended from office: permanently.  For those who wish to side with a departing Governor who WILL profit off education and the very policies he had a hand in after he leaves office, I would think twice about that.  Jack Markell is a very shrewd man and he doesn’t care what happens after he gets his very excellent education job a year from now.  Education is a fickle beast.  It changes and morphs constantly in cycles.  Todays big changes will be gone in ten years.  But todays changes are things Jack Markell has been working on for the past ten years.  He is a futurist.  He plots and schemes with American dreams and uses people, legislators most of all.  He isn’t a true Democrat.  He is a corporatist through and through.  He even said so during the 2012 Democratic Convention.  It is his job to be against opt-out.  Because for Jack, it is NOT about the students.  It is NOT about the parents.  It IS about the money and big business.

There may be issues among all of us about education and how to best serve the students of Delaware.  But selling them out to the highest bidders and their alliance of thieves is NOT the way the students of Delaware will succeed.  It is how the businesses succeed.  Our children are more than test scores.  Remember that today and vote with your conscience.

DSEA’s Official Statement On The House Bill 50 Veto Override

The Delaware State Education Association’s executive board voted on an official stance on the House Bill 50 Veto Override and released this information today publicly:

DSEA’s position on opt-out is the same as it has always been, we support a parent’s right to opt their child out of excessive state mandated standardized testing. At the same time, we believe that the state, with direction from parents and educators, must reduce the time dedicated to standardized testing. More importantly the state must ensure the tests that are taken are valid measures of student progress in the given subject area, and provide clear direction on how to improve student growth.  As an organization, DSEA will continue the push to eliminate excessive, invalid testing and tying the results of these tests to educator evaluations. With that being said, we will respect the individual decisions made by legislators regarding whether or not to override the Governor’s veto of House Bill 50.

Opt Out And The House Bill 50 Veto Override Hits The Blogs & Major Media!!!

The never-ending saga of House Bill 50 and opt out marches on.  Since a couple of days before Christmas, it has grabbed a lot of headlines.  When the US DOE issued letters to states about potential funding cuts for opt-out, I knew the conversation would heat up fast.  Here is a chronology of links to the latest on the override of Governor Markell’s veto of House Bill 50 in Delaware, with a few other kernels thrown in:

12/23/15

https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2015/12/23/parent-opt-out-veto-override-rally-11416-i-know-what-you-have-been-up-to-governor-markell/

https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2015/12/23/us-does-threat-letter-to-delaware-doe-about-opt-out-is-ridiculous/

https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2015/12/23/us-doe-promises-funding-cuts-to-states-who-miss-participation-rates-two-years-in-a-row-contact-president-obama-now/

12/24/15

https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2015/12/24/secretary-godowsky-had-no-choice-with-opt-out-penalties/

12/29/15

https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2015/12/29/governor-markells-secret-weapon-against-house-bill-50-veto-override-exposed/

https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2015/12/29/delaware-house-reps-and-senators-who-support-the-house-bill-50-veto-override-and-those-who-dont/

12/30/15

http://www.doverpost.com/news/20151230/update-opt-out-supporters-rally-jan-14–to-override-veto

12/31/15

https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2015/12/31/house-democrats-letter-to-governor-markell-to-remove-smarter-balanced-for-11th-grade/

1/1/16

http://www.sussexcountian.com/article/20160101/NEWS/160109972

1/2/16

https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2016/01/02/education-everybodys-got-a-price-stand-up-and-refuse-awesome-video-about-data-mining-sharing/

1/3/16

https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2016/01/03/predicting-delawares-assessment-inventory-report/

1/4/16

https://kilroysdelaware.wordpress.com/2016/01/04/delaware-pta-pokes-finger-in-eye-of-delaware-governor-markell/

http://www.delawareonline.com/story/news/education/2016/01/04/opt-out-veto/78270050/

https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2016/01/04/opt-out-heats-up-again-during-arctic-chill/

1/5/16

https://kavips.wordpress.com/2016/01/05/the-pros-and-cons-of-opting-out-of-the-smarter-balanced-assessment/

http://elizabethscheinberg.blogspot.com/2016/01/dear-rep-jaques-youre-wrong-but-its-not.html

https://kilroysdelaware.wordpress.com/2016/01/05/breaking-news-delaware-state-rep-jaques-masturbates-gov-markell-in-public/

https://kilroysdelaware.wordpress.com/2016/01/05/rep-mike-ramone-playing-the-political-fence-re-testing-opt-out/

http://delawarestatenews.net/schools/15006/

https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2016/01/05/dsea-supports-opt-out-all-dsea-members-need-to-support-the-override-of-markells-veto/

1/6/16

https://gadflyonthewallblog.wordpress.com/2016/01/06/my-daughter-is-not-a-widget/

http://www.delawareonline.com/story/opinion/contributors/2016/01/06/importance-overriding-veto/78361916/

http://delawarepublic.org/post/smarter-balanced-opt-out-supporters-aim-push-bill-past-governors-veto#stream/0

https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2016/01/06/african-american-opt-out-in-delaware-part-1-the-lomax-factor/

http://www.delawareonline.com/story/opinion/contributors/2016/01/06/opt-out-veto-override-vote-students-teachers/78362468/

https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2016/01/06/governor-markell-gives-godowsky-authority-to-replace-sbac-with-sat-without-general-assembly-approval-or-an-executive-order/

https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2016/01/06/kowalko-to-ask-for-suspension-of-rules-to-override-markells-veto-of-house-bill-50-this-is-the-minefield-legislators-are-stuck-in/

https://delawarefirststate.wordpress.com/2016/01/06/sat-to-replace-smarter-in-11th-grade-in-delaware-less-testing-is-a-good-thing-but-are-there-unintended-consequences/

http://delawarepublic.org/post/state-will-drop-smarter-balanced-sat-official-11th-grade-test#stream/0

http://www.delawareonline.com/story/news/2016/01/06/juniors-wont-have-take-smarter-balanced-exam/78367630/

https://kilroysdelaware.wordpress.com/2016/01/06/delaware-governor-markell-chokes-on-his-soap-on-the-rope-re-student-testing/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/delaware-scraps-state-assessment-for-high-school-juniors/2016/01/06/3f7c8c6a-b4cf-11e5-8abc-d09392edc612_story.html

1/7/16

http://www.delawareonline.com/story/opinion/readers/2016/01/07/letters-editor-greedy-dupont/78410616/

http://www.delawareliberal.net/2016/01/07/the-general-assembly-needs-to-override-the-governors-veto-of-opt-out-bill/

http://delawareway.blogspot.com/2016/01/will-legislature-stand-up-for-their.html

https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2016/01/07/secretary-godowsky-and-governor-markell-recklessly-whitewash-the-satsbac-debacle-while-violating-state-federal-law/

http://www.doverpost.com/news/20160107/sat-replacing-smarter-balanced-assessment-for-high-school-juniors-

https://kilroysdelaware.wordpress.com/2016/01/07/delaware-governor-markell-should-be-required-to-register-as-a-child-abuser/

https://transparentchristina.wordpress.com/2016/01/07/warning-gates-is-infiltrating-opt-out/

1/8/16

https://kilroysdelaware.wordpress.com/2016/01/08/one-mother-to-another-mother-governor-markell-re-test-op-out/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/delaware-should-not-make-it-okay-for-parents-to-opt-their-kids-out-of-testing/2016/01/08/36cd6410-b586-11e5-a76a-0b5145e8679a_story.html

https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2016/01/08/governor-markell-sends-the-washington-post-editorial-hit-squad-to-disrespect-delaware-parents-even-more/

1/9/16

https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2016/01/09/house-bill-50-gives-protection-for-student-rights-and-honors-parental-rights/

https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2016/01/09/delaware-house-republicans-weigh-in-on-veto-override-of-house-bill-50/

https://delawarefirststate.wordpress.com/2016/01/09/the-washington-post-article-chimes-in-about-de-parents-opting-out-and-the-needed-data/

https://kilroysdelaware.wordpress.com/2016/01/09/washington-post-throws-gov-markell-a-rope-as-it-slap-de-pta/

https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2016/01/09/frederika-jenner-jeff-taschner-dsea-needs-to-side-with-parents-on-the-veto-override-of-house-bill-50/

1/10/16

https://delawarefirststate.wordpress.com/2016/01/10/letter-from-state-pta-to-delaware-legislators-asking-them-to-support-house-bill-50-veto-override/

https://www.facebook.com/GovernorMarkell/?fref=ts

https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2016/01/10/governor-markell-takes-it-to-facebook-and-receives-the-beat-down-of-his-life/

1/11/16

http://www.wdel.com/story/72793-education-budget-city-crime-top-priorities-in-upcoming-legislative-session

https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2016/01/11/red-clay-education-association-officially-supporting-house-bill-50-veto-override-and-more/

1/12/16

https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2016/01/12/for-the-love-of-god-godowski-what-are-you-even-talking-about-and-general-assembly-a-no-is-a-no-to-your-constituents/

http://www.wrdetv.com/index.cfm?&ref=60200&ref2=3461

http://www.wboc.com/story/30948519/2016-legislative-session-begins-in-delaware

http://www.wmdt.com/news/more-local-news/de-rep-senators-explain-their-points-of-emphasis-for-148th-gen-assembly/37399824

1/13/16

http://www.doverpost.com/article/20160113/NEWS/160119913

 

Red Clay Education Association Officially Supporting House Bill 50 Veto Override!!! And More!

While it isn’t the DSEA, the Red Clay Education Association officially voted tonight to support the House Bill 50 Veto Override.  Thank you the members of the RCEA for doing this.  The Red Clay Consolidated School District Board of Education passed a board policy honoring opt-out a couple months ago, so it looks like Red Clay supports opt-out all over the district.

Mike Matthews, the President of RCEA, just posted this on Facebook:

At tonight’s Representative Council, the Red Clay Education Association took an official position of support for the legislature to override Gov. Jack Markell‘s veto of HB 50, the Parent Opt Out Bill.

The rally the Delaware PTA is sponsoring will be held on Thursday, 1/14, at 1pm on the steps of Legislative Hall in Dover.  All parents and students are encouraged to attend to lend support.  As well, the Delaware PTA petition is still live:

https://www.change.org/p/delaware-state-house-vote-to-override-delaware-hb50-veto

State Rep. John Kowalko will be asking for a suspension of rules when the Delaware House of Representatives meets in legislative session on Thursday.  A suspension of rules, which would prevent House Bill 50 from going back to the House Education Committee led by State Rep. Earl Jaques, would open up House Bill 50 for a vote by the State Representatives.  If the suspension of rules doesn’t go through, it doesn’t mean all hope is lost.  It would be up to Jaques to allow the bill to be heard in the House Education Committee.  It would go through the same process as last Spring if it progresses from there: House Education Committee to Full House Vote to Senate Education Committee to full Senate vote, assuming it passed each step along the way.

This has been a very long journey for many of us supporting this bill, and probably for those who oppose it as well.  While some may question the importance of it, and why it is such a big deal, I would hope those people understand this bill is about student and parent rights.  I have heard someone say it is a waste of “political capital”.  I wouldn’t say that at all.  Every bill in the General Assembly is important to someone.  To myself, there are certainly matters (like the state budget) that take on more public importance than House Bill 50, but this one that hits very close to home for a lot of parents.

Governor Markell Takes It To Facebook And Receives The Beat Down Of His Life!

Has Jack Markell ever lost anything?  Any of his races for elected official?  Cause this is a guy who is so drunk with power he doesn’t realize when he is beat.  He cannot admit he is wrong on the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  He is holding on for dear life to his failed ideology like it is his lifeline.  I don’t get it.  As I said on his Facebook post (see below), he has done far more for the opt-out movement than anything I ever could.  By writing what he did today, he is causing even more people to unite against him.  Sure, 48 people liked his post.  Among them, the Delaware Department of Education, members of his staff, Donna Johnson and some people I’ve never heard of before in my life.  But the comments… I love it!

To see the action, cause I’m sure by the time I post this there will be more comments to read, please go to Jack Markell’s Facebook page.  I would like to say one thing to our “education” Governor.  Spell-check should point out spelling errors on most social media.  I’m really not sure what “musn’t” is, but I know I mustn’t bust you too much on it…

We musn’t undermine such an important tool for understanding whether our children are learning and our schools are improving.

Schools could damage an important measure of accountability.
  1. Gov. Markell’s education agenda has failed. And he’s flailing about to hold on to anything to keep his precious standardized tests. It would be an important tool IF our governor used the results of the past six years to ACTUALLY support needy schools. He hasn’t. Read here for more. And please share the article: http://www.delawareonline.com/…/opt-out-veto…/78362468/
  2.  I agree with Kim Williams State Representative, 19th District ” If the assessment gave meaningful data to a teacher immediately on individual students, I would agree. My question to the writers, how is this a useful tool if the test comes seven months later, after the student has been promoted to the next grade? What are we learning from this needed data? Is the state developing educational programs from this needed data or are we just going to continue to label schools with this needed data? Are we going to continue to tell communities that your school is failing with this needed data? Are we going to tell these communities that we are going to continue to collect the needed data for another 20 years ignoring what we already know that we do not properly fund what the needed data has been telling us for years -that there is no funding for ELL students, we do not fund Basic Special Education Kindergarten through 3rd grade, and that we have been ignoring poverty since the needed data has been collected? So why would anyone continue to support this state assessment when the needed data has been screaming at us for years what our state needs?”
  3. with all due respect, SBAC does not give parents valid information about their children. It’s not a true growth model, it does not inform instruction ( results are received after the student moves to the next grade), it’s a test designed to trick students rather than encourage them to think outside the box,this bill is about parental rights. The people spoke! The democratic process happened . You did not support that which saddens me. I know you believe you did the right thing but you didn’t! Please reconsider! Give parents back their choices and their voices!
  4. Jack Markell what drugs are you using???? Seriously. I want to know. I want to become just as delusional as you are. You see, I am both a parent AND a teacher who has given the SBAC test, and I have yet to see how it is such an important tool to “understand whether our children are learning and our schools are improving.” Are you trying to start a new Jim Jones style cult? Which flavor of Kool-Aid are you serving? Oh, and since you are hell-bent on taking away parents’ rights, I will be dropping off my daughter at your office after school tomorrow, mmmm-kay????
  5. This is not an important tool and I will determine whether my child participates in this test or not. And I chose not. I do not agree with this test (no matter what you are calling it this year) or with the current system of education as it stands.
  6. We had tests years ago to measure this and we all ACTUALLY learned things. Teaching to prepare for tests does NOTHING but give our children anxiety. Let’s go back to actually teaching our children!!
  7. I used to like you governor. When I was a student twenty five years ago we took standardized testing but our teachers still taught us art, math, science. Free thinking. They weren’t just teaching to lead up to the test….this is why other countries are beating us.
  8. How about teach the way the children learn, not teach them the test. How about increasing the school’s budget so they can hire better teachers and more of them? How about we put the responsibility back on the student to learn rather than fault the teacher? Have you been in the classroom to see what teachers are forced to endure? Its no wonder children aren’t learning when teachers are spending 40 mins trying to get a class to settle down. 
  9. To address this in its entirety, please stop issuing guidance and rhetoric on why parents should stop advocating for their children. Unless the child is a “ward of the state” stay out of my house and what I believe is best for my children.
  10. I refuse to teach because of standardized tests and the way we have handicapped teachers. I, also am a liberal. But we must understand we are a nation of 300 million plus not every kid will be a scientist or straight A student. Go back to standardized tests as just a gauge on how kids are doing, not on wether teachers will be fired or students course work will change. Stop forcing teachers to change their classes around for one or two students who need IEPs. And if your a parent DO YOUR JOB and stop demanding ridiculous things from your teachers and education departments.
  11. These standardized tests are not a gauge of what kids are learning. Other older tests did a better job of that.
  12. Sir, this is why I will never teach in a classroom either. When I work with a child, I will do whatever it takes to get that child to be successful. I measure that child’s success on only themselves and their needs. 
  13. Governor, the tests and the publishing companies who sell them to us are not being undermined. Teachers, students, and parents who stand for real education and respect are being undermined.
  14. Wow! Is there anything else left to say, Governor? #HeresYourSign
  15. Unfortunately, Jack, the turnaround time between test administration and the receipt of scores undermines your argument.
  16. Wrong here Governor
  17. OMG Governor Markell, are you kidding me? Did you really think you were going to get a lot of support on here? Listen to what the people are saying. Just…give…up… It’s over. This could have gone a lot differently, but you had to keep poking the parent bear, over and over again. Your fighting opt-out did far more for the cause than anything I ever did. You have probably caused at least 10-20 more parents to opt out just by posting this. Maybe more. The Smarter Balanced Assessment will never be respected in Delaware. Not by those that REALLY matter: the voting public. You may have your buddies in the DOE, and Rodel, and all that, but at the end of the day, the people have spoken, and they say NO!!!!
  18. My daughter, who tests scores are always above grade level, both, for DCAS and Smarter Balance, got palpitations and I had to rushed her to the A.I. DuPont hospital last May, after three weeks of testing period. It is not about having the children tested, is about which test and how it is done. I agree children have to be tested but I don’t think all these testing combined is done right, otherwise, children wouldn’t be under this sort of stress.
  19. Everyone’s being all nice about this. How about a different prospective. How dare undermine my child’s education for some BS test score to satisfy you federal grant requirements… Just like everything else government has had a hand in, thanks for doing your part in killing our education system. You don’t know what’s best for everyone else’s kids and you should never have a say in it. You need to opt yourself out of our lives…
  20. Mike Matthews article: “Under Markell’s administration, educators have had to tolerate an evaluation system that disrespects their performance in the classroom and lends far too much credence to a standardized test that has changed three times in six years. Using test scores to judge teachers in all of our schools — but especially our least-supported and most challenging schools — is just dumb and has been disavowed by the American Statistical Association.”
  21. That’s why most teachers send their children to private schools cause they know the real deal! Standardized testing is all about politics and money! Truthfully I don’t like how my daughter being taught in school! I’m looking for other alternatives!
  22. There is a direct correlation between those tests scores and poverty levels in schools. We don’t need another measure of poverty….we need solutions.
  23. Standardized testing is NOT an accurate indicator of student learning. If you do not have teachers who are capable of grading students accurately based on their body of work and how much they have progressed or not, then you need better teachers. Standardized tests are junk!
  24. I don’t have nearly the eloquence of some of your other constituents who have already spoken. But I am one more so thinks these tests need to be reconsidered. As a mom of three who works closely with their teachers, as a volunteer who had done Read Assist tutoring, I have yet to hear ONE educational professional speak of these tests positively.
  25. Give our classrooms back to our teachers.
  26. Not many teachers support the damn tests because the whole curriculum is based on them and teachers have no flexibility. There has got to be other ways to measure student’s progress. Also cutting or reducing funding to low performing schools accomplishes nothing positive. It just makes it harder for poorer schools to compete.
  27. Yes we should and yes I will ! Teacher are too worried about a test then actually teaching our children
  28. We as parents should have every rite to opt out if its our choice they are our children and the government or any one else should mind there busy unless our children are being physically harmed
  29. As long as teachers are being held accountable on DPAS for these scores, students will continue to be taught to the test. Therein lies the problem.
  30. Did someone forget a T? Maybe we should be testing our government officials for culpability and competence?
  31. Students opt out whether you like it or not. Giving the parents an option to pull them instead allows you to account for students who otherwise draw pictures on these tests.
  32. I don’t agree I just found out my son has scored horribly on these test but he was tested to be in a gifted program…. We have to do better as a whole for this children
  33. Amazing , how our elected officials should be voting and deciding on issues in the manner the public wants ! I don’t have children, but seems to be all about $. If we score high more grants ….. Forget the grants and give the people what they want for their children .Better idea, all that money we give to the refugees that are allowed to come to Delaware give that to the schools and make the public happy.
  34. Everyone should make themselves familiar with their local elected officials
  35. State representatives and state senators and blow their email boxes and phone lines up !
  36. These people should be doing what people want , if not vote them out. 
  37. I attended school in the 50’s and 60’s I have children who attended in the 80’s, 90’s and now have 2 daughters currently in elementary school. I’ve served on school boards and my wife is a teacher. What I have personally experienced and witnessed is the systematic in 50+ years is the systematic dumbing down of our public education in this country.
  38. We, the parents, and the teachers know if our kids are
  39. Get rid of “common core” and bring back “common sense”
  40. How about removing common core from Delaware’s education system as well?
  41. So teaching only what is on the test so each school can brag about how they’re doing is ok?
  42. Grow a skin, buckle up and do what is expected. Stop seeking reasons to not. This test may not be the best in reasoning but to the the few that are boo boo whining please enough. What’s next ? Opting out of mid terms? (Editor’s note: always a naysayer in a group!)
  43. If this is so good for the kids and the schools, tell us why !
  44. Maybe if there is this much opposition to these tests, we need to look at alternative assessments???
  45. Does it matter Jack? Delaware public schools are horrible.
  46. No testing should happen twice a year but teaching shouldn’t be the answers on the test!!!
  47. These tests are a complete waste of resources!
  48. The error is in thinking there is a single standard for intellect.
  49. Don’t say “we” and “our;” they’re not your kids, you arrogant dictator. (Editor’s Note: One of my favorites)
  50. Which is why we now homeschool.
  51. These tests do not help anyone. (Editor’s note: Yes they do, many hedge fund managers, testing companies, and Governor Markell’s stock portfolio and his golden ticket post-Governor job)
  52. I could not disagree more
  53. Hit the road, Jack. (Editor’s Note, another one of my favorites)
  54. Let’s vote on it.
  55. Nobody asked you for your opinion sir
  56. BS 
  57. Your tool SUCKS!

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.

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?

Governor Markell Sends The Washington Post Editorial Hit Squad To Disrespect Delaware Parents Even More

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. 

 

Kowalko To Ask For Suspension Of Rules To Override Markell’s Veto Of House Bill 50, This Is The Minefield Legislators Are Stuck In

Delaware State Rep. John Kowalko issued a letter today to his colleagues in the General Assembly.  He will be asking for a suspension of rules to bring the House Bill 50 veto override to the floor of the Delaware House of Representatives on January 14th.  For a suspension of rules to happen, a majority vote will determine this.  Unlike the veto override, which requires 3/5ths of both the House and Senate for that to happen.  From what I am hearing, many legislators have stated they will vote yes for the veto override, but would vote no for the suspension of rules.  The suspension of rules would prevent the bill from getting bottlenecked in the education committee.  Do not even think you can duck out of even voting for the veto override by voting no on a suspension of rules.  That is political suicide this year.

This is the minefield of Delaware politics.  Even though the majority of legislators vote yes for suspension of rules all the time on June 30th when they push bills through without the public ever knowing about them, they are going to make a stand now?  Seriously?  General Assembly, I have this to say to you: a vote of no on suspension of rules is the same as a vote of no for the veto override.  At least in my eyes.  Parents don’t care about your parlor games and rules.  They care about their kids.  So get your heads in the game and do the right thing for parents.  Enough.  You are turning all of this into a war, with Markell on one side and the voice of the people on the other.  Just do the right thing here.  If you don’t know what that is, err on the side of your constituents and not a lame-duck Governor who will probably give Delaware students free surf and turf lunches for the rest of the year at the rate he’s going.  He is already seriously on the edge of violating multiple Delaware laws with his latest SAT/SBAC stunt, and you know this.  How much longer are you going to give this Governor the authority to do whatever he pleases?

In the meantime, thank you to Rep. Kowalko for his respect and sincerity with the below letter sent to his colleagues today.

KowalkoHB50VetoOverrideSuspensionOfRules

Opt-Out Heats Up Again During Arctic Chill

Here we go again!  The opt-out movement is back!  And smack dab in the middle of it all is Delaware’s 62 legislators in the House and Senate.  Matthew Albright with the News Journal wrote about the Veto Override of House Bill 50.  There are some great quotes in here… and then there is Earl…

“If you’re a Democrat, and the governor’s a Democrat, you have to think long and hard, ‘Do I want to override my governor?” said Rep. Earl Jaques, D-Glasgow, chairman of the House Education Committee. “It has to be a really big issue for you to do that.”

Jaques was one of five representatives who voted against House Bill 50. He says parents already have the right to opt out, so he doesn’t understand the need for a new law.

Earl, Earl, Earl… when are you going to get what this is all about?  I’ve already put Earl in the no column on this.  I don’t expect him to change his vote at all.  There is no law when it comes to parents opting out, thus House Bill 50!!!  It protects the parents, but it is more than obvious Earl wants to side with the Governor.  Luckily, State Rep. John Kowalko is able to comment on this insanity with a breath of fresh air”

“If it’s a good policy, you voted for it because it’s a good policy,” Kowalko said. “That policy does not change its makeup just because the governor has decided that he doesn’t like it. If we start considering another branch of government as dictating to us how our decisions should be made, we are seriously compromising our rights as an independent body.”

State Rep. Mike Ramone is once again thinking this is all about the amount of testing kids take.  Mike, I’m going to tell you right now I have never once heard from any parent about any other test but the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  Parents don’t want to opt out of any other test but the Smarter Balanced.  Once again, those who are pro “assessment inventory” are missing some basic facts.  When DCAS was around, it was taken two to three times a year depending on how the students did on the first Spring test.  If they didn’t hit proficiency, they had to take it again.  That’s when parents were talking about “too much testing”.  But what happens when we do get rid of the assessments that do matter in favor of SBAC and the interim assessments that accompany it?  Then you will have opt-out and NO assessments that give good feedback.  I am not anti-assessment.  Like the PTA, I support assessments that give timely feedback with a validated test.    I already gave my predictions on the final results for the Assessment Inventory Committee.  But Ramone… does he realize what House Bill 50 actually is?

Ramone also said he wants to see a statewide process for opting out, since the current rules are a patchwork of district-by district rules.

A statewide process for opting out?  It’s called House Bill 50.  It specifically states when schools would receive letters from parents and that students who are opted out need to receive another form of instruction.  Does he want us to do it through the DOE?  That would be a never-ending nightmare!  Let’s not muddy the waters any more Mike.  House Bill 50 is what it is.  You are either for parental rights or you’re not.  At the end of the day, this is what it all boils down to.  Something Delaware PTA President Dr. Terri Hodges agrees with:

“The message we’re trying to send is that parents and teachers and the community have spoken,” said Terri Hodges, the PTA’s president. “We are hoping our legislators honor the will of the people and follow their original vote.”

I am already hearing the DOE is talking about Smarter Balanced results coming in before kids leave school for summer.  I saw that one coming a mile away!  This will be another one of their attempts to dissuade legislators from voting for the override.  “Look, parents said they wanted quicker feedback.  We’re going to make that happen.”  But no matter when the results come in, we have to face facts.  The Smarter Balanced Assessment is a BAD test.  Period.  I am all for getting rid of SBAC for high school juniors.  But I am also for getting rid of it for ALL Delaware students. Until that happens, parents will opt out, and there isn’t a damn thing anyone can do about it.  Yes, the legislators do need to look at the reasons why.  I won’t disagree with that.  But talking about it doesn’t do anything for parents.  The legislators who voted for the Smarter Balanced Assessment knew there were issues with it.  But they voted it in anyways.  This is the consequence of that action.  Yes, Murphy already bought the test.  We all know that.  But look at the results.  Has it changed anything for our students?  Not really.  It has brought disruption and chaos to our children’s education.  The only ones who support this assessment are the very ones who seem to profit, whether financially or through an illusion of success by having “great scores”.

As for the infamous letter the ten Democrats sent Governor Markell about the SAT replacing the Smarter Balanced Assessment, this is NOT their idea.  The Delaware DOE has been talking about this publicly since last May.  The College Board is redesigning the SAT to be more like the Smarter Balanced and make it all about the Common Core.  So guess what, it’s not like it will be that much of an improvement.  Can’t wait to see those SAT scores on top of Delaware’s already horrible scores.

This is a bill that comes down to basic and fundamental parental rights.  Meanwhile, over 200 parents have already signed the Delaware PTA Petition.  More will sign as well before it is all said and done.  This is a battle parents aren’t giving up on.  We won’t stop until our rights are protected.  I am frankly shocked that some legislators would rather see parents fighting with schools than overriding a ridiculous veto by a Governor who is so entrenched in corporate education reform he can’t see the forest from the trees.

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!!!!!!!!!

Delaware House Reps and Senators Who Support The House Bill 50 Veto Override And Those Who Don’t

Updated 1/1/16, 9:20pm

I sent an email to all the Delaware House Representatives and Senators on 12/29/15 asking for their support of House Bill 50.  An override of a Governor’s veto in Delaware requires a 3/5th vote by both the House and the Senate which cannot be done on the same day.  The House would introduce it, and if passed, it would go to the Senate.  This is the email I sent to each one of them:

Dear (name inserted)

I am asking for your public support of the House Bill 50 Veto Override in the 148th General Assembly this year. I would like to publicly announce your intention to vote yes on this historic legislation. We all know the reasons why a yes vote is needed on this and the immoral and disgusting behavior surrounding those who are attempting to dissuade you from voting yes on the override.

 This is a simple bill about honoring rights that already exist for a parent and stopping the bullying and intimidation by Governor Markell, the Delaware Department of Education, the State Board of Education, special interest groups in Delaware and across the country, and fellow legislators who appear to care more about what they think than the voice of the people.

I understand the legislative process and the need to compromise in certain situations. But this is not the time to cave in to those. This is a time where your political future will depend on THIS vote.

Please understand that no matter how you respond, I will be continually publishing those who support this and those who do not. An inability to respond to this will be viewed by thousands as not caring at all about the issue. If you are voting no, please let the people know and let them know why you are voting no. Also keep in mind I will debunk many of your reasons very publicly.

While some of you may view this letter as that of arrogance and putting you in a no-win situation, I choose to see it as an opportunity to let the people know you support them no matter what. I did not create this situation to begin with. We have Governor Markell, who chose to ignore your votes, to thank for this mess. You have the ability to fix that.

Respectfully,

Kevin Ohlandt

The following are the responses received from the Delaware State Representatives and Senators.  A yes is for the veto override, and a no is against the override. Continue reading “Delaware House Reps and Senators Who Support The House Bill 50 Veto Override And Those Who Don’t”

Governor Markell’s Secret Weapons Against House Bill 50 Veto Override Exposed!

The manipulation behind the scenes with House Bill 50 is never-ending!  Delaware Governor Jack Markell vetoed the bill in July but he knows the General Assembly will attempt to override his veto.  To that end, he has been working feverishly behind the curtain to make sure it does not pass!  The drums of war are beating on both sides.  The problem with Jack Markell is how he views himself.  He truly believes he is infallible.  He is just a man.  A man who leaves enough breadcrumbs on the way that anyone who follows his trail can see them visibly.

To truly understand the process, you have to think like the Governor.  Anticipating his next moves can be difficult, but he does have very clear patterns.  We know he is calling many House Reps in Delaware and begging them to vote no on the House Bill 50 veto override.  We know he hates the opt-out movement as it interferes with his corporate education reform plans for Rodel The Delaware Business Roundtable The Aspen Institute The Southern Regional Education Board American Institutes for Research McKinsey Charter Schools Hedge Fund Managers His Own Ed-Stock Portfolio Delaware in a big way.

As the legislators return to Legislative Hall in two weeks, the conversation about the HB50 override is going to become very loud.  This is how Jack is going to try to publicly sway the legislators and Delaware into thinking the override shouldn’t pass, followed by my counter to each and every point:

  1. The US DOE issued letters stating they will take away money from states who don’t hit participation marks two years in a row.  Go ahead and take the money.  By supporting this you are effectively saying money is more important than parental rights.  And to clarify, it is Title I administrative funding, not the entire Title I funding pool.  The feds are inviting parents to take part in a class action lawsuit against all this.
  2. The Assessment Inventory Task Force currently meeting will eliminate “unnecessary and redundant testing”.  It will eliminate all but those assessments tied to the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  It will not reduce the amount of testing, it will increase the amount of preparatory and interim assessments for the Smarter Balanced Assessment.
  3. It would be a violation of civil rights to pass it.  The Smarter Balanced Assessment IS a violation of civil rights.  It puts the most at-risk students in a position where they are inadvertently labeled as failures based on a once a year test score.
  4. An override of MY veto would be a tremendous amount of disrespect to my office and my legacy.  Because your legacy is something to be proud of?  Most of the legislators can’t stand you.  Even the Democrats.  They think you are a dictator!  The power of democracy is a series of checks and balances to prevent one voice from deciding what is best for the people.
  5. We are going to get rid of Smarter Balanced for 11th graders and make the SAT the state assessment for high school juniors.  The College Board overhauled the SAT to make it more like the Smarter Balanced, PARCC, and other state assessments tied to Common Core.  Whether you call it an apple or an orange, it is still a piece of crap.
  6. The Every Student Succeeds Act is going to cause us to take a holistic and methodical look at state assessments and gives states more control over the implementation of state assessments.  To which Penny Schwinn at the DOE publicly said Delaware is already in line with what came out of the ESSA.  Funny how that happened.  Stuff the DOE implemented the past few years just happens to be what is in the ESSA?  I smell a festering rat!
  7. We will see editorials from Rodel, The Delaware Business Roundtable, Civil Rights groups, certain teachers who have been swayed to the Dark Side, and corporate education reformers about why the General Assembly shouldn’t pass the override.  See the News Journal in the coming weeks and months…
  8. The Smarter Balanced Assessment is a work in progress and we need an accurate measurement of student progress so we can determine how to help the instruction of students.  We haven’t heard one word about a reduction in Smarter Balanced Assessment test-taking time.  The window for schools to take the test is the same as last year.  The results show what we have always known.  Students with disabilities, low-income, African-American, or English Language Learners do not perform as well as their peers on these tests.  It has to be that way because if all the gaps were closed there would be no need for a state assessment or “fixing” our schools.  Duh…
  9. We may be looking at ways to not have the Smarter Balanced results tie in so heavily with teacher evaluations.  Because that worked out so well for Governor Cuomo in New York!  The parents there don’t care what he says, they are still going to opt out this year.  They are committed to doubling their opt-out numbers from 200,000 to 400,000 this year.  This is also an attempt to get teachers to stop supporting opt-out.  Good luck with that one.  They may have been momentarily fooled by ESSA, but they aren’t stupid.  And as long as bloggers like myself and others will point out the machinations behind the scenes (the vendor contracts, the state DOEs, “guidance” from the feds), we will blast a hole so large in that one a freighter jet could pass through it.
  10. It will undermine a district’s ability to effectively teach children and will disrupt the learning environment.  The Smarter Balanced Assessment IS a disruption to the learning environment and forces teachers to instruct students based on what is on the test.  Duh 2.0…
  11. History has shown schools that teach effectively are able to close the achievement gaps and have huge improvements in scores.  Yes, we call these charter schools which have high turnaround, charters who pick and choose which students go there, districts that change their feeder patterns, and even magnet and vocational schools that can and historically show their ability to pick students.  Yet, we also see that East Side Charter School, which was praised up and down for their “growth” in 2014-2015, did  no better than other schools with similar demographics on the Smarter Balanced Assessment which really makes me wonder how they were able to grow so much.
  12. It will cause teachers and schools to pick who takes the test to make their numbers look better.  Seriously?  With all the heat from the opt-out movement and the very definitive laws surrounding state assessment participation, do you really think schools would be idiotic enough to exclude students from taking the test?  They know the DOE monitors every burp and hiccup with the testing.  They know their schools and districts have DOE sympathizers in them who will rat them out in a New York minute.  Teachers are afraid for their jobs 90% of the time over this foolish test and what it will mean for their evaluations.  Do you really think they would throw their career away like that?
  13. Parents of students with disabilities are the biggest supporters of opt-out and we are going to take a hard look at why that is and what we can do about it.  Yeah right!  If that were the case, you wouldn’t be expecting the proficiency rate for these kids to go from 19% this year to 59% by 2021.  Give me a break!

We know the lengths the DOE went to in keeping the opt-out penalties for the Delaware School Success Framework very quiet.  We know Secretary Godowsky did a 180 degree turnaround on the issue.  We know the DOE falsely cited US DOE policy in allowing this to even be in there.  We know the committee the DOE picked to handle the formation of the Delaware School Success Framework unanimously voted NOT to have the opt-out multiplier penalty in the DSSF.  So with all that going on surrounding the harsh opt-out penalties it would have been the perfect time for the Delaware DOE to announce the letter from the US DOE about funding cuts due to low participation rates.  They did not.  They could have done this at the final meeting of the Accountability Framework Working Group.  They could have done this at the State Board of Education meeting in November when they voted on it.  Why would they not use the biggest weapon in their arsenal?

They knew they didn’t have to and they were saving it for a rainy day.  Governor Markell picked each member of the State Board of Education.  He controls how they vote 99% of the time.  But the votes are 100% in his favor.  He knew they would vote on the opt-out penalties even though everyone else was saying no.  He was hoping to bring this out in January when the legislators return.  He knows House Bill 50 will come up for an override.  He wanted to squeeze this in there at the last possible moment.  I can picture it now, sending his education policy advisor Lindsay O’Mara or Godowsky into Legislative Hall: “Look, there IS funding cuts coming.  We have to stop this from happening!  You must vote no”.

Now how would I jump to this conclusion?  Like I said earlier, it is all about the bread crumbs.  In their work session on October 15th, the State Board of Education asked Ryan Reyna with the DOE to get more information about the opt-out penalty on the DSSF.

The letter to the US DOE was dated 11/2/15.  In this day and age, this information is most likely emailed and mailed to the State Education Agencies, in this case the Delaware DOE.  Penny Schwinn and Carolyn Lazar were cc:ed on this as well, so they would have had this information for the State Board retreat.  In the below document, when the AFWG recommendations are presented to the State Board, the minutes reflect very careful avoidance of discussing the US DOE letter and Secretary Godowsky’s recommendation to include the opt-out multiplier.

That night I received word of Godowsky’s recommendation and wrote about it right away.  The very next day, the State Board recorder of minutes was very careful to now include notes about the previous day.

Finally, at the State Board of Education meeting when this came up for a vote, there is NO mention about the US DOE letter whatsoever.  Donna Johnson, the Executive Director of the State Board of Education, would have been well aware of this letter.  And by default, so would the State Board.  Yet, in the very long discussion around the opt-out penalty, nobody mentions this.  That is because they were told not to.  And that decision could have only come from Governor Markell.  Godowsky was the main recipient of the US DOE letter.  The Secretary of Education is a Cabinet position in the State of Delaware.  The only figure higher than him is the Governor.

This is “The Delaware Way”.  In the past, nobody would have known about any of this.  What changed?  Myself and others who are keeping a very close eye on any and all activity of the Delaware DOE, things that are said, things that are not said, and what is announced in public session through audio recordings or minutes.

Make no mistake, any legislator who flips on their House Bill 50 votes will be given a very public lashing.  Any legislator who votes no will be given a very public lashing.  If you think you can hide behind a collective vote, you are very wrong.  I will treat each of your votes as an individual vote.  Thank you to Delaware Liberal for announcing which legislators will face re-election this year.  Your vote will be a symbol of who you are as an elected official of the citizens of Delaware.  If you side with Markell on this, no amount of excuses or reasoning will allow you to escape unscathed.  We will all know why you did it.  And I will leave no stone unturned after your no vote.  I don’t care if you are Democrat or Republican.  I will scorch the political earth you walk on.  If you are worried about Jack Markell, then you truly do not understand the lengths parents will go to.  I truly don’t care about “political etiquette” or any of that nonsense.  You can vote for the Governor or you can vote for the people.  It is your choice.  I’m just advising you way ahead of time what will happen if you vote no.  I don’t care how nice you are or what a great person you are.  I don’t care if we have allied in the past over issues or legislation.  I will make it my goal in 2016 to make your life a living hell.  And I will not be alone.  I already have a list of names in the General Assembly.  You have time to change your mind.  But once your vote is cast, good luck!  And if you aren’t running again, I will pound on every single piece of legislation you put out there and will gather others to help.  I will make anything you do look tarnished and soiled.  Because if you can’t represent and honor the rights of parents, you can’t do anything in Legislative Hall.

Parent Opt-Out Veto Override Rally 1/14/16, I Know What You Have Been Up To Governor Markell

The Delaware PTA is hosting a parent rally at Legislative Hall in Dover on January 14th, at 2pm.  This event is changed from January 12th.  Please make every effort to attend: parents, students, citizens, teachers, administrators, superintendents, charter heads, and anyone else you can think of.  The latest bomb from the US DOE about opt-out is a slap in the face of every single parent of a child in public school America.  We need to make this standardized high-stakes testing madness stop.  Take off work that day, bring your kids, and support the God-given, fundamental and constitutional rights of parents.  This is YOUR moment.  Do not let it pass.  For school employees, bring the students on a field trip that day and show them how democracy in America works best.  This is about parents rights, pure and simple.  This is not a civil rights issue.  If anything, the Smarter Balanced Assessment has proven how disgusting and vile one test can cause illusions and perceptions about students who have the most needs for instruction.  And if you are the parent of a brilliant child who did great on the test, that is excellent.  Your child is going to be brilliant either way and doesn’t need this money-wasting time-consuming test to tell you what you already know.

I’VE HEARD FROM SEVERAL FOLKS THAT GOVERNOR MARKELL IS CALLING ALL OF THE HOUSE REPS AND ASKING FOR THEIR SUPPORT IN NOT VOTING YES TO THE OVERRIDE OF HOUSE BILL 50.  While everyone who told me this asked me not to share it, and I pretended with each one this was the first time I heard it, it is far too many for my comfort zone.  Jack Markell is telling legislators about how it would be so disrespectful to his office if they override HIS veto.  Sorry Jack, this is not YOUR bill.  This is not YOUR decision.  Our legislators sided with parents over your diabolically insane testing mentality.  You are a bully.  You do not care about parents.  How many of your children took the Smarter Balanced Assessment?  We both know the answer to that one!

FOR OUR DELAWARE LEGISLATORS: If you vote no to the veto, you are nothing more than a bully.  You are a pawn of Governor Markell and you care more about disrespecting one already disrespectful person than thousands of your constituents.  You serve Delaware.  The People of Delaware.  Not Jack Alan Markell.  The people.  A no vote on the veto could very well cost you your re-election if you are up again next year.  And if you aren’t running or don’t face the ballot until a later date, good luck getting any support from the thousands of Delaware parents who have been spit on, disrespected, bullied and intimidated.  I know for a fact some of you have already given your support to Jack on this issue.  I would think long and hard about that costly mistake if I were you.  Republicans and Democrats alike.  This is not the time for you to lend support to a failed Governor on education.  Seven out of twelve states who received the latest US DOE threat letter were Smarter Balanced Assessment states.  Do more than override the veto. Get rid of Smarter Balanced, and come up with a meaningful and productive assessment for our students without all the strings attached.  We don’t need to hire outside consultants and companies to do this.  We don’t need to spend tens of millions of dollars to do this.  We have the teachers and educators in our very own state to come up with something better for our children.  And as for you John Carney, you need to get your head out of the clouds and oppose Markell’s bullying tactics.  Loudly and clearly.  Stop being quiet on everything and just assuming you are a shoe-in on Election Day.  That is weak and tiring, and Delaware deserves better than that.

FOR GOVERNOR MARKELL: Do you hear that?  That is the sound of parents becoming more important than you.  That is the sound of the legislators in your state supporting those same parents and honoring their rights.  It rang like a bell on June 25th when the Delaware Senate cleared the final passage of House Bill 50, and it will ring again when they override your veto.  This is your legacy.  This is your thumbprint on Delaware: causing parents to rise in opposition to a tyrannical eight years of you.  We are done with you.  We are casting you aside and praying the next one is infinitely better.  For all the talk you had about education, you are no better than a school yard bully taunting those you believe are weaker than you.  We are stronger than you and we will show you once and for all how much stronger we are.  We know you taunt and tease our legislators with threats about not supporting this bill or that bill, or how you use your executive power to make promises when it comes to the budget.  We know you allowed Rodel to use their influence so you could hand-pick your leaders in the Delaware DOE and your unelected members of the State Board of Education.  We know which legislators are in your pocket.  No more.  Your power is waning and you know it.  Instead of succumbing to the will of the people you actually think exerting more power will make people listen.  No.  You are done.

As a state, we need to STOP making every single education decision that is surrounded by the measurements of standardized assessments.  The Wilmington Education Improvement Commission is doing it.  Our schools do it.  Our DOE certainly does it.  Our businesses aligned with Markell and Rodel do it.  Enough.  What about YOUR child.  What about their INDIVIDUAL rights?  Do they mean anything anymore?

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!