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: email@example.com
Michael Barbieri: firstname.lastname@example.org
Stephanie Bolden: StephanieT.Bolden@state.de.us
Timothy Dukes: Timothy.Dukes@state.de.us
Debra Heffernan: email@example.com
Kevin Hensley: Kevin.Hensley@state.de.us
Harvey Kenton: Harvey.Kenton@state.de.us
Sean Lynn: Sean.Lynn@state.de.us
Sean Matthews: firstname.lastname@example.org
Joseph Miro: email@example.com
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!