ESSA Part 2: Assessments & Opt-Out

The Every Student Succeeds Act is very clear about expectations for state assessments as well as participation rates in those assessments.  Some of this may surprise you, including the mechanism by which every single student can be opted out in certain conditions!!!

ESSA13

Once again, no social studies requirement.  Are these assessments the same as the current wave including the Smarter Balanced Assessment and the PARCC tests?

ESSA14

If you thought standardized tests were going to disappear from this legislation, you were wrong.  They are still there.  Who needs to take them?  The below language clearly defines the expectation on the school or school district’s part:

ESSA15.1

ESSA15.2

There is a lot thrown into these two sections.  The word “all” does not mean all students have to take the assessment.  This law stipulates schools must give the test, but it does not define the responsibility of the student to actually take the test.  The words coherent and timely need to be more defined in my opinion.  One of the biggest arguments against SBAC and PARCC was they did not provide either, nor were they considered valid and reliable.  Having the results come out after the school year ends, or even into the next school year does nothing for students who advance to the next grade.  By the time parents see the results, most have long since moved on from the prior year’s assessment.

ESSA18.1

This is the big one.  This is the heart of the legality of opt-out.  Those two words define what the school has to do, not the student.

ESSA18.2

The above defines what the school needs to do with assessments.  They must “provide for”.  I can provide chocolate-chip cookies at a bake sale, but I can’t make everyone buy them.

ESSA19

Welcome to stealth testing!  This is where personalized learning rears its head in this legislation, but not overtly said.  The future of standardized assessments will be embedded into end of unit modules on student’s computers.  Instead of the “once-a-year” assessment, or even 2-3 times like in the past in some states, these will be constant assessments.  This law allows schools to come up with a summative score based on all these little assessment.

ESSA27.1

ESSA27.2

Yes, adaptive assessments.  What we currently have in the once  a year assessment, but set up for personalized learning and competency-based education.

ESSA28.1

Here is the loophole, and one of the reasons these tests are so dangerous.  The adaptability allows corruption in the data.  The programmers of the assessment can manipulate them in a way that certain students have a disadvantage.  When a student gives an end-of-unit test, all students are given the same questions.  Why should a standardized assessment be any different?  But this law allows that!

ESSA29

Here is the snake in the grass.  How can a student be determined proficient for current school year instruction if they are given items on a test that are above the grade level?  I can understand items below the grade level.  If a student is behind, you would want to know what level they are at.  I get that.  But to go above like that…it leads to all sorts of issues.

ESSA30.1

This is the clincher!  And I love they put the words “local law”.  Does a district board of education policy honoring a parent’s right to opt-out of the state assessment count as local law?  If a state’s accountability system has opt-out penalties which could harm a school’s rating, would this not completely contradict this part of the legislation?  And if it is a state law to honor opt-out and not punish, then there is nothing anyone can do about it!  Which is why the legislators in Delaware need to override Governor Markell’s veto of their opt-out legislation as soon as possible!!!!

ESSA30.2

Another big thing going on right now is “assessment inventory”.  I believe this will wipe out many of the district assessments in favor of the state assessments.  Especially if the future will be stealth mode on assessments…

Advertisements

Arne Duncan’s Threats Of Federal Funding Cuts For Opt-Out Go Up In Smoke!

Kate Taylor wrote in the New York Times today an article stating New York State Chancellor of the State Board of Regents, Merryl H. Tisch, would not give any district with high opt-out rates any Federal funding cuts for going below the 95% participation threshold in standardized tests.

But on Thursday, the chancellor of the State Board of Regents, Merryl H. Tisch, said that the federal Education Department informed the state’s Education Department “a couple of weeks ago” that it was leaving any decision about financial penalties to the state. And Ms. Tisch, whose board oversees the state agency and appoints the commissioner, said the state did not plan to withhold money from districts.

All that melodrama from United States Secretary of Education and state education leaders and Governors about Federal funding cuts, including Title I funds, was nothing but empty threats.  I’ve been saying this for months, as well as many others, but no one in my state, Delaware, would indicate this would or would not happen.  I heard from one state legislator in Delaware who indicated he opposed our opt-out legislation, House Bill 50, because “you don’t know what Arne Duncan told me he will do if this passes.”  Now we have a crystal clear answer: nothing.

In Delaware, in approximately one month, we will experience Parent Freak-Out 2015 when Delaware parents receive the Smarter Balanced Assessment results.  As I stated when Governor Markell vetoed House Bill 50 in July, opt-out is dead, just REFUSE THE TEST!  But I still want the 148th General Assembly to override Markell’s veto, because it is a great bill!

On the first day of school, starting next week for many Delaware students, just give the letter to the principal stating you refuse to let your child take the Smarter Balanced Assessment, you expect your child to be educated based on their current curriculum, and you do not want to discuss it further.  This is your right Delaware parents, and no one can stop you from doing this.  Do what is right for your child and REFUSE THE TEST!

Corporate Ed Reform “EducationNext” Releases Skewed Opt-Out Survey Results

Paul Peterson and Martin West with EducationNext released a blog post today based on a survey showing 67% of the public want federal testing requirements for students and oppose opt-out.  This is from a survey sent to 700 teachers and 3,300 members of the public.  You know what, I can send out a survey and it means nothing without knowing who your sample groups are.  I know if I put a survey up on my blog that it is going to skew towards my target audience: concerned parents and disgruntled teachers.  I would never base public policy off those numbers.

But EducationNext is led by folks like Michael Petrilli with the Thomas Fordham Institute, a long-time supporter of charter schools and high-stakes testing, so I shouldn’t be surprised.  He is also a fellow at the Hoover Institution, who is the publisher of the EducationNext blog.  So I challenge Peterson, West and Petrilli to show who this survey was sent to.

We found little public sympathy for the “opt-out” point of view.  Only 25% of the public like the idea, while 59% oppose it, the remainder taking a neutral position.  Among parents themselves, just 32% favored the opt-out approach, while 52% opposed it.  Fifty-seven percent of the teachers also reacted negatively to the idea, with only 32% lending it support.  Clearly, the public favors the Senate education bill’s approach to this issue over that of the bill that passed the House.

Clearly is a strong word, and I would want a much larger sample size to base your ideological arguments off of.  Because I really don’t believe 57% of teachers are opposed to opt-out, and aside from the ones coerced into these reformer agenda think tanks, most favor it.

Of these 700 teachers, how many were sent to local district teachers?  Since they represent the largest group of teachers, I would assume at least 75% of the surveys went to them.  But if it was sent to mostly charter school and Teach For America teachers, of course the data would lend support towards exactly what EducationNext, the Thomas Fordham Institute and the Hoover Foundation represent.  Which is the privatization of public schools and the destruction of teachers unions.  As for the 3,300 “adult members of the public”, how many are parents of traditional school district children? How many are charter school parents?  What is the statistical age representation of this survey?  Failure to release that kind of information does not lend credibility to your arguments.

This is the biggest problem in education these days, organizations like yours coming up with these reports and surveys and using the flawed data to mold legislators into your puppets to pass laws off your agendas.  The lines between public policy and lobbyists have become so convoluted that the bias towards corporate money in education has become the norm.  Enough already.  Why does anyone give Petrilli the time of day anymore?

Senator Lamar Alexander: States Can’t Give Parents The Right To Opt Their Children Out, We Already Own That Right!

The United States Senate just killed the opt-out amendment in their ESEA reauthorization bill according to The Washington Post.  Senator Lamar Alexander, according to the article by Emma Brown, spoke against the amendment for the following reason:

“But Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) — the Republican co-sponsor of the carefully crafted bipartisan bill — spoke forcefully against the proposal, saying it would strip states of the right to decide whether to allow parents to opt out.”

Excuse me Mr. Senator?  Nothing on this planet will ever give me a “right” or “allow” me to opt my son out except for the fact that I already have that right and allowance as a father.  Politicians created this mess, and you need to get our children out of it.  I take great offense at your suggestions this is not a right I already possess.

I agree with Diane Ravitch who just stated:

“I have great respect for Senator Alexander but his argument is not logical. The federal government mandates the tests, but it leaves to states the power to decide whether parents have the right to opt out. Why is the federal government mandating any tests? Why is this not a state responsibility? If he were being consistent, he would leave the testing and the right to opt out to the states. I would just remind the Congress that the Elementary and Secondary Act of 1965 was a resource equity act, not a testing and accountability act. It was meant to send money to schools and districts that enrolled students who lived in poverty. It was No Child Left Behind that turned the ESEA into a testing and accountability act in 2001-02. And it was the Improving America’s Schools Act of 1994 that first proposed that states create their own standards and assessments.”

Both Delaware U.S. Senators Tom Carper and Chris Coons voted no for the opt-out amendment.  There are two other opt-out amendments in S.1177 Every Child Achieves Act, but this does not bode well for the other two amendments.  I seriously hope both Carper and Coons don’t think the citizens of Delaware will forget this the next time they are up for re-election…

To find out if your state senator stiffed parents, go here:

http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=114&session=1&vote=00235

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

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

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

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

House Bill 50 Has NOT Been Released Out Of Committee…Yet, But A New Problem Emerges… **UPDATED**

Because most of the Senators in the Education Committee were not present during the actual meeting, the bill has to be circulated to each one of them.  According to Senator David Sokola, he expects this to happen tomorrow.  It is also expected, not that I’ve heard this from Sokola, that House Bill 50 will be released from committee.  With that being said, a new wrinkle has come up.  Apparently, and this is coming straight from Sokola, he is considering adding an amendment to the bill.  What would happen with that is the Senate would vote on the amendment, which would kick the bill back to the House if the Senate passes it.  If the House passes the amended legislation, it would then go to Governor Markell’s desk.  At this point, he could do one of three things: sign the bill, veto the bill, or do nothing and in 12 days it would become law.  If the House passed the amended vote by June 30th, Markell would have 12 days to make his decision.

The parent opt-out bill saga never ends.  And this has just been confirmed by Yvonne Johnson with the Delaware PTA: the amendment would allow opt-out of district-wide assessments.

Live From The Senate Education Committee Meeting Discussing House Bill 50: Parent Opt-Out

The Senate Education Committee in Delaware is about to hear House Bill 50, the parent opt-out bill.  The bill already cleared the House in Delaware by an overwhelming majority, 36-3.  This is the next stop on the bill’s journey.  There are lots of proponents and opponents of this legislation here today.  If it passes here, it goes to the full Delaware Senate.  If it is voted down today in committee, the bill is dead.

Who is here?  Representatives from the Delaware Department of Education. Governor Markell’s Education Policy Advisor, Lindsey O’Mara.  Dr. Paul Herdman with the Rodel Foundation of Delaware.  Red Clay Educators Association President Mike Matthews.  Delaware PTA Vice-President of Advocacy Yvonne Johnson.  Executive Director of the Delaware State Board of Education Donna Johnson.  Wilmington Education Advisory Commission Chair Tony Allen.  John Radell with the Faith & Freedom Coalition.  Bill Doolittle with the Delaware PTA and also a member of the Governors Advisory Council for Exceptional Citizens.  And More!

House Bill 50 is up first.

Senator Townsend is speaking about how frightening this issue is for parents to be this worried.  He is upset there wasn’t years of research done on this issue and the Smarter Balanced Assessment has not been proven.  Parents want to see a test that works.  He wants us all to work together to decide the issues.  He has to go to another committee meeting but he will vote yes for releasing the bill.

Senator Lawson, one of the co-sponsors of the bill, is speaking about the bill.  “Parents should in fact have the right to opt-out.  This lays it out so they can under Delaware law.  Senator Sokola is upset this test is aligned to international standards.  He would put in an amendment to allow parents to get the reasons for the test.   He is talking about an email from a 3rd grade teachers about all the testing going on.  He thinks if parents can opt out of this test, they should be able to opt out of all of them.  This is why he introduced Senate Joint Resolution #2.  “We all want what’s best for our kids.”  He doesn’t like the amount of time between the actual Smarter Balanced Assessment testing and when the results show up.  He refers to No Child Left Behind as No Challenge Left Behind.  He said the DSTP (the first major standardized test in Delaware) did give him a little bit of heartburn.

Senator Dave Lawson is talking about how the test has changed 3 times and how $70 million from Race To The Top went towards this test and the desired results.  Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy is speaking about children’s “educational journey to excellence”.   He is talking about how we use this measurement to understand what’s working, how we allocate budgets, which schools need which resources.  “We are testing too much.”  He is now talking about the assessment inventory, and whether the tests have quality or if they are redundant.  “These assessments help to unlock doors.”  “We all need this information to move forward.”

State Rep. Kowalko came in.  He is going over the essential facts concerning House Bill 50.  He is talking about the lack of law on opt-out which is for or against.  “This is not an indictment against Smarter Balanced Assessment or Common Core.”  He and Dr. Teri Quinn Gray, President of the State Board of Education, had an interview with WHYY earlier today.  He told her and he is telling the committee how this test is not needed and parents see this.  “If a parent feels…this can harm (their child) psychologically, they have that right.”  “It’s about parental rights, pure and simple the rights of the parents.”

Sokola has a problem with the local districts and the amount of money they spend on tests.  He served on an international committee going over the assessments, and all the kids are taking these tests in the high-performing countries of the world.  In no country, other than this country, are they taking these tests every year.  “If kids aren’t learning, we have to figure out a way to teach them.”  Kowalko said “It would be disingenuous for parents to opt their child out of any test.”  There is no track record in place, he explained, but the bill does not say we are getting rid of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  “All we are doing is giving an opportunity for those who know their child best.”

Sokola asked why it was changed to just the SBAC.  “What happens in two years if we change to the PARCC?”  (Dear lord, no!!!).  Kowalko explained that he didn’t want to shut the door prematurely if a test is designed that will give the results that matter.  Sokola said this was why he introduced SJR #2.  “We have real important issues we have to change.”  This test is needed, according to Sokola, to help students that are having issues.  He said “We can get real good data from this.”  Kowalko spoke about the many emails he received from parents regarding the psychological damage done to parents and students over this test.

Bob Byrd with the Delaware Business Roundtable is speaking about their group’s opposition to this bill.  “We think this is the wrong thing to do at this particular time.”  He presented a letter from their chair, Ernie Dianastisis.  Lorraine Gloede is speaking about how her neighbor opted her child out and there was definite repurcussions for his child in opting out.  John Radell said every professional in the country are saying this test is not proven.  “It is a disaster around the country.”  “This is an experiment.”  He said children should not be guinea pigs.  “We don’t need more gimmicks!”  We are testing kids based on empty skillsets.  These kids don’t have time to be told six years down the road to find out this test doesn’t work.

Dr. Paul Herdman from Rodel Foundation is speaking.  He has three kids in Delaware public schools.  He has tried for eleven years to bring public and private education together.  He opposes HB50.  He said there is a lot of frustration around testing.  He is referring to House Rep. Matthews News Journal opinion piece and how he said “He hopes that enough parents are getting out of the test that the data becomes invalid.”  His concern is what’s next, and all the expense gone into this.  “Every civil rights group in the country has come out against opt-out.”  If you make this test invalid for one student, you make it invalid for all students, according to the civil rights groups.  “We undermine the trust in public education.”  He said we get $90 million dollars a year from federal funding for Title I students, low-income students.  His concern is can we afford to risk losing these funds when we are already facing a $100 million dollar deficit in this state.  “I don’t believe House bill 50 is the right way to go.”

The Delaware Chamber of Commerce spokesperson is speaking in opposition to the bill.  They oppose HB 50 and support SJR #2.  Mike Matthews is talking about how it is business group’s rights to talk about education, but they aren’t advocating for higher wages for the parents of low-income students.  Yvonne Johnson is speaking about how she has never received so many emails and complaints in her many years with the PTA as they have with the SBAC.  She is opposed to SJR #2.  She doesn’t think SBAC is the answer to our children.  HB 50 is a symptom to a larger problem.  “No one is losing federal funding.” I spoke next and railed against the whole Smarter Balanced Assessment and how it is dangerous. Senator Sokola cut me off stating I was repeating things as I brought up the never-talked about in this meeting letters from the DOE indicating how it was illegal to opt out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment. He said they have other bills to hear. Dr. Teri Quinn Gray spoke about the need for this data and how she is there to speak for the students. She was not cut off as she was allowed to speak much longer than myself. Tara Greathouse spoke and was cut off by Sokola when she asked questions about what is best for her children.

Due to other committees in session, the bill is being circulated so we do not know the results yet.

**UPDATED** 5:02pm, still no word on House Bill 50 and whether it has been released from the Senate Education Committee.

My Son & I Will Be On NBC Philadelphia News This Afternoon Discussing Parent Opt-Out

Tim Furlong with NBC Philadelphia Channel 10 left my house about half an hour ago after filming a segment on parent opt-out of standardized testing for the afternoon news.  This news story will also include Tim covering the Senate Education Committee meeting today at Legislative Hall in Dover at 3pm.  With numerous articles appearing today from WDEL and WDDE on House Bill 50, this will be THE place to be at Legislative Hall today.

Another bill has been added to the agenda, Senator Margaret Rose Henry’s Senate Bill 122, which is described as:

AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14, CHAPTER 10 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATION AND THE REORGANIZATION AND CHANGING OF SCHOOL DISTRICT BOUNDARIES.

I did hear Senator Sokola promise State Rep. John Kowalko House Bill 50 would be heard first today after it was postponed during last week’s meeting.  I sincerely hope the Senator lives up to his promise.

Delaware Opt-Out Gets FairTest Coverage the Past Two Weeks!!!! Delaware PTA & Exceptional Delaware!!!

The FairTest website, for the past two weeks, has Delaware opt-out in the news.  In their synopsis from two weeks ago, they had Dr. Terri Hodges and Yvonne Johnson, both with the Delaware PTA, covered in their weekly news with their very awesome editorial in the News Journal.  In last week’s news, they covered the letter State Rep. John Kowalko and I wrote to the News Journal.  Kowalko did NOT get co-authorship from the News Journal for our letter.

I’m very glad to see little old Delaware get noticed for our growing opt-out movement.  The noise will get louder as long as the Smarter Balanced Assessment is still on the table.  You know, the test that is included in the “assessment inventory” but was called “The best test Delaware ever made,” by Governor Markell today in a speech at a reformy non-profit in D.C.

For those who may not be aware, the next step for House Bill 50 is the Senate Education Committee meeting tomorrow, 3pm, at Legislative Hall in Dover.  If it passes there, and then the full Senate, will Governor Markell sign into law a bill designed to not punish schools and students over this “best test”?  Or will he veto the legislation, dragging the House Bill 50 out over the rest of the month, or possibly into next January?  Either way expect some fireworks!

Appoquinimink Mom’s Letter To Senate Education Committee In Support Of House Bill 50

An Appoquinimink mother, Tara Greathouse, asked me to share her letter to the Senate Education Committee in support of House Bill 50.  Way to go Tara! The letter speaks for itself.

Dear Senator Robert Marshall, Senator Bethany Hall-Long, Senator Margaret Rose Henry, Senator Ernesto Lopez, Senator Nicole Poore, Senator Bryan Townsend and Senator Brian Pettyjohn,

It is an honor and a great privilege to have the opportunity to write to you today regarding HB 50. I believe we can all agree that education is a top priority and should be a constant moving build first between parents and teachers to ensure the foundation and principles needed for the success of our young learners. This relationship and engagement will help lead them into how to be compassionate and driven leaders to enable college and career readiness in an ever changing world.  I am confident that we will get there; however, with the absence of teacher and parent involvement and education being driven by non-teacher and non-parent agendas of the state and federal government, the current strategic model will only destruct their educational experience and will affect their generation and future generations to come. The cascade effect of that will be felt by all of us decades later.

I would like to give you some background on how I was able to make an informed decision for the best interest of our 5th grader, whom we opted out of the Smarter Balanced assessment this past March. We have two other children and one day they will be faced with Smarter Balanced if we don’t do something about this dangerous path now.

In December 2014, right before Christmas break, my son brought home his agenda book like he does every day. We review and discuss the agenda book together daily. I noticed he wrote “Smarter Balanced reviewing and practicing” as an agenda item with no other details or information to support it. I asked him what Smarter Balanced was and he shared that it was going to be a test he would have to do soon. This test was scheduled the week of March 16-20, 2015. I became very concerned because this was the first I had heard of these words, Smarter Balanced. What does that mean?

I began searching for answers starting with his teacher. I asked her some questions and she shared that it was a state assessment but that it is does not affect nor is it written in his school performance and results of the test would not be back until after school year end which is after he moves on to the next grade.  Right away, as I mom, I felt something was terribly wrong.  I went directly to the DOE website and found no evidence of research and data to support this assessment nor was there an academic growth measurement model to confirm whether or not this assessment would be beneficial for our son. This is when I began digging and took to the internet looking for facts, not opinions.

On January 24, 2015, I attended a town hall debate at UD Clayton Hall. I learned about this event via Facebook. I was informed through this invitation that our very own DOE would be there with other speakers on both aisles of the debate and knew right away this would be it to gain a clearer picture and understanding of the facts behind Smarter Balanced. There was only one problem, DOE never showed up as they had confirmed they would attend this event to the event host. Then I noticed the House Education Committee Chair was there, Earl Jacques, and looked forward to hearing from him on this topic but not a word from him. Instead of our own Delaware leaders and educators speaking to us on this topic, I learned that the four panelists that did show up were from other states; Florida, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Nebraska and they were:  Sandra Stotsky, Peg Luksik, Kathleen Jasper and Judy Short. Delaware leadership had an opportunity to have a conversation about this with teachers and parents; however, they failed to attend to bring transparency, knowledge sharing and understanding to the people of Delaware. I learned some facts in this town hall that enabled me to then re-confirm the facts through other various reliable resources noted at the end of this letter about Smarter Balanced and the following facts remain:

  • SBAC was not driven, written and implemented by experienced educators nor was teacher and parent input considered
  • SBAC is not an accurate measurement of a student’s academic achievement
  • SBAC did not go through a research and data channel to confirm the validity and accuracy of measurement
  • SBAC was designed not for the sole benefit and purpose of a child; rather the child is used in this experiment to label and punish schools and teachers and quite frankly, this is morally wrong
  • SBAC is to help continue the pattern of removing traditional education that have sent men to the moon and it will continue to remove local district community control
  • SBAC is costing our state a fortune and removes critical funding needed inside the classroom. We don’t need ineffective funding outside of the classroom where SBAC is being housed.
  • SBAC requires a minimum preparation of three months of teacher and student classroom time. Therefore, taking more critical time away from the classroom to educate our children.
  • SBAC district knowledge sharing sessions happened after most of the children participated in the SBAC assessment in March.
  • SBAC has been noted by our DOE that there will be a 70% failure rate. How do we help our children of our future understand that one?

I have always been in support of standardized assessments; however, given the facts above is where I reside and stand today as a concerned parent of public school education in our state.

I ask that you please allow for teachers and parents to be heard and to not let this bill rest. The majority of our House of Representatives message is very clear to every parent and teacher. Please let those voices be heard just as they did. Please be open to hearing from those that you serve that have elected and placed their trust in you. Please consider supporting this bill with the same compassion and commitment you had when you first began serving the people of Delaware. God bless.

Respectfully,

Tara Greathouse

Below are resources that I utilized to do my due diligence on SBAC.

Founded on Truth

http://foundedontruth.com/ 

Common Core and Associated High Stakes Assessments Town Hall at University of Delaware Clayton Hall 1/24/15

https://youtu.be/qVn1y7jqTcA 

University of Arkansas – The Department of Education Reform

http://www.uaedreform.org/sandra-stotsky/

Truth in American Education

http://truthinamericaneducation.com/tag/duke-pesta/

https://youtu.be/Si-kx5-MKSE

ConversationEd

http://conversationed.com/

Diane Ravitch

http://dianeravitch.net/

NY Teacher Speaks for Kids: Strongly Objects to Common Core Testing

https://youtu.be/PV6HoDLsnH8

United Opt Out: The Movement to End Corporate Education Reform

http://unitedoptout.com/

https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/

Numerous Parents, Delaware PTA, and DSEA Support Parent Opt-Out…Will The Senate?

Opt-Out.  It’s here, it’s real, and it may soon become law in Delaware.  What started out as a resolution in DSEA last year has morphed into one of the hottest topics during this legislative session.  We all know the House of Representatives voted 36-3 to pass a bill designed to codify parental rights to opt out.  Will the Delaware Senate show similar gusto in the face of harsh opposition?

We will find out, but not the full effect, on Wednesday at the Senate Education Committee meeting.  Sources are telling me House Bill 50 will be heard first in the committee.  With numerous schools already done for the summer around the state, I expect a hearty crowd.

Meanwhile, the House will be voting in full for quite a few education bills on Tuesday.  House Bill 82 w/Amendment #1 is about the Secretary of Education and his ability to rule on collective bargaining while giving authority to the Public Employment Relations Board.  House Bill 146 is in regards to teacher educator license fees.  And House Bill 148 would create the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission.  Across the hall in the Senate, they will vote for SS1 for Senate Bill 79, which would create a task force to go over education data and privacy around it.

Meanwhile, House Bill 61 sits on the ready list, as it has the past three years.  Speaker of the House Pete Schwartzkopf needs to get this bill to a full vote.  Maybe he isn’t aware how much the people do want a bill like this.  Perhaps it’s time to make him aware of that…

House Bill 50 Back In The Saddle For Senate Education Committee Meeting 6/10/15, 3pm

As committee meetings were posted on the legis.delaware.gov website today, I kept waiting to see the Senate Education Committee meeting posting.  It is finally up, and it is just House Bill 50 and Senate Joint Resolution #2.  I expect, to borrow some words from the Delaware DOE, a lot of robust and rigorous conversation around these two educational matters.  I did hear Senator David Sokola tell State Rep. John Kowalko House Bill 50 would be heard first the other day, so I fully expect Sokola to keep his word.

I have not received a response to my request for House Bill 50 to be petitioned out of committee by any member of the Senate leadership, but given that the past couple days have been about Beau Biden’s viewing, I didn’t expect to.  Here is the official agenda:

Chamber: Senate

Chairman: Sokola

Location/Room: Senate Hearing Room

Date/Time: 06/10/2015 03:00:00 PM

Revision Num:

Agenda

SJR 2 DIRECTING THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION TO STUDY STUDENT ASSESSMENT TESTING.
Sponsor : Sokola


HB 50 w/HA 1 AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATION ASSESSMENT.
Sponsor : Kowalko


Comment: Introduction, Approval of Meeting Minutes, Agenda, Other items that appear before the Committee, Adjournment *Agenda Subject to change

Meeting Minutes:

I have to wonder if the same folks will show up.  I imagine there will be a lot more parents there since the agenda is lighter.  From what I understand, there were several parents outside of the meeting room the other day but were unable to come in because the room was at capacity.  I know Dr. Paul Herdman from the Rodel Foundation of Delaware was going to give public comment on House Bill 50 the other day, so it will be interesting to see if he returns and what he has to say about all this…

Change.org Petition To Have Delaware Senate Petition House Bill 50 Out of Committee & Bring To Full Senate Vote

After the way Senator David Sokola handled the Senate Education Committee meeting today, I have zero confidence he supports this bill or even believes in the rights of parents unless they fit his or Governor Markell’s agenda.  Therefore, I am petitioning the Delaware Senate to petition House Bill 50 OUT of the Senate Education Committee.  This would bring House Bill 50 to a full Senate vote.  This is allowable through the Delaware Senate Rules as created by Senate Resolution #2, from December 14th, 2014.

Please go to change.org and sign for this so we can get the ball moving fast before the 148th General Assembly is done until January!

https://www.change.org/p/delaware-state-senate-petition-house-bill-50-out-of-senate-education-committee

Email To Delaware Senate Leaders Requesting House Bill 50 To Be Petitioned Out Of Committee

I just sent the following email to Delaware Senators Patricia Blevins, David McBride, and Margaret Rose-Henry, who form the majority Senate leadership.  I also forwarded the email to the Senate Minority leaders, Gary Simpson and Gregory Lavelle.

Senators Blevins, McBride and Henry,

My name is Kevin Ohlandt and I am a parent advocate for the parent opt-out movement in Delaware.  Today, House Bill 50 was finally scheduled to be heard in the Senate Education Committee.  Many parents traveled to Dover to hear the bill, and many more were eagerly awaiting the results.  Some arranged for babysitters, or took time off of work.  I fully understand that agendas are subject to change, but it was painfully obvious to all in attendance what was going on during the meeting.  House Bill 50 was the oldest bill on the agenda.  While I in no way mean to disparage the importance of the others bills, because they are all equally important, I found the meeting to be very disorganized.    Senator Sokola arrived ten minutes late for what he knew was a very full agenda.  The room was filled with people, and I understand it is customary in a situation like that to limit public comment.  As the meeting went on, many members of the public gave public comment which was not limited in any way whatsoever.  As well, Senator Sokola gave prominence to Senate Joint Resolution #2 over House Bill 50.  To give some background here, Senator Sokola and State Rep. Earl Jaques both sponsored this resolution, with the collaboration of Lindsey O’Mara from the Governor’s office and the Delaware Department of Education.  I published a document circulated by the DOE labeling SJR #2 as an alternative to House Bill 50, the same day SJR #2 was formally introduced.  As well, I have seen an email sent out by Shana Young with the DOE indicating that SJR #2 would not give the General Assembly any “formal authority” over the assessment inventory.  Today, at the meeting, time was spent on an amendment giving the General Assembly more authority.  It was also announced the Smarter Balanced Assessment, the very test parents are opting out of, could be included in this supposed “assessment inventory”.

To give an idea of the manipulation being perpetrated by the DOE, I submitted a FOIA request to the DOE for this exact email.  I was told today it does not exist.  So either the DOE employee is using personal email for state business, the email was deleted, or there is a cover-up.  I have already called out the DOE on their outright lie in response to their FOIA response, and I will submit yet another complaint with the Department of Justice in regards to these matters. It is my contention, and that of many concerned parents, this has all been done under the watchful eye of Senator Sokola.  The Delaware Department of Education, including Secretary Murphy, were very smug and condescending as the meeting abruptly ended without House Bill 50 even being heard and I was receiving texts it would not be heard before the meeting was only 1/4 done.  At no point during the meeting did Senator Sokola attempt to limit public comment, or even advise parents who came for House Bill 50 the bill would not be heard.  It is also many parents contention around Delaware that certain legislators are more tied to Governor Markell’s education agendas than serving their constituents and the citizens of Delaware.  Unfortunately, this includes both Chairs of the Education Committees in the General Assembly.  This is a bill that was passed by the House with a 36-3 vote, and it is disrespectful to let it fall prey to these types of political games.  It is disrespectful to the parents, students, teachers, and supporters of this bill who have fought for so long to have their voice finally be heard in education matters. Therefore, I would like to ask you, Senator Blevins, to suspend Senate rules and petition House Bill 50 out of committee prior to its 12th legislative day based on the following Senate rules:

RULE 16. PETITION OUT OF COMMITTEE.

Upon written request signed by the majority of the members elected to the Senate and directed to the Presiding Officer, any bill, joint resolution, or other business that has been in a committee for a period exceeding 12 legislative days, except those assigned to the Bond Bill or Finance Committees, shall be reported to the Senate.

Delaware parents need this bill to be heard.  The abuse, intimidation, and outright lies stemming from the Department of Education and the Governor’s office is very damaging to the integrity of Delaware.  Many parents have seen and felt the manipulation and abuse of power in education matters in our state, and it is becoming more transparent every single day.  The stall tactics on this legislation, first very smugly done by State Rep. Jaques in the House Education Committee, and now more overtly done by Senator Sokola, do not paint a nice picture for the legislative process in Delaware.  It shows a level of corruption and maneuvering that brings shame on the Delaware General Assembly.

Thank you for your consideration in this matter.

Respectfully,

Kevin Ohlandt

My Letter To The Senate Education Committee

Short and sweet:

House Bill 50

To
  • Sokola David (LegHall)
  • Hall-Long Bethany (LegHall)
  • Henry Margaret Rose (LegHall)
  • Lopez Ernesto B.
  • Marshall Robert (LegHall)
  • Pettyjohn Brian (LegHall)
  • Poore Nicole
  • Townsend Bryan (LegHall)
Please vote YES for House Bill 50 today.  It’s the morally correct thing to do!

Opt-Out Obliterates The Rigor Imposed On Our Kids, Is It Enough To Change Education In Delaware?

Will the eight members of the Senate Education Committee vote yes or no for House Bill 50 tomorrow?  My gut tells me yes.  It’s what happens afterwards that concerns me.  The legislation needs to move to a full Senate vote as soon as humanly possible after tomorrows vote.  The Delaware General Assembly has numerous bills in front of them.  Due to the Beau Biden viewing at Legislative Hall on Thursday, there is now one less day for legislative action this month before it comes to an end on June 30th.  And say it passes the Senate.  Will Governor Markell pass it, veto it, or sit on it?

Meanwhile, the News Journal is giving full court to parent opt-out and House Bill 50 opinions.  Delaware State Rep. John Kowalko and I wrote a piece which will appear in tomorrow’s newspaper (oddly enough, only I got credit for it but it was a co-authorship).  You can read this here: http://www.delawareonline.com/story/opinion/contributors/2015/06/02/parents-know-smarter-balance-test-bad-kids/28383361/

I really wanted to delve into the Smarter Balanced field test scores.  I always knew they were much lower than even I expected for the children in sub-groups of low-income, African-American and students with disabilities.  But actually studying them, and comparing them to DCAS scores was very revealing.  It really drove home the realization this test is designed for nothing more than failure, especially for these three sub-groups.  Which is also why I can’t believe any civil rights group would stick up for the effectiveness of this test.  This test is not about reaching that “higher bar”.  It’s about one thing, and one thing only: money.  Not money that will ever reach the classroom, but money that goes straight into investor pockets.  It’s the greatest scam of our generation: using education “need and necessity” to basically steal taxpayer money to get rich.  I can’t even keep track of all these education reform companies out there anymore.  But when all this is said and done, watch  them fold up their tents like a cheap carnival trying to get out of town as fast as they can.

What comes after?  Is there an easy solution?  I’m already hearing rising talk about school vouchers and more “personalized learning” on computers.  Meanwhile, district funding and how schools use their money is coming up more and more.  Apparently, it’s not even just charters being investigated in the State Auditor’s office, it’s also some school districts.  Education is reaching a boiling point in Delaware.  Radical ideas will come up.  It’s going to take a revolution to fix all this.  But I can promise you one thing, parents WILL be a part of whatever comes next.

We will not allow the future of our children to be tied into corporate money-making schemes ever again.  We closed our eyes when this all started, but our eyes are wide open now.  We won’t be fooled twice.  The DOE may or may not realize this false ideology is falling apart.  If I were a DOE employee, I would be getting my resume together fast.  When it does collapse, and all stands revealed, I would not want my name associated with any of it.

The more these civil rights groups and Delaware business leaders push this damaging test, the more citizens will being to wonder why they are advocating for such an irresponsible and short-sighted test.  If any of these businesses or groups are concerned about public perception, they might want to reconsider their DOE/Markell tainted stance.  Will the “Delaware Way” be enough to stop the wave of parents demanding accountability and transparency for the funds involved in this education craziness?  I doubt it.  If opt-out has proven anything, it’s that parents do have a very loud voice, and the more you fight us, the louder we get!

Showdown Tomorrow on Opt-Out Legislation vs. “Staying In” Resolution

On Wednesday, June 3rd, the parent opt-out bill, House Bill 50, will face off against Senate Joint Resolution #2, the assessment inventory resolution.  The supporters of standardized testing have been out in full force in opinion pieces in the News Journal and the Dover Post, but so have the supporters of opt-out.  Backed by a 36-3 vote in the House of Representatives, House Bill 50 has a great deal of momentum coming into the Senate Education Committee meeting tomorrow at 3pm.

The monkey wrench in the House Bill 50 path is SJR #2.  Whether this “assessment inventory” legislation was created by the sponsors, Senator Sokola & House Rep. Jaques, or Governor Markell’s office, or the DOE is immaterial.  It was created to distract from parent opt-out.  The opponents are realizing this bill could clear the Senate very easily, and are attempting to put up ever possible roadblock they can think of.  The civil rights groups in Wilmington are out in full force arguing the merits of the Smarter Balanced Assessment with very little facts, even bringing up Brown v. The Board of Education from 50 years ago.  The argument simply shows further segregation of low-income and minority students as evidenced by standardized testing scores since No Child Left Behind began.

Meanwhile, the Delaware PTA, the Delaware State Educators Association, many teachers and a legion of parents are supporting House Bill 50.  For one simple reason: they do not want their children taking the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  The flaws are out there for every one to see.

SJR #2 is now referred to as the “Staying In” resolution because of Dr. Teri Quinn Gray’s editorial in today’s News Journal where she states she wants parents to have the courage to “stay in” with the Smarter Balanced Assessment instead of opting out.  She even brought up her own child in the editorial who is a sophomore in college and not subject to the SBAC.

DOE Purposely Misleading Stakeholders On House Bill 50 & Parent Opt-Out With “Alternative” SJR #2

The Delaware Department of Education hates parent opt-out.  They can’t do anything about it.  They know this, yet they continually attempt to greatly exaggerate even the tiniest detail, blow it up, and then add layers to it.  Exceptional Delaware was able to get its hands on the actual document the DOE has been sending their “stakeholders” lately in regards to parent opt-out and House Bill 50.  What is very telling is the document doesn’t even have the DOE letterhead on it.  This is a Department that never misses a chance to spread their name, but on this document, it is oddly missing.  Notice how close some of the wording is to the recent Dover Post article on parent opt-out with Secretary of Education Mark Murphy’s editorial.

You can see it in bold print: “There is an alternative- Senate Joint Resolution #2 has been introduced- looking at testing.”  Now if anyone doubts the validity of this document coming from the DOE since it doesn’t have their name on it, I would be more than happy to email it to you.  When you are in the PDF, and you click on file, go down to properties, and it shows you the author “Young Shana”.  Otherwise known as DOE employee Shana Young.  This was written by Young on May 22nd.  Now some of this may seem familiar.  That’s because we have heard it from the DOE numerous times.  What wasn’t included in this document was extra wording talking about the General Assembly not having “formal authority” over the assessment inventory with Senate Joint Resolution #2.

What I would like to know is who the DOE is sending these out to.  I put in a FOIA request for any emails from Shana Young from May 14th and May 15th to any superintendents in Delaware.  Because I know Miss Young knew about Senate Joint Resolution #2 at least five days before it was even introduced, and that would mean this information could have only come from the sponsors of the bill: either Earl Jaques or David Sokola.  I emailed Senator Sokola on Tuesday for more information on this mystery but he hasn’t responded at all.  I did get the FOIA going with the DOE, but I guess I’m not important enough for Senator Sokola.  But I’m sure if it was the DOE emailing him, he would come running.

This is the email I sent to Senator Sokola:

 

To
  • Sokola David

Dear Senator Sokola,

I’m just going to come right out and ask this.  Which legislation are you giving more weight to: House Bill 50 or Senate Joint Resolution #2?  I know your thoughts on parent opt-out based on your interview with Avi at WHYY, but this is not just about your opinion.  It’s about giving this legislation the forum it deserves.  The House passed this 36-3.  I know there is a lot on the Senate Education Committee’s agenda, and this is not the only education bill out there.  But it has been the most mentioned in media (and not just my blog).  We have never actually talked person to person, but I am not a lone wolf crying in the dark.  HB50 is supported by the vast majority of the public.  As parents, we already have the right to opt our kids out.  And we will continue to do so in growing numbers.  What we will not tolerate is the treatment parents have received from many of our schools in regards to opt-out.  As long as one parent is receiving heat from any one school, this matter will not die.

What concerns me the most though is SJR #2 and your history with Achieve Inc.  I know you have a long-standing association with Achieve Inc. and Michael Cohen, going back to 2008, if not longer.  Achieve is also the vendor on the assessment inventory the DOE is pushing so hard.  As well, I have seen a DOE email from the past couple weeks talking about SJR #2 to “stake-holders” stating that SJR #2 is an alternative to House Bill 50.  As well, this email from Shana Young stated that SJR #2 will give no “formal authority” to the results of the assessment inventory.  Since you and Jaques are the primary sponsors on SJR #2, it is obvious SJR #2 is more about killing HB50 than tackling assessment inventory.

You have the power to make sure HB50 is heard, and heard first in the Senate Education Committee meeting on 6/3.  Parents will show up, and it would be a tremendous disservice to make them wait, if it is even heard that day.  Parents are now part of the process on education in Delaware.  It would be a true shame to ignore them.

I think there needs to be an honest conversation about these backroom deals going on with the DOE and their contracted vendors.  It is getting out of hand, and these are funds that should be going to our children in the classroom. 

Thank you,

Kevin Ohlandt

Now since this email with no response went out, the agenda for the Senate Education Committee meeting on 6/3 has gone up, and it has both House Bill #50 and Senate Joint Resolution #2 on it, along with two major autism bills and a bill about identification of students with military connections.  There could be a chance HB 50 isn’t even heard that day and it is pushed back until the next week.  But I can promise you this: if Senate Joint Resolution #2 is heard, and not HB50, Sokola is going to generate a lot of heat and ire from ticked off parents.

In the meantime, I’m sure the DOE will be sending out more “talking points” filled with half-truths, outdated information, and outright lies.  Their high-stakes testing propaganda machine is running out of fuel, so they are obviously googling ANY editorials they can find from other states on civil rights groups opposition to opt-out.  And the 27 number they quote for national civil rights groups?  That changed to 12 last month.  So nice try DOE.  At least get something right!

And what does this line even mean: “Without assessment results that shows where these students need support, the support for these students disappears.” So the only support these children need is based off of Common Core standardized tests like the Smarter Balanced Assessment?  Okay!  Does that mean the DOE won’t give low-income, minority and special needs children support if they don’t take the standardized test?  Are you saying that no school or teacher gives these kids supports, ever?  This scare tactic doesn’t work cause it is based on a falsehood that Governor Markell and the DOE have promulgated onto the public.

They also wrote “Testing, without over-testing, is valuable and provides us important information for our students and schools.”  Who is the “us” Miss Young refers to?  And this line shows this testing is important for the DOE, but not the students and the schools.  They want this information so they can USE the student data so they can PUNISH the schools.

“Under current Delaware law, all students are required to take statewide assessments.”  No, they are not.  The schools are required to administer the tests, but children are NOT required to take them.  Nice play on words there.

And then we have the (yawn) whole Federal Funding cut threats (getting sleepy) and how Delaware can stand to lose $42 million on one page, and $44 on another, but all coming from the same source.  But it never comes right out (zzzzzzzzzzzz…Sorry!) and says it, but there is a “risk”.  Sorry DOE, if the Feds are going to cut Title I funding to schools, they aren’t going to start with Delaware.  They would start with New York or New Jersey, and they would have done it by now.  The only reason they haven’t is because they can’t.  So once again, thanks for the empty threats.

Here is my biggest question though: How can the Delaware DOE already know the Fiscal Year 2016 allocation for Title I funds?  What if a student switches schools?  I truly don’t know the answer to this one so if anyone does, please advise me!

Oh yeah, one other big thing… why is Shana Young, who works in the Teacher Leader Effectiveness Unit at the DOE, writing opt-out talking points to stakeholders?  Wouldn’t something of that sort be covered under Penny Schwinn’s area, Office of Accountability, which has Assessment under that umbrella?  Could it be that standardized testing is more about Teacher and Leader Effectiveness than Accountability?  I’ll let you draw your own conclusion on that one dear readers!

For parents and citizens who are supportive of House Bill 50 and parent opt-out, but against Senate Joint Resolution #2 and assessment inventory, please email the legislators and let them know.  For quick reference, just copy and paste the below information:

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.speigelman@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

House Bill 50 & Senate Joint Resol. #2 To Collide At Senate Education Committee on 6/3

Here we go.  The agenda for the Senate Education Committee meeting on 6/3 at 3pm has been officially announced.  Here’s where it’s going to get real crazy, very fast.  Both House Bill 50, the parent opt-out bill, and Senate Joint Resolution #2, what the DOE feels is an alternative to opt-out with the assessment inventory, will go head-to-head in this committee.  Start emailing them now, cause this one is going to be a doozy!  Further complicating this is Senate Bills #92 and #93.  They are great bills dealing with Autism, but they will demand a lot of conversation.  Or, the committee will say these are awesome bills and pass them fast.  You never know.  Either way, this is going to be a packed chamber.  Opt-out parents, DOE, State Board of Education, lobbyists, parents of children with Autism, school officials, other government agencies, and so forth.  Get there early!

Chamber: Senate

Chairman: Sokola

Location/Room: Senate Hearing Room

Date/Time: 06/03/2015 03:00:00 PM

Revision Num: 1

Agenda

SB 92 AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATION AND AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER.
Sponsor : Henry

SB 93 AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 16 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATED TO CREATING AN INTERAGENCY COMMITTEE ON AUTISM AND THE DELAWARE NETWORK FOR EXCELLENCE IN AUTISM.
Sponsor : Henry

SB 94 AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO A MILITARY CONNECTED IDENTIFIER IN DELAWARE PUBLIC SCHOOLS
Sponsor : Bushweller

SJR 2 DIRECTING THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION TO STUDY STUDENT ASSESSMENT TESTING.
Sponsor : Sokola

HB 50 w/HA 1 AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATION ASSESSMENT.
Sponsor : Kowalko


House Bill 50 & Senate Joint Resolution 2 Are In The Senate Education Committee’s Hands…Which Will Be Heard First?

Senator David Sokola controls the agenda for the Senate Education Committee.  The House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved the parent opt-out bill, House Bill 50, on May 7th.  All that momentum and fervor to pass this bill, and it now rests with one man to move it forward.  In the meantime, Sokola and State Rep. Earl Jaques introduced Senate Joint Resolution #2, which would “direct the Department of Education to study student assessment testing”.

The Senate Education Committee next meets on Wednesday June 3rd, most likely at 3pm.  Sources are saying Sokola will have HB50 on the agenda, but there are several education bills already scheduled so it could be delayed a week.  But HB50 was introduced in February while SJR#2 hasn’t even been around a week.  Yes, the testing season is almost over, but parents don’t want to wait around another year to have their schools stop acting like manipulative jerks when it comes to opt-out.

I’m going to say this now.  If Sokola allows SJR #2 to be heard before HB50, several parents will voice strong objection to this.  As I’m sure several legislators, organizations and teachers will as well.  The Delaware Department of Education seems to think SJR #2 is the opt-out destroyer.  For months, Governor Markell has been praising this “assessment study” to be the heart of the opt-out movement.  He foolishly thinks parents are opting out because students are being tested too much.  You don’t know Jack, Jack!  We are opting out because of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  Not to lift the unions up like so many others are saying across the nation.

To let HB50 whither on the vine in the Senate would be a tremendous insult to the House.  36-3 on a controversial bill opposed by the Governor is not a “small but vocal minority”.  The jig is up.  The question is how many members of the Delaware Senate have been injected with the Markell kool-aid iv drip.  THE biggest education bill of this legislative session demands to be heard.  It’s your move Senator Sokola.  But don’t think for one minute we will be fooled.