DOOM 2016 Strikes Delaware As Parent Rights Month Begins

finger-prints-optout-large

If it is February, DOOM will strike Delaware again this year.  It just so happens that I am declaring this month Parent Rights Month.  This works out perfectly because it is also Delaware Opt-Out Month!  This is the month where you should really opt your child out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  The test window begins at the beginning of March.  Different schools will take the test at some point between March and the first week of June.  These are the things you may hear.  Ignore them…

  1. We will get our funding cut if you opt your child out.
  2. Our school will get a bad rating.
  3. No.
  4. Don’t listen to that blogger.
  5. But House Bill 50 got vetoed and never passed.  You can’t opt out.
  6. It’s against the law to opt your child out.
  7. We should talk about this first.  Can we arrange for a meeting?
  8. Why don’t you give the test a chance.  It really isn’t that bad.
  9. Only I decide who opts out of the test.
  10. It is a civil rights violation to opt out.

Whatever the Principal or Superintendent says, ignore it.  If your child is in the Capital, Christina, or Red Clay school districts, they shouldn’t be giving you any flack at all.  Their boards already voted and said it is okay and they will not punish your child.  You have every right to opt your child out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  There is no law that says you can’t.  It is not against the law for you to opt out!!!!  Could the feds pull funding?  It is remotely possible.  But it is also an election year.  The feds can threaten all they want, but I would love to actually see them play that card.  It’s never happened before.  And No Child Left Behind officially ends at the end of July.  After that, states are allowed to determine their own opt out rules.

Tomorrow, I’m going to make a list of all the district and charter board meetings this month.  If you haven’t opted your child out before, here is how you do it.  Write a letter to the Principal of your child’s school.  State you do not want your child taking the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  As well, let the Principal know you want your child to receive instruction while the other kids are taking the test.  Hand deliver a copy to the principal.  As extra insurance, I would also write an acknowledgement letter and have the principal sign it.  If you can, bring a witness.  While these precautions may seem overboard, it is for your own protection as well as that of your child.  If the principal or primary school leader refuses to accept your information, yells at you, or acts in a way that in any way appears to be intimidating, please let me know.  My email is kevino3670@yahoo.com or you can join the Refuse The Test Delaware page on Facebook.

Tomorrow, I will put down every single district or charter school board meeting for February.  Others opted out at board meetings last year.  It sends a clear message to the decision makers.  These are public meetings.  You can sign up for public comment when you get to the board meeting.

February is also Parent Rights month.  Throughout the month, I will write articles on why your rights matter.  In most situations, a parent knows what is best for their child.  Our voices are ignored a lot when it comes to education.  We are treated as “guests” at many of our schools and that is unacceptable.  The Supreme Court recognized the rights of parents many times.  It is YOUR child, not the school’s child.  Some will tell you when your child walks into school, they are no longer your child but the school or the principal’s child.  This is completely false, and actually very damaging.  If you don’t want your child to take the Smarter Balanced Assessment, they can’t make your child take it.

I believe in my soul this test has no purpose other than to feed data to outside companies to which they will profit greatly off your child.  It won’t help your child.  It will cause them anxiety.  Some schools are attempting to coerce kids into taking the test by offering some type of reward.  A charter school is thinking of giving the top performers tickets to an amusement park.  What kind of message does that send?  Some children don’t do well on these types of tests no matter how smart they are.  Some children have disabilities.  How does that make a child feel?  Some who take this test will try very hard and they still won’t be proficient.  Do we reward the top and tell the others they have to watch as others get awards and rewards?  That does far more damage than anything else.  Don’t let your child be a pawn in these adult games.  Let your child be child.  Opt your child out as soon as possible.

*The above photograph was used on the Edubloggers.org website.

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.

State Board Passes Opt-Out Penalty Against Schools

The Delaware State Board of Education just passed the Delaware School Success Framework with the opt-out penalty multiplier included.  This is a very sad day in Delaware: for students, parents, schools, educators, and citizens.  I feel sad for all the students who are going to be pressured non-stop to perform well on this test.  I feel sad for the parents who are going to face an enormous amount of pressure against opting out.  I feel sad for Delaware.  This is your legacy Governor Markell.  Shame on you.

The vote passed with four yes votes: Gray, Heffernan, Coverdale, and Rutt.  Bunting abstained.  Melendez and Whitaker were absent.  Can’t blame them, wouldn’t want this vote showing.

This fight has just begun.  The DOE obviously wants a war with parents, and they just got it.

The Exceptional Delaware Reward, Recognition, Priority, Focus and Focus Plus Schools of 2015

For the first ever Exceptional Delaware Honor Roll, I would like to congratulate the schools and particular grades that went below the 95% “mandatory” participation rate for the Smarter Balanced Assessment. With that being said, there could be a multitude of reasons for that participation rate, and it may not necessarily be because of parent opt-out. It could be because of medical reasons, expulsions, or in extreme cases, maybe a touch of the Bubonic Plague. I noticed a large trend in many districts where the participation rate was higher for ELA than Math. Sometimes it was the reverse, but mostly that. I have to wonder how many parents opted out after their child took the first test. For some districts, they would not have been recognized if it weren’t for many of their juniors saying “See ya” to the Smarter Balanced Assessment. These are the students who are paving the way for the younger ones.  My biggest question is what in the world happened with 4th graders at East Side Charter School?

Christina… all I can say is WOW! You far surpassed my expectations with opt-out. With all the smears and bad looks this district gets from the DOE and whatnot, I am proud to announce Christina School District as the winner of the Opt-Out Performance Fund! They will receive a special gift at their next regular board meeting in recognition of this honor. And Red Clay’s Conrad! Fantastic! Below 50% for 11th graders! You are an inspiration to all!

Under the United States Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the fine folks at the US DOE like to throw things called flexibility waivers at the states.  Under No Child Left Behind, enacted during the second President Bush years, all schools in the country had to be proficient by 2014.  If they weren’t, all hell would break loose.  So under President Obama and his Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, they threw states a bone called Race To The Top: adapt our Common Core standards, and make a big test based on it, and we will let you slide from the whole No Child Left Behind thing.  Then they started throwing more bones called flexibility waivers.  Hey, do this, and you are safe from No Child Left Behind.  This is what created the most severe school labeling system ever created.  But I am turning it around.

REWARD & RECOGNITION SCHOOLS

All of these schools and grades… I am so proud of them. Parents made a choice, and it showed. While these aren’t anywhere close to New York numbers, it’s a very good start. The ones that are 90% or below get to be REWARD schools. Yeah, it’s one grade, but they went below 95%!  All the Reward Schools got a special prize. The ones between 91-94% are recognition schools for any grade that caused the participation rate to go below 95%. Great job everyone!

Appoquinimink School District:

Appoquinimink High School, 11th Grade ELA: 93%

Appoquinimink High School, 11th Grade Math: 94%

Middletown High School, 11th Grade Math: 92%

Old State Elementary School, 4th Grade Math: 94%

Waters Middle School, 8th Grade Math: 93%

Brandywine School District:

Brandywine High School, 11th Grade Math: 92%

Concord High School, 11th Grade Math: 94%

Hanby Elementary School, 3rd Grade ELA: 94%

Harlan Elementary School, 3rd Grade Math: 89% 🙂 🙂

Campus Community School:

7th Grade Math: 93%

Cape Henlopen School District:

Shields Elementary School, 4th Grade Math: 92%

Capital School District:

Central Middle School, 7th Grade Math: 94%

Dover High School, 11th Grade Math: 92%

East Dover Elementary School, 3rd Grade Math: 94%

East Dover Elementary School, 4th Grade Math: 93%

Fairview Elementary School, 3rd Grade ELA: 89% 🙂 🙂

Fairview Elementary School, 3rd Grade Math: 90% 🙂

Christina School District:

Bayard Middle School, 6th Grade Math: 92%

Bayard Middle School, 7th Grade ELA: 92%

Bayard Middle School, 7th Grade Math: 92%

Bayard Middle School, 8th Grade Math: 92%

Brader Elementary School, 3rd Grade Math: 94%

Brader Elementary School, 5th Grade Math: 90% 🙂

Brookside Elementary School, 5th Grade ELA: 90% 🙂

Brookside Elementary School, 3rd Grade Math: 92%

Brookside Elementary School, 4th Grade Math: 86% 🙂 🙂

Brookside Elementary School, 5th Grade Math: 79% 🙂 🙂 🙂

Christiana High School, 11th Grade ELA: 84% 🙂 🙂

Christiana High School, 11th Grade Math: 88% 🙂 🙂

Elbert-Palmer Elementary School, 3rd Grade Math: 90% 🙂

Gallaher Elementary School, 3rd Grade Math: 93%

Gallaher Elementary School, 5th Grade Math: 93%

Gauger-Cobbs Middle School, 6th Grade Math: 94%

Gauger-Cobbs Middle School, 7th Grade Math: 92%

Gauger-Cobbs Middle School, 8th Grade ELA: 92%

Gauger-Cobbs Middle School, 8th Grade Math: 86% 🙂 🙂

Glasgow High School, 11th Grade ELA: 82% 🙂 🙂

Glasgow High School, 11th Grade Math: 82% 🙂 🙂

Keene Elementary School, 4th Grade ELA: 92%

Keene Elementary School, 5th Grade ELA: 92%

Keene Elementary School, 5th Grade Math: 93%

Kirk Middle School, 6th Grade Math: 94%

Maclary Elementary School, 3rd Grade ELA: 92%

Maclary Elementary School, 3rd Grade Math: 86% 🙂 🙂

Maclary Elementary School, 4th Grade ELA: 90% 🙂

Maclary Elementary School, 4th Grade Math: 90% 🙂

Marshall Elementary School, 3rd Grade ELA: 93%

McVey Elementary School, 4th Grade ELA: 89% 🙂

McVey Elementary School, 4th Grade Math: 87% 🙂

Newark High School, 11th Grade ELA: 55% 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Newark High School, 11th Grade Math: 56% 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Shue-Medill Middle School, 6th Grade ELA: 94%

West Park Place Elementary School, 3rd Grade ELA: 94%

West Park Place Elementary School, 3rd Grade Math: 93%

West Park Place Elementary School, 4th Grade Math: 83% 🙂 🙂

West Park Place Elementary School, 5th Grade ELA: 89% 🙂 🙂

West Park Place Elementary School, 5th Grade Math: 92%

Colonial School District:

Bedford Middle School, 8th Grade Math: 94%

Penn High School, 11th Grade ELA: 92%

Penn High School, 11th Grade Math: 89% 🙂 🙂

Pleasantville Elementary School, 3rd Grade ELA: 92%

Pleasantville Elementary School, 3rd Grade Math: 92%

Southern Elementary School, 3rd Grade Math: 93%

Southern Elementary School, 4th Grade ELA: 92%

Southern Elementary School, 4th Grade Math: 86% 🙂 🙂

Southern Elementary School, 5th Grade Math: 93%

Delmar School District:

Delmar High School, 11th Grade Math: 93%

East Side Charter School:

4th Grade ELA: 90% 🙂

4th Grade Math: 90% 🙂

Gateway Lab School:

3rd Grade Math: 90% 🙂

4th Grade ELA: 92%

4th Grade Math: 93%

7th Grade Math: 92%

Indian River School District:

Sussex Central High School, 11th Grade ELA: 93%

Sussex Central High School, 11th Grade Math: 92%

Laurel School District:

Laurel Senior High School, 11th Grade ELA: 94%

Laurel Senior High School, 11th Grade Math: 93%

Milford School District:

Milford Senior High School, 11th Grade ELA: 88% 🙂

Milford Senior High School, 11th Grade Math: 88% 🙂

Moyer:

7th Grade ELA: 88% 🙂 🙂

7th Grade Math: 88% 🙂 🙂

11th Grade ELA: 65% 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

11th Grade Math: 69% 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

New Castle County Vo-Tech School District:

Delcastle Technical High School, 11th Grade Math: 94%

Hodgson Vocational Technical H.S., 11th Grade ELA: 91%

Hodgson Vocational Technical H.S., 11th Grade Math: 90% 🙂

St. Georges Technical High School, 11th Grade ELA: 90% 🙂

St. Georges Technical High School, 11th Grade Math: 87% 🙂 🙂

Polytech School District:

Polytech High School, 11th Grade ELA: 94%

Polytech High School, 11th Grade Math: 92%

Positive Outcomes Charter School:

7th Grade Math: 90% 🙂

Prestige Academy:

7th Grade Math: 94%

Reach Academy For Girls:

4th Grade ELA: 75% 🙂 🙂 🙂

4th Grade Math: 75% 🙂 🙂 🙂

6th Grade ELA: 92%

8th Grade ELA: 78% 🙂 🙂 🙂

Red Clay Consolidated School District:

A.I. DuPont High School, 11th Grade ELA: 63% 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

A.I. DuPont High School, 11th Grade Math: 64% 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

A.I. DuPont Middle School, 8th Grade ELA: 94%

A.I. DuPont Middle School, 8th Grade Math: 94%

Brandywine Springs School, 8th Grade Math: 93%

Cab Calloway School of the Arts, 11th Grade ELA: 84% 🙂 🙂

Cab Calloway School of the Arts, 11th Grade Math: 92%

Conrad Schools of Science, 8th Grade ELA: 94%

Conrad Schools of Science, 11th Grade ELA: 40% 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Conrad Schools of Science, 11th Grade ELA: 47% 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Heritage Elementary School, 5th Grade ELA: 90% 🙂

Heritage Elementary School, 5th Grade Math: 89% 🙂 🙂

Seaford School District:

Seaford Central Elementary School, 3rd Grade Math: 92%

Seaford Central Elementary School, 5th Grade Math: 92%

Seaford Middle School, 6th Grade Math: 94%

Seaford Senior High School, 11th Grade ELA: 93%

Seaford Senior High School, 11th Grade Math: 89% 🙂 🙂

Smyrna School District:

North Smyrna Elementary School, 4th Grade ELA: 94%

The below schools…they didn’t go below the 95% participation mark in any grade for either ELA or Math on the Smarter Balanced Assessment. But there were quite a few that were right at the 95% mark in some grades, and also at 96%. So we can tip the scales by getting the word out. These are the 2015-2016 schools where there are some opt-outs, but we need a lot more. Some of the charters may have only had one or two opt-outs in one grade. But that one opt-out parent can spread the word! But these schools are the 2015-2016 Focus Schools or Focus Districts. If they are a charter school, they did not dip below 95% in any grade. For school districts, I just picked certain schools who hovered around the 99% mark. For one school, it just can’t ever get out of being labeled no matter what it does! This is your chance Stubbs! If it’s in red, it’s a Focus Plus school. That means they had maybe a handful of kids opt-out. Which is good, but not earth-shattering. We need those handful of parents who opted their kids out to spread the word!

NEED TO GET THE WORD OUT ABOUT OPT-OUT FOR THESE FOCUS AND FOCUS PLUS SCHOOLS
 

Allen Frear Elementary School (Caesar Rodney) (Focus Plus)

Banneker Elementary School (Milford)

Bunker Hill Elementary School (Appoquinimink)

Clayton Elementary School (Smyrna) (Focus Plus)

Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security

Delaware College Prep

Delaware Military Academy

Delmar Middle School (Delmar) (Focus Plus)

Family Foundations Academy

Hartly Elementary School (Capital) (Focus Plus)

Howard High School of Technology (New Castle County Vo-Tech)

Indian River High School (Indian River)

Kuumba Academy

Lake Forest School District

Lancashire Elementary School (Brandywine)

Las Americas ASPIRA Academy (Focus Plus)

Lombardy Elementary School (Brandywine) (Focus Plus)

Long Neck Elementary School

Lord Baltimore Elementary School (Focus Plus)

Maple Lane Elementary School (Brandywine) (Focus Plus)

MOT Charter School (Focus Plus)

Mount Pleasant Elementary School (Brandywine)

Newark Charter School (Focus Plus)

New Castle Elementary School (Colonial) (Focus Plus)

Oberle Elementary School (Christina)

Odyssey Charter School (Focus Plus)

Providence Creek Academy

Pulaski Elementary School (Christina)

Showell Elementary School (Indian River) (Focus Plus)

Silver Lake Elementary School (Appoquinimink)

Smyrna Elementary School (Smyrna) (Focus Plus)

Stubbs Elementary School (Christina)

Sussex Academy (Focus Plus)

Sussex Technical School District

Thomas Edison Charter School (Focus Plus)

W.B. Simpson Elementary School (Caesar Rodney) (Focus Plus)

W. Reily Brown Elementary School (Caesar Rodney) (Focus Plus)

Woodbridge School District

Below are the 2015-2016 Priority Schools. The three charters had NO opt-outs, along with the other schools. For the charters, one was on Formal Review and was probably scared that one opt-out would shut them down so they allegedly told parents it was not allowed. Another one has the lowest of minorities (aside from Asian), special education, and low-income students in the entire state. And the 3rd… their Head of School spoke out about opt-out at the House Education Committee meeting on House Bill 50 so this truly doesn’t shock me. Other Montessori schools I’ve spoken too were somewhat shocked and believe opposing parental rights like this goes against the whole Montessori model. If anyone from any of these schools did opt their child out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment, please let me know cause that means something is seriously wrong. Because >99% is pretty damn close to 100%. And you can’t have 100% with one single opt-out.

If I had to guess, a lot of these schools are telling parents they can’t opt their kid out. Or the school has 100% drank the Kool-Aid the DOE gives them and gave it to all the parents. I know some of the leaders of these schools, and some are no-nonsense leaders. Some are known to be very tough. Don’t let them intimidate you. These are my extra special schools this year. Under priority status, they will be watched very closely. Unlike the DOE I won’t make them pick new leaders and fire half their teachers. And I won’t make them sign a Memorandum of Understanding that makes no sense whatsoever by a certain date. I won’t tell them comply or die either. But they are Priority Schools for opt-out, and this is a Code Red alert for Delaware! This is just plain unacceptable…  They get a very special label in recognition of two very special legislators who opposed House Bill 50 the loudest (and they were also the Chairs of the House and Senate Education Committee).

THE EARL JAQUES AND DAVE SOKOLA PRIORITY SCHOOLS OF DELAWARE

Academy of Dover 😦

Charter School of Wilmington 😦

First State Montessori Academy 😦

Lake Forest North Elementary School (Lake Forest) 😦

Lake Forest South Elementary School (Lake Forest) 😦

Richardson Park (Elementary School) (Red Clay) 😦

Star Hill Elementary School (Caesar Rodney)  😦

South Dover Elementary School (Capital) 😦

Sussex Technical High School (Sussex Tech) 😦

For our school principals and superintendents and charter leaders: I’m watching you. I’ve been watching you. The DOE is on the stage, putting on their show. You are all in the audience, and you are literally paying for their performance. Rodel and Vision and the Delaware Business Roundtable are providing all the lighting and special effects, with equipment bought from all the corporate education reform companies around the country. I see the State Board providing the symphony. The legislators are paying all the bills and making sure everything is up to snuff (or in some situations allowing the audience to be robbed blind).  And the director, none other than Delaware Governor Jack Markell. His assistant went exit stage left, but we are waiting to see what his new guy does. And me, I’m the guy up on the catwalk watching the whole thing unfold. I see all of it. I had to get rid of some of the cobwebs up there to see better, but I can see things very clearly right now.  And guess what, I’m not alone.  I’m inviting parents all the time to watch too.  And more and more are watching the play.  They are telling me “hey, you see that guy over there, he told me I couldn’t opt-out my son” or “they told me I have to get a doctor’s note” or sometimes it’s a parent/teacher telling me “our superintendent says only he gets to decide who opts out.”

As of this very moment, I am giving you all amnesty. You are pardoned if I wrote negative things about you concerning opt-out last year.  Some of you actually came through in a big way on the Accountability Framework Working Group and turned the scales on the DOE.  We have a clean slate.  Don’t get all offended if your school is on this list.  The DOE has this information up too, but I’m just reversing the labels for true accountability purposes.  The good news: if your school is a Focus, Focus Plus, or Priority School, you can easily get out of it in the Spring.  All of you will be hearing from me very soon.  But just so you know, all of us on the catwalk are watching…

To all the very brave parents who opted their child out last Spring, I want to say Thank You. You made a very brave decision, and I salute you. Your job now is to do the same this year, no matter what threats or bullying gestures are thrown your way. Hopefully House Bill 50 will be vetoed by the time Smarter Balanced rolls around again next Spring, but if not do what you did this year. While some may have looked down on you for that decision, stand by your convictions. Even if it was in a “high-performing” school. And spread the word. The doors of conversation will start to open up in the coming week when parents get their kids results. You don’t have to worry about that. Cause your child is a not-having-to-take-the-test rock star, and you made the right decision.

If your school isn’t on this list, you can check it all out here:

http://www.doe.k12.de.us/cms/lib09/DE01922744/Centricity/Domain/111/Attachment3%20SchoolandCharterPerformanceParticipationUpdated0917.pdf

NBC Philadelphia Coverage of Delaware Parent Strike!

It’s not often NBC Channel 10 from Philadelphia comes to a Delaware State Board of Education meeting, but this happened yesterday after the Parent Strike press conference outside Legislative Hall in Dover.  You can watch the video here and see reporter Tim Furlong cover the events.

http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/video/#!/news/politics/Achievement-Gap-Remains-in-Delaware’s-New-Standardized-Test/328104041

Dear Secretary Arne Duncan Letter, Federal and State Complaints Against DOE & State Board Revealed

Today is Parent Strike!  I will be holding a press conference shortly in front of Legislative Hall.  It could be five people, or it could be a hundred.  Either way a message will be sent and it will be one the Delaware Department of Education will NEVER forget.  I found their Achilles heel, actually, many of them once I knew what to do.  For some of this, it took weeks of culminating information.  For others, it was just a matter of attending a meeting.  It is past time the Delaware DOE was held accountable for THEIR actions.  They know this is coming, and they have not reached out once to explain anything.

It is not my intention to demolish the DOE.  It is my intention for them to want to change their actions.

In the below document, I sent an email to United States Secretary of Education Arne Duncan earlier this morning.  For clarity purposes, SEA stands for State Educational Agency, or what we all refer to in Delaware, as the DOE.  LEA stands for Local Educational Agency, commonly known as school districts or an individual charter school.

So what are the complaints I filed against the Delaware Department of Education, the State Board of Education and Executive Director of the State Board of Education Donna Johnson?

Delaware Department of Education:

It is my contention for the following: Delaware DOE failed to adequately provide for public comment on Delaware’s ESEA Flexibility Renewal in March of 2015- the DOE released a draft of their ESEA waiver to the public.  The DOE failed to include the “participation rate” category in the draft they released to the public even though it was already an approved category for the Delaware School Success Framework by the private, non-public Accountability Framework Working Group.  The DOE put it in their final draft on 3/31/2015 without any public comment on this portion.  This was, in my opinion, done deliberately to prevent support for House Bill 50, the opt-out legislation which was stirring a lot of public debate in March of 2015.

Complaint filed with the US Department of Education Office of Inspector General on 9/16/15, Complaint filed with Delaware Department of Justice on 9/10/15

It is my contention the Delaware Department of Education has failed to monitor crucial special education practices in respect to Delaware charter schools and a continued practice of denied Individualized Education Programs.  Because of the very low n number in relation to school accountability with standardized test scores, it has allowed Delaware charter schools to keep a low number of special education students.  All too often, many students are either expelled or counseled out from the charter school, or the parents do not return the child to the charter school the next school year.  The Delaware DOE is very much aware of these issues as I met with the Director of the Exceptional Children Resources Group last year and she advised me there is no method by which the DOE can keep track of these instances and they will not because the “due process system is more than fair”.  The DOE has allowed this environment to continue without any repercussions for anyone except the aggrieved student and their families.  All too often, parents are forced to seek outside counsel to resolve issues which tends to resolve itself in a mediation, but the damage has already been done for the student with disabilities.

Complaint filed with the US DOE Office of Civil Rights on 9/16/15

The Delaware DOE charged $300 for a Freedom of Information Act request I submitted on 9/10/15.  The request was for an email search for a few people at Delaware DOE in the past month to another state agency.  It is my contention they failed to provide a list of all charges for the request.  They claimed DTI is the one charging the costs for the email search, which is correct, but they did not provide a breakdown of any other charges for the FOIA. They stated in email they would not continue with the request until I paid $300 for the DTI search.  As well, I asked if their public information officer could simply ask the individuals for the emails and I received no response to this.  This is after the DOJ already issued a legal opinion on another FOIA matter and stated the DOE failed to adequately follow this part of state law.

Complaint filed with the Delaware Department of Justice on 9/11/15

Delaware State Board of Education:

By approving an ESEA flexibility renewal for submission to the US DOE without public comment on a crucial section, the State Board, as directed by their Executive Director Donna Johnson, approved a non-transparent and illegal ESEA draft because they duped the public by leaving out crucial parts, similar to the DOE complaint

Complaint filed with the Delaware Department of Justice on 9/10/15

Delaware Department of Education AND Delaware State Board of Education:

I attended part of the State Board of Education Retreat on Monday, September 14th.  This was a public meeting, announced by the State Board of Education on their website and also on the Public Meeting Calendar on the state website.  I was the only member of the public in attendance at this meeting.  As the Delaware Department of Education was about to present information on the state assessment, Smarter Balanced Assessment, I openly asked if there was any embargoed information.  State Board of Education Executive Director Donna Johnson said “No, this is a public meeting.”

During a presentation by the head of instruction, Dr. Michael Watson, he was going through a slide show, and as he was going to the next one, he told me “This is embargoed information.”  But he presented it anyways, at a public meeting.  Later on in the afternoon, as the DOE and State Board were about to discuss information on the Smarter Balanced results, Donna Johnson, Shana Young (DOE) and Dr. Penny Schwinn (DOE) kept looking at me, whispering, and announced they would not be showing some information but it would be sent to the State Board members.  Even later, DOE employee Ryan Reyna advised of a slide with “embargoed” information concerning Smarter Balanced Assessment results for sub-groups.  It is my contention the State Board of Education and the Delaware DOE conspired to hold information they would have otherwise shown if I was not present, and when they did present information that was “embargoed”, they attempted to persuade me to not reveal it.  This is not in the spirit of an “open meeting” and violates FOIA in my opinion.  I am requesting a legal opinion on this matter.

Complaint filed with the Delaware Department of Justice on 9/17/15

State Board of Education President Dr. Teri Quinn Gray:

In her capacity as President of the State Board of Education, Dr. Gray is in a position of making education decisions for the students of Delaware.  Frequently, the Delaware Department of Education contracts or pays certain vendors to provide information to the Delaware State Board of Education to enact policy or regulatory changes.  One such vendor is the U.S. Education Delivery Institute.  Dr. Gray sits on the board of that company as well.  This company has received $345,218.50 from the DOE since FY2011 without any public acknowledgment from Dr. Gray of her capacity on this board.  This is a conflict of interest, both morally and financial.

Complaint filed with the Delaware Department of Justice on 9/17/15

State Board of Education Executive Director Donna Johnson:

In her capacity as a State of Delaware employee and the Executive Director of the State Board of Education, Donna Johnson emailed personal student information  as well as medical information about the student to a person who did not need to know this and asked this person to intervene instead of the local school district authority, she also emailed medical information about a Delaware Department of Education employee to the same person.  Both of these, in my opinion, are clear and blatant violations of FERPA and HIPAA laws.  The person she emailed this information to is myself.  As well, through personal email, Donna Johnson sent official state business to the same individual, and it is my contention, she sometimes conveyed false information, such as suggesting two members of the Christina School Board reported their own district to the Delaware State Auditor resulting in an official investigation by the State Auditor’s office.  The State Auditor’s office publicly stated there is no investigative audit going on with the Christina School District.  It is my contention Donna Johnson used this false information in an attempt to publicly ridicule and demean a traditional school district which had failed in two referendum attempts and was in the midst of internal tension due to a leave of absence of their Superintendent.  Both board members openly informed me they never made a call to the State Board of Education about a request for an investigative audit against the school district they serve.  In addition, through various blog commenter handles, Donna Johnson attempted to sway public policy using pseudonyms and aliases while she was privy to information the public did not know.

Complaint filed with Delaware Department of Justice on 9/10/15.

So there you have it.  And I will say this now, every single time the Delaware Department of Education, the State Board of Education, or any employee violates FOIA, or any other single law in this state, I will report them.  I urge every single citizen in the state to do the same.  They wanted accountability.  I just hope they are able to give the same rigor and grit during the coming months, when they have to answer for all this, that they expect out of Delaware students and teachers.  This is Delaware education, the sides the public doesn’t see.  And it is just beginning…

Below is just part of the formal complaints issued with the Delaware Department of Justice.

Believe

Believe in parents because we know what is best for our children!

Believe in parents because we know what is best for our

Believe in parents because we know what is best for

Believe in parents because we know what is best

Believe in parents because we know what is

Believe in parents because we know what

Believe in parents because we know

Believe in parents because we

Believe in parents because

Believe in parents

Believe in

Believe

Believe we can make a difference!

Believe we can make a

Believe we can make

Believe we can

Believe we

Believe

Believe we will fight for our children!

Believe we will fight for our

Believe we will fight for

Believe we will fight

Believe we will

Believe we

Believe

 

 

 

PARENT STRIKE!

 

 

Believe your child is just data to the DOE

Believe your child is just data to the

Believe your child is just data to

Believe your child is just data

Believe your child is just

Believe your child is

Believe your child

Believe your

Believe

Believe the DOE knows nothing about individuals and creativity

Believe the DOE knows nothing about individuals and

Believe the DOE knows nothing about individuals

Believe the DOE knows nothing about

Believe the DOE knows nothing

Believe the DOE knows

Believe the DOE

Believe the

Believe

Believe and refuse the test for your child

Believe and refuse the test for your

Believe and refuse the test for

Believe and refuse the test

Believe and refuse the

Believe and refuse

Believe and

Believe

TOMORROW

THURSDAY

SEPTEMBER

17th

PARENT STRIKE!

LEGISLATIVE HALL

DOVER, DE

12:30PM

LET’S MAKE SOME NOISE!!!!!!!

Parent Strike: What Is It? How Can I Help? What If I Can’t Come?

These are the questions Delaware parents have been asking me for the past five days, and it is time for some answers.  Parent Strike is a national effort on September 17th, coordinated with Constitution Day, whereby parents across America attempt to stop the insanity that has become public education.

What Is So Bad About Public Education?

  • The high-stakes testing environment which has culminated in the Smarter Balanced Assessment
  • The lost school-time based on test prep and interim assessments
  • The penalties to schools and teachers over low-scores in our high-needs schools
  • The hundreds of millions of dollars that have gone to outside companies instead of into our schools
  • The extreme amount of interference from companies without educators who think they know how to “fix” education
  • The lack of transparency from the State of Delaware with the Smarter Balanced Assessment
  • Regulations inserted into code without any legislative input by the State Board of Education
  • The very structure of the Smarter Balanced Assessment
  • American Institutes for Research as the testing vendor for Smarter Balanced
  • Classroom sizes that are way too big and even the most advantaged children are not able to learn
  • Schools with low demographics of sub-groups being labeled as “Recognition” or “Reward” schools
  • Schools with high demographics of sub-groups being labeled as “Focus” or “Priority” schools
  • The lack of true stakeholder input in the creation of standardized assessments
  • The complete and utter disregard by Governor Markell in failing to listen to parents and the legislators of Delaware with his veto of House Bill 50
  • The continued bullying and intimidation of parents by districts or charter schools when they give an opt-out letter
  • The charter schools even giving a hint that students may not get a spot or won’t be able to keep their spot over opt-out
  • The Common Core implementation and many disturbing aspects in it that have nothing to do with education
  • The lack of oversight over special education in our schools and listening to parents
  • Regulation 103 and it’s punitive measures against students, teachers, schools, and communities

How Can I Help?

  • Write a Refuse The Test letter to your child’s school advising them your child will not take the Smarter Balanced Assessment during this school year and you expect your child to have an education while other students are testing and hand it to the administrator of the school first thing in the morning
  • Attend a press conference outside Legislative Hall in Dover at 12:30 pm and go to the State Board of Education meeting at 1pm and give public comment about your opposition to Regulation 103
  • Talk with other parents at your child’s school about opt-out if they are not aware of it
  • Wear a red shirt as a symbol of protest for Parent Strike
  • Drop off flyers everywhere you go with a print-out of these bullet points
  • Paint REFUSE THE TEST on your car (with temporary paint)
  • Use stealth guerilla tactics: Put sticky notes everywhere (bathroom stalls, school supplies, in cereal and toy aisles at stores, anywhere you can think of) with REFUSE THE TEST written on it
  • Thank your child’s teacher for all they do and that you are willing to fight for them
  • Help a parent write a REFUSE THE TEST letter
  • On the night before, use sidewalk chalk on pathways parents use to walk their children to school
  • Whatever you can think of to legally spread the message

What If I Can’t Come To Dover?

  • You aren’t required to come, but all are welcome and a larger crowd always sends a larger message
  • You can write letters to the editor of your local paper
  • You can go to your local board meeting and give public comment about opt-out and your thoughts about what is going on with education
  • Plan an event for a future date to gather parents in your district to discuss what is going on with pubic education
  • Email your State Representative, State Senator, Congressmen, Governor Markell, the Delaware Department of Education and the State Board of Education
  • You can read all about it with hashtag #parentstrike on Twitter and the Parent Strike Facebook page and see what others in Delaware and the USA are doing

I’m going to tell a story.  The first time I went to a public meeting knowing I would give public comment, I was scared out of my mind.  I didn’t believe my voice could make a difference.  It was the State Board of Education meeting in April 2014.  Since then, I have spoken at several events.  I’ve reached out to fellow citizens across the state, from Wilmington to Rehoboth, and answered questions to the best of my ability.  I’ve educated, informed, and spent a great deal of time helping other parents.  But I won’t ever forget that first time, the hardest time.

The power of voice is one of the most amazing things in creation.  I encourage anyone speaking publicly on something they believe in for their children to reach back to the moment your child was born.  When you first looked into their eyes and vowed you would do whatever you can to protect them.  Over the years, we lose some of that.  It gets lost in all the noise.  We may know something could be bad for our child, but other factors get in the way.  We worry about the implications and overthink things to the point where we are unable to act.  Many have asked me how I can do all I do.  I don’t have an easy answer for that.  But I always remember that initial promise to my son.  The one moment that matters most of all, born out of unconditional love.

It’s not an easy thing, being brave.  It takes courage you may not think you have.  It means taking yourself out of your usual comfort zone.  Any advocate or activist started out this way.  It’s not a matter of being practical, it’s about being radical.  Too many of us see “radicals” as sign-carrying flower children from the 1960s yelling and screaming all the time or protests getting arrested.  Being radical means going against the viewpoint of those you think are wrong.  That’s it.  There is no formula to it.  I can promise you, once you start, it gets easier.  I won’t say the words get easier, but it gets easier to speak them.  The very best public comments I’ve ever heard are those initial ones, because they come from the heart and usually carry a great deal of emotion.

You need to ask yourself: who is going to speak for my child?  Teachers can’t.  Not when it comes to standardized testing and opt-out.  Your friend can’t, your neighbor can’t and your child can’t.  Only YOU can.

These are the groups or people that talk a lot about education and what’s best for your child but they also brought us to this point and you should take what they say with a grain of salt: Governor Markell, the Delaware Department of Education, the State Board of Education, the Rodel Foundation of Delaware, the Vision Coalition, the Delaware Business Roundtable, and the Delaware Charter Schools Network.  As well, for parents of minority children, I implore you to do research.  There are many civil rights groups who speak the same kind of language as the above entities.  Always find the connections.  For example, the Wilmington Metropolitan Urban League spoke out against opt-out claiming it would put at-risk children even further behind.  As we have seen from the initial results of Smarter Balanced, the gaps widened even further than they did last year.  I like to think these groups go with the governmental flow and take things at face value without doing their own research.

People will tell you that you are wrong.  They will argue your points until you are blue in the face.  That’s alright.  Ask them how they know they are right and you are wrong.  Ask them for research to support their points of view.  But never, ever, just give up and throw your hands up in the air.  Don’t let Governor Markell tell you what you speak out about is a recipe for the status quo.  Don’t let Rodel tell you what your child needs to succeed.  Listen to your heart and your own convictions.

Some will tell you I am just a rebel rouser, or a fire-starter, just looking to cause chaos due to injustices inflicted on my son in the past.  They couldn’t be further from the truth.  I have no vested interest whether your child is opted out or not.  I don’t get paid one single solitary cent for what I do.  Blog stats are just numbers that mean nothing to anyone.  I believe.  I believe education can and should be more than what it has become.  There are far too many in power dictating every single move, and the result is a generation that will suffer immensely.  Unless we stop it, and we stop it now.

Please share this post on your Facebook page, or your Twitter account, or Instagram.  Email it to friends.  If you believe, don’t be afraid to let others know.  Any movement starts with a few voices but it can rise to a legion more powerful than anything.

Interim Delaware Secretary of Education Godowsky Needs To Learn From New York Superintendent Elia

State Education Commissioner Mary Ellen Elia says she won’t prevent parents who want their children to skip the state’s standardized tests from doing so.

Diane Ravitch is reporting New York State Education Commissioner Mary Ellen Elia will not try to stop parent opt-out.  This is a welcome relief for hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers I’m sure.  New York had the highest opt-out rates of any state in the country last spring, and all indications are pointing to these numbers increasing nationwide next year.  Bottom line: parents are fed up and sick of their children going through these state assessments.

In Delaware, we will find out how our state did tomorrow when the mighty Markell and the distorted DOE release the 2015 results for the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  Will they release the participation rate for the test?  Or will we have to wait for the State Board of Education presentation on September 17th for that?  Whatever the opt-out numbers are, they WILL increase in 2016.

I’m already hearing about how districts are bragging that they did better than they thought.  But there is no indication if this is better than the proficiency rates for DCAS from last year.  One common thing I am hearing in Delaware as well as the rest of the country: students with disabilities did very bad on the Smarter Balanced.  Really bad.  Single digit proficiency in a lot of cases…

Will Dr. Steven Godowsky, the Interim Delaware Secretary of Education do anything?  He has been very quiet since the “resignation” of Mark Murphy two and a half weeks ago.  Will he be a Markell puppet or his own man? One thing is for sure, if districts, charters and the DOE thought they had their hands full with opt-out requests this year, they might want to fasten their seatbelts, because REFUSE THE TEST DELAWARE is going to give them a long and bumpy ride!

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!

State Rep. Pete Schwartzkopf Will Not Vote For HB50 Veto Override, Cites SJR #2 As Reason

In an article today by Melissa Steele in the Cape Gazette, Delaware Speaker of the House Pete Schwartzkopf emphatically said no to any type of veto override for House Bill 50.

On the House side, Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf, D-Rehoboth Beach, said he will not support an override attempt. He voted yes for the bill in June, but he said he would call no special session to override the veto, and he will vote no for the override if it comes up after the legislative session resumes in January.

How does that song by Cyndie Lauper go, “I’ll see your true colors, shining through…”.  It sounds like he swallowed the poison pill that is Senate Joint Resolution #2 as well.  This is the statewide assessment inventory resolution that was always meant to counter House Bill 50.  Schwartkopf even said so in the article:

Schwartzkopf said based on the joint resolution, a task force is being established, and a lot of concerns of over testing may be resolved by its recommendation.

“Let’s give the task force a chance to look at this,” he said.

For those who may not recall, I was livid when SJR #2 was introduced, and even beforehand.  Once Markell announced his “overtesting” initiative, I knew this would be his huge attack against parent opt-out.  I even called allies out in their support of SJR #2, because I knew what it was meant to do.  And here we are, with a veto of an opt-out bill and a push for SJR #2.  If ANYONE thinks Smarter Balanced will be a major discussion point in the assessment inventory, in terms of eliminating that test, they are going to be fooled.  The talk will last for five minutes until someone says “We can’t get rid of it, it’s a federal requirement.”

Perhaps the day has come where Schwartzkopf shouldn’t be able to run the show anymore on the House side in Dover.  Maybe the House Bill 50 veto isn’t the only thing that needs to change down  there.

Meanwhile, Delaware State Senator Ernie Lopez is very much in favor of overriding the veto.

“Smarter Balanced has been the culmination and been on the receiving end of frustration on all levels,” he said. “All of us are disappointed in the governor’s response.”

Now that is a legislator quote I can agree with!  Once and for all we will see which legislators side with parents and which side with Markell in any veto override attempt in January.  And yes, as Senator Bryan Townsend said during the final senate vote on House Bill 50, legislators are being tested with this vote.  And with 11 out of 21 senate seats and all 41 of the House Representative seats open for re-election in November 2016, you better believe it!  Parents are watching what our legislators do like never before.

Rep. Kowalko & Senator Lawson Slam Markell’s HB50 Veto With Style & Facts!!

With permission from State Rep. John Kowalko to publish his letter that appeared on Delawareonline earlier this afternoon!

Markell Veto…..Opt-out or Cop-out

                It has been one week since we received Governor Markell’s message that he had vetoed House Bill 50 (the parental opt out rights bill). We feel it is our obligation, as responsible lawmakers, to thoroughly review and consider all aspects of Governor Markell’s stated reasons for vetoing this legislation.
Unfortunately, we found little if any reasonable logic to the Governor’s action and explanation. Quite frankly, there were a few questionable inaccuracies in the statement that lead us to believe that Governor Markell’s action was premeditated with little thought given to the overwhelming support from parents, teachers, administrators, school boards, and the General Assembly for HB 50.
We made every effort to grasp the argument that the administration was trying to make, but the indefatigable truth remains that he had no logical reason to reject the wishes of the parents and lawmakers and instead chose to diminish the seriousness of the “opt-out” movement with a series of unsubstantiated arguments.
The third paragraph of the Governor’s veto statement suggests that educators and school leaders opposed the legislation when, in fact, the reality is that HB 50 and parental opt-out rights are supported, unequivocally, by the DSEA and its membership and the Delaware PTA and its membership. There were also three of the largest and poorest school districts in the state–Christina, Red Clay, and Capital–who voted for and passed resolutions supporting parental opt-out rights. Also noticeable in its deliberate exaggeration is the Governor’s contention that the civil rights “community” opposed the legislation, while refusing to acknowledge that a larger portion of that community did not oppose “opt-out” legislation. Particularly offensive was the language in the fourth paragraph that stated, “if struggling students are disproportionately encouraged to opt out as has happened elsewhere, we may not be able to identify the children who need intervention to be successful.” Unfortunately, this type of hyperbole paints a false picture of the situation in many ways. There is no proof available or offered that a “disproportionate encouragement “of students to opt out has “happened elsewhere.” There is no evidence whatsoever that the test that will be used in Delaware does or will identify children who need intervention. Most importantly, HB 50 does not and cannot be used to encourage or discourage participation in the assessment test.
The fifth paragraph posits the unsubstantiated and unproven assertion that “students with disabilities and students of color have benefitted the most from the adoption of statewide testing requirements.” There is no valid data that would suggest this to be an accurate statement of fact. Out of respect for the office of the Governor, we will temper our comments regarding the deliberate misrepresentation of reality in that sentence and its intention to instill fear and doubt in the minority and disabled communities.
Governor Markell, in his veto statement, also suggests that HB 50 was a construct of those who feel that children are over-tested. This completely misses the point that the legislation is exclusively about parental and child rights to not participate in this specific, unproven, time-consuming distraction called the “Smarter Balanced Assessment,” which hinders their ability to learn expediently and prevents appropriately identifying their shortcomings and needs to succeed. The fact that this administration chooses to engage in the politics of distraction that could result in useful and proven tests being shunned to the detriment of students and educators speaks volumes against the Governor’s decision to veto HB 50.
In conclusion, after having thoroughly examined the Governor’s stated positions on parental opt-out rights and because of the enormous public support expressed for HB 50 by educators (DSEA), parents and families (PTA), school administrators (Capital, Christina, and Red Clay resolutions), and the huge majority of General Assembly members who supported HB 50, we have decided that it is our sworn responsibility to our constituents and all Delawareans to bring HB 50 to the floor in January for a veto override vote.

Representative John Kowalko 25th District, 14 Kells Ave. Newark De. 19711    302 547 9351
Senator Dave Lawson 15th Senatorial District  302 270 1038

Smarter Balanced Update: No Scores Until After Labor Day! Are Charters Getting A Chance To Have Better Scores? #REFUSETHETESTDELAWARE

At the Delaware State Board of Education meeting last week, Dr. Penny Schwinn and Carolyn Lazar gave a presentation on preliminary Smarter Balanced Assessment participation numbers.  The blogger Kavips, based on the same report presented to the State Board that I published a couple weeks earlier, compared the number of students taking the Smarter Balanced Assessment to the school profiles section of the DOE website.  Kavips found, within a margin of error, that approximately 15% of Delaware juniors opted out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  However, Schwinn and Lazar explained this data only shows when the Smarter Balanced window was launched, meaning when the test actually started.  For all grades, with the exception of 11th grade, this was pulled at the end of the testing window.  For juniors, this was pulled in April, when many juniors were just beginning the test.  No explanation was given for why it was pulled then and not at the end.

The State Board was very curious about the participation rates, more specifically, if the 95% participation rates went below.  Both Schwinn and Lazar said it was too early to be able to accurately say if any subgroup went below the “required” participation rate.  Subgroups can be minorities, special needs students, early English learners, low-income, particular grades, and whatnot.

American Institutes for Research, the vendor for SBAC, has what is called the TIDE (Test Information Database Engine) database and according to Lazar this holds a “variety of student information” but didn’t go into details about what kind of data is stored there.  The purpose is to help define accommodations for individual students quicker so there aren’t as many technical issues, which was a huge problem last year.

Schwinn and Lazar went over the survey data given to assessment coordinators and testing administrators in each district, and they heard back from over 300 teachers.  Only 28% said they had no technical issues.  When asked if the other 72% came from particular districts, Schwinn and Lazar said they had not broken down that data yet but they will.

In terms of when the scores will be released, Schwinn said she anticipates all data to come back by Labor Day.  Schools and districts will receive their information before statewide results are released, which will occur at the September 17th State Board of Education meeting.  The reason for the delay on the scores is due to many SBAC states having a huge number of pen to paper parts of the assessment to score.

One thing that didn’t catch my attention before, but does now is when schools are starting the assessment.  Most local school districts started the assessment in March, but many charters didn’t start until late April or May.  I am basing this on the number of parents who emailed me or sent Facebook messages to me concerning opt-out, as well as many charter school board minutes I read where they talk about the Smarter Balanced Assessment testing.  Does this give charters a leg up on information that appears on the assessment?  Not to go all “conspiracy theory” here, but I’ve always predicted charters will somehow do “better” on these assessments than the local school districts.  This is just a theory, but definitely something to watch for…

In terms of next year’s testing window, the below “draft” was released by the DOE  office of assessment.  This does not give a schedule for each school or district’s exact testing window but rather the statewide schedule.  Board member Pat Heffernan did express a desire to see this window narrowed but understands there are issues of bandwidth and technical issues.

The Ultimate REFUSE THE TEST DELAWARE Letter

I found this in a comment on my blog Facebook page yesterday, and after reviewing it found it be the perfect REFUSE THE TEST DELAWARE letter to give to schools on the very first day of school indicating you DO NOT WANT your child taking any high-stakes assessments, including the Smarter Balanced Assessment:

STUDENT PRIVACY PROTECTION OPT-OUT REQUEST
PLEASE TAKE NOTICE that in accordance with the fundamental constitutional rights of parents and legal guardians to determine and direct the care, teaching and education of their children, and the relevant state and federal statutes, I hereby request my child ______________________________ be exempted and excused for the school year ___________ from the following check marked activities: Any and all standardized testing or activities required by law, under which individual student data are collected and/or shared with the federal government or other entities outside of the local school district; or are used for the purposes of school, student, or teacher accountability, including but not by way of limitation to, academic, achievement and annual tests, state-wide performance assessments and Common Core State Standards aligned assessments and pilots, computer adaptive testing and assessments designed by Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) or Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC). Any and all tests, assessments, or surveys not limited solely to proficiency in core academic subjects.
Any and all tests, assessments, or surveys used to measure pupils’ values, attitudes or beliefs.
Any survey, analysis, or evaluation that reveals information concerning my child, myself or other members of my family related to: (1) political affiliations or beliefs of the student or the student’s parent; (2) mental or psychological problems of the student or the student’s family; (3) sex behavior or attitudes; (4) illegal, anti-social, self-incriminating, or demeaning behavior; (5) critical appraisals of other individuals with whom respondents have close family relationships; (6) legally recognized privileged or analogous relationships, such as those of lawyers, physicians, and ministers; (7) religious practices, affiliations, or beliefs of the student or student’s parent; or (8) income.
The collection, tracking, housing, reporting, selling, or sharing with any party outside of the local school district, of non-educational related information on my child or my family, including, but not limited to: religion, political affiliations, biometric data, psychometric data, and medical information. Biometric data includes fingerprints, retina and iris (eye) patterns, voiceprint, DNA sequence, facial characteristics, handwriting, and any other unique physical identifying traits. Psychometric data includes, but is not limited to: personality traits, attitudes, abilities, aptitude, social and emotional development, tendencies, inclinations, interests, and motivations.
The sharing with any party outside of the local school district of my child’s directory information, including, but not limited to: name, address, telephone listing, e-mail address, photograph, date and place of birth, major field of study, grade level, enrollment status, dates of attendance, participation in officially recognized activities and sports, weight, height, athletic teams, degrees, honors, awards, and most recent educational agency or institution attended.
The sharing with any party outside of the local school district of my child’s student ID number, social security number, or other unique identifying number.
Prepared By The Thomas More Law Center, Ann Arbor, MI (734) 827-2001, www.thomasmore.org Page 2 of 2
Any computer or online based educational services activities or assessments through which individual student data or metadata is stored in a manner inconsistent with industry requirements and best practices or is shared with any party outside the local school district.
Any Common Core State Standards aligned activities, surveys or assessments that concern the attitudes, beliefs, including religious or political beliefs, or value systems of individual students.
This executed form supersedes all prior Opt-Out forms.
I.D. Number ______________________ Grade _________ Date______________________________
Parent/Guardian’s Name(s) _________________________________________________________
Signature_____________________________________________________________________
Daytime/Evening Phone Number(s) _____________________________________________________
E-Mail address________________________________________________________________
Received by (name) ____________________________________________________________
Signature________________________________________ Date received________________

Deconstructing The Myths of Governor Markell’s Veto Of House Bill 50

Delaware Governor Jack Markell took his stand on the opt-out bill today and vetoed it.  But he didn’t stop there, from the looks of it he went on a press junket to collect quotes from all the Kool-Aid drinkers in Delaware.  Especially the sell-out traitor from Milford, but I’ll get to that one later.  For something this big, I have to give my thoughts on the utter stupidity and lack of understanding of the Governor and his reformer friends.

Governor Vetoes Opt-Out Bill, Signs Legislation to Reduce Testing for All Students

Date Posted: Thursday, July 16th, 2015

Considering I know for a fact he didn’t receive the bill until this morning, he sure had a lot of time to put all this together and collect all these quotes and come up with a three page statement to the House of Representatives.

Emphasizes importance of annual statewide assessment for improving schools, while saying the state must move forward with reducing time spent on other tests

This was all concocted by your Education Policy Advisor Lindsey O’Mara, yourself, the DOE, State Rep. Earl Jaques and State Senator David Sokola (who I will have much more to write about VERY soon).  It was one of your first responses to the opt-out movement and House Bill 50.  It was shady then and it’s shady now.  But I have a voice recording coming from Ms. O’Mara indicating the Smarter Balanced Assessment would be included.  I will make sure no one forgets that public comment during the Senate Education Committee meeting on June 3rd 2015.  I have yet to see one shred of data how the Smarter Balanced Assessment will improve schools, especially since it was announced today by Penny Schwinn and the gang over at the DOE the scores won’t even be in until September now at the earliest.  Way to go Jack! Real timely data!

Wilmington, DE – Governor Markell announced today that he has vetoed House Bill 50, which would allow for any student to be opted-out of any state or district assessment, while he signed Senate Joint Resolution 2, which aims to eliminate unnecessary, ineffective, or redundant tests required by the state, districts, and individual schools.

House Bill 50 never “allowed” students to opt-out.  It codified and honored a right that is ALREADY there.  The ink on SJR 2 was probably dry months ago.  We all know you waited until the equally disrespectful State Senators Coons and Carper voted no on an opt-out amendment yesterday.  You are all cowards!

In his veto statement (full text below), the Governor expressed agreement with concerns raised by parents and educators about the need to reduce the amount of time students spend on testing. However, he said he could not support encouraging opt-out of the annual state assessment, which provides information for teachers and school leaders to determine areas in which students are excelling or need additional help. It also represents a vital tool for evaluating the effectiveness and ensuring the best use of the more than $1 billion in state funds directed to the education system.

The only parents who expressed agreement with you were…I don’t know? Who were they? I remember one parent giving public comment in Legislative Hall against House Bill 50.  One.  The rest were teachers, charter cheerleaders, and your corporate buddies, and oh yeah, the very misguided and misinformed civil rights groups.  The information it provides is which schools can we turn into priority schools again and hopefully convert into charters.  Cause you have to fill up the old CEB Building in Wilmington, right Jack?

“HB 50 would undermine the only objective tool we have to understand whether our children are learning and our schools are improving. It has the potential to marginalize our highest need students, threaten tens of millions of dollars of federal funding, and undermine our state’s economic competitiveness – all without adequately addressing the issues that motivated many to support the legislation. That is why educators and school leaders have joined the civil rights community and business leaders in opposing the legislation, and why I am returning the bill unsigned,” wrote the Governor in a statement delivered to the House of Representatives.

So many falsehoods in this paragraph it’s disgusting.  First off, if you only have one objective tool to measure progress, then that’s your problem.  For being such an education minded Governor, you sound like a complete jackass saying that.  We will see how the high needs students are truly marginalized when the scores come out in…September…October…November…whenever.  Why the long wait?  For something we sunk millions and millions of dollars into, where is the timely data which is required by Delaware state code?  In terms of the federal funding cuts, look no further than HR5, passed by Congress, which eliminated federal funding cuts based on federally mandated standards and assessments.  Nice try again Jack…you lose!  In terms of Delaware’s economic competitiveness, you have been so obsessed with education that you let many key businesses leave our state.  Your state budget is in shambles and most of the legislators have no faith in you and can’t wait until you are GONE!  All these excuses are things you created and threw out there as an obstacle to House Bill 50.  You just can’t support parents, just admit it and stop hiding behind excuses.  The reason parents supported this legislation is pure and simple, and I said this on Rick Jensen’s radio show today on WDEL…it’s a craphole of a test.  You know it, I know it, and all of Delaware knows it.  The only “educators” who support your veto are listed below, the very same ones that gave their “expert” testimony at education committee meetings and the one traitor who gave what I perceive to be completely false testimony at the Senate vote.  Oh yeah, the Sussex Academy lady, can’t forget her.  Where are the voices of opposition?  You don’t have enough bandwidth to cover all of them Jack!

“I have heard the concerns of some parents and teachers that our students are experiencing too much testing. I agree… And that is why I have signed Senate Joint Resolution 2, which will bring together teachers, parents, civil rights leaders, and legislators to help us review our required assessments and eliminate those that are unnecessary, ineffective, or redundant.”

You got this from Sokola about hearing from all these parents.  And a few other legislators that have been “promised” something.  Once again, and please get the wax out of your ear Governor Veto!  Parents didn’t want to opt out of any other test but YOUR Smarter Balanced Assessment.  I never once heard a parent say “I want to opt out little Jack from DIBELS or MAPS.”  I can’t wait to see who is on your little assessment inventory committee.  We all know this was an added bonus to get rid of non-Common Core aligned tests and keep the ones that are.

SJR 2 builds on an initiative started by the Governor earlier this year, when he announced an inventory of all required state assessments, and support for districts to take stock of assessments required at the local level. The legislation signed today brings legislators and other key groups into the process of reviewing the inventory results and making recommendations about what assessments should be cut. In addition to requiring completion of the inventory, SJR 2 will:

  • Require districts to report the results of the inventory, including assessments that will be eliminated;
  • Require the Department of Education to do the same thing at the state level;
  • Require the Department to publish the results of the inventories to the House and Senate Education Committees, and to the public; and
  • Require the Department to convene three members each of the House and Senate Education Committees, along with representatives of the state teachers union, the state’s superintendents, the civil rights community, and parents, to review the inventory results and make recommendations about assessments to eliminate, with final results reported publicly by June 2016.

Because it takes a year to figure all this out?  How much is Achieve Inc. getting paid for all their “hard work” on this?  The company that started so much of this Common Core crap?

Civil rights groups and Delaware employers, along with the State Board of Education and teachers and school leaders, applauded the Governor’s decision:

Like they didn’t know about it ahead of time? Please, don’t insult us…

“We strongly support Governor Markell’s decision to veto House Bill 50 because we must know if our children are learning, and we cannot fix what we cannot measure. If too many children opt out, we’ll lose perspective on how our children are doing with achieving the proficiency most important to succeeding in today’s world. We’d risk being unable to make meaningful demographic comparisons and track progress in relationship to other schools, districts, states, and countries.

How about cleaning up the mess in your own backyard before you try comparing the students in your area with ones that get more resources, have less crime, and more money.  Talk about an inequity gap!  How about we stop comparing everyone and look at each individual student and see what their individual needs are.  The children in your city, that you are so proud of and want to protect, will not do well on this test.  Let me hear from you then after years of data show SBAC was more about the money than improving their lives.

“If a school misses its threshold on participation, it also has implications for school accountability and funding, potentially harming the most challenged in our communities: particularly families of color, families struggling with poverty, and families who need special education services or are learning English. While we support reducing the number of tests and the total testing time for our students, opt-out is not the way to accomplish this goal. We thank the Governor for recognizing this and understanding that we need to know where our children are on the learning curve in order to hold those responsible for teaching our children accountable.”

The very Governor you praise was on the steering committees that helped to perpetuate the very things that are holding students back.  He has been involved in this for a long time, before Common Core even had a name.  This was a long-term plan and all of you folks espousing civil rights fell for it hook, line and sinker.  Who else sets up accountability systems based on standardized test scores and when they fail to meet these insane proficiency marks in the schools with the highest populations of low-income, minority, and special education students they are punished (priority schools) or shut down (Reach, Moyer).  All in your city!  How did that work out?

– Deborah T. Wilson (President and CEO of the Metropolitan Wilmington Urban League), Maria Matos (President and CEO of the Latin American Community Center), H. Raye Jones Avery (Executive Director of the Christina Cultural Arts Center, Inc.) and Jea P. Street (New Castle County Councilman for District 10)

Yup, the same four you always trot out…

“As employers in Delaware, as supporters of Delaware public schools, and as parents, we thank the Governor for his veto of House Bill 50. There are better ways to deal with legitimate concerns about over-testing, and we support the effort by the Administration and General Assembly to reduce testing for all students through Senate Joint Resolution 2.

Said from someone who probably hasn’t been in a classroom for more than two hours in the past twenty years…

“We must have a way to determine how our children compare against others in their school, the state, and the world. Opt out would damage that process. It signals to businesses and the families that we shouldn’t strive for all of our students to graduate ready for college or the workplace. The results of the annual state assessment inform families and educators on student progress, and will provide lawmakers with a better view of how millions of tax dollars are being spent. As business leaders and as parents, we need our education system to support each and every student and school in our state to help them succeed.”

If these all-important assessments don’t determine retention or graduation, and the scores come back AFTER the student has advanced to the next grade, how is that valid and reliable and timely data?  I can tell you how millions of our tax dollars are being spent: on crap like this and all the vendors the DOE contracts out to “fix” our struggling schools based on the same standardized assessments they helped to create.  It’s called a close circuit.  Opt-out is the means to cut that vicious cycle.

– Mark Stellini (CEO Chair of Delaware State Chamber of Commerce), Rich Heffron (President Delaware State Chamber of Commerce), Mark Turner (Chair of Delaware Business Roundtable), Ernie Dianastasis (Chair of Delaware Business Roundtable Education Committee), Bob Perkins (Executive Director for Business Roundtable)

I’ve never heard of most of these people.  Who are they again?  Whatever…  They must be the same people who make sure advertisements get in the News Journal the most so the newspaper can’t do real investigative work.

“We have openly and repeatedly shared the Board’s opposition to this bill, which we believe will do real and lasting damage to both our education system as a whole, and our goal of ensuring that all of our students – irrespective of their gender, race, or socio-economic background – graduate from our schools ready for college, career, and citizenship.

Jack, this is coming from your hand-picked State Board of Education.  Do you think you are fooling anyone putting their quotes in here?

“Should HB 50 become law and parents simply decide to opt their child out of the assessment, teachers and administrators will be unable to collect and use the data to address necessary improvements to the curriculum, as well as identify specific areas where students are struggling and where they are excelling. This is especially important information for our most vulnerable populations who may need additional support and assistance. Furthermore, we will be at risk of not complying with federal requirements with regard to test administration and school accountability, potentially jeopardizing millions in federal Title I funding, which directly impacts those children and schools that need support the most.”

Dr. Gray, you are so boring.  I think I covered everything you said up above.  I can see why Jack picked you to be President of the State Board.  You are just his mini-me.

– President Teri Quinn Gray and Vice President Jorge Melendez (State Board of Education)

“I believe the opt-out movement has been driven in part by many misconceptions about the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  The main misconception about the assessment is the amount of time it takes to complete it. The math portion of the test is made up of 35 questions along with one performance task. In my class of special needs students, the test takes up a minimal amount of time compared to past state assessments. It is also aligned to the curriculum and standards teachers are using, so there is no need to do anything special to ‘teach to the test.’ The results of the state assessment provides teachers the necessary data to help their students and I appreciate the Governor’s opposition to House Bill 50.”

– Jesse Parsley (teacher, Milford School District)

THE TRAITOR TO PUBLIC EDUCATION! I’ve talked to a few of your peers and they truly think you have been bought or you are living in a fantasy world.  Your “appreciation” of the Governor’s opposition came with something, didn’t it Jesse?  What was it? A position? A title? A seat on another Rodel council? Money?  I’m sure we will find out soon enough.  I talked to teachers in YOUR school about how great the Smarter Balanced Assessment went, and it was horrible for them.  Along with the rest of the state.  So how is it that your ONE classroom, out of the thousands in the state, had such a Mary Poppins dream-like ease with SBAC?  You are either lying or smoking something…

“I understand the concerns that have been expressed over the stress some students experience in taking tests. However, my experience has been that students benefit when we challenge them to meet a higher bar – when we give them the chance to see how well they can perform.  Further, my experience is that our teachers are on board. They are working hard to make whatever adjustments are necessary to ensure that students are learning and that their learning is measured.

If the teachers don’t they get bad evaluations across the board and they get fired.  That’s an environment that is toxic and dangerous.  It’s like having kids jump in a pool when they don’t know how to swim.  I hope that doesn’t happen in your Schell brothers donated pool!

“One primary mechanism to measure that learning is through standardized tests; right now the test is “Smarter Balanced.” I believe that we will make the necessary adjustments to meet the demands of this test. We have a responsibility to give our children the best possible education, and these tests are an important measure to gauge that education and the  academic progress of all students.”

– Patricia Oliphant (principal, Sussex Academy)

“The necessary adjustments to meet the demands of this test.” That is the problem, isn’t it.  The actual test can’t change, everyone else has to change.  The best possible education does not equal a high-stakes standardized assessment based on the Common Core State Standards.  Only those who profit from this ideology (charter schools, Governors, DOE, Rodel, yada yada yada) would dare to say such a thing.

“Strong educators at every level assess students constantly. The state assessment is an important piece of the puzzle as it can help us understand how our students are performing and their progression from year to year. Test results also help push us to make the necessary changes to ensure students aren’t falling behind and help us reflect on instructional choices. Whether or not you support opt out is a different question than whether students are over-tested. We should still do more to evaluate the volume of tests, or the value of the existing ones, and I urge the Governor, the Department of Education and the General Assembly to keep an open dialogue with teachers, parents and stakeholders so that together we can solve even the toughest of testing questions.”

– Courtney Fox (Head of School at First State Montessori Academy and former State Teacher of the Year from Brandywine School District)

Ah yes, Ms. Fox, the former Pearson teacher of the year (funny how that website disappeared after I published it).  The ONLY charter school leader or teacher who publicly opposed House Bill 50 until Ms. Oliphant’s above statement.  And how much do you get paid for your head of school position up there?  And which Rodel council are you on this month?

 ___

Governor Markell Statement to House of Representatives Vetoing House Bill 50:

July 16, 2015

TO THE MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

OF THE 148TH GENERAL ASSEMBLY,

Pursuant to Article III, Section 18 of the Delaware Constitution, I am vetoing House Bill 50 by returning it with my objections to the House of Representatives without my signature.

Just out of curiosity Jack, what took you so long to veto?  It’s obvious to all this was your plan.  Why now?  Oh yeah, Carper and Coons.  Riding off their votes, trying to make yourself look just that little bit better (you don’t, you look like more of a jerk than ever to Delaware).

We have no higher priority as a state than providing all of our children with a world-class education, and ensuring that they are prepared to compete in the increasingly global economy.  Every child, no matter his or her family situation or income or background, deserves the chance to reach his or her potential.  Their future, and the future of our state, depends on a quality education.

I agree with everything you say, except your definition of a world-class education.  Common Core and SBAC it is not, but you don’t care about that.  You are already getting for your post January 2017 position.

House Bill 50 would not help prepare our children, or our state, for success in the economy of tomorrow.  To the contrary, HB 50 would undermine the only objective tool we have to understand whether our children are learning and our schools are improving.  It has the potential to marginalize our highest need students, threaten tens of millions of dollars of federal funding, and undermine our state’s economic competitiveness – all without adequately addressing the issues that motivated many to support the legislation.  That is why educators and school leaders have joined the civil rights community and business leaders in opposing the legislation, and why I am returning the bill unsigned.

This was already said up above…yawn…

Universal statewide assessments provide our teachers, parents, and education officials with objective information about how children are doing – not just in their classrooms, or in their schools, but relative to their peers across the state and the country.  These test results are the clearest way we can evaluate whether our efforts to improve Delaware schools are working.  The state spends more than one billion dollars on education every year, and we all deserve to know whether those resources are spent well and whether our students are making progress.

And out of that one billion dollars, how much is spent in actively reducing classroom sizes, getting funding for basic special education services for K-3 students, and how much is spent on DOE salaries, and contract after contract with studies and reports and complete waste?  How much of that one billion gets spent by charter school leaders who think a school bank account is their personal ATM card?  How much goes to admins in our districts and never reaches the classroom?  These are the hurdles, not parent opt-out.  We know those resources are NOT spent well, but you do nothing about that.  Our students superficial progress based on high-stakes assessments are as fleeting as a feather staying in one spot during a wind storm.

If the test results don’t paint an accurate picture, particularly if struggling students are disproportionately encouraged to opt out as has happened elsewhere, we may not be able to identify the children who need intervention to be successful.  That is why civil rights groups in Delaware and across the country – including the NAACP, the National Urban League, the United Negro College Fund, the National Council of La Raza, and the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund – strongly support universal testing requirements and oppose “opt-out” legislation.   Low-income students, students with disabilities, and students of color have benefitted the most from the adoption of statewide testing requirements.  Those tests help us identify individual and groups of students who need more support, effectively focus additional resources on preparing our young people to reach their potential, and hold schools and districts accountable for ensuring that all of our students are learning.  That is also why federal law requires us to assess at least 95 percent of our students to receive millions of dollars in federal funding – it’s that important.  The loss of those federal funds, which disproportionately support low-income and high-needs students, is a risk I am unwilling to take.

And yet you never mentioned parents in this paragraph.  If schools and educators are “disproportionately encouraging” students to opt-out, that is against the law and you should enforce that.  But to base a veto on legislation that is about something PARENTS are doing shows you never listened to the conversation.

I have heard the concerns of some parents and teachers that our students are experiencing too much testing.  I agree.  While I believe strongly in the value of a universal statewide assessment to tell us whether our students are making progress, the first priority of our schools must be to ensure that our students have the time they need to learn.  But to address that concern, we should not be encouraging certain students to opt out of a test that provides valuable information – we should eliminate entire tests for all of our children and put that time to work in the classroom.

Ah, now your using the DSEA’s latest mission statement, “time to teach, time to learn”.  Very crafty Jack.  Who is encouraging “certain” students to opt out?  I encourage all students to opt out IF that is what their parent chooses. See, you are all about choice when it comes to charter schools.  You support that choice.  But when it affects your bottom line, your reputation, you can’t support our choice.  You can’t pick and choose your battles like that in a choice war.  It either is…or isn’t. 

That is why the Department of Education is conducting an inventory of all required state assessments, and providing districts with financial and technical support to do the same at the local level.  And that is why I have signed Senate Joint Resolution 2, which will bring together teachers, parents, civil rights leaders, and legislators to help us review our required assessments and eliminate those that are unnecessary, ineffective, or redundant.

Why is your PR person repeating the same stuff you wrote above?

I also understand, and have taken action to address, other frustrations that have led some parents and teachers to support HB 50, including concerns about the design of the Smarter Balanced statewide assessments and the use of student data for teacher evaluations and school accountability.  We asked for, and received, permission from the U.S. Department of Education to delay using Smarter Balanced results in teacher evaluation for two full years, while we all adjust to the new test.  We use many other measures to evaluate the progress of our students, and the effectiveness of our teachers, because we understand assessments are only one snapshot of our students’ success.  We have approved a process to allow schools and districts to pilot new educator evaluation systems.  We are continuing to provide feedback on Smarter Balanced to help make it better.  And we don’t require our students to take or pass the Smarter Balanced assessments for advancement or graduation.

Cause if you did, there would be a lot of students either not graduating!  And failing their grade.  Nobody wants to be in 8th grade at 31 years old!  Tell me more about what you are addressing with SBAC and how you can fix a sham of a test?  Oh yeah, it was designed that way.

I am committed to working with our entire education community to continue to address those concerns, but HB 50 is not part of the solution.  This bill does not reduce testing and does not say anything about how the state uses test results.  The only effect of HB 50 would be to establish a process for individual parents to prevent their individual students from participating in the Smarter Balanced English and math tests and any district assessment, which doesn’t solve the problems that our parents and teachers have named.  However, it can undermine our ability to identify students who need help and to measure our schools’ improvements.

Are you done yet?  By writing what you wrote in this paragraph, you have shown you don’t care one iota about individual parents.  The process is already established.  We give the school a letter, tell them our kid is being opted out, and we want them to receive some kind of education while the other kids are taking the test.  House Bill 50 would have stopped schools from being bullies about it though.  That was the heart of the bill.  And the accountability factor.  But the fact you made such a big stink about it catapulted opt-out into a front-page headline on numerous occasions, all across the state.  Your very opposition to a very easy to understand bill prompted more opt-outs in this state than anything I could have ever written.  Sure, I reported on it time and time again, but you gave me the words to write Jack.

In today’s economy, opportunity is increasingly tied to the quality of one’s education and our schools are the key to giving all of our children – especially those from struggling neighborhoods – the best chance to realize their potential. But we can’t make that possible if we find out too late that students have fallen behind.  If House Bill 50 becomes law, we will not know if many of our students really are on track to graduate ready for college or the workplace.

Sure you will.  We’ve been doing it for the past hundred or so years.  This high-stakes testing craze doesn’t make kids college worthy.  Neither does Common Core.  Students went to college long before this testing craze, and they will go long after it is a footnote in a textbook or some out-of-date website.  Students will reach their potential if they believe in themselves and they have good teachers and safe schools.  Boom.  That’s it.  The rest is just nonsense.

I cannot support a bill that runs counter to our efforts to ensure an objective, consistent, and reliable measure of all of our students’ progress. Without it, many students would be too easily forgotten.

The Smarter Balanced Assessment is neither objective, consistent or reliable.  It is not progress.  It’s a step into a time when students were put into sub-groups and labeled and schools were punished and our Governor looked the other way when parents needed him the most.  To step up and say “I believe in what you are saying.  You do have rights.  I understand your concerns.”  But instead, he gave the same tired old excuses we have been hearing about for the past 15 years.  We call this point in time the Markell administration.  And July 16th, 2015, was the day you sealed your legacy in Delaware.  And every single lie, abuse, fraud, and sin you have committed as Governor of OUR state, as well as your time as State Treasurer, will be exposed.  All in due time Governor.  If not by me, than by the next one.  But rest assured, we will leave NO stone unturned.  Your days may be numbered, but your sins are immense.  But REFUSE THE TEST DELAWARE is your creation.  Own it!

Sincerely,

Jack A. Markell

Governor

###

*All redlines editions of Exceptional Delaware are a blatant rip-off from Transparent Christina who mastered this technique.

*If you want to join REFUSE THE TEST DELAWARE, please go to https://www.facebook.com/groups/387537074787803/

Opt-Out in Delaware is Dead! It is now time to REFUSE THE TEST!

I don’t care what Governor Markell does or doesn’t do anymore.  His veto clearly shows he has no honor or respect for parents.  Nor does our unelected State Board of Education, our Department of Education, and all the legislators who voted NO for House Bill 50.  We are opting out of opt-out and just refusing the test.  You can join our Facebook group here:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/387537074787803/

We aren’t asking permission for our children to be opted out.  We aren’t waiting for an answer.  We are just refusing the test.