February School Board Meeting Schedule, Go & Opt Your Child Out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment

Our children are more than test scores.  Delaware parents!  This is it.  It’s February 2015!  The dreaded Smarter Balanced Assessment starts in 35 days.  Unless you want your child pulling their hair out for many days over this test, do the right thing and OPT YOUR CHILD OUT OF THE SMARTER BALANCED ASSESSMENT!

The Delaware Department of Education is terrified too many parents will do it.  Why?  Because then the scores won’t be a measurement they can use to manipulate education in our state.   The DOE is not your friend.  Whether your child goes to a public school district, charter, magnet or vocational school.  Everything the DOE has done since Jack Markell began his reign as Governor has led to THIS POINT! Every single parent in the state who has a child in a public school needs to go to their district or charter’s school board meeting this month and OPT OUT!   And trust me when I tell you some of them WANT you to do this!  They would like nothing more than this test and the Common Core curriculum to disappear.

Here is a schedule of each district’s board meetings:

February 4th (tonight): Academia Antonia Alonso (bring a letter to the school)

February 9th: Sussex Tech

February 10th: Appoquinimink, Christina, Colonial, Family Foundations Academy, Polytech

February 11th: Odyssey Charter School,

February 12th: Kuumba Academy

February 16th: Delaware College Prep

February 17th: Caesar Rodney, Delmar, Gateway Lab School, Milford, Newark Charter School, Prestige Academy, Seaford

February 18th: Campus Community School, Capital, Laurel, Positive Outcomes, Reach Academy For Girls, Red Clay Consolidated, Smyrna, Sussex Academy, Woodbridge

February 19th: Academy of Dover, Early College High School

February 23rd: Delaware Military Academy, Delmar

February 23rd: Brandywine, Indian River, New Castle County Votech, Thomas Edison Charter School

February 24th: Charter School of Wilmington, Moyer Academy, Providence Creek Academy

February 25th: East Side Charter, MOT Charter School,

February 26th: Cape Henlopen, First State Montessori, Lake Forest, Las Americas Aspiras

*No definitive board meeting posted for Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security (website down)

Now that you know when to go to the board meetings for your child’s school, this is what you need to do. Write a letter indicating you want to opt out your child from the Smarter Balanced Assessment. Make sure the letter has your child’s name, your name, what grade they are in, what school it is, and the date. It doesn’t matter what your reason is for the opt out, because it is your right as a parent.  However, I would write that your expect your child to be educated that day and not penalized for not taking the test.  Let them know “sit and stare” is not an option.  Your child will not be allowed to be in the same room as those taking the test anyways.  Make a copy and bring the letter with you to the board meeting and sign up for public comment. Indicate on the public comment list that you will only speak for about 20 seconds. When it is your turn to speak, announce your name, where you live, and where your child goes to school. Then just say these very easy words “My son/daughter ________ will not take the Smarter Balanced Assessment. I am opting them out. Thank you.” And then hand the board president your letter.

Charter, magnet and vocational schools, this includes you as well. We haven’t heard too much from parents at the charters about these tests, but then again we don’t know how much you may or may not know about this test. We know teachers at charter schools aren’t really digging the Common Core standards, but they won’t speak of it. If anyone is praising it to the high heavens they are either a) part of some education group sponsored by the DOE or state government, or b) has received some type of great praise or bonus money.  It’s very dangerous for your children. Secretary of Education Mark Murphy expects 70% of children to fail the test. How would he know that? Because he has seen how bad students did on the field test last Spring.  Brian Touchette, the Director of Assessment at the DOE said he expects scores to be very low for the first “few years”.

Your child will come home with a schedule very soon with testing dates on it.  Take a very long, hard look at how many hours and days your child will be forced to take this test.

It isn’t up to any organization or a teacher to do this for you.  This is an individual choice that you would need to make.  It is a courageous decision, and one that will reap more reward than anything else in the long run.  The school boards don’t necessarily have to decide either. The teachers can’t publicly speak out about it for fear of losing their jobs. They have the most to lose as their annual review will be tied to this test, which is taken once a year. This is a parent thing. It is your fundamental right to do this. If enough parents do this, the funding threat won’t matter, because the state is not going to cut funding on all schools. Their would be a revolution, especially since they never fully restored funding cuts to education during the recession.

The Delaware DOE received $119 million in Race To The Top funding. Instead of using those funds to restore that funding (Race To The Top amounted to a very small part of the state budget for education), they spent the money on beefing up the DOE, hiring data coaches, teacher effectiveness groups, and a lot of other wasteful spending. This has been a mess since it began, and your children will suffer from this test.

How many times have you looked at their homework and said “What the hell is this?”

How many times have you seen them reading a book that you thought was completely inappropriate for their age?

Have you noticed more behavior problems with your child?  This is because the teachers have so much pressure to drill the daily lesson plan for Common Core so they don’t get behind.  The students also have a ridiculous amount of pressure to keep up.  The teachers are speeding through material so fast they don’t have a lot of time for proper review of the material.  A good deal of the material is beyond the child’s capability of understanding as well.  Don’t believe Common Core is meant for catching up with China and other Asian countries.  Don’t believe it is there to make your child “college ready” and not have to take remedial classes.  If you are a parent of a special needs child, the writing is already on the wall for the toll this is having on our most vulnerable of children

After the Delaware DOE’s diabolical agenda with the priority schools, and using test scores that are no longer valid (DCAS) to pump up charter schools, it is obvious the DOE is going to manipulate any scores for their own twisted agendas.  So don’t let them do it.

This is a bold, risky endeavor. But it needs to happen. Parents need to take back education. You will get resistance, and you will be told this can’t happen. It doesn’t matter. Because it is YOUR decision. Not the school, not the government, and not Governor Markell.  You don’t need anyone’s permission.  This is YOUR CHOICE.  But your child’s fate rests in your hands.  Please do the right thing!

As I mentioned in another post, I opted my own son out last October in a letter to the editor of The State News.  Personally, I’m not worried about this test anymore.  As a citizen of Delaware, I’m terrified at what can be done with these test scores.  Our children are more than test scores.