2016 Opt Out Letter For Delaware Parents To Use

I wrote this a year ago, but it still applies.  If you really want to drive the point home to a school, use this letter.  If they still give you grief, stand your ground.  Do not give in to what they try to tell you.  This is your right!

I have had a few parents ask how this could affect a school choice application.  Since the scores of the Smarter Balanced Assessment won’t come out until the summer, and you would have received an answer to your school choice application well before that time, it should not play a factor.  Any school denying your child a spot in their school over a parent exercising their Constitutional rights is on very shaky legal ground and you could certainly have just cause if your child was denied admission based on a parent opt out.  To be clear though, I am not an attorney, so this is your choice!

Here is the suggested letter to use.  I would include the school’s name and address, the date, your child’s name, and your name and address.  Make copies!!!  You can bring it to a school board meeting (for dates at times for your district, charter or vocational see my article from yesterday), or bring it to the school.  I would bring a separate form indicating the school recognizes they have received an opt out letter from you and have them sign it.  If a school gives you a letter to sign indicating you are understanding you are not following the law, DO NOT SIGN IT.  If they ask for a medical note and there is no medical condition present in your child, DO NOT GET ONE!!!

 

Dear

Please accept this letter as record of my decision to refuse for my child (name) to participate in the Smarter Balanced Assessment at (school) during the 2015-2016 school year. My refusal to participate in the Smarter Balanced Assessment is because I believe standardized high stakes testing take away time from the instructional experiences my child might otherwise receive. I want more teaching and learning, and less testing! The state seems to believe that my child is obligated to participate in testing because the state or the policy makers demand it, when in fact the social contract of public schooling is grounded on the premise that the state and policy makers are obligated to the needs of children. I am aware that there is no “opt out” clause in the state of Delaware. But the state has yet to provide any legal documentation that my child may not exercise his or her right to refuse the tests.

According to the U.S Constitution, specifically the 14th Amendment, parental rights are broadly protected by Supreme Court decisions (Meyer and Pierce), especially in the area of education. The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that parents possess the “fundamental right” to “direct the upbringing and education of their children.” Furthermore, the Court declared that “the child is not the mere creature of the State: those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right coupled with the high duty to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations.” (Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 268 U.S. 510, 534-35) The Supreme Court criticized a state legislature for trying to interfere “with the power of parents to control the education of their own.” (Meyer v. Nebraska, 262 U.S. 390, 402.) In Meyer, the Supreme Court held that the right of parents to raise their children free from unreasonable state interferences is one of the unwritten “liberties” protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. (262 U.S. 399). In recognition of both the right and responsibility of parents to control their children’s education, the Court has stated, “It is cardinal with us that the custody, care and nurture of the child reside first in the parents, whose primary function and freedom include preparation for the obligations the State can neither supply nor hinder.” (Prince v. Massachusetts, 321 U.S. 158).

I understand that it is state and local policy to require all students to be evaluated for proficiency in various subject areas at each grade level. However, I believe that testing is not synonymous with standardized testing and request that the school and my child’s teacher(s) evaluate his or her progress using alternative (and more meaningful) measures including: project-based assignments, teacher-made tests, portfolios, and performance-based assessments, to be determined at the discretion of the teachers and myself together.

My child is prepared to come to school every day during the testing window with alternative meaningful self-directed learning activities that support the essential curriculum, or is willing to participate in other meaningful activities as determined by the school or his or her teachers during testing times. It is my child’s right as a public school student to receive instruction daily, and if you do not do so, I will file a discrimination report with the district and consult an attorney. I am a taxpayer, and you do not have the authority to bar my child from accessing this public good of which I contribute in the form of tax payment. I will call the police if you attempt to bar my child from entering the building. However, should you prove to me in writing that this last alternative is legally REQUIRED, then I respectfully request to both see that policy as stated IN WRITING so that I may show it to my attorney, and I require WRITTEN documentation that my child and his parents WILL NOT be punished for ‘delinquency’ –and that we are EXEMPT from the usual attendance policies.

If my child is forced to sit in the testing room and stare at the wall for upwards of 70 minutes in total silence without being allowed to leave the test room, nor move nor speak, while refusing to test, or is intimidated in any way, will be seen as tantamount to solitary confinement. If you attempt to force my child to do so, I will report you to the child abuse authorities. If anyone places their hands on my child after he/she has respectfully declined to report to a test site, he/she has been instructed to call the police and file charges.

I do not recognize the authority of the letter the Delaware Department of Education or any school district crafted to have schools give parents when they opt their child out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment as it has no legal bearing.

I have a tremendous respect for my child’s teachers and his school. They do a tremendous job and I wish to continue to send my son to a school where he looks forward to participating every day. My school’s teachers and administrators understand that this action is no way a reflection of my feelings towards them nor is it intended as an attack toward them or the great work that they do every day. My issue is with high stakes standardized testing and the harm it does to children and our public schools. I believe we can work constructively together to ensure that my child will not be negatively affected in any way, and that successful alternatives that are neither punitive nor require further legal complications are indeed possible.

Thank you.

Respectfully yours,

 

Appoquinimink Taking The Hard Line On Opt Out! General Assembly, You Could Have Stopped This…

An Appoquinimink parent just told me they received the Appo opt out threat letter I wrote about last year.  Two parents from Appo have informed me their child would not receive academic instruction when their peers took the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  The Delaware General Assembly could have stopped this nonsense in January by overriding Governor Markell’s veto of House Bill 50.  Now they are going to have to deal with ticked off parents.  I personally sent each and every one of them an email letting them know this would happen.  The vast majority of the Delaware House of Representatives ignored this.

One parent was very confused by the wording of the letter and was very upset.  Is this really a repeat of last year?  Speaker of the House Pete Schwartzkopf, I demand you put House Bill 50 off of the ready list and let the Delaware House give it a vote.  Let’s see how these “representatives of the people” vote when they can’t hide behind a suspension of rules!

Christina Board Member Opts His Son Out Of DCAS-Alt1

Christina Board of Education member John Young just forwarded me an email he sent to the administrators at his son’s school in the district.

All,
 
Please be advised that Evan Young is being opted out of DCAS-Alt1. DCAS-Alt1 is a painful, inappropriate, and worthless exercise designed to cause pain to the student and educator alike. It provides no useful data and as such is, as is SBAC, irredeemably valueless.
 
Under no circumstance is he permitted to take DCAS-Alt1. This is in addition to the Opt Out demand for SBAC.
 
Please provide Evan academic opportunities pursuant to established CSD board policy permitting parental opt out devoid of retaliation and penalty of any kind during the sadly allotted time of the administration of this inappropriate measure.
 
Thanks,
 
John Young

Christina, along with Red Clay, has opt-out policies passed by their board.  The only other board in Delaware that has an opt-out resolution is the Capital board.  There are sixteen other districts in Delaware.  What are they waiting for?  Please keep in mind parents, you don’t need a board resolution or policy, or even legislation to opt your child out.  While House Bill 50 (which sits on the Pete Schwartzkopf “ready list”, meaning it sits there until he realizes he is wrong or until the end of the legislative session where the bill dies) would certainly add extra protection for parents, students, and schools, it does not “allow” you to opt your child out the Smarter Balanced Assessment or any standardized assessment.  YOU already own that right!

Once again, the Smarter Balanced Assessment starts Wednesday in a lot of districts.  Opt your child out tomorrow!  Once they log in, the data collection begins!

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

PTABullying

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

One Week For Parents To Opt Out In Many School Districts In Delaware

The official Smarter Balanced Assessment Year 2 window opens up on March 9th.  While this doesn’t mean every single student in every single grade will start the Smarter Balanced that day, I would highly recommend opting your child out of the test prior to that.  Just write a letter indicating you don’t want your child taking the test and you wish for them to receive academic instruction while their peers are taking it.  Make a copy, give it to the principal or head of school, have a witness with you, and be proud of your decision.  It is that easy.

As opposed to your child sitting for days on end taking a test that truly has no bearing on his or her unique capabilities and academic strengths or weaknesses.  It is a flawed test meant for the sole purpose of giving the government and non-profits data about your child.  The algorithms built into the test allow for that data to pass freely into the federal governments hands.  Your child is now part of a tracking system that will allow the government and companies to determine what kind of “career path” your child will embark on.  And the rest of their elementary or secondary education will be spent guiding them towards that path.

Remember those personality tests or career path tests you may have taken years ago?  And then you take it a few days later and your answers may be different?  You could go from being a lawyer to an accountant based on a couple different answers.  But imagine if you weren’t able to give a different answer?  And the rest of your life went by what answers you gave when you were in 3rd grade?  That is the future of high-stakes assessment.  They may get rid of the false labeling of schools and teachers.  They may even shorten the test, or even break it up into smaller segments embedded into personalized learning modules brought to you by Schoology.  Your child’s data is going out from those systems as well.  And our state’s highest officials know this.  Our Governor knows this.  And guess what?  They don’t care.

If you want to feed the beast, then let your child take the test.  If you think, “Hey, it’s the 21st Century.  It’s about time our schools become more technologically advanced.  Who cares about data,” then let your child take the test.  If you do care about these things, opt your child out now.  Do you remember what you wanted to be when you were 8 years old?  Or even 11 years old?  Or even 15?  Are you what you thought you would be?  I imagine the answer is no.  So why would you let the government decide what your child should be?  Opt-out now.  Do it today.  Your child’s future DOES depend on it.

Until our legislators craft a law indicating absolutely NO data goes out from these computer systems and programs, including the very computer code that captures and sends out this data, opt your child out of anything done on a computer at a school.  If they have to do research, let them do it from home.  This is a major change and the schools will pitch a fit.  Ask to see your child’s data file.  Chances are they won’t be able to provide it.  Ask the state.  FOIA the information if they say no or can’t do it.  Do not stop until you are able to track down every kilobyte of data that has left school computers and into the welcome hands of the state and federal government and the companies they serve.  Schools don’t own your child.  The government doesn’t either.  Nobody does.  They are your child, and you have been given a mission on this earth to protect them from harm.  This is harmful, and disturbing, and toxic.  Protect your child.

Delaware DOE’s “Participation Rate Plan” Approved By US DOE, Don’t Mention Opt-Out At All

KingShining

The Delaware Department of Education submitted their participation rate plan to the United States Department of Education on 2/11/16.  Less than 24 hours later, the “plan” was approved by US DOE.  In my opinion, this is all smoke and mirrors.  The Smarter Balanced Assessment window opens next week.  I have no clue what opt-out numbers will be this year.  I know many of the same parents who opted their child out last year plan on doing it this year as well.  The big factor is going to be the replacement of the Smarter Balanced Assessment with the Common Core aligned SAT for high school juniors.  Many of the opt-outs last year were high school juniors.

I love how the Delaware DOE talks about how some communities balked about over-testing which resulted in the Assessment Inventory.  The ironic part is parental choice to have their kids not take the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  Parents didn’t opt their kids out of the SAT, AP exams, or any of the other tests: just Smarter Balanced.  Much of the over-testing discussion for lower grades was around the DCAS which was administered two to three times a year depending on how the student did on the first Spring test.

Okay Secretary Godowsky, the DOE will send letters to Superintendents and Principals if the numbers are too low.  What do you expect them to do at that point?  The parents have already opted their child out.  Do you expect them to threaten or cajole the parent into having their kid take the Smarter Balanced Assessment?  Bribe them?  Or even worse, have the kid take it without the parent’s knowledge?  That isn’t a plan!  The plain simple fact is the DOE cannot and should not make an opt-out plan.  It is something the DOE, school districts, and charter schools have no control over.  It’s a parental decision that should not be tampered with in any way!  And I love how you can’t use the participation rate penalty in the Delaware School Success Framework this year because the US DOE didn’t approve it because of the Every Student Succeeds Act!

But let’s look at the US DOE response:

Alrighty then, that’s a plan!  Cut the Title I administrative funds for the state assessment?  Yes!  Please do it!  Cut it all!  Bankrupt the federal funding for state assessments?  Sounds like a plan to me!  Delaware parents, opt your kids out TODAY!  Or better yet, REFUSE THE TEST DELAWARE!!!!  And while your at it, all American parents need to contact their US Representatives and Senators and tell them to vote NO on confirming Acting US Secretary of Education John King!

 

ESSA Killed The Delaware DOE’s Opt-Out Penalty

When President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act last December, he actually helped Delaware immensely in regards to opt-out.  The Delaware DOE submitted their updated ESEA Flexibility Waiver to US DOE at the end of the November.  Two weeks before that, the Delaware State Board of Education voted on the participation rate penalty in the Delaware School Success Framework which was submitted to US DOE for approval.  As a result of ESSA, the US DOE is not signing off on anything that goes into effect after August 1st, 2016.  Since their original ESEA Flexibility Waiver submitted last March had it snuck in there at the last minute based on final recommendations by the Accountability Framework Working Group, the participation rate penalty in the DSSF can not be considered enforceable.

The updated Delaware Regulation 103, which was postponed by the State Board of Education last September after parents, educators, and a legislator had an open revolt at the State Board of Education meeting that month, was based on US DOE approval of the waiver request.  Since it is essentially null and void, Delaware can not insert the participation rate penalty into state code.

The caveat is the US DOE will be issuing regulations surrounding the Every Student Succeeds Act in the next few months.  That could change the conversation again at a later date, but I would assume the Delaware DOE will be unable to enforce the participation rate penalty on the DSSF for the 2015-2016 school year.  So no school should be citing the opt-out penalty to ANY parent when the parent wants to opt their child out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment because that would technically be ILLEGAL to do so!

So Delaware parents, you can strike that off the list of reasons you shouldn’t opt your child out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment this year.  Despite the crazy State Board of Education meeting, this was very refreshing news to hear.  I emailed the DOE earlier this week and today I spoke to Susan Haberstroh at the DOE about whether or not the US DOE ever approved the request.  She explained they didn’t and why.  But she did inform me of the upcoming regulations from the US DOE which will truly test the power of ESSA in limiting the federal role in public education.

The DOE’s “Rules” For Participation Rate On Smarter Balanced

The Delaware Department of Education apparently has their “business” rules for participation rate on the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  While these are more technical, they do show an obvious ignorance of a parent’s right to opt their child out of the high-stakes assessment.  For those parents who are concerned about the data sharing aspect of the test, I would make sure you opt your child out well before the test window even opens up for your school.  Because if they answer six questions on either ELA or Math, they count as a participant.  There are a lot of tricky rules in this, so I would read each one very carefully to determine if your child or student will be counted as a participant or not.  Of course, none of this takes away from your ability to opt your child out.  I highly recommend doing it as soon as possible and ending this high-stakes testing madness!

 

SAT Development Shows Delaware DOE & Markell Have No Clue What They Are Doing, Opt-Out Has Them Flustered

6008_train-off-a-cliff

The Delaware Department of Education and Governor Markell are finding the very traps they set to stop the opt-out movement are coming back to bite them in the ass.  Irony is an awesome thing sometimes.  At the beginning of 2015, the DOE was riding high.  They thought they had Christina and Red Clay in their crosshairs, the Smarter Balanced Assessment was coming out, and they were winning.  A funny thing happened on the way to their victory lap.  Parents.  They said no to the almighty DOE and Markell.  This set off a litany of announcements from the DOE and Markell.

The Governor announced the Assessment Inventory as opt-out was gaining a lot of traction.  He foolishly believed that parents wouldn’t opt-out if they just reduced the amount of tests students take.  In April, the DOE and Markell announced University of Delaware, Delaware State University, and Wilmington University were going to accept Smarter Balanced scores in lieu of students taking remedial classes.  Meanwhile, the SAT was retooled to align with Common Core.  In December, the Governor and Secretary Godowsky announced the SAT would replace Smarter Balanced for high school juniors, which killed the press announcement in April about Smarter Balanced.  Yesterday, https://delawarefirststate.wordpress.com/2016/02/05/university-of-de-faculty-senate-will-vote-on-an-admission-requirement-making-sat-scores-optional/ revealed the University of Delaware will be voting on whether or not to make SAT scores a factor in their admission process.  Several universities around the USA have already cut the SAT out entirely.

This whole experiment of Governor Markell’s to try to squelch the opt-out movement has been a miserable failure.  It was so obvious to myself and others that each move he was making was from a clumsy and defensive posture against parents.  In a way, his whole assessment inventory plan helped to set up a national argument against too much testing.  As a result of that, Delaware is now postponing their new science and social studies assessments because of the whole assessment inventory.  Another example of “be careful what you wish for”.  These were the unintended consequences of opt-out.  The DOE and Markell looking like fools on the Delaware stage.  By switching from the Smarter Balanced to SAT, the “best test Delaware ever made” has now become much less than what Markell professed it to be.  And now the SAT, with all the insanity the College Board has gone through switching the test to Smarter Balanced Junior, is redundant as well.

Meanwhile, parents are still opting their kids out of Smarter Balanced and there is nothing anyone can do to stop them.  The 148th General Assembly still has a shot at redemption with parents by allowing a vote for the veto override of House Bill 50.  Will Schwartzkopf continue to ride the Markell train that is about to derail and fly off a cliff?  Or will he do the right thing and put it up for a vote?  In the meantime, we can put the pressure on Schwartzkopf by gaining over 20,000 signatures on the Change.org petition: https://www.change.org/p/delaware-speaker-of-the-house-pete-schwartzkopf-put-hb50-on-the-agenda-for-a-full-house-vote-on-the-veto-override

I Encourage & Want All Delaware Parents To Opt-Out Of Smarter Balanced Today!!!!

Here’s the bottom line.  Our legislators had a chance to make this something civil.  They jacked it up.  Our teacher unions and parent-teacher organizations had a chance to make a difference.  They jacked it up.  Most teachers can’t or won’t talk about opt-out for fear of getting fired.  Everyone can talk about supporting a parent’s right all they want, but unless they do something about it they are essentially empty words.  Common Core is bad for our kids.  The testing around it, no matter what they want to call it: Smarter Balanced, PARCC or some other meaningless acronym for that state, is bad for our kids.  This is the time when we as parents need to do what needs to be done: massive opt-out on an apocalyptic scale.  Not an apocalypse for us or our kids, but to bring down these corporations that want to brainwash our kids for an end goal of keeping our children down.

All this nonsense with “we support opt-out, but the national or state heads don’t” coming from these groups and organizations are not doing anyone any favors.  I don’t care who first came up with the idea of opting out.  Just do it.  Opt your kid out.  Even if he or she gets every single question right.  Because it does NOTHING for your child except fuel the Common Core engine taking over our schools.  This is a revolution.  If you aren’t behind it 100%, get the hell out of our way.  Because we will just move on to the next parent willing to listen.  We aren’t organized.  We don’t pay membership dues.  We spread the word.

Don’t go to all these education meetings and Legislative Hall thinking it will make a difference.  It is a waste of time.  The education reformers have dug their heels in and turned all the decision makers into their own puppets.  By a vast majority.  But we will expose every single last one of them.  And we will shame them and vote them out.  We will take over the school boards, slowly but surely.  We will watch legislation and support our state legislators who bring good bills to the table.  We won’t support those who ride on the coattails of our state embarrassment of a Governor and his posse of enablers.  Don’t bother with the News Journal.  Or Rodel.  Or Vision.  Or Student Success 2025.  Or the DOE.  But do watch what your schools are saying and doing.  Find out where the data is going.  Make FOIA your best friend.  If a school resists you, on anything, demand to know why and fight for your child.  Make sure ANYTHING you sign from your kid’s school is in the best interest of your child and doesn’t compromise their personal information or security.  Do NOT sign up for these ridiculous after-school SAIL clubs.  They want your kid’s medical information.  They want to burn your kid out for nine to ten hours a day instead of six or seven by promising their celebration of the arts your kid should be getting during the regular day.  Opt out of that one too!  And whatever you do, DON’T TAKE THE DAMN SURVEYS!!!!!!

Stop believing the lies that this is all about helping kids who are a minority or low-income.  Funny how they keep saying that and they keep getting richer.  That’s the truth.  I don’t care if Bill Gates himself comes to your house.  The man is a billionaire.  I don’t care how good the eclairs are at the Rodel-Vision fest.  Just by going to these ridiculous  parties feeds them.  “Oh look at me, I’m at Visionquest.  I’m somebody important.”  By going along to get along, you are allowing your child’s rights to be violated more and more everyday.  And for all the “how will we measure how our schools are doing?” crowd, they are either in on it or actually think these tests are a valid measurement.  They aren’t.  Not at all.  And shame on all these Civil Rights groups.  You’ve been paid off by Gates and the gang.  You do a disservice to the very children you pretend to represent.

Don’t support opt-out because of teacher evaluations.  If the reformers want them gone, they will find a way to make it happen.  But if their evaluations should not include standardized testing scores, the reformers will say “Hey, look what we did” while they continue to raid and plunder our schools and get your kid’s data.  Don’t fall for their traps.  They set them all the time, and actually think they are being crafty.  I can see them coming a mile away.  I knew House Bill 50 wasn’t going to pass.  I knew our legislators would cave.  They think they are so smart, but they are cowards.

If you need more information about how to opt-out, please go to https://www.facebook.com/groups/387537074787803/ and ask any parent.  If anyone tries to talk you out of it, let me know and they are out of the group.  This doesn’t mean someone giving you practical advice about how to do it or who to talk to will get the boot, but if someone says “You shouldn’t opt out cause of…”, I will personally kick them to the curb.  This is a Refuse The Test page, not a debate club.

My problem was I thought having the support of these different groups would help the cause, and for that I apologize.  We don’t need them.  We just need to refuse.  You can help by spreading the word.  Tell everyone you talk to about opt-out.  Tell them why they need to do it whether they realize it or not.  Tell them, yeah, it’s a choice, but make the right one for your kid.  Do be slightly obnoxious about it.  Don’t let people try to word-beat you with reasons why these tests are good.  Do your research.  Do your own homework.  And be a parent your kid can be proud of.  And if you are a charter parent, you’re going to have work three times as hard to get parents to opt out their kids.  But once you get one, and they get one, and so on, you got a movement at a school.  Do it one parent at a time, and keep doing it, and make sure they do.  And Sussex parents, boy oh boy do they need to get the word!  Big time.

And if anyone says “Don’t listen to that Kevin guy, that blogger guy, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about, he’s just a confused guy, he doesn’t know how to get along with people, don’t align with him, he’s angry, he’s paranoid,” they are probably right.  I am confused why grown adults would allow this kind of crap into our schools.  Sometimes I don’t know what I am talking about cause I try to talk in their language with all their big acronyms and their big reformer words.  Sorry, I don’t know how to get along with the enablers of those who would mess up education for our kids.  They are monsters in my mind.  Sure I’m angry.  I’m pissed off.  These are our kids.  I have good cause to be paranoid and you should too!

While our legislators sit around for the next five and a half months trying to figure out how to tackle “the opt-out issue”, I’ll be telling everyone “Opt Out Now”.  Screw their committee meetings and their debates.  If they don’t get it by now, they are NEVER going to get it.  Or they belong to Education Inc.  I still love some of them, but let’s face it, they are few and far between.  And even though the vast majority of people in the know love them, the votes rule the day in Dover.  So let’s put them all in a position of thinking “Damn, we should have allowed HB50 to go through!”  For the bills I support, you will know it.  For those I don’t, you’ll know it.

I’m not a leader.  I’m a messenger.  Let’s get that straight.  I’m not going to host opt-out town halls or come to your kid’s school to be an Opt-Out Advocate.  If you want me to make some noise, I sure as hell will.  I have no qualms about emailing any son of a bitch that pressures you about opt-out and I will make it public with your permission.  Did it before and I’ll do it again.  But I have too much going on to start travelling all over the place.  No offense.  If I plan a rally again, it will be during a time when ALL parents can try to make it and not when our bone-headed education leaders want us to.  I would love to do a march.  Let me know your thoughts and ideas.  No leaders.  No meetings.  Just grass-roots making it happen parents.  We don’t organize.  We refuse.  Join the Refuse The Test Facebook page in the link above and let’s start making some serious noise.

 

*To clarify something in the last paragraph.  After reading what I wrote about rallies and “bone-headed education leaders”, the thought was regarding the State Board of Education who finds the time to hold meetings at the most inconvenient time possible for parents and teachers.  This was NOT in reference to the Delaware PTA Sponsored rally last week to support the override of the veto.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Watch The People Talk About Opt-Out

This last one is NOT safe for work!  But it IS very funny!

 

African-American Opt-Out In Delaware, Part 1: The Lomax Factor

The next time you see a civil rights organization or leader trotting out the “Testing Is A Civil Right” rhetoric, check them out at the Gates Foundation website and see just how much payola they’re taking.

Over the past year, the question of opting your child out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment has been one of the biggest issues in Delaware.  Many parents have made the choice, despite the Governor, the Delaware Department of Education, and certain school districts and charters resisting the movement.  One group in Delaware has not made a lot of noise about opt-out though.  The African-American community.  I have often wondered why this is.  After all, history has shown a clear pattern on standardized assessments of African-Americans not performing as well as their peers.

For many, this is the heart of the problem.  Some, such as Governor Markell, feel that all children can perform well on these tests if given the right amount of rigor, instruction, and leadership in our schools.  Others feel as though the issues facing many of the children in the African-American community in our cities like Wilmington and Dover, such as crime and poverty, are harmful and transparent factors in preventing a student’s educational success.  The Governor will not accept the “status quo” but really doesn’t do much to change the environment many of these students live in.  I believe the Governor thinks education can overcome the obstacles these children face at home, but when you talk to the teachers in many of these schools they don’t see it.

When opt-out was reaching its height in the 2014-2015 school year, civil rights groups voiced strong objection to the opt-out movement.  They felt it would cause African-American students to become further behind.  Despite laws preventing schools and teachers from opting kids out, these groups were very public about their point of view.  Leading these voices was Michael Lomax, the President of the United Negro College Fund.  As opt-out becomes a major issue again with the potential override of Governor Markell’s veto of House Bill 50, the Rodel Foundation and civil rights groups in Wilmington are bringing Lomax to town to speak about education for African-Americans.

Lomax

On January 14th, from 6pm-8pm, Lomax will speak to citizens of Delaware at the Christina Cultural Arts Center (CCAC) in Wilmington.  The event is sponsored by the Parents Advocacy Council for Education, a program from the CCAC, The Metropolitan Wilmington Urban League (MWUL), and the Wilmington Education Strategies Think Tank (WESTT).  But the real kicker is the next entity behind this event, which comes directly from the flyer for it: “Made possible in part by the Rodel Foundation of Delaware”.  All of these groups were very vocal with their opposition to the opt-out movement last spring, and some even took out an ad in the News Journal right before critical Senate votes on House Bill 50.

How does Michael Lomax, the President of the United Negro Fund, feel about opt-out?  He is dead set in his beliefs this is not the right path for African-American students.  Even though several civil rights groups joined in unison last year in support of the movement, others are sticking with their guns and fighting the movement.  What is causing this radical shift in thought among different groups?

Some, such as the popular blog called Perido Street School, believe there is a direct correlation between civil rights groups fighting opt-out and how much money they receive from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  The Gates Foundation has long been a proponent for the Common Core, standardized testing, teacher reform, and charter schools.  In fact, Lomax has written about how his grandchildren attend a charter school in Louisiana.  Last April, Lomax wrote an editorial in the New York Daily News about opt-out.

By opting out, parents do a disservice to all children, not just their own. Without an ample number of test takers, we will lose perspective on how our children are truly doing against the higher bar. This is especially important for students who need a better education the most: children of color, children from low-income families and those who require special education services or are learning English.

On its face, Lomax is absolutely right on several of his points in the article.  African-American students do have a history of not receiving equitable services compared to their Caucasian peers.  But the problem becomes what happens when those very same issues are continually brought up again and again so education consultants and vendors can profit off of the need to fix these problems.  Setting a higher bar all but ensures that there will always be proficiency gaps and attempts needed to get children to the point where they can reach this mythical end point.  The bar will always change to allow for more Wall Street intervention in our schools.

At the forefront of the civil rights groups is Michael Lomax.  He has spouted the same rhetoric about African-American students ever since he became the President of the United Negro College Fund in 2004.  In 2009, Lomax took part in a large education debate sponsored by the Philanthropy Roundtable in New York City.  Lomax made his feelings about teachers and unions very clear during his part in the debate:

The unions, superintendents, and school boards make up hundreds of hunkered-down intransigent, vigilant, resistant, inert status quo guardians guarding these gates.

He refuses to accept the possibility that the problems facing so many African-American students come from outside of the school.  He actually thinks education will bring African-American students out of poverty, as he wrote in a joint letter to the editor in the Washington Post:

Apologists for our educational failure say that we will never fix education in America until we eradicate poverty.  They have it exactly backward: We will never eradicate poverty until we fix education.  The question is whether we have the political courage to take on those who defend a status quo that serves many adults but fails many children.

For Lomax, the status quo has served him very well.  In Delaware, the figure for low-income status varies, but depending on family size, the average could be anywhere between $20-$25,000.00.  If you added the figures for 22 families at $25,000 for their annual income, Lomax would still make more.  According to that link, Lomax made $458,000 in 2014.  In 2013, with bonuses, he made $700,000.  The event in Wilmington, made possible in part by the Rodel Foundation, has their CEO making $343,000 a year.  It is very easy for these groups and “education leaders” to tell people how bad education is because it is obvious they get paid handsomely for doing so.

The United Negro College Fund received many donations from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation over the past seven years.  Over $1.5 billion dollars in donations.  As Perido Street School wrote in the top quote in this article, it would not be good for folks like Lomax to support opt-out at the risk of losing such generous sums of money.

Now it’s possible that Michael Lomax, CEO of the United Negro College Fund, would love testing and Common Core without the billion and a half+ in cash his organization has received from the Gates Foundation to fund scholarships.  But getting that kind of help from Gates sure does cut down on the time the organization has to spend fundraising and you can bet neither Lomax nor the United Negro College Fund want to lose that source of funding.  Now I dunno if somebody at the Gates Foundation called in a chit and “suggested” Lomax write his pro-testing screed or if Lomax just decided to be pro-active on his own and do it himself.  But you can bet it’s not an accident that a national civil rights organization that is receiving over a billion and a half dollars in cash from the Gates Foundation is pushing an education reform agenda that makes the Gates Foundation happy.

I have no doubt it is integral to Lomax’ financial wealth to continue to perpetuate the beliefs of the corporate education reformers.  He hangs out with some of the most vocal proponents of those who profit off the backs of students, teachers, and schools.  They are given the ability to raid state and local funding for their agendas and are given full support and approval by the United States Department of Education.  Folks like Joel Klein from Amplify, who was also brought in by Rodel to speak about education at $100 a seat last September.  The two of them helped to write the Washington Post editorial linked above.  In February, Lomax wrote an editorial for a website called Real Clear Education about the upcoming ESEA reauthorization.  This letter was written with Rahm Emanuel, the former Chief of Staff for President Obama and the current Mayor of Chicago, who is also a lightning rod for controversy these days.  In fact, Lomax is cited as one of the key people involved in the creation of state longitudinal data systems (SLDS) which are collecting a massive amount of data and personal information on students according to this article in the  Huffington Post.  These SLDS initiatives, with federal funding and massive amounts of money from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation circumvent around appropriate laws to protect student data by allowing education vendors and outside companies to see much of this data.

Does Wilmington really need another supposed trumpeter of civil rights coming to town to tell us how bad African-American students are doing in our schools and how much our teachers need to change?  If you are the Rodel Foundation and Governor Markell, the timing could not be more advantageous.  Rodel and Markell are fierce opponents of parental rights when it comes to the opt-out movement.  They do not believe parents have any rights when it comes to testing.  They would rather see parents lose sleep over making the opt-out choice and have them fight with difficult charter schools and districts than allow a law to pass that would give them protection when making a fundamental and Constitutional supported decision.  When the arguments heat up over opt-out, Rodel decides to bring a very big weapon to town.  I do not believe it is mere coincidence Lomax will be speaking on the very same day the Delaware PTA is having an opt-out rally outside Legislative Hall and State Rep. John Kowalko may bring up the override question to the Delaware House of Representatives.  This is how Rodel operates, in my opinion.  This event was just announced yesterday, the day after a very controversial article about opt-out in the News Journal.

I will be exploring the issue of opt-out, especially for African-American students in Delaware, at greater length.  But for the people going to see Mr. Lomax speak next week, I would urge all to question a few things: “Why now?”, “How much is he getting paid to speak”, “Would he feel the same way if he was making the same amount of money as the students’ families he claims to want to lift up out of poverty?”, and “Would he be willing to go to the roughest neighborhoods in Wilmington after his speech tonight and hang out with the folks on the street for a few hours?”

House Democrats Letter To Governor Markell To Remove Smarter Balanced For 11th Grade

Today, ten Delaware House Democrats signed a letter to Delaware Governor Jack Markell asking him to remove the Smarter Balanced Assessment for high school juniors.  The letter also mentions Senate Joint Resolution #2, the assessment inventory task force.

We recognize that, by your order, the Department of Education is in the midst of creating an inventory of standardized tests administered throughout the state. Pursuant to Senate Joint Resolution 2, signed into law in July, the department will share its findings with legislators and the public, as well as a special work group that will make recommendations regarding possible elimination of redundant tests. While opinions will differ among stakeholders, we believe there is universal support for eliminating the Smarter Balanced test for juniors in lieu of the SAT.

I fully accept that this is Governor Markell’s order.  He came up with the “assessment inventory” idea back in March.  It is a red herring though.  I firmly believe it will get rid of many assessments that give immediate and crucial feedback for teachers in how best to instruct their students.  I also predict it will see an increase in “prep” and “interim” Smarter Balanced Assessments.  The move towards personalized learning will allow for the eventual elimination of the nine-hour test (or longer depending on the individual student’s needs).  But it will not get rid of the basic flaws in SBAC, nor will it eliminate the time taking the test.  Instead it will eventually be in shorter doses but will be just as harmful to students.

There should be universal supporting for eliminating SBAC for ALL grades.  I would caution parents not to be fooled by this letter.  This is not a direction where the Smarter Balanced Assessment will gradually be removed.  It does not address the fundamental and core issues of what is wrong with Smarter Balanced.  I fear this is another attempt to sway legislators from voting for the House Bill 50 Veto Override.  This does not get rid of the issue of parents opting out except for those who have 11th graders.  The SAT is on a downward slope in many states, and now that they are “aligning” it with Common Core, that trend may increase.

Do Not Be Fooled by this Delaware parents!  The DOE has been planning this for over a year IN RESPONSE to the opt-out movement.  They knew 11th graders would have the highest opt-outs.  But it is still implemented in 3rd to 8th grade.  The assessment inventory task force is also stocked with many who will align with the Governor’s flawed logic about standardized assessments.  It wouldn’t shock me if the DOE already wrote the report on it and they are just waiting on the group to tweak it here and there.  I will still fight for the House Bill 50 Veto Override and support parents who choose to exercise their choice to opt their child out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  I have been calling out the “assessment inventory” ruse since the Governor first started talking about it last March.

Remember Kids, Santa Claus Supports Opt-Out Too! Merry Christmas!

When I published Santa’s proclamation supporting opt-out of standardized testing, it took off like a rocket!  Santa Claus was very happy so many people read his press release, he asked me to publish it again tonight while he is out making all is deliveries to the children of Earth.  Santa was not happy the US DOE put out all those bad letters in the past couple months.  He is very disappointed in our education leaders.  He may have Dasher and Prancer do some of their covert operations during the off season…  But without further ado, here is the original story of how Santa Claus came to support opt-out.


Santa Claus was getting pictures at the Dover Mall with young children.  He always asks the kids what they want for Christmas.  He acknowledged hearing very strange requests over the years.  But he reported to me recently about a very unusual request he got on Black Friday.  A little boy who was 8 years old told Santa he only wanted one thing for Christmas.  He wanted his mother to opt him out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.

Santa had never heard of such an odd thing before, so he asked the boy what it was.  “I’m in 3rd grade Santa, and all they talk about is some test we have to take next Spring.  All my teachers talk about it.  And we have to take something called an intrum test after we come back from Christmas break.  Every day teachers say ‘this could be on the test.  Make sure you know it.’  I’m getting tired of it Santa.  Nobody cares about my actual grades, and I’m a smart kid Santa.”

Santa asked the boy what “opting out” means?  The boy said some parents actually told the school they didn’t want their kid taking the Smarter Balanced test.  The school gave them a rough time, but the parents fought back.  “If they can do it, can you make sure my mom does it too?”  Santa pondered this for a moment. “I think,” Santa said, “That would be up to your Mom.”  “Good, she is right over there,” the boy said and pointed to his mother.  “Mom, can you come over here?  Santa wants to ask you something!” the boy shouted.

The boy’s mother walked over and Santa said “Your son wants you to opt him out of the Smarter something test.  It’s all he wants for Christmas.”  The boy’s mother explained she had never heard of the test.  “That’s cause this is the first year we take it Mom.  I heard some teachers say it doesn’t actually mean anything and it only lets the state know how we are doing.  And I heard something about some evil Psycho Metric guy.”  The boy’s mother explained, “I will have to look into this.”  The boy shouted “But I want you to opt me out!”  The crowd heard the words “opt-out” and all of a sudden, parents were yelling “Opt him out! Opt him out!”  Santa explained how he had to get to the next kid as the line to visit him was getting longer.  “Let me make some calls on this!  Can I call your mom about this when I get more information?”  The boy’s mother gave Santa their phone number.

After a very long three days, Santa Claus dove into the subject of opt-out.  He ran across this blog, so he gave me a call.  I explained to Santa Claus how opt-out works and that it is a parental right.  He asked me why schools fight it and want the kids to take a test that is bad for them.  I told Santa that the schools get threats and they are intimidated by the Delaware Department of Education.  I told him about House Bill 50, how some of the legislators like Jaques and Sokola tried to block it, how it passed the Delaware House and Senate, but then Governor Markell vetoed it.  But I also explained how the House and Senate might override his veto when they come back to make laws.  Santa laughed. “It sounds like someone should be called Senator So-coal-a!”  I explained to Santa how kids did worse on this test than the one that came before it and all the nasty tricks the DOE was trying to come out with because of the test.  Santa got very upset about the DOE and Secretary Godowsky blowing off the Accountability Framework Working Group’s recommendations about no harsh opt-out penalties for schools.  “Sounds to me like this Secretary and these DOE people want schools to be punished for a parent’s decision.  That isn’t honorable.  I might have to order some more coal this year…”

Santa’s cheeks got very red as he became more flustered about the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  “This just isn’t right!  Now I am understanding why so many kids have looked different and sad the past few years.  I thought this Common Core stuff would go away when they talked about all that nonsense with kids needing to compete with the kids in China.  I go there every year, and most of those kids don’t even take those tests!”  I told Santa how they got rid of that reason, and now it is so kids can be college and career ready!  Santa laughed so hard I could hear his belly jiggling over the phone.  “How in the world can a kid in 3rd grade, or even 8th grade be ‘college and career ready’?  Kids need to play and have fun.  School is important, don’t get me wrong, but there is so much other stuff that makes them grow up.”

Santa called the boy’s mother last night and had a long talk with her.  She agreed that opting out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment is the best choice for her son.  That night, she wrote a letter to her son’s school opting her son out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  This morning, she gave it to the principal and kept a copy for herself.  She asked the principal to sign a piece of paper recognizing he received the letter.  She said I could share it but for the sake of her son’s privacy to take out her name.  It said:

Dear Principal,

I am letting you know that I am opting my son out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment that will be administered in 2016.  I am requesting my son not be punished for my decision and that he is given instruction while the other children are taking the test.  I understand schools have to give the test, but I also know this is a parent’s right and there is no law stating I can’t.  I do not wish to have any meetings or calls about this.  Please respect my decision.

Sincerely,

The boy’s mom

Santa was very proud of the boy for having the courage to ask for something so simple.  It gave him hope that other parents would see the wisdom in the boy and his mother’s decision.  Santa doesn’t usually interfere with the workings of the people, but he thought in this case he should issue some type of proclamation about this whole opt-out thing.  So he asked me to give the exclusive on his proclamation to which I happily agreed.  So without further ado, here is Santa’s official stance on opt-out!

SantaClausLetter

 

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.

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?

If You Want To Opt Your Child Out Of The Smarter Balanced Assessment, Just Do It! And Join A Support Group!

12310441_1153307111364477_821410740697674993_n

I absolutely agree.  Please join any of the Delaware District Opt-Out groups on Facebook, or join Refuse The Test Delaware, the central hub for parents to meet and discuss opt-out.  All are welcome, unless you are a troll.  We don’t want you.  Go away.  We need to start gearing up for opt-out season, starting soon at a test and punish school near you.  The test is brought to Delaware by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium and about 500 other companies that are making a KILLING in profits off our kids.  A KILLING!!!!

Just remember, opt-out is allowed and don’t let anyone tell you different.  If someone tells you that, let me know.  I will set them straight!  Worried about a confrontation?  Don’t worry.  They all know me. 🙂

Today is the day to opt your child out if you haven’t already.  Just email your child’s school principal, and let him/her know you don’t want your child to take the Smarter Balanced Assessment and you expect your child to receive instruction.  Also let the principal know this is your final decision.  If the school sends you a letter asking you to sign something about understanding Delaware law concerning opt-out, IGNORE IT.  But certainly email it to me at kevino3670@yahoo.com and I will gladly pop it up on here.  Other schools have been through this with me.  One district did the same stunt two years in a row!  You are not alone.  There are others who feel the same way you do.  I also understand many of you are just itching for the legislators to override Governor Markell’s veto of House Bill 50.  You don’t need that, but it will stop the bullying and intimidating by our school districts.  And it would also throw a big monkey wrench in the Delaware Department of Education, the State Board of Education, and Governor Markell’s harsh opt-out penalties they filed with the US Department of Education.  The US DOE still hasn’t approved them, and probably won’t until sometime next year, if they approve them at all!

If you are worried about someone watching you at this time of year, don’t worry because Santa Claus supports opt-out!!!

As well, just to be on the safe side, please email your state legislators in the House and Senate to let them know you want them to override Governor Markell’s veto of House Bill 50.  Or you can email them ALL!  They love to hear from Delaware citizens.  You can look up your State Representatives here and your State Senators here.

If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to me!  Thank you!

Kevin Ohlandt

Harris.McDowell@state.de.us MargaretRose.Henry@state.de.us robert.marshall@state.de.us greg.lavelle@state.de.us catherine.cloutier@state.de.us Ernesto.Lopez@state.de.us Patricia.Blevins@state.de.us David.Sokola@state.de.us Karen.Peterson@state.de.us bethany.hall-long@state.de.us Bryan.Townsend@state.de.us Nicole.Poore@state.de.us David.McBride@state.de.us bruce.ennis@state.de.us Dave.Lawson@state.de.us senator-colin@prodigy.net brian.bushweller@state.de.us gsimpson@udel.edu Brian.Pettyjohn@state.de.us Gerald.Hocker@state.de.us Bryant.Richardson@state.de.us Charles.Potter@state.de.us StephanieT.Bolden@state.de.us helene.keeley@state.de.us gerald.brady@state.de.us melanie.g.smith@state.de.us debra.heffernan@state.de.us Bryon.Short@state.de.us Quinton.Johnson@state.de.us Kevin.Hensley@state.de.us sean.matthews@state.de.us jeff.spiegelman@state.de.us Deborah.Hudson@state.de.us john.l.mitchell@state.de.us Peter.Schwartzkopf@state.de.us Valerie.Longhurst@state.de.us jj.johnson@state.de.us Michael.Mulrooney@state.de.us 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 David.Bentz@state.de.us

 

Breaking News: Santa Claus Supports Opt-Out!!!

Santa Claus was getting pictures at the Dover Mall with young children.  He always asks the kids what they want for Christmas.  He acknowledged hearing very strange requests over the years.  But he reported to me recently about a very unusual request he got on Black Friday.  A little boy who was 8 years old told Santa he only wanted one thing for Christmas.  He wanted his mother to opt him out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.

Santa had never heard of such an odd thing before, so he asked the boy what it was.  “I’m in 3rd grade Santa, and all they talk about is some test we have to take next Spring.  All my teachers talk about it.  And we have to take something called an intrum test after we come back from Christmas break.  Every day teachers say ‘this could be on the test.  Make sure you know it.’  I’m getting tired of it Santa.  Nobody cares about my actual grades, and I’m a smart kid Santa.”

Santa asked the boy what “opting out” means?  The boy said some parents actually told the school they didn’t want their kid taking the Smarter Balanced test.  The school gave them a rough time, but the parents fought back.  “If they can do it, can you make sure my mom does it too?”  Santa pondered this for a moment. “I think,” Santa said, “That would be up to your Mom.”  “Good, she is right over there,” the boy said and pointed to his mother.  “Mom, can you come over here?  Santa wants to ask you something!” the boy shouted.

The boy’s mother walked over and Santa said “Your son wants you to opt him out of the Smarter something test.  It’s all he wants for Christmas.”  The boy’s mother explained she had never heard of the test.  “That’s cause this is the first year we take it Mom.  I heard some teachers say it doesn’t actually mean anything and it only lets the state know how we are doing.  And I heard something about some evil Psycho Metric guy.”  The boy’s mother explained, “I will have to look into this.”  The boy shouted “But I want you to opt me out!”  The crowd heard the words “opt-out” and all of a sudden, parents were yelling “Opt him out! Opt him out!”  Santa explained how he had to get to the next kid as the line to visit him was getting longer.  “Let me make some calls on this!  Can I call your mom about this when I get more information?”  The boy’s mother gave Santa their phone number.

After a very long three days, Santa Claus dove into the subject of opt-out.  He ran across this blog, so he gave me a call.  I explained to Santa Claus how opt-out works and that it is a parental right.  He asked me why schools fight it and want the kids to take a test that is bad for them.  I told Santa that the schools get threats and they are intimidated by the Delaware Department of Education.  I told him about House Bill 50, how some of the legislators like Jaques and Sokola tried to block it, how it passed the Delaware House and Senate, but then Governor Markell vetoed it.  But I also explained how the House and Senate might override his veto when they come back to make laws.  Santa laughed. “It sounds like someone should be called Senator So-coal-a!”  I explained to Santa how kids did worse on this test than the one that came before it and all the nasty tricks the DOE was trying to come out with because of the test.  Santa got very upset about the DOE and Secretary Godowsky blowing off the Accountability Framework Working Group’s recommendations about no harsh opt-out penalties for schools.  “Sounds to me like this Secretary and these DOE people want schools to be punished for a parent’s decision.  That isn’t honorable.  I might have to order some more coal this year…”

Santa’s cheeks got very red as he became more flustered about the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  “This just isn’t right!  Now I am understanding why so many kids have looked different and sad the past few years.  I thought this Common Core stuff would go away when they talked about all that nonsense with kids needing to compete with the kids in China.  I go there every year, and most of those kids don’t even take those tests!”  I told Santa how they got rid of that reason, and now it is so kids can be college and career ready!  Santa laughed so hard I could hear his belly jiggling over the phone.  “How in the world can a kid in 3rd grade, or even 8th grade be ‘college and career ready’?  Kids need to play and have fun.  School is important, don’t get me wrong, but there is so much other stuff that makes them grow up.”

Santa called the boy’s mother last night and had a long talk with her.  She agreed that opting out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment is the best choice for her son.  That night, she wrote a letter to her son’s school opting her son out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  This morning, she gave it to the principal and kept a copy for herself.  She asked the principal to sign a piece of paper recognizing he received the letter.  She said I could share it but for the sake of her son’s privacy to take out her name.  It said:

Dear Principal,

I am letting you know that I am opting my son out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment that will be administered in 2016.  I am requesting my son not be punished for my decision and that he is given instruction while the other children are taking the test.  I understand schools have to give the test, but I also know this is a parent’s right and there is no law stating I can’t.  I do not wish to have any meetings or calls about this.  Please respect my decision.

Sincerely,

The boy’s mom

Santa was very proud of the boy for having the courage to ask for something so simple.  It gave him hope that other parents would see the wisdom in the boy and his mother’s decision.  Santa doesn’t usually interfere with the workings of the people, but he thought in this case he should issue some type of proclamation about this whole opt-out thing.  So he asked me to give the exclusive on his proclamation to which I happily agreed.  So without further ado, here is Santa’s official stance on opt-out!

SantaClausLetter