A Time For Promises Fulfilled And A Restoration Of Honor: The General Assembly’s True Test This Week

The worst time I ever had blogging was last January.  Once I heard the Governor was rounding up his posse of legislators to vote no on the override of his veto on House Bill 50, I knew it wasn’t going to happen.  There were events that day I didn’t count on, but they happened.  But it is time for State Rep. Mike Ramone to live up to the promise he made to me that day.

To give a quick refresher, the Delaware House and Senate passed House Bill 50 last year, a parent opt out bill honoring their right and preventing schools from giving parents a hard time.  Governor Markell vetoed the bill.  On the third day the General Assembly was back in session this year, State Rep. John Kowalko brought HB50 back.  But first, a suspension of rules had to happen to get it on the agenda for a full House vote.  The majority of the legislators voted no on the suspension of rules.  For whatever reason, many of them didn’t want to vote on overriding the veto.  To make matters worse, many House Republicans introduced new opt out legislation.  One was a House Resolution, which passed, directing Secretary Godowsky to come up with uniform policies for opt out.  This report was due by May 1st.   Another was a bill to remove opt out from any accountability ratings.  The accountability bill was never heard from the House Education Committee.

Secretary Godowsky did honor the resolution.  I’ve heard two different stories with this report.  One was that it was submitted to State Rep. Joe Miro, the sponsor of the resolution.  The other was that it was submitted to State Rep. Earl Jaques, who is also the Chair of the House Education Committee.  That would mean Jaques has been sitting on this for well over a month and a half with no intention of doing anything with it.  Either way, this was never made public.  Miro told me well over a month ago the report was “vanilla”, meaning it didn’t do anything.  I’m not sure what the real story is, but I don’t really care.  Nothing happened with either of the bills the House Republicans introduced.  And now it is time for State Rep. Mike Ramone to keep his word.  On January 14th, when the House refused to suspend the rules, Ramone promised me they would bring back House Bill 50 if nothing happened with the new legislation they introduced that day.  Guess what Ramone?  Nothing happened.  And I don’t want to hear one word about next January.  You made a deal with me and I expect you to honor it.  There were enough people that overheard you say this.  Now only Kowalko can put forth a suspension of rules for it as the bill’s sponsor in the House.  But I expect Ramone and the House Republicans to fully support the suspension of rules and the override of the veto.  House Bill 50 is on the ready list.  But this can happen.  It has to.  It is time.  There is no more House Bill 50 after June 30th.

The Senate can’t vote on an override of a veto on the same day, but I hope if the House does the right thing, the Senate will have it up for a vote the next day.  If not, I fully hope Senator Dave Lawson will request a suspension of rules as the Senate co-sponsor of the bill.  I’ve waited patiently, along with countless other parents, for our General Assembly to do the right thing here.  They unanimously passed a bill in the House that would make the Smarter Balanced an option in teacher evaluations.  This is it General Assembly.  You have three days to do this.  Elections are coming up for a lot of you.  Parents and teachers are a large portion of your voters.  Are you really going to keep disrespecting parents like this?  This is your chance to make up for past mistakes.  It’s up to you.  The only reason the Delaware PTA isn’t pushing this is because they were cut off at the knees by National PTA.  But trust me, the people still want this.  All you have to do is truly listen.

 

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Kowalko Talks House Bill 50, Opt Out, & The Will Of The People On Delaware Way With Larry Mendte

Delaware State Rep. John Kowalko appeared on “The Delaware Way” with host Larry Mendte last week to discuss parent opt out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment and  the veto override of House Bill 50 and the bill’s chances.  Citing the bill sits on the House Ready List, Kowalko blamed State Rep. Pete Schwartzkopf, the Delaware Speaker of the House, for letting the bill just sit there.  Even Mendte said polling in the state suggests the people overwhelmingly want this bill.  Kowalko felt it wasn’t right for the Governor to usurp the will of the people and the General Assembly with his veto.

15 Who Made An Impact In 2015: Hodges & Johnson

DEPTA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

Dr. Terri L Hodges,

State PTA President

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

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

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

Delaware Governor Jack Markell Vetoes House Bill 50, Parent Opt-Out Legislation

I’m hearing Governor Markell has just vetoed House Bill 50, the parent opt-out bill that overwhelmingly passed the State House of Represenatives and State Senate in June.  The 148th General Assembly can still override the bill when they return to legislative session in January 2016.  More details to come.

Don’t Even Think About It Jack! Do Not Be Cowards Like Senators Coons & Carper! #SignHB50NOW!

Governor Markell, do not even think about acting like our very cowardly  Delaware U.S. Sentaors Chris Coons and Thomas Carper did today with their “nay” votes on the opt-out amendment in S.1177.  You have a duty to serve the people of Delaware, and we elect the legislators that write our laws.  They overwhelmingly supported House Bill 50, our parent opt-out law.  The 64 U.S. Senators who voted no on this amendment, including our own, do not realize it is NOT a state right to allow opt-out.  It is a parent’s right.  Pure and simple.  By doing nothing with this bill, you are spitting in the face of every single parent in the state you govern.  You are telling them their rights don’t matter, that it’s okay for schools to treat parents like crap.  I’ve told you repeatedly, on here, on Facebook, on Twitter, and in an email I sent you that you replied to: your legacy in Delaware is at stake with this one bill.  Because it is over this one test, the one you labeled as the “best test Delaware ever made”.  Only someone who could somehow profit over a standardized assessment that has been repeatedly proven to be the WORST test ever made would say something so foolish.  If you don’t step up for your state, for the citizens you serve, than how can you possibly think of moving on politically?  This is not about civil rights groups, and you damn well know that.  This is about honor and respect.  This is about a parent’s choice.  For their children.  I won’t come to your house and tell you how to raise your children, so don’t you dare come into mine and tell me this is the best thing for my child.   Sign the bill Jack.  Sign it tomorrow.

Governor Markell Is Claiming The General Assembly Hasn’t Sent Him House Bill 50…He Still Doesn’t Like The Bill…

Commenter Delawareway posted the following earlier this afternoon:

Kevin, check out the interview on WHYY’s First this week with Markell. He gets a few whammers and gives a sour-faced, lame-ass delivery when answering all of the reporter’s ‘difficult’ education policy digs.

And Jack Markell is going with the crap talk that testing policy is a civil right in defense of ‘not liking HB 50 – the opt out bill.

The governor claims that the legislature hasn’t ‘sent him the bill yet’. FABRICATION. He calls for which bill he wants and, because the DEMs are in charge, he is in COMPLETE control of when he will be facing the rule of the 10 days to decide to sign a bill or not after receipt from the legis.

She claims Governor Markell is full of it!  When I called Governor Markell’s office about this, I was promised an answer by the following Monday.  That was a week ago.  What is he waiting for?  For school to be in session so even more parents will be pissed off at him for not signing it yet?

In listening to the interview with WHYY, he had a lot of “uhs” and “uhms” when asked about the opt-out bill.  He gave the usual “falling through the cracks” in supporting the civil rights groups.  Here’s one for you Jack: my kid is special needs, which is supported by several civil rights groups who do support parent opt-out.  Sign the damn bill!

You can listen to the Governor uh and uhm about opt-out here:

http://video.whyy.org/video/2365526201/

Red Clay Superintendent Merv Daugherty Hints Governor Jack Markell May Not Veto Parent Opt-Out Bill

Will Delaware Governor Jack Markell veto House Bill 50, the parent opt-out legislation in Delaware that passed the House of Representatives and Senate in the First State in June?  According to Red Clay Consolidated School District Superintendent Dr. Merv Daugherty, indications are pointing to him not vetoing the controversial bill.  At their board meeting on Wednesday July 8th, Daugherty said the district is preparing for the legislation to take place later in the summer.  He indicated the district may have to notify parents in both September and in the Winter so they are given the options at the start of the school year and prior to the next round of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.

Weeks later, and Markell has not even asked for House Bill 50 to be brought to his desk.  Once he does that, if he fails to do anything with the legislation, it passes into law in ten days.  The opt-out legislation would stop Delaware schools and the Delaware Department of Education from bullying and intimidating parents when they decide to opt their child out of the high-stakes assessment.  As well, it would stop the opt-out students from counting in the school’s accountability rating and would not count against teachers in their evaluations.  Sponsored by State Rep. John Kowalko, a Democrat, and State Senator Dave Lawson, a Republican, the legislation had a five month battle in many areas of Delaware: schools, Legislative Hall, the DOE, the Governor’s office, homes, and on social and print media.

In New York, New Jersey, and the state of Washington, many opt-outs went far below the 95% Federal threshold for test participation.  Threats of federal funding cuts have been just that: empty threats.  Despite all the posturing and bullying by both the US DOE and the Delaware DOE, no school has received funding cuts due to opt-out by parents.  While the Smarter Balanced Assessment scores haven’t been released yet in Delaware, it looks like high school juniors may have gone below the 95% mark.

Governor Jack Markell Has 10 Days To Sign Opt-Out Bill AFTER He Requests It @Governor Markell #SignHB50NOW

Delaware Governor Jack Markell has a big mess on his hands, but it isn’t on his desk.  Most people thought Markell has ten days to sign a bill or it becomes law.  This is NOT the case.  The Governor has to request the bill and then the 10 day clause kicks in.  He could let this bill linger until the end of the 148th General Assembly, which won’t be until June 30th 2016.  What this means for all the supporters of parent opt-out and House Bill 50 is we are not done with our work!

We need to massively email bomb Governor Markell.  We need to post on his Facebook account, and tweet him all day long with the hashtag #SignHB50NOW so he gets as much exposure as possible.  If you want to see his public schedule and you are in the area, please go.  He needs to understand how hard parents fought for this bill, and every day he goes without requesting it is a slap in the face of parents and students.  His email is jack.markell@state.de.us and his Facebook page can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/GovernorMarkell?fref=ts

Even Diane Ravitch wrote about Delaware’s opt-out legislation.  I’ve already commented asking her readers to do the same thing we need to do.  We can’t afford to wait, because the longer we do, the longer nothing happens.  And before you know it, the Smarter Balanced Assessment will be back in our schools and parents will be intimidated over opt-out, schools will be held accountable for the test, and all our fight would have been for nothing.

House Bill 50 Update And Other Education Legislation That Passed In The Wee Hours Of The Morning Yesterday

House Bill 50 is waiting.  No action has been taken by Delaware Governor Jack Markell on the parent opt-out legislation.  Matt Albright with the News Journal spoke with Jonathan Dworkin, the spokesman for Governor Markell, and wrote yesterday:

“Markell has not asked for H.B. 50 to be delivered to his desk yet, Dworkin said. Once he receives the bill, he has 10 days to veto it; if he doesn’t, it becomes law with or without his signature.

That means the Legislature would have to wait for a veto override vote until next year unless they call a special session, which is unlikely.”

I checked Delaware state code, and found the following:

“Section 18. Every bill which shall have passed both Houses of the General Assembly shall, before it becomes law, be presented to the Governor;”

The key part concerning this seems to be “presented to the Governor”.  Whose job is it to present a bill to Markell?  The last place House Bill 50 sat in was the Delaware Senate and they passed the bill a week ago today.   I contacted Markell’s office, and they indicated he has ten days to take action on a bill, but when I asked specifically about the bill being “presented”, they did not have an answer but did indicate they would check on that aspect as well as the status of the bill and would get back to me either later today or Monday since their offices are closed tomorrow.

Meanwhile, other education bills passed both the Delaware House and Senate and are also awaiting a signature from Markell.  In no short order:

House Bill 91, passed 7/1, Sponsor: Rep. Sean Matthews, Synopsis: This bill involves the public school immunization program. Currently, the Affidavit of Religious Belief does not expressly alert parents or guardians who file for the religious exemption from the program that the child will be temporarily excluded from school in the event of an epidemic of a vaccine preventable disease. This bill amends the required affidavit so parents or guardians are directly made aware of the possibility of the child’s temporary exclusion from school. The bill also adds that the asserted cause of a medical exemption may be subject to review and approval by the Division of Public Health. Additionally, the bill would require the Division of Public Health to declare an outbreak, rather than the current language of an epidemic throughout the State or a particular definable region thereof.

House Joint Resolution #6 w/House Amendment #1, passed 7/1,  Sponsor: Rep. Earl Jaques, This House Joint Resolution directs the DPAS II Advisory Committee to review and make recommendations to the current educator evaluation system. This Resolution also limits the State Department of Education’s ability to propose changes to certain sections of the Administrative Code.

Senate Bill #61, passed 7/1, Sponsor: Senator David Sokola, This Act clarifies that school buses are not exempt from the requirement to stop at railroad grade crossings regulated by a traffic-control signal or at railroad grade crossings protected by crossing gates or flashing lights. Section 4163 currently is contrary to best safety practices requiring that school buses stop at these types of crossings to ensure optimal safety for students.
This Act also makes additional changes to § 4163 in keeping with the grammar and style guidelines of the Delaware Legislative Drafting Manual.

Senate Bill #62, passed 7/1, Sponsor: Senator David Sokola, This Act updates the minimum insurance coverage requirements for school transportation to reflect current industry standards.

Senate Bill #94, passed 7/1, Sponsor: Senator Brian Bushweller, This Act requires the Department to develop a regulation for the identification of a “military-connected youth”. The Act further provides that this identification is not a public record, is protected by the federal Family Educational and Privacy Act and shall not be used for purposes of determining school achievement, growth or performance. The purpose of this identification is to ensure the necessary individuals at the school level are aware of any military connected youth for services and supports.

Senate Concurrent Resolution #29, passed 7/1, Sponsor: Senator Bethany Hall-Long, This concurrent resolution establishes the Behavioral and Mental Health Task Force to examine mental health in the State of Delaware and make recommendations for the improvement of services and the mental healthcare system. *editor’s note: while this is not a direct education bill, many students would benefit from a better mental health care system in the state

Senate Concurrent Resolution #39, passed 7/1, Sponsor: Senator Colin Bonini,  This Concurrent Resolution forms a working group to make a recommendation as to whether or not the Budget Bill should continue to be treated as a simple majority Bill.  *editor’s note: this working group will take a hard look at funding for charter schools, University of Delaware, and Delaware State University.  Since they are considered corporations under state law, and corporations need a 3/4 majority vote for passage, and currently the budget bill only needs a majority vote, this group will examine this legal anomaly.

Senate Joint Resolution #2 w/Senate Amendment #1, passed 7/1, Sponsors: Senator David Sokola and Rep. Earl Jaques, The amount of testing required of our students and educators has grown significantly in recent years. While the General Assembly recognizes the need to administer assessments that provide valid and reliable data about how Delaware’s students are growing academically, it is also committed to maximizing time in the classroom for our educators to teach, and our students to learn.
The Department of Education is already coordinating an inventory of all assessments required at the state, district, and school level. This Joint Resolution requires the Department of Education to report the inventory results, and any assessments that districts or the state propose to eliminate, to the public and to the House and Senate Education Committees of the General Assembly. It also requires the Department to convene a group, consisting of members of the General Assembly and the public, to conduct an in-depth review of the inventory results and make recommendations for consolidation or elimination of assessments. 

Senate Joint Resolution #4, passed 7/1, Sponsor: Senator David Sokola, While Delaware is deeply committed to preparing every child to reach his or her full potential and succeed in the new economy, the State will not be able to build a world-class education system for its children without modernizing the 70-year-old education funding system. This Joint Resolution establishes the Education Funding Improvement Commission to conduct a comprehensive review of Delaware’s public education funding system and make recommendations to modernize and strengthen the system. The Commission will include stakeholders from across the education system and will submit a report and recommendations to the Governor and General Assembly no later than March 31, 2016. 

House Bill #184, passed 6/30, Sponsor: Rep. Deb Heffernan, This bill establishes a mechanism for persons receiving special education services pursuant to an active Individual Education Plan until the age of 21 to receive license to drive.

House Joint Resolution #7, passed 6/30, Sponsor: Rep. Kim Williams, Recognizing (1) that many of our educators are assuming greater levels of responsibility and demonstrating leadership in their classrooms and schools, (2) that our current educator compensation system does not reflect the work we value in our educators or provide them with a meaningful career pathway or ability to earn additional compensation for assuming additional responsibility, and (3) that we must retain and attract great educators to ensure that our students are prepared to compete in an increasingly global economy, this bill re-establishes the Committee to Advance Educator Compensation and Careers in addition to establishing two sub-committees: the Educator Work Group and the Technical Advisory Group. The Committee will continue its work in developing a plan for an alternative compensation structure and career pathway for educators aligned with the parameters set forth in Senate Bill No. 254, including providing educators with a meaningful career pathway, including higher starting salaries and recognition for working with high-needs students, and significant leadership opportunities for career advancement that keeps talented educators in the classroom.   The Committee must submit updated recommendations to the Governor by March 31st, 2016 with sufficient detail for implementing legislation, and will continue to meet thereafter to issue subsequent recommendations for consideration. 

I will be updating the page on this blog entitled “Education Bills in the 148th General Assembly” over the next week and as Markell makes decisions on these as well.  I also intend to go through all the legislation that was passed over and is left in limbo until January 2016.

The #SignHB50NOW Party For @GovernorMarkell Begins NOW @UnitedOptOut @BadassParents @ParentalRights

https://twitter.com/hashtag/signhb50now

Delaware will have a parent opt-out bill IF Governor Jack Markell.  Our House and Senate passed it last week.  Our legislative session ends Tuesday at midnight.  We need the Governor to sign this bill! Retweet, post on Facebook everywhere, tell your friends, tell your enemies, scream it from the rooftops “SIGN HB 50 NOW Governor Markell!”  His Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/GovernorMarkell?fref=ts and I would post this on any education article you see on there.  Message him.  Email him.  His email is jack.markell@state.de.us and tell him why you want this bill signed.  This isn’t just for Delaware.  This is for ALL of America.  It’s no secret Markell has his eye on a bigger prize than Delaware.  Trust me when I say we don’t want another Arne Duncan!

Oregon’s Governor signed legislation very similar to this the other day.  Let’s make it a two-peat America!

The People Speak On House Bill 50, And The Vast Majority Want Governor Jack Markell To Sign It

In Delaware, there is one place folks can visit to get a true barometer on the overall feeling about an issue, and that is the Delawareonline Facebook page.  This website for the News Journal draws a crowd, and some of the commenters aren’t so nice.  Now that House Bill 50 is sitting on Governor Markell’s desk, I have to wonder if he is bothering to see the state mood on this subject.  These are the comments I was seeing on Delawareonline’s Facebook page based on their June 26th article on the Senate vote, but without the actual poster names for obvious reasons of privacy:

Education needs to be brought back to the classrooms. My kids do not need to go to school everyday to be taught how to study for these state tests. To much focus is on them.

I agree with this measure mandatory standardized tests have taken the creativity out of the classroom. Teachers are now forced to teach to the test.

Teachers will still have to do this

Unfortunately I know. I think they need to reevaluate this system for all students

Exactly..totally agree..most teachers I know hate these tests now!

Those of you that don’t agree with opt out should be in my classroom with the kids who are crying, stressed out, and feel defeated when they have to take a test that is full of flaws. Seriously. I am not against testing. Many give great information. I am against kids who barely speak English being forced to take a test. I am against kids with special needs being denied accommodations they get everyday that they can’t have on testing day because it isn’t on an approved list. I’m also against a test that does not give me results until AFTER my class is gone. How does that help anyone? Before you judge, come talk to the children.

My experience of state standardized tests in school were stress inducing nightmares…

If you ask the frontline teachers what they think about this year’s standardized test, you’ll see why why we fought for the right to opt our children out. Doesn’t mean we will in every case, but my kids won’t be subjected to a test that was predetermined to have a 70% failure rate. Can you imagine the pressure the schools will be under to produce good numbers? There is just too much incentive for schools to exclude low-scoring students and fudge numbers. I trust the teachers who told me about SBA test and until the come out with a better version, my child won’t be taking it. Go ask the teachers…you trust them with your children; trust their opinion of this current testing.

Too much time spent teaching for tests vs teaching how to be productive in life.

The Common Core-associated standardized tests do nothing for the student or, in most cases, the teacher. It’s not really a question of dropping new standards – it’s a question of testing with purpose.

The Feds need to get out of education and return it where it belongs….and where it excelled…to local control

Standardized testing, in its present format, Smarter Balance is a nightmare. I speak as a mother of both a LD and non LD child. Weeks of times wasted on pre-tests, post tests then the actual test. And common core, don’t get me started…Nothing more stupid then taking simple math and trying to turn it into rocket science. Education in DE is a train wreck. My kids didn’t take the SBA this year, and I will exercise my right to opt them out again next year if the same test remains. 

it’s been a train wreck ever since the state seized power from the local school boards, and started dictating what’s best for us.

Standardized testing is horrible. It’s quite clear that it benefits nobody and stresses kids out because teachers pretty much have to drill the information in. There a very specific way things have to be taught to pass that test. I was in Indiana for majority of my school career. I took the standardized state testing in 1st, 3rd, 5th, 9th, and finally 10th which by the way the 10th grade IStep is the test that determines whether you graduate on time as if students at that grade level aren’t already stressed out enough. Curriculums are fine. Tells teachers what they need to teach now how they need to teach it. Not everyone learns OR tests the same. Standardized testing is only beneficial for the student with the brain that understands everything right away. They suck. Get rid of them. 

It started with NCLB, rolled into RFE, now SBA. They’re all just throwing something at the wall to see if it sticks. Guess what, it’s not sticking.

They want us to differentiate instruction but then turn around and give the same test to everyone. I don’t get it! Just let me teach!

I’m a conservative libertarian and a teacher, (non-union, thanks for asking!) The theory that using excessive, arbitrary testing improves education is ridiculous. All it does is poke at a symptom, it doesn’t solve the problems you think need solving (quite the opposite.) As in, teachers tenure and, ‘inability to be fired regardless of performance’ is another symptom. Schools that are not performing is a symptom of a much greater set of problems. Testing the bejeezus out of kids with different strengths, different learning styles, etc. to try to prove that a teacher is bad, is useless in the grand scheme, as it would be if a manager of a large company assumed that every worker under his care did everything exactly the same way. It only measures one VERY finite, tip of the iceberg skill: do these children take this particular test well? That’s it! Want to raise the standards? Let teachers TEACH! Which clearly the woman quoted in this article doesn’t think is possible, because apparently the only way one knows of a child is struggling is low standardized test scores…. otherwise, oh no, they’ll, “fall through the cracks!” Apparently, teachers are incapable of knowing when students are having a hard time otherwise. To clarify: this doesn’t mean allowing unions to dictate, (or the state to dictate, or the fed to dictate.) It means allowing TEACHERS in their classrooms to guage the abilities, strengths and weaknesses of the kids, and go from there. Otherwise, homeschool for goodness sake!

Follow the $$$ and see who sells the tests to the state and what politicians they support

I opted my children out. For four weeks my daughers were to either sit in the office or library and read. They do not give opted out children assignments or instruction time. When I found out after the first day, I put together things for them to do. My oldest needed help strengthening her math skills so I had her do that and my youngest her reading. Both significantly improved which would not have happened if they were testing. These test aren’t days, they are weeks now that expand half the day where nothing is being taught.

So then what’s the point of enforcing Common Core?

Common Core is terrible.

Make your voices heard! Tell Markell how you really feel about the standardized tests!!!

Standardized testing is a joke. Kids past first or second grade know it doesn’t count towards their grades so they don’t take them seriously.

Look at U.S. on a global scale people.. making excuses about why kids are failing isnt gonna help.. yes all kids are different but the knowledge should be the same.. more and more kids focus on social lives instead of education for the future.. maybe just maybe its not the tests fault they fail.. it rest on the teachers and parents to teach and the kids to learn if any of those aren’t doing their part of course they will have trouble where others don’t

stop making excuses for children that cant keep up with the standards,, you are only lowering the standards of our education system.keep dumbing down our children and we will have the next generation of Burger King fippers…

Why would anyone want their kids to opt out? That is so stupid. I took all the tests I could. They were fun!

There are a lot more test now than before, some taking weeks out of instruction time. If you have children be grateful that they aren’t disabled. I opted out my disabled daughter because she has struggled taking these tests. Her learning style is different than her peers. They do not cater to children that need certain accommodations.

And I understand that. Obviously they are catering to your disabled daughter due to her special needs. I have two step daughters who are also disabled. They are grown now, so I do know what you are talking about. I just think it is not right for “normal” kids to opt out. Where will that leave them when they are required to test for positions later in life?

This is for opting out of the yearly standardized testing. They still have to take all the regular classroom tests and exams. A standardized test prepares them for nothing and is a waste of classroom time

The results for the smarter balanced won’t even be out until mid-summer sometime. How is that helpful? And kids aren’t allowed to brag anymore. My son couldn’t be given his honor roll award in class because other kids might feel bad…

Here is all I can say. The school does not cater to children who have a learning disability by automatically opting them out. My daughter has taken them before and it took me to contact the superintendent to finally get her to stop. Even after several IEP meetings I still had to go above the school. Like **** states, regular classroom test are the best way for teachers to see how each individual student is doing. I opted out my other child who is not disabled. While her peers spent weeks taking a test she took the time to strengthen skills that she struggled with. She now excels and may not have if she had stopped to take a test that puts even more unneeded pressure on her. Kids are learning more advanced skills earlier than when I was in school. I understand we have different perceptions, as your children are now adults, but with children currently in elementary trust me, things have seriously changed. I think if you did a bit of research you will be surprised about how much it has.

My daughter is in the Autism Spectrum. High functioning. The state tests stressed her out unnecessarily. Her mainstream teacher said she felt it was an ‘insult to her dignity’. I opted her out.

the tests don’t lead to any success for the children. There is no relation between this type of testing and the required testing later in life. Those types of tests are more like you and I took in our school years. Just take a deeper look is all I ask. 

Veto the bill, Governor. Let’s stop letting the losers win.

Markell is for himself not DE (Delaware) be glad when he is gone.

We need to get back to teaching.

NBC 10 news just reported that Markell would veto the bill. (Editor’s Note: No they didn’t.  If fact I reached out to their Delaware reporter Tim Furlong who thanked me for letting him know the bill passed but he was on vacation.  There has been zero reporting of Markell even speaking out on House Bill 50 since it passed on Thursday.)

It’ll come back to haunt him if he does. I want to know who has him in their pocket and what is he getting for supporting a sub-par test. The truth will come out when some investigative reporting shows the money trail.

Our kids can’t be standardized so why should we use a standardized test to judge them, their teachers, and schools?

Isn’t that what their grades are for? Requiring an honor roll student to take a standardized test is a waste of time

Like law makers don’t have better things to do. Parents have known the test is crap and has controlled teaching for 30 years.

State tests were a waste of time in the 50’s & 60’s, let the teachers teach, the students study and get rid of at least 50% of the useless so called administrators!!!

This (is) dumb. It lets the teachers know where the kids stand!

Actually, most teachers I have talked to are against these new tests.. its all politics now..and the teachers have to teach to the test instead of having the creative freedom they used to have

As a teacher my classroom assessments tell me way more than any standardized test will. These standardized tests are written knowing that 70% of students will not be proficient. And kids don’t have any incentive- they are not tied to grades, grade promotion, or graduation. So they click through and randomly answer questions. This absolutely does not tell me what they know!!!

Let the people speak

Why bother, kids can fail every class and still get promoted to next grade. Why even go to school??

Oh thank you dear masters and overlords for allowing us to have the teensiest say in our childrens’ lives.

I took those dumb test and they did nothing for me. Except give me stress of if I was going to pass or not. It didn’t help for anything outside of school. Honestly who looks at these test scores? Any place I’ve tried to go to college at hasn’t asked me about these dumb tests. So why take them?

As it is plain to see, people don’t want this test, agree with opt-out, and a rising number of voices in Delaware don’t want Common Core either for their kids.  If you listen to the News Journal (who survives on advertising revenue from many of the same groups who opposed House Bill 50) and commenters over on Kilroy’s Delaware, it is a “handful” or “some” parents who support opt-out.  They have always wanted to lessen the impact of opt-out because of their own vested interests with these matters.

Markell has three choices: Veto the bill, sign it, or allow it to become law after ten days (legislative days which would bring it into January).  I say this:

SIGN THE BILL JACK!

My Gift From Senator Dave Lawson After House Bill 50 Passed The Delaware Senate

HB50VoteSheet

If Markell Signs House Bill 50, What Will The Actual Opt-Out Law Be?

The engrossed version of House Bill 50 is now available on the Delaware General Assembly website.  I am really hoping Governor Jack Markell does the right thing here and honors parents.  It could be a matter of days folks.  Keep in mind that even if the Governor does veto this, the General Assembly can override it.  They may not be able to do it by June 30th, but they can certainly do it by January 2016.  The next year of Smarter Balanced Assessment won’t even start until well after that, so we would be okay.

House Bill 50 Going To Governor Markell Hits Lots Of Delaware Media Today

Aside from here, many other news outlets jumped on the Delaware Senate passing House Bill 50:

http://www.newsworks.org/index.php/local/item/83489-delaware-opt-out-bill-heads-to-governor

http://www.delawareonline.com/story/news/education/2015/06/25/lawmakers-ok-letting-students-skip-standardized-testing/29287065/

http://www.wboc.com/story/29410170/final-approval-for-bill-allowing-students-to-skip-tests

http://delawarepublic.org/post/opt-out-bill-passes-senate-heads-gov-markell

All eyes are on Governor Markell…

What Will Delaware Governor Jack Markell Do With The House & Senate Passed Opt-Out Bill, House Bill 50?

The Delaware Senate just passed House Bill 50 by a vote of 15-6.  The very controversial parent opt-out bill now travels to Delaware Governor Jack Markell’s desk.  Will he sign it?  Veto it?  I just asked his Education Policy Advisor Lindsey O’Mara and she does not know what he is going to do.

If he vetoes the bill, he faces the wrath of many Delaware parents.  If he signs the bill he is sure to tick off US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and a legion of corporate education reformers in Delaware.  Whatever the result, the passage of this bill in the 148th General Assembly honors a parents right to opt their child out of standardized assessments in Delaware.  It will also prevent schools or the state Department of Education from bullying or intimidating parents when they choose to opt their child out.  It shows respect and tolerance of parent wishes which is the heart of the legislation.

Thank you to State Rep. John Kowalko and Senator Dave Lawson for sponsoring the bill, along with the Delaware PTA who came through time and time again.  As well, the Delaware State Educators Association, and the hundreds of parents who fought very hard for this bill.  This is a major victory and you should all be proud!

House Bill 50 Senate Vote: 15 Yes, 6 No, House Bill 50 Passes!!!!!

It looks like they are following the agenda today, and House Bill 50 is #5 on the list.  While we are waiting, I’ll update you on the latest.  Senator Bryan Townsend appeared in a WDEL article and discussed parent opt-out.  He indicated he supports the bill, it is coming back to the Senate, and “after the House stripped the amendment off that I put on, and I’m OK with that,” and reporter Frank Gerace said “Townsend supports the bill, even without his amendment.”   So that sounds like one definitive yes vote today!  Seven Delaware senators voted no last week out of the 21 present.  Exactly one-third of the Senate.

The current bill, Senate Bill 51, is taking a while, but listening to the testimony it is a very important bill about child witnesses.  Roll call on an amendment for SB51 happening now.  It passed.  The actual bill passed as well.

They are going off the agenda now.  Senator Henry is bringing in the Nelson Mandela Washington Fellows studying this summer at the University of Delaware.  All of them are from different countries in Africa.  Very cool!

We are back on the agenda.  Sokola deferred item #3.  Onto item #4…deferred.  House Bill 50 is up!  Being read into consideration right now with the amendments.  Lindsey O’Mara just walked in the room.  Sokola is explaining how Senate Amendment #2 was stricken.  Townsend is explaining he is okay with his amendment being stripped.  He is defending his amendment.  “They are able to drive and hunt,” and he is echoing what Senator Bonini said last week.  Townsend just said the fiercest parents are basing legislator votes as a high-stakes test for them.  Lavelle said he wants to opt-out of the vote.  Sokola opposes.

HOUSE BILL 50 PASSED!!!!!!

Forget Firefly! Forget Big Barrell! The Biggest Tour This Summer Is HB50! Go To Legislative Hall & Hear The Vote At 2pm!!!

The HB50 tour continues!  Next stop, a return engagement to the Delaware Senate Chamber today at 2pm.  This may be their last stop in this building, and we are all hoping for a final show at what I like to call “desk of Markell”.  The HB50 tour has been going non-stop since February, and they are tired and need a rest.  They never give up though and will keep going until they are heard.  So please check out the HB50 today at Legislative Hall in Dover at 2pm.  There are other bands playing, and HB50 is 5th on the list, but that is subject to change.  Get there early for a side-seat or a back-row seat.  Nobody wants to be up in the balcony for this one!

House Bill 50 On Senate Agenda For Thursday 6/25, Sokola Does Not Want This Bill In An Election Cycle

That was extremely fast.  House Bill 50 is on the Senate agenda for tomorrow, June 25th.  For someone who dragged this bill on and on, he sure is putting the fast track on it now.  Is that cause he is up for re-election next year?  If I were him with all the bad press he has been getting on the blogs lately, I wouldn’t want this bill shadowing me going into campaign season.  But will he allow the bill to reach Markell’s desk, or will he place even more amendments on it?  We will find out tomorrow.  From the http://legis.delaware.gov website….

Note : PLEASE NOTE: Thursday, June 25, 2015 – HB 140 – (Sen. Sokola) SJR 5 – Sen. McDowell HB 50 (Sen. Sokola)

House Bill 50’s Wild Ride In The House Passes With New Amendment, Back To The Senate….

After a crazy failure for House Bill 50, the legislation was reconsidered with the originally failed House Amendment #2, which passed the second time around, and then the whole bill passed.  Now it goes back to the Senate.  Trust me, I’m confused, but maybe this will help.  Timeline time:

House Bill 50 timeline:

3/12/15: Introduced by Rep. John Kowalko and Senator Dave Lawson

4/22/15: House Education Committee releases bill from committee, brings it to full House Vote

5/7/15: House Amendment #1 added by Rep. Sean Matthews removing “state assessment” and changing it to just “Smarter Balanced Assessment”, passes House

6/11/15: Senate Education Committee releases bill from committee for full Senate vote

6/17/15: Senator David Sokola adds Senate Amendment #1, changing “Smarter Balanced Assessment” to all “state assessments and district-wide assessments”, passes Senate

6/17/15: Senator Bryan Townsend adds Senate Amendment #2, allowing high school juniors to opt-out of the assessment, passes Senate

6/17/15: Senate passes House Bill 50, but because two amendments were added, it goes back to the House

6/23/15: Rep. Jeff Spiegelman introduces House Amendment #2 which takes away Townsend’s Senate Amendment #2, fails to get enough votes

6/23/15: House Bill 50 fails 2nd House vote, bill is dead

6/23/15: Rep. Spiegelman asks for reconsideration of vote on House Bill 50 under Delaware House of Representatives House Rule #41, House passes motion

6/23/15: House passes House Amendment #2

6/23/15: House passes House Bill 50 again

Now it goes back to the Senate.  Whether it will be heard by next Tuesday or if it extends it until January when the 148th General Assembly is back in session is unknown.  But what I do know is this.  I blame all of this on three people: Rep. Earl Jaques, Senator David Sokola, and Senator Bryan Townsend.  They have played games with this bill and do not care about parents.  And from what I’m hearing Senator Colin Bonini had quite the chuckle after the bill originally failed in the House today.  These are legislators who really don’t care about parents or their rights.  I resisted Spiegelman’s amendment at first cause I just wanted it to pass, but he is absolutely right.  He brought up a point I didn’t think of: what if the junior wants to opt out but the parents don’t want him to?  That would set up some very thorny issues for all involved: student, parent, teacher, school, district, and even the state.  So thank you for your wisdom on this one Rep. Spiegelman!

Our no votes on the 2nd House vote today are as follows: Dukes, Gray, Heffernan, Jaques and Q. Johnson.  Not voting were Barbieri and Bolden.  So all the no votes or absents are the same from the original House vote last month, except for the additions of Gray, Heffernan and Q. Johnson.  What made them flip?

For the 2nd vote on the House Amendment, only Dukes voted no and Barbieri and Bolden didn’t vote.  Three reps had left so there were three absent.

If I were any Delaware parent (I am), I would be absolutely livid at the games being played with this bill.  Shame on Jaques, Sokola and Townsend for not caring enough about parents to even ask them about their bill-killing plans prior to their attempted hijackings.  If I were Townsend, I might want to reconsider that run for Congress.  You ticked off A LOT of voters tonight.