Delaware House Bill 50 Would Allow Parent Opt-Out Of Smarter Balanced & Protect Teachers

Delaware House Bill 50, co-sponsored by Delaware House Rep. John Kowalko and Delaware State Senator Dave Lawson has officially been released.  While it does not show up on the Delaware General Assembly website yet due to the recess during Joint Finance Committee hearings, the bill is official.

Since the bill was introduced for circulation purposes a couple weeks ago, new language has been added to give protections to teachers, principals and schools.

“The Department (DOE) shall report opt-out numbers in accountability ratings to provide context and impact on school and district ratings; however, the opt-out numbers shall not factor into the accountability ratings.”

What is interesting about this bill is the sponsors on it.  Kowalko told Exceptional Delaware “Kim Williams and Paul Baumbach are being added to the bill as sponsors.”  So sponsors from the House include Kowalko, Williams, Baumbach, and Helene Keeley, all reps who voted no on House Bill 334, which signed the Smarter Balanced Assessment into law.  But  State Rep. Jeffrey Spiegelman voted yes.  As for the Senate Sponsors, Lawson voted no, while Margaret Rose Henry voted yes.  New State Reps Sean Matthews and Lyndon Yearick are also sponsoring the parent opt out bill but they were not a part of the 147th General Assembly.

There seems to be a shift in thinking in regards to the state assessment in Delaware.  Spiegelman told this blog last fall that the legislature was in an impossible situation with the Smarter Balanced Assessment since Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy had already bought the assessment for Delaware.  Many legislators reported it didn’t matter what they voted because Governor Jack Markell’s staff told them even if it was turned down, Markell would sign an executive order if need be.

For many people, that very brief moment of victory when the bill was defeated in the Senate, and then rescinded a brief time later, and then passed was a dark moment for Delaware education.  Many folks blamed the one Republican Senator who changed his vote, but there were also three Democrats.

Below is a copy of House Bill 50 which is the version that will be submitted to the House Education Committee when the General Assembly returns in mid-March.  To help support this bill, please use the hashtag #supporthb50

Bi-Partisan Education Bill Could Be A Game Changer For Delaware DOE

On Saturday, Delaware State Representative Jeffrey Spiegelman wrote a letter to the editor in The State News.  He announced a new piece of potential legislation that would severely limit some of the shenanigans the Delaware Department of Education has done in recent years.  This bill would prevent the DOE from implementing any rule, regulation, or administrative procedure during a current school year unless approved by the local school board.  They would have to implement any regulations over the summer so the schools can budget accordingly, as well as implement the changes without any interruptions to students and staff in the middle of a school year.

This bill hasn’t even been released yet, but it should gain traction fast.  It seems like every time the DOE wants to make new rules, the local school districts are the ones that face the consequences.  For example, the Priority Schools weren’t even announced until September 4th last year, already into the new school year.  It came as a shock to Christina and Red Clay, and they were not happy about it.  Had this been done over the summer, it could have given the districts and the school boards more time to prepare and strategize before all the students came back.  It would also show the DOE they can’t do whatever they want whenever they want.  It’s easy to sit down in Dover and make all the rules, but the reality on the ground is vastly different.  I look forward to seeing what happens with this legislation!

Spiegelman is in his 2nd term as a Republican State Representative for the 11th District of Delaware.  When he isn’t doing the legislative thing, he is an adjunct professor at Wilmington University and Delaware Technical and Community College.  Other legislators are attached to this potential bill, but as of “press time” I have not received an okay to put their names on it.  The other co-sponsors on the bill are Senator Greg Lavelle and State Representative Earl Jacques who also serves as the head of the House Education Committee.