House Bill 50 Fails The 2nd House Vote… 18 Yes Votes Not Enough For 21 Majority! This Is The Senate’s Fault!

These are the votes for HB50 today in the Delaware House.  Remember these no votes and not voting Delaware parents.  And remember Senator Sokola and Bryan Townsend’s role in this as well.  I will make you aware of all their dealing with this.

Barbieri X J. Johnson Y Peterman A
Baumbach Y Q. Johnson N Potter Y
Bennett Y Keeley Y Ramone A
Bolden N Kenton N B. Short Y
Brady Y Kowalko Y D. Short N
Briggs King N Longhurst X M. Smith Y
Carson Y Lynn Y Smyk N
Collins Y Matthews Y Spiegelman N
Dukes N Miro N Viola A
Gray N Mitchell Y K. Williams Y
Heffernan N Mulrooney Y Wilson N
Hensley N Osienski Y Yearick X
Hudson X Outten N Schwartzkopf N
Jaques N Paradee Y

House Bill 50 2nd Vote In Legislative Hall Happening NOW!!!! House Bill 50 DEAD!

The Delaware House of Representatives have been in meetings since 2:40pm.  I am not there, but a friend and Delaware PTA member is there.  The room is filling up, and the legislators are walking in.  I am waiting for the audio to come up on http://legis.delaware.gov website…

I’m hearing the House Republicans want to add an amendment to get rid of Senator Bryan Townsend’s Senate Amendment #2, allowing high school juniors to opt-out of the state assessment.

They have covered items #1, 2, 4 & 5 on the agenda and skipped right over House Bill 50…

House Bill 148 passed the House so if Markell signs this bill, the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission will be created.  I have no doubt Markell will sign this bill…

Not sure if they received it, but I just emailed the House reps not to add another amendment to remove another amendment.  Based on DOE belief, the whole point of all this standardized testing is to improve our PISA scores.  If the last grade they take this is 10th grade, what’s the point of stopping juniors from opting out? Thanks to you-know-who for this very quick info!

A massive thunderstorm is getting ready to roll into Dover… not sure if this will change the itinerary at Leg. Hall.  This is like a Night At The Roxbury with this bill!

Wrong! HB50 is now up!  Jeff Spiegelman is offering an amendment!  Jeff, don’t do it!  The amendment is being read by Pete Schwartzkopf.  It’s being read now. “House Amendment #2 strips the bill of Senate Amendment #2”.  “I’m not sure it’s appropriate for a minor to opt themselves out if it is against the wishes of the parent.” “I’m not sure if that’s the route the state wants to go out with this test.”  Kowalko is talking: “This bill still allows a parent the rights to opt-out.”  “If this bill goes back to the Senate, it’s dead.”  Right on Kowalko!

They are voting on the amendment.  Far too many yes votes right now… Not looking good…lots of no votes at the end.  No votes changing their minds.  18 Yes, 21 No!  Amendment is dead!

Mike Ramone is railing against Kowalko over the amendment.  “It is unacceptable and rude.”  “It is irresponsible.”  Wants them to put the bill back how it was and get it going again in January.  Jaques is going back to the Senate Amendment #1.  “Does that mean no child will be tested in our schools?”  Jaques, you colluded with Sokola on all of this.  You are just as guilty of that amendment and you are trying to kill the bill.

Roll Call:

17 yes votes….

House Bill 50 is dead!

Oregon Governor Kate Brown Signs Opt-Out Legislation Into Law!!!! Will Markell Have The Same Bravery?

Oregon’s House Bill 2655, which allows a parent to opt their child out of standardized assessments, was signed into law today by Democrat Governor Kate Brown.  This bill mandates schools notify parents of their rights to opt-out, provides instructional time for students not taking the test, and provides two school rating systems: those with the opt-out numbers factoring in and ones without.

Today, the Delaware House of Representatives will meet after they get out of caucus, and their own opt-out bill is 3rd on the agenda for today.  Governor Jack Markell has given a ho-hum “I don’t like this bill” and may veto it.  It is not necessarily true, as reported by the News Journal, if the legislators could override the bill.  Timing would be crucial as their legislative sessions ends on June 30th until mid-January of 2016.  Unless they meet again after the session ends to cover an override, which I don’t see happening, the veto could stick.

My Final (Hopefully) Letter To The Delaware House of Representatives on House Bill 50

Good evening Delaware House of Representatives,
There isn’t much more I could say about House Bill 50 that the Delaware PTA’s Laurie Howard hasn’t said already.
I wouldn’t be shocked if the General Assembly retires #50 on all bills so you never have to hear HB50 ever again!  So all I will say is this:
Don’t opt-out of voting yes tomorrow for that parent opt-out bill, amendments and all. 
And please, DO NOT add any more amendments unless you want to guarantee you will hear more on this bill in 2016.  And Reps. Dukes, Barbieri and Jaques, it is not too late to change your mind.  Do the parents of Delaware proud and show them your support this go-around!  That’s all folks!  See you tomorrow!
Respectfully,
Kevin Ohlandt

If You Thought The First Delaware PTA Letter Sent To The House Was Great, Wait Until You See This One! Slam Dunk!

I have to say I am extremely impressed!  Delaware PTA made a very wise choice when they chose Laurie Howard to represent them with the House of Representatives on tomorrow’s House Bill 50 vote.  She tackles the very controversial issues of parent opt-out affecting federal funding and the implications of standardized testing for urban minority kids.  What she essentially did was take all the crap the DOE, Markell, Rodel, and civil rights groups have been throwing our way, put them in a blender, and made some delicious opt-out soup!

This says submission 2 of 3.  What is #3 going to say?  I can’t wait for this!

Delaware PTA’s Very Awesome Letter re: HB50 To House Representatives! Amazing!

The Delaware PTA has done it again!  This time courtesy of one of their VIP members, Laurie Howard.  This letter MUST BE READ by every single House Representative as well as the opponents of House Bill 50.  This letter will make anyone want to opt out of saying no to this bill!

Time To Email The Delaware House Of Representatives Again On House Bill 50, They Need To Opt Out of Saying NO!!!!

The wax on, wax off, wax on, wax off of House Bill 50 continues.  After the Senate passed the bill and added two amendments, it’s going back to the House of Representatives.  While it seems like a slam dunk, the two amendments which add all state and district-wide assessments as well as allowing high school juniors to opt out could change the previous 36-3 vote in the House.  I think it will go through, but you never know.  This is Delaware!!

Here are the House Reps emails, once more, with feeling!

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

 

I’ll Take The Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme, But I’ll Opt Out Of The Parsley!

I thought my recording of the Delaware Senate legislative session covering House Bill 50 would have able to be transcribed, but I’ll have to tinker with it and see if I can muffle some sounds (like the tip tap of me typing live during it).  I especially want to get the part with the Milford special education teacher, Jesse Parsley on here.  I’ll do my best.

Every single teacher I talked to about his testimony thought it was very flawed compared to their experience, including a couple teachers at the very school he teaches at.  None of them had such a flawless Smarter Balanced Assessment implementation.  They ALL took offense about his “teaching to the test” comments and if teachers are doing that then they aren’t doing it right.

Interesting facts continue to come my way about Mr. Parsley.  I’ll hold off on some of them cause I don’t like to go the personal route.  But I find it bizarre to say the least.  It almost seemed as if he was my counter, as a special education teacher, to somehow discount the problems numerous special education teachers and parents of special needs children have been saying.  If nobody else agrees with you, what does that make your testimony in front of a room full of state senators?

I’m sure certain people will take offense I am singling out Mr. Parsley, but he can take the credit for that.  If you want to go public about a controversial topic, you should expect some controversy, especially when most people aren’t on the same page as you.  I’ll opt out of the Parsley thank you very much!

If you are wondering about the odd title, it’s from a Simon and Garfunkel song from back in the 1960’s.  I’m showing my age here (even though I was technically born in the 1970’s).

House Bill 50 Is In The House! Tuesday That Is! Email The House!

I am hearing from sources that House Bill 50 will be on the agenda for another vote by the full House.  I say, at this point in time, just vote yes, not matter what amendments are on it.  I had my anger today, but at the end of the day, it’s still the same bill, codifying a parents right to opt-out.  And making it so schools are held accountable for their actions with opt-out and not accountable for the results of opt-out.  At the end of the day, it’s about that.  I’ve talked to many parents today, and we want this.  Let the chips fall where they may, but let’s bring this to Governor Markell’s desk!

Delaware Parents: You Don’t Need House Bill 50 To Opt-Out

After watching the absolute degrading way some Delaware legislators handled House Bill 50, I find myself no longer caring if this bill passes or not.  With no disrespect to State Rep. Kowalko, Senator Lawson, and the many legislators who supported this bill, but it has become so watered down it is now a joke.  To the parents of Delaware: you have never needed this legislation to opt your child out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  The bill, as originally written, was always meant to stop the bullying and intimidation going on in our schools.  Yes, it codified a parents right to opt-out, but even more important, it offered protection.  This is what Senator Sokola, State Rep. Jaques, the DOE, Rodel, Governor Markell and all the opposition feared the most.

They don’t want schools to NOT be held accountable.  They don’t want teachers to NOT have their evaluations become skewed due to opt-out.  But most of all, they don’t want their data to become tarnished.  Opt-out does that, in spades.  Seeing the opposition in action has absolutely sickened me to my stomach.  These are people who do not give one iota of a crap about parents.  They are in it for themselves: for power, for an imagined standing with God knows what, for money, and for opportunity.  We all know who they are, and if I haven’t made that abundantly clear in the past year, then I will again and again, one by one.

What I can no longer do is keep going to meeting after meeting, watching vote after vote, and keep seeing a mockery made of parents and students.  Politics in Delaware is frightening.  The side deals, the messages scurried back and forth, like little rats trying to get to the prize.  The very fact that legislators and their aides are not subject to FOIA allows for all kinds of shenanigans.  I saw it yesterday as Governor Markell’s Education Policy Advisor, Lindsey O’Mara, was sending notes to legislators and texting Sokola’s legislative assistant Tanner Polce, who would then go to Sokola to say what she said.  What the hell is that?  I’m sure this goes on in politics all the time, and it’s probably not even illegal in this whacked out state, but does that make it right?  No.

We deserve better from our state.  But we continue to vote some of the same people into power again and again and then we scratch our heads and wonder why.  Sokola has been jacking up education in our state for 25 years.  That’s a quarter of a century with a lot of damage.  I’m sure, like most politicians, he had honorable intentions in the beginning.  But now he is a mockery of the office he holds, and I seriously hope a contender comes along and knocks him off his high horse.

I will be writing more about all of this, but I will no longer beg and plead to have my rights honored and those of other parents in our state.  Our rights are there.  You can’t touch them, you can’t see them, but they are as real as the stars in the sky.  Opt your kids out if you don’t like this test.  I will cheer you on the whole time you are doing it, but trying to get laws in place for this I can no longer do in the environment we live in.  What the “evil” legislators are doing is so toxic to children, and they don’t care.  They don’t live in the same world as you or I.  To so many of them, it is about what happens in their chamber at Legislative Hall in Dover.

To the teachers of Delaware: you all need to rise up and finally make a stand.  If you don’t like what is happening with your jobs, then you need to once and for all unite and do it loudly.  But do it right, and do it with pride and dignity and don’t back down.  As the saying goes, “you can’t negotiate with terrorists”, and that’s what is happening in your profession.  The fear mongering and threats held over your head cause many of you to sink into a corner.  Stop doing that.  If you believe in what you do, then stand up for it.  Fight.  Do not like a traitor like Jesse Parsley be the voice for teachers.  Call them out and name them.

Parents will fight for their children.  And this battle will continue.  The war is not over.

I am not abandoning opt-out.  At its essence it has always been a grassroots movement based on our deep and abiding love for our children and getting the policy-makers to listen.  None of us wanted this to be a perversion of our beliefs, but that’s what happened thanks to Sokola, Jaques, and all the rest.

Delaware Senator Sokola DOES NOT Care About Parental Rights, Who Else Voted No On HB50, & New Amendments

Delaware Senator David Sokola attempted a Kill Bill style execution of House Bill 50 today in the Delaware Senate.  By adding his amendment to the parent opt-out legislation, he guaranteed this bill will go back to the House of Representatives even though it passed the Senate.  Senator Bryan Townsend, who at least had the courage to vote yes, also added an amendment allowing high school juniors to not take the assessment.  Both of these amendments will stall the bill, and should Governor Markell choose to veto it, he can do so safely when the legislators aren’t in session.

Senator Sokola: Why introduce an amendment on a bill you don’t support and have never supported?  You are a hypocrite when you say you value opinions from your constituents.  You are a public school back-stabbing liar of epic proportions.

And the DOE’s new boy toy: Jessie Parsley.  He should be on every public school teacher’s most wanted list because he sold all of you down the river tonight.  This is a Rodel guy through and through.  He has big aspirations and what we saw tonight was him trying to kiss his ass up to the top.

What shocked me was Senator Colin Bonini’s statements concerning, when you boil it down, smart kids being encouraged to take the test and dumb kids being encouraged not to.  Interesting he received the classic slip-it note from Governor Markell’s education policy advisor, Lindsay O’Mara before it all began.  And this guy wants to run for Governor?  He lost my vote with this.

The following NO votes do not support parental rights and believe all the crap the DOE and Markell have been shoving their way:

HB 50 w/HA 1 + SA 1, SA 2 Kowalko Passed

AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATION ASSESSMENT.

Date: 06/17/2015 07:44 PM Passed

Vote Type:SM Yes: 14 No: 7 Not Voting: 0 Absent: 0

Blevins Y Hocker Y Peterson Y
Bonini Y Lavelle N Pettyjohn Y
Bushweller N Lawson Y Poore Y
Cloutier Y Lopez Y Richardson Y
Ennis Y Marshall N Simpson N
Hall-Long Y McBride Y Sokola N
Henry N McDowell N Townsend Y

HB50

The Delaware Senate is Running Very Behind Today….No News On HB 50 Yet **UPDATED**

When it happens, you will know it.  Keep checking to see if it is on.  I will be live blogging and you can listen to the legislative session here:

http://legis.delaware.gov/

Just click on the link on the right side of the page.

UPDATED: 4:24pm- Still waiting…and waiting…and waiting…

Breaking News: Parent Opt-Out House Bill 50 On The Agenda For Full Senate Vote Tomorrow!!! **UPDATED**

Delaware Senator David Sokola just emailed a constituent of Delaware that House Bill 50 will be placed on the agenda for tomorrow, Wednesday June 17th!  More details as they emerge.  It is not on the official  legis.delaware.gov  website as of yet, but once it is I will post it.  It looks like a lot of those last minute emails today may have helped!  Thank you to all who did so!

From: “Sokola, David (LegHall)” <David.Sokola@state.de.us>
To:
xxxx
Sent:
Tuesday, June 16, 2015 5:28 PM
Subject:
RE: HB 50

xxxx,
 
I apologize. I have placed the bill on the agenda for tomorrow. Dave.
 

The Delaware legislator website is not working for me.  Maybe we crashed the server!  No word yet on any proposed amendment by Sokola either, but I imagine if it is introduced he would do so at the time of the introduction of the bill for a vote.

I just got the same email from Senator Sokola myself, and it is officially on the agenda!  All the way at the bottom, but it is on there!  Ignore today’s date, they are already done for the day so this puts it on the agenda for tomorrow.

Today’s Date: 06/16/2015

Legislation Sponsor Status Title
Hide details for Senate Agenda Senate Agenda
HB 102 w/HA 1, HA 2 Barbieri (Henry) Out of Committee AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 11 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION.
SB 116-(SA 1) Bushweller Out of Committee AN ACT TO AMEND CHAPTER 17 OF TITLE 18 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO THE LICENSING OF INSURANCE PROFESSIONALS.
HB 15 (3/5) (F/I) B. Short (Bushweller) Out of Committee AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 18 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO CAPTIVE INSURANCE.
HB 127 B. Short (Bushweller) Out of Committee AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 18 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO THE PLACEMENT OF CERTAIN TYPES OF INSURANCE WITH NON-ADMITTED INSURERS.
HB 110 w/HA 1 Barbieri (Hall-Long) Out of Committee AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 16 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO COMMUNITY-BASED ATTENDANT SERVICES.
SB 83 Henry Out of Committee AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 10 AND TITLE 11 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO DOMESTIC VIOLENCE.
SB 118 Hall-Long Out of Committee AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 25 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO THE RESIDENTIAL LANDLORD TENANT CODE.
SB 71-(SA 1) McDowell Out of Committee AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 18 OF THE DELAWARE CODE CREATING THE “LIFE INSURANCE FRAUD PROTECTION ACT.”
HB 50 w/HA 1 Kowalko (Sokola) Out of Committee AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATION ASSESSMENT.

House Bill 50 News… Not On The Agenda For Senate Vote Tomorrow or Wednesday

The clock is ticking fast for the last days of the Delaware General Assembly’s legislative session.  June 30th is the last day, and House Bill 50 has one last stop before it either goes to Governor Markell or gasps its last breath on the Senate floor.  Many folks have been emailing the Senate, and I would love it if everyone reading this in Delaware could do the same if they haven’t already.

Here’s the latest: Senator David Sokola, the Chair of the Senate Education Committee plans to add an amendment to the bill adding all state assessments as well as district-wide assessments that parents “can” opt out of.  This bewildering move is strategic on his part.  The Senate may pitch a fit over this thinking parents can opt out of any test.  They can, but they are only choosing to opt out of one test: The Smarter Balanced Assessment.  The Senate doesn’t release their committee votes, but all eight agreed to release the bill with one unfavorable.

The Senate is an unknown enigma in this opt out saga.  I had a feeling it would pass the House, but not with a 36-3 vote!  The problem now is Senate Joint Resolution #2.  I can see someone saying “But we are already doing the assessment inventory.”  Well played Sokola.  Not really, it was a shady plan you and Jaques cooked up there, fully backed by Governor Markell I’m sure.  But now it is time to put this to the test (no pun intended).  Let the Senate decide.  Put this up on the agenda this week.  And don’t do it with any backroom deals.  Be a Senator, but more important, be a man and put this up!!!

Smyrna Parent Pulled Kid Out Of Public School Over Smarter Balanced Assessment

One of the more disturbing parts of the Senate Education testimony was when a citizen gave testimony on behalf of her friend.  What happened to her friend’s son was inexcusable and is just one more reason why House Bill 50 needs to become law!  Lorraine Gloede spoke at this meeting, and I can vouch for her friend as I have met him a few times now.  Keep in mind when reading this that Gloede was only the second public comment.  Her commentary ran from 29:06-30:21 on my recorder.

Uhm, (Sokola interrupts: “We’re trying to keep comments short, but, but, if you have something different to say, please…”) I’d just like to ask Mr. Murphy how he will know, with the Smarter Balanced Assessment, how the child is making progress, where improvement is needed.  Because from my understanding, all that is received is a score, that teachers don’t have access to the test itself and the answers.  But I am here, there was a gentleman sitting next to me, and he just asked me if I could relay what he was going to say.  He lives in Smyrna.  His next-door neighbor’s child opted out.  And they put him into a room where he had nothing to do.  It was just like detention.  And so he opted out even more.  He took his child out of school and is homeschooled now.  So I think that part of the reason for this bill is to show that there will be no repercussions, that everyone will understand that, which apparently is not the case now.  That’s all.

Senator Dave Lawson’s House Bill 50 Introduction

More from the Senate Education Committee.  The following is Senator Dave Lawson’s introductory comments on House Bill 50 from last Wednesday.  I’ve always like Lawson.  He is a very calm speaker, and he gets down to the nuts and bolts very fast!

Thank you very much.  I appreciate the opportunity, cause the bill boils down to a simple parent obligation.  Parents are obligated to look after the best interest of their children.  And they will opt out, and I think it is one of those things parents have a right to do.  They have a right to do a lot of things.  To go to private school, or homeschool.  There is no opt-out method, but this lays it out so that parents have the right under Delaware law to pull their children from Smarter Balanced.  (I think Mark Murphy said “Until when” to Senator Lawson, or someone near him).  Until what? Senator Townshend said the test has not been proven.  So we will test out?  Until the point it’s not of any value.  So just to continue to hammer our children with more and more tests, more stress, is unjust and should not be allowed.

John Radell Tears Apart Common Core & Smarter Balanced Assessment

I thought this was one of the best parts of the Senate Education Committee meeting last Wednesday.  One of the speakers, John Radell with the Mid-Atlantic Education Alliance, effectively eviscerated the very curriculum, and yes I will call it a curriculum Governor Markell, that the Smarter Balanced Assessment is based on.  Well done John Radell!

I’m John Radell, I’m with Mid-Atlantic Education Alliance.  And what we know about Smarter Balanced.  It’s not a measure of academic achievement.  It’s a measure of how a child responds to stressful situations.  This test does not measure accountability of academic change.  Every professional in the country, and we have a DVD here we certainly invite you to watch, by Dr. Peg Luksik and Sandra Stosky, who helped design Common Core.  And Kathy Jasper who was a vice-principal at a Florida high school.  All different parties, all different persuasions, have said this is an absolute disaster.  The Smarter Balanced Assessment is designed to fortify whether they are teaching Common Core, not academic standards.  So last time I looked, our children are not lab rats or guinea pigs that we experiment on.  This is an experiment.  Bill Gates helped design the system, has now said it will take ten years to determine if it works or not.  Well guess what, our kids don’t have ten years.  What you’re telling me, is a child going into 2nd grade now that’s a failure, has wasted those whole ten years.  This test is so bad, the curriculum is so bad, that the President of Princeton University just said “Any child that goes through ten years of Common Core and Smarter Balanced will not be able to get into Princeton University.  We’re hurting our children, not helping them.  We don’t need more gimmicks.  If you want something that works, and you need standardized testing, then look at the Massachusetts Education Law of 1993.  That was designed by Sandra Stosky, the one who I said was on Common Core, who resigned from Common Core cause she called it empty skillsets.  So were testing a test based on empty skillsets.  So what we need to do is start bringing experts here to talk about what the best way is to educate our children, test it, and implement it.  We’re testing this on our children.  These kids don’t have time.  And were not going to be able to go back in five or six years and go “Oh, this didn’t work, our kids are really dumb now.  Sorry about this.”  What are you going to do with those kids?  Are you telling me your willing to sacrifice a whole generation of children to find out this thing didn’t work? It’s wrong. It’s wrong for our children, and that’s why parents deserve the right to opt out.

Delaware Business Roundtable’s Die-Hard Opt-Out Opposition Is Worrisome, Should Lobbyists Be Allowed To Give Public Comment Like This?

To be fair, this was not the only registered lobbyist at the Senate Education Committee to give public comment in opposition to opt-out, but it was definitely the most biased in my opinion.  Below is Bob Byrd’s public comment, who introduces himself first as a member of his lobbyist firm and not the organization he is representing.

Bob Byrd, Delaware Business Roundtable 27:54-28:55

Thank you Chairman.  My name is Bob Byrd, of the Byrd Group.  I’m here today representing the Delaware Business Roundtable.  I’ve had the privilege to represent the roundtable education reform for more years than I want to tell you.  And we are very much opposed to House Bill 50.  We think it goes in the wrong direction.  We are very much in favor of your joint resolution.  We feel the pain of the parents out there, we understand there’s always questions about testing.  But we think this is the wrong thing to do at this particular time.  We totally agree that we ought to do an analysis of testing and see what’s out there and then come back with legislation next year, maybe doing something else.  And we understand that a lot of people are opposed to the current testing.  But were opposed to House Bill 50 at this time.  I have a letter from our chairman, Ernie Dianastasis.  I’d rather read it, and take up a lot of time but I’m just gonna put it in the record.  But the Roundtable, they’re much opposed to House Bill 50.

I’m sorry, but this guy is a registered lobbyist. If the Delaware Business Roundtable truly felt the pain of parents, they would do much more than oppose a bill that gives them dignity in the face of brutal opposition. These guys are all about the money. Don’t believe a word they say. Of course big business would be against something that wouldn’t provide more money to big business. That’s what it’s all about!

Mark Murphy And His Magical Educational Journey To Excellence

I’ve seen Mark Murphy speak a few times and he was definitely playing it up a bit for the news cameras on him at the Senate Education Committee meeting a few days ago.  If there is one thing you can say about the former gym teacher, he is certainly consistent.

Thank you Senator.  We are all, all of us, appreciative of Senator Townsend’s sentiment that we are all supporting our children as they take this educational journey to excellence. And hopefully that will lead into success not just in 4th grade or 5th grade, but obviously success well into high school and beyond high school years.  In order to help deliver our children into a place where they are successful in the world we have to measure their progress along the way.  And to understand whether they’re on track to be successful in those middle school years, in those high school years, and beyond.  So that’s what this is about, this is about measuring progress.  When we use that progress, when we use that measurement, in order to understand what’s working.  Our pedalogical approach is working, our curriculum is working, the way that we organize our schools, the way that we allocate budgets, the way we resource schools and which schools need additional resources.  If we do not have measurement of how our students are doing against the standards that their teachers are teaching to them, then we are unable to make well-informed great decisions.  Certainly at this level, also at a school and district level.  Measurement matters.  We also agree, that we are testing too much.  We have said that a number of times over these recent months and we have launched an initiative to take a look at how many assessments our children are taking.  And more importantly than the number of assessments they are taking, is the quality, whether these are redundant assessments.  If they test the same thing the child was assessed on a week ago.  Are they relevant assessments for what the child needs to be learning to be successful later? Are they high quality?  Do they give us good data in order to make informed decisions?  And so while we recognize that we are in the middle of that process, we are asking that we allow that process to take hold, before we start making major decisions about opting out of important measurement tools.  Finally, these assessments help to unlock doors for us, the decision-makers, for our kids, for our parents, for our educators, in regards to decisions they can make to support the children better.  And that information is available at the student level, the teacher level, the school level, and the state level.  And we all need this information to move forward.

Is it just me, or does it kind of creep you out when he keeps referring to “our” children?  Not my kid Mark!  The information available Mark, does that mean we can ALL see the tests and the answers and the actual questions?  Sorry buddy, but a lot of parents have jumped off your train trip to la la land.  Cue the Puff the Magic Dragon music, we are out of here!

Senator Bryan Townsend and House Bill 50: Why He Voted To Release It From Education Committee

The only other Senator at the Senate Education Committee meeting who spoke on House Bill 50, aside from Senator David Sokola, was Bryan Townsend.  He left shortly after the beginning of the meeting, but did give a very passionate speech about the whole issue.  I am not putting the timestamps on this one he is a member of the committee.

I really wanted to be here today, but I can’t stay, unfortunately.  Personally, I’m not sure what the fate of the bill will be, but I want to note that it’s extremely disheartening to see the people who are so passionate for our school kids warring this kind of way.  I do think that- although I understand why many of my colleagues are sort of skeptical about the impact of this bill and why it’s become such a flashpoint-  I think I understand why parents are as passionate as they are about the issue.  Last year, I asked the Markell administration, very politely, to embrace the opportunity afforded to us by the Gates Foundation which had been instrumental in the development of recent education reforms.  The Gates Foundation announced support for the position that we should have multiple years of results before we try to introduce these tests live.  We try to make responsible decisions, we try to say we’ve got it all figured out, but what’s unfortunate is the approach that has been taken.  Part of the problem is that people hear threats in the name of a test which really is not familiar, but part of the problem also is the reaction from others that misses what the parents and educators are saying.  And I think the idea now comes down to opponents of HB 50 saying “you don’t care about accountability, you don’t care about improving education for our kids.”  But that’s not the case for most parents.  I think most of us want to see a test that works, a test that’s proven.  Educators I think are the same way.  It’s not that they don’t care about accountability.  I wish we could all work together, and kind of get to the heart of issues and not throw grenades across a battlefield by a line drawn inaccurately regarding people’s positions on those issues.  I wish I could stay much longer and hear the passionate testimony on both sides.  I’ll be signing the bill out when its circulated later on.  And I just hope that this please can finally be the end to the war that happens in Delaware public education.