A Time For Promises Fulfilled And A Restoration Of Honor: The General Assembly’s True Test This Week

The worst time I ever had blogging was last January.  Once I heard the Governor was rounding up his posse of legislators to vote no on the override of his veto on House Bill 50, I knew it wasn’t going to happen.  There were events that day I didn’t count on, but they happened.  But it is time for State Rep. Mike Ramone to live up to the promise he made to me that day.

To give a quick refresher, the Delaware House and Senate passed House Bill 50 last year, a parent opt out bill honoring their right and preventing schools from giving parents a hard time.  Governor Markell vetoed the bill.  On the third day the General Assembly was back in session this year, State Rep. John Kowalko brought HB50 back.  But first, a suspension of rules had to happen to get it on the agenda for a full House vote.  The majority of the legislators voted no on the suspension of rules.  For whatever reason, many of them didn’t want to vote on overriding the veto.  To make matters worse, many House Republicans introduced new opt out legislation.  One was a House Resolution, which passed, directing Secretary Godowsky to come up with uniform policies for opt out.  This report was due by May 1st.   Another was a bill to remove opt out from any accountability ratings.  The accountability bill was never heard from the House Education Committee.

Secretary Godowsky did honor the resolution.  I’ve heard two different stories with this report.  One was that it was submitted to State Rep. Joe Miro, the sponsor of the resolution.  The other was that it was submitted to State Rep. Earl Jaques, who is also the Chair of the House Education Committee.  That would mean Jaques has been sitting on this for well over a month and a half with no intention of doing anything with it.  Either way, this was never made public.  Miro told me well over a month ago the report was “vanilla”, meaning it didn’t do anything.  I’m not sure what the real story is, but I don’t really care.  Nothing happened with either of the bills the House Republicans introduced.  And now it is time for State Rep. Mike Ramone to keep his word.  On January 14th, when the House refused to suspend the rules, Ramone promised me they would bring back House Bill 50 if nothing happened with the new legislation they introduced that day.  Guess what Ramone?  Nothing happened.  And I don’t want to hear one word about next January.  You made a deal with me and I expect you to honor it.  There were enough people that overheard you say this.  Now only Kowalko can put forth a suspension of rules for it as the bill’s sponsor in the House.  But I expect Ramone and the House Republicans to fully support the suspension of rules and the override of the veto.  House Bill 50 is on the ready list.  But this can happen.  It has to.  It is time.  There is no more House Bill 50 after June 30th.

The Senate can’t vote on an override of a veto on the same day, but I hope if the House does the right thing, the Senate will have it up for a vote the next day.  If not, I fully hope Senator Dave Lawson will request a suspension of rules as the Senate co-sponsor of the bill.  I’ve waited patiently, along with countless other parents, for our General Assembly to do the right thing here.  They unanimously passed a bill in the House that would make the Smarter Balanced an option in teacher evaluations.  This is it General Assembly.  You have three days to do this.  Elections are coming up for a lot of you.  Parents and teachers are a large portion of your voters.  Are you really going to keep disrespecting parents like this?  This is your chance to make up for past mistakes.  It’s up to you.  The only reason the Delaware PTA isn’t pushing this is because they were cut off at the knees by National PTA.  But trust me, the people still want this.  All you have to do is truly listen.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Key Moments For House Bill 50 Opt-Out Victory In The Delaware House

There were many seminal moments on the road to this important victory for parents in Delaware.  I’ll start at the beginning:

1) Delaware bloggers Kavips and Transparent Christina begin talking about opt-out in the Spring of 2014.  It’s who got me to start thinking about it for Delaware.

2) Matt Lindell and the Capital School Board: a year ago, the Capital school board started the discussion on this, but it was tabled.  Then it came roaring back last fall for a unanimous vote by the Capital Board.

3) The Delaware DOE letters: In early December of 2014, the Delaware DOE began sending school districts a “suggested” letter to give to parents about opt-out should they ask or opt-out.  The confusing Delaware state code regarding this was exposed immediately by yours truly.  It took a while for this to be clarified by the DOE, but once the genie was out of the bottle, it made the DOE look ineffective

4) Delaware State Rep. Kowalko and Senator Lawson introduce House Bill 50 in early February. WDEL radio show host Rick Jensen starts having opt-out advocates on his show.

5) The Delaware PTA holds the first Delaware Parent Opt-Out Town Hall in mid-February.  Wide discussion about bullying tactics by school districts really ticks parents off.  What was meant to be a scare tactic fast turns into a rallying point for Delaware parents. President Terri Hodges announces publicly she is opting her own child out.

6) Delaware State Rep. Earl Jaques tells a group of Christina Educator Association teachers House Bill 50 will never pass as Brandywine Superintendent Dr. Mark Holodick attempts to dictate terms about opt-out to parents in that district which does not work out as planned.

7) Delaware PTA holds Kent County Parent Opt-Out Town Hall in early March.  DOE is forced to admit parent opt-out can’t be stopped and the state law only applies to teachers and school staff, not parents.

8) Christina board of Education passes parent opt-out resolution in large measure due to the hard work in preparing the resolution by board member Elizabeth Paige and a fiery speech supporting parent opt-out by board member John Young.

9) Governor Markell announces initiative to reduce assessments for Delaware students while conveniently ignoring the elephant in the room, the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  This leads to Jaques referring to Smarter Balanced as a “little test”.

10) Governor Jack Markell is forced to talk about opt-out at Howard High School, which leads to remarks by Jaques which fans the opt-out flames even more, especially for special needs parents.  Jaques quickly apologizes.

11) The Delaware News Journal publishes a front-page cover story on opt-out from both sides of the fence.  A cover photo of parent Jackie Kook with her daughter brings it home for many parents.  Parent who never heard the words opt-out start looking into it.

12) In front of an audience of over 1,000 people at the Imagine Delaware forum, teacher and President of the Red Clay Educator Association Mike Matthews announces he supports the opt-out movement.

13) As the Smarter Balanced Assessment begins, parents start opting out by the hundreds in Delaware.  Many schools give parents a rough time, which causes parents to talk to each other and spread the news about opt-out.

14) Delaware State Rep. Sean Matthews and Jaques go head to head in a News Journal dual opinion piece on opt-out.  Matthews clearly wins the contest and shows why opt-out is important in regards to Delaware education.

15) Both Red Clay and Christina Educators Association hold joint press conference announcing no confidence vote in Delaware DOE, the State Board of Education, and Secretary of Education Mark Murphy.

16) Delaware PTA passes resolution officially supporting opt-out and House Bill 50.

17) DSEA (Delaware Educators Association) passes resolution supporting opt-out and House Bill 50, as well as a vote of no confidence in Mark Murphy.

18) Parent Press Conference/Rally at Legislative Hall in early April, though small, draws most Delaware media to it and more media coverage of opt-out.

19) Delaware State Rep. Kim Williams publicly announces she is opting out her own son, a high school junior who, like many Delaware juniors, are forced to take weeks and weeks of testing.

20) Mark Murphy appears on The Delaware Way with Larry Mendte and states “parents aren’t allowed to opt-out students”.

21) Red Clay Consolidated School Board passes parent opt-out resolution with excellent writing by board member Adrianna Bohm.

22) The day before the House Education Committee vote, Governor Markell announces initiative to have Smarter Balanced Scores tie into elimination of remedial classes for four Delaware universities and colleges.  The announcement is critically slammed by legislators, parents and teachers.

23) At the House Education Committee meeting on April 22nd, Kowalko and Jaques battle each other as Kowalko is forced to answer a barrage of questions by Jaques.  Kowalko successfully fends him off.  After discussion from other legislators, public comment from parents shows near overwhelming support for the release of the bill.  Opposition includes organizations well-known to support Governor Markell’s corporate education agendas.  After a vote to have the bill tabled falls apart, the bill is released from the committee in an 8-4 vote ending the over two hour debate.

24) Mark Murphy’s claim of federal funding cuts of $40-$90 million over potential opt-outs and the passage of House Bill 50 is debunked the next day with the release of the US DOE letter which clearly states schools cannot opt students out, and the letter never mentions the words parent opt-out.

25) Last week, organizations such as GACEC and Council for Persons with Disabilities release near identical letter in opposition to House Bill 50 with claims that are quickly debunked.

26) In a hasty and damaging example of executive overreach, Governor Markell announces to radio host Rick Jensen on WDEL he will veto House Bill 50 if it reaches his desk.

27) Parents begin emailing all the legislators of the Delaware House and public support for the bill is clearly seen by the legislators.

28) State Rep. Sean Matthews introduces an amendment to House Bill 50 the day of the House vote which changes the language of the legislation from “the state assessment” to the “Smarter Balanced Assessment”.

All leading to today’s enormous victory in the Delaware House of Representatives, with a 36-3 victory with two reps absent.  At the end of the day, this is about parents using their voice to initiate change.  This could not have been done by one individual at all.  It took a great deal of advocacy, hard work, sweat, social media, and legislators, parents, organizations and ordinary citizens spreading the word and supporting the cause.

What also helped were some obvious tactical blunders by the Delaware DOE, Secretary Murphy, and Governor Markell.  And God bless him, we cannot forget Earl Jaques.  He revealed today House Bill 50 got in the way of his planned legislation to reduce the Smarter Balanced Assessment to only three grades of testing.  Which is a noble gesture, but legislation getting rid of the “little” test would be a much grander statement.

While getting the bill through the House was an undertaking, it remains to be seen how the Delaware Senate will receive the legislation.  Folks are already guessing which Senate members will support the bill.  Delaware Senator Brian Pettyjohn already announced on Facebook tonight he will vote yes.  Senator Lawson, a co-sponsor of the bill, is a lock.  But the others are a mystery for now.  I can guess and predict, but until they publicly announce their intentions or a vote, we must email them and call them as much as we can.

If Delaware Legislators Don’t Pass Opt Out Bill They Must Not Care What Parents Think, #supportHB50

DelawareOptOut

In one week, 144 hours to be exact, the Delaware House Education Committee will meet at 2:30pm to discuss House Bill 50, the controversial parent opt-out bill.  This is a crucial moment for Delaware education.  Sponsored by State Rep. John Kowalko and State Senator Dave Lawson, House Bill 50 would honor a parent’s right to opt out of the state assessment without penalty to the student or the school.

The Chair of the House Education Committee meeting, Earl Jaques, is very much against parent opt out.  Last month, he publicly said opt-out is admitting your children are failures and can’t measure up.  He apologized to special needs parents for his comments, but not every parent.  As if special needs students are the only ones opting out.  While I laid off on my attempt to have him removed as the Chair of the House Education Committee, I have not forgotten his public insult to every Delaware parent and student considering opting out.

Governor Markell is working overtime trying to come up with new schemes to thwart the parent opt-out movement.  With the assistance of Jaques and other legislators, he introduced a measure to reduce the amount of “other” standardized testing students have to take while ignoring the plain simple fact that many parents hate and loathe the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  It’s not just because its based on the Common Core State Standards, it is because the test is designed in such a way that many students will do poorly on it.  This allows those in the corporate education reform movement to continue to invade our schools with the “fixes” our schools need.  While they walk away with a tidy profit.  Markell and the Delaware DOE are committed to these “reforms” for our schools.

If this bill does not pass the House Education Committee, it will show that the majority of our Delaware legislators do not believe in choice for parents.  Only when it comes to charter schools.  Because at the end of the day, that is what this boils down to: parents choosing the best possible educational outcome for their children.  And the Smarter Balanced Assessment is NOT even close to being good for our children.  Or our teachers, schools and our community.

I need every active opt out parent in Delaware to do their best to come to this meeting on Wednesday April 22nd at 2:30pm at Legislative Hall in Dover.  While this is a very inconvenient time for most parents, take your child out of school early and bring them.  Public comment will be available.  If your child is up for it, let them speak about the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  This is the moment in Delaware when we can take back control of education in Delaware.  This is the time when we tell Governor Markell, Secretary of Education Mark Murphy and the Delaware DOE that they do not control our children’s lives and the state does not own them.

We need the House Education Committee to pass this legislation so our schools can consistently and openly respect parent choice.  Capital and Christina have already passed similar resolutions, and Red Clay could be next.  We will find out the answer to that tonight at their board meeting.  State Rep. Kim Williams opted her son, a junior in high school, out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  I am sure she has received a ton of heat for this decision from Markell and other legislators, but the amount of respect she has earned is beyond measure.

This is the House Education Committee, and I would get busy now emailing them asking them for their support of this important legislation.  Cause I can guarantee, many parents will remember their vote when they are up for reelection!

Chair: Earl Jaques: Earl.Jacques@state.de.us

Vice-Chair: Kim Williams: kimberly.williams@state.de.us

Michael Barbieri: michael.barbieri@state.de.us

Stephanie Bolden: StephanieT.Bolden@state.de.us

Timothy Dukes: Timothy.Dukes@state.de.us

Debra Heffernan: debra.heffernan@state.de.us

Kevin Hensley: Kevin.Hensley@state.de.us

Harvey Kenton: Harvey.Kenton@state.de.us

Sean Lynn: Sean.Lynn@state.de.us

Sean Matthews: sean.matthews@state.de.us

Joseph Miro: joseph.miro@state.de.us

Edward Osienski: Edward.Osienski@state.de.us

Charles Potter: Charles.Potter@state.de.us

Michael Ramone: Michael.Ramone@state.de.us

In the meantime, please show your support by sharing this article everywhere, on Twitter with hashtag #supportHB50 or on Facebook by posting this to all your friends and anywhere you can think of where it can make a difference.  Talk to parents at your child’s school or at extracurricular activities.  Contact your relatives and loved ones in Delaware to help support this.  The children of Delaware need YOU!

 

Watch The Parent Press Conference At Legislative Hall In Dover

 

Parent Press Conference Went Very Well, Big House Bill 50 News!!!!

PPC#1

The Parent Press Conference on Delaware Education today went amazingly well!  About 25-30 parents came out, and many of the major Delaware media outlets were on hand as well.  Some parents from up north were unable to make it do a very nasty stomach bug making it’s appearance up there, but there were many familiar and unfamiliar faces there.  I gave an opening speech:

Thank you all for coming out today. My name is Kevin Ohlandt, and I am a proud father of a wonderful 5th grader in the Capital School District. I would like to recognize Delaware State Rep. John Kowalko and Delaware Senator Dave Lawson from the 148th General Assembly for joining us. As well we have State Rep. Kim Williams in the audience today. Both John and Dave are the co-sponsors on House Bill 50, which is the parent opt out bill. This legislation would codfify the parental right to opt out of the state standardized assessment, which is currently the Smarter Balanced Assessment. In the details of the bill, no student would be penalized for being opted out, and the student’s opt out data would not become a part of the school’s accountability ratings.

Since this bill was first announced, other legislators have made comments such as “This bill will never pass” or the Smarter Balanced Assessment is just a “little test”. When the opt out movement in Delaware began in earnest earlier last month, many parents were frightened or intimidated by certain school districts in our state. They received letters and emails from districts which included the following types of language:

-“Only students who have an extreme medical condition or a mental health can concern may be precluded from taking the assessment.”

-Making parents sign a waiver indicating “Despite this legal requirement for state testing, I elect NOT to have my child tested for the 2014-2015 school year and that my child will be counted as “absent” for purposes of testing.”

-“You will have to go to the DOE to get a form.”

-A superintendent saying “I’m the only one who can say who does not have to take the test.”

The reason much of this confusion began in the first place started with the Delaware Department of Education. In early December, they issued suggested guidance to school districts to handle the issue of parent opt out. This included having schools issue letters to parents indicating details regarding the Delaware state code and the state assessment. For three months, they watched school districts cite this code and knew it did not include parents in this part of the law. Parents felt intimidated and bullied by schools and the DOE let it happen. It wasn’t until the Delaware PTA had town halls concerning opt out that the Delaware DOE was forced to admit they can’t do anything to stop parent opt out. They said as a state they can’t legally do anything and it is up to the districts. There is no consistency among the districts in Delaware. Some have complied with parents in their requests, and some have flat-out said no, and that their child will test. I have seen an email where one director of curriculum stated he was afraid too many of the “smart” kids would opt out which would affect the school’s rating. As well, threats of Federal funding cuts to our schools are unsubstantiated based on other states not meeting the mandatory 95% threshold for testing participation in each sub-group. Over 40 schools in New Jersey did not meet these guidelines last year and not one single school received any cuts in funding. Continue reading

What To Expect At The Parent Press Conference

If you are coming to the Parent Press Conference on Wednesday, April 1st, outside Legislative Hall in Dover at 5pm, this is what you can expect:

-Parents talking about the damaging effects of Common Core and standardized testing

-A legislator talking about House Bill 50

-Delaware PTA talking about Parent Opt Out

-a potential other organization talking about their stance on parent opt out

Some have called this a rally.  We are rallying for a good cause: change in education.  If you believe that your child is more than a test score, please come.  If you are against teachers being rated based on a standardized test score, please come.  If you are tired of Common Core and other subjects either diminishing or disappearing in your school, please come.  If you are against your taxpayer dollars going to needless programs and services in our schools, please come.  If you are tired of paying school taxes so the Department of Education can sign contract after contract with companies that are interfering in education, please come.  If you want to save public education, please come.

You can find out more information on this event here:

https://www.facebook.com/events/962893793730222/

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

Parent Opt Out Movement Gaining Steam In Delaware, Another Parent Opts Child Out At Capital Board Meeting

As the Smarter Balanced Assessment draws closer, more parents are catching on to the opt out movement.  Tonight at the Capital Board meeting, a parent read a brief public comment she was opting her son out and gave a letter to the board.  Later on in the meeting, the board unanimously approved a resolution to support the House Bill to allow Parent Opt Out but wanted to add language concerning school protections.  Superintendent Dr. Michael Thomas was concerned, and rightly so in my opinion, about the implications this could have on teachers and principals at the schools.  I actually advised the board at this point the bill was submitted today with new language to add certain protections for schools.

The bill will be released tomorrow with a House Bill number as per Delaware State Rep. John Kowalko. From there, it will go to the House Education Committee.  If it moves on from there, it would be voted on by the House, and would then go to the Senate if approved.  If it passes, it would go to Governor Markell to sign into law.  This is where it could get tricky.  If enough parents are behind this, Markell would have a public relations nightmare if he refused to sign this.  But he is a lame-duck and firmly in the pockets of the corporate education reformers.  Which is why parents need to make a lot of noise about this NOW!

Board member Matthew Lindell said the bill has the same type of language in Capital’s resolution from October which passed.  The Capital resolution stated there would be no penalty against students if they were opted out of the state assessment.  Board President Kay Dietz-Sass said she has personally had about 70 inquiries into opt out by concerned parents.

The Smarter Balanced Assessment testing window begins March 10th, and ends on June 4th.  Parents have 20 days to opt their child out of this test.  We need many more with the brave courage of the parents who have already done this.  We also need a count, so if you have opted your child out, let me know.  If you would prefer privacy, you can shoot me an email at kevino3670@yahoo.com If you are a special needs parent, and you are still on the fence about this, just be prepared for hell to be unleashed once this test starts.  You can stop that from happening.

Podcast of WDEL Interview w/Rick Jensen on Parent Opt Out of High-Stakes Testing

I had an awesome time with Rick Jensen today talking about parent opt out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.   There was so much more I could have said, but I had an hour.  Some folks called in.  John Young from the Christina School Board, Delaware State Rep Sean Matthews and Delaware State Rep John Kowalko.  Rick and I talked about special needs children, the Delaware DOE, Smarter Balanced Assessment, and how it is not illegal to opt your child out in Delaware.  We talked about the “scare tactic” letter the DOE wants districts to give to parents when they opt their kid out and how it is based on state code that does not include parents at all.  I hope to do this again soon!

Delaware State Rep. Kowalko and Senator Lawson Sponsor Parent Opt Out Legislation To General Assembly

Parent Opt Out Legislation.  A House Bill.  Currently in circulation amongst members of the Delaware General Assembly.  This is it Delaware.  It is time to contact your state representatives and senators and give your support to this bill.  I will be posting an article soon with district maps for the House and Senate as well as each and every State Representative and Senators email address.  Contact them by next Wednesday, February 11th with your support for this potential game-changing legislation.

Sponsor: Rep. Kowalko & Senator Lawson

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES 148th GENERAL ASSEMBLY

HOUSE BILL NO.

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

BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE:

Section 1. Amend § 151(k), Title 14 of the Delaware Code by making deletions as shown by strike through and insertions shown by underline as follows and redesignating accordingly:

(k)(1) Notwithstanding any other provision in this section to the contrary, any parent or guardian of a student in any public school or charter school shall have the right to opt out of the statewide assessment.

(2) The parent or guardian must notify the student’s school in writing at least 2 school days prior to the scheduled exam. Schools shall honor any timely request and provide alternative educational activities during testing times.

(3) There shall be no academic or disciplinary repercussions on the student’s record for opting out of participating in the statewide assessment.

(4) The Department shall maintain a data system to track the student’s opt-out decisions.

(5) The Department shall report opt-out numbers in accountability ratings to provide context and impact on school and district ratings.

(6) Schools shall notify all parents or guardians of this right no later than 15 days after the start of the school year via school website and telephonic communication.

(7) A student having reached the age of majority shall solely possess the opt-out rights under this subsection. (l) Rules and regulations pursuant to this subchapter shall be proposed by the Secretary subject to approval by the State Board of Education.

SYNOPSIS

This bill creates the right for the parent or guardian of a child to opt out of the annual assessment, currently the Smarter Balanced Assessment System.