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.

 

Secretary Godowsky, Don’t Forget About Your May 1st Deadline! Will You Own Up To It Or Play Chicken?

GodowskyPic

Delaware House Resolution #22 and House Bill #243 are Delaware legislation introduced by several Delaware House Republicans on January 14th this year.  That was also the same day the majority of the State Representatives in Delaware voted not to suspend the rules to override the veto on House Bill #50, the opt out legislation that DID pass the House and Senate last year.  For newer readers, Delaware passed a perfectly good opt out bill last year, but Governor Markell vetoed the bill in July.  Delaware State Rep. John Kowalko brought the bill back on 1/14 in an attempt to have legislators override the veto, but many who supported the bill last year refused to suspend the rules to allow it come up for a vote that day.  It is sitting on the House Ready list, but only the Delaware Speaker of the House, State Rep. Pete Schwartzkopf, can put it on the agenda for a full House vote.  I would give the odds of Schwartzkopf putting it on the Ready List at slim to none.

Several House Republicans felt House Bill 50 wouldn’t go anywhere that day, but they still wanted to keep the possibility of opt out alive.  House Resolution 22 gives Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Steven Godowsky until May 1st to come up with procedures and a process for all schools to follow in regards to opt out.  He has not given any indication he would even address this resolution.  House Bill 243 would make it so no schools or districts would be held accountable for a parent opting their child out of the state assessment.  Which would also override any current federal laws on the issue as the federal law, like the Delaware law, states schools can’t opt kids out.  This is parent opt out, not school opt out.  It is a good bill, but the likelihood of it even being heard in the House Education Committee is slim to none.  At the end of January, State Rep. Earl Jaques rather smugly told me “that legislation isn’t going anywhere“.

We still have parents opting out, and we still have schools trying to bully and intimidate parents into not opting out.  Some schools feel it is perfectly okay for a child who is opted out to be in the classroom while others are taking the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  Some schools are telling parents they aren’t allowed to opt out, and some are saying they will lose ALL funding if any student opts out.  Why would the House Republicans who sponsored this bill give until May 1st for Godowsky to act on it?  Most of the Smarter Balanced testing would have been done by then, or many students would have already “broken the seal” and started the test.  Be that as it may, Secretary Godowsky has un upcoming deadline.  I’ve already heard from a couple of legislators that Godowsky hasn’t even broached the subject.

Today in April 9th.  Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Steven Godowsky has 22 days to honor House Resolution #22.  Will he do the right thing or is he truly just Governor Markell’s puppet?  We will find out on May 1st!

One very interesting tidbit to report: another Delaware Republican State Rep. signed onto the bill and the resolution as a sponsor since it was introduced.  State Rep. Tim Dukes signed on as a co-sponsor for both.  Last year, Dukes consistently voted no on every iteration of House Bill 50.  Prior to the veto override attempt, he was emphatic about voting no again if it came up.  However, at the last Assessment Inventory Committee meeting in February, Dukes looked like he was starting to see the light with the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  It was refreshing to see.  And then when I saw him added on these two bills, I have to admit I smiled!

 

State Rep. Joe Miro : Doesn’t Care About Parental Rights But Loves Big Business

Do you trust Secretary Godowsky?

This question was posed to me yesterday after the Delaware House of Representatives voted down the suspension of rules on the veto override of House Bill 50.  Asked by State Rep. Joe Miro, I immediately responded: “I’m sure he’s a nice person, but it doesn’t matter who holds that title.  Santa Claus could be the Secretary of Education, but they would still be a puppet to Governor Markell.”

Miro

The latest trumpeter to actually think they were instrumental in Mark Murphy’s “resignation” is Miro.  His warped belief that most legislators voted in favor of House Bill 50 last spring as a protest of Mark Murphy is filled with delusions of grandeur.  If he is correct, than I would like the names of all those legislators who voted yes for a bill supporting student and parent rights.  Put your money where your mouth is Joe…

Meanwhile, the Delaware House Republicans issued their latest weekly newsletter with some very interesting thoughts in here, which I will be redlining in the Transparent Christina tradition.

Veto Stands on Opt-Out Bill, but Issue Moves Forward 
with New Proposals

An effort to override Gov. Jack Markell’s veto of a bill that sought to codify parents’ right to remove their children from academic assessment testing failed in the House of Representatives Thursday.

Because of cowards like Bolden, Brady, Briggs-King, Carson, Dukes, Gray, Heffernan, Hudson, Jaques, J. Johnson, Q. Johnson, Kenton, Longhurst, Miro, Mitchell, Mulrooney, Outten, Peterman, Potter, D. Short, Smith, Smyk, Viola, Wilson, Yearick, and Schwartzkopf.  And Ramone, can’t forget the cowardly not voting.

Last July, the governor vetoed House Bill 50, as amended.  The measure sought to allow parents and guardians to opt their children out of the statewide Smarter Balanced Assessment and any district-level assessment.

Did you people even read the bill?  “Sought to allow” is a complete lie and you know it.  In the previous paragraph you used the word “codify“.  It can’t be both.  This intentional misuse of the wording in the bill serves to demean parents even more than most of you did yesterday, with the exception of three who truly knew better than the rest of you.  Or did they?  More on that later.

In vetoing the bill, the governor said the legislation would weaken “the only objective tool we have to understand whether our children are learning and our schools are improving.”

The only “tool” I see is the one talking in that last sentence.

Opponents of the bill, including the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce, also noted the legislation could have resulted in the potential loss of millions of dollars of federal education funding if enough children refused to take the test.

Yes, let’s quote the Chamber of Commerce but absolutely no parents.  It shows where the House Republicans loyalties lie.  Can’t wait to see the campaign donor lists for ALL of you in the next eight months…

Teachers’ and parents’ groups had supported the bill citing classroom time lost to testing; increased stress on students and teachers; and questions about its usefulness in helping educators identify and address students’ needs.

And yet absolutely nothing about the bullying, intimidation, and pressure put on parents about this test, and the repercussions inflicted on students and parents.  That must not have been discussed at all.  Maybe if any of you bothered to go to the rally yesterday to hear parents speak instead of trying to get your crappy legislation going you would have realized the difference between reality and fantasy.

As promised last week, House Bill 50’s prime sponsor, State Rep. John Kowalko, D-Newark, attempted to override the veto.  The two-step process first required a vote on a motion to bring the bill to the House floor.  That would have been followed by the override vote.

But you were too weak to allow that to happen.  So you used the cowards way out, even though many of you did the complete opposite three hours later over a corporate tax bill.  Guess that worked out well for you… paging big business!

Despite the bill getting overwhelming support last year, few legislators appeared to relish the prospect of a veto override attempt and its potential for damaging relations between the executive and legislative branches.  The motion to suspend rules failed on a vote of 13 to 26, with one absent and one not voting.

Here is where you start to lose it.  Because all who voted no didn’t think about their constituents at all, only how it made YOU look to the Governor.  Pathetic.  But not as bad as what comes next…

State Rep. Joe Miro, R-Pike Creek, said many lawmakers initially voted for House Bill 50 last year as a means of expressing their displeasure with then Secretary of Education Mark Murphy.  Sec. Murphy announced his resignation in August and was replaced last fall.

So you won’t override a veto of a bill YOU passed in your supposed effort to make Mark Murphy look bad, which in a very real sense, would cause “potential damaging relations between the executive and legislative branches”, but then you won’t vote on the override of the veto of that bill cause you don’t want to tick off Jack Markell?  Are you out of your mind Miro?  You sound like a complete hypocrite.  What color is the sky in your world?

Still, many of the factors that inspired the bill remained and lawmakers moved quickly on Thursday to introduce new legislation to address those issues: House Resolution 22 and House Bill 243.

But in your infinite wisdom none of you thought about actually sitting down with Rep. Kowalko or Senator Lawson (a member of your own party mind you) a year ago to discuss those issues?  Instead you wait until the day of a veto override to be Superman to Lex Luthor (I knew Markell reminded me of someone)?  We know what your efforts entailed, but you have more to say on it, so I will comment then.

The former measure calls for the new Secretary of Education to propose legislative options for implementing a uniform process for notifying parents of their existing right to opt their children out of testing and a standard procedure for accomplishing it.  The resolution also makes clear any such option would prohibit education officials from penalizing any student opting-out.

The two key words in this paragraph are “calls” and “option“.  I think most parents know of their “existing right to opt their children out of testing“.  So if House Bill 50 was accused of “allowing parents to opt-out“, what the hell does your Resolution say?  We are going to make sure they know and we will even mail it to them.  And once again, a resolution is not enforceable which is why you had to use the words “calls” and “option“.  Nowhere are the words “shall“, “mandates” and “law” used.  And what are “legislative options“?  Aren’t you clowns the ones people elect to come up with “legislative options“?  And Godowsky’s reaction to this?  “We will have to take a look at that resolution.”  How did your Hail Mary pass work out for you?

The latter measure would hold harmless from state action any school that has more than five percent of its students opting-out of an assessment.  Current state and federal laws call for potential sanctions against schools with less than 95 percent of their students taking certain assessments.  The proposed bill would not have any impact on federal repercussions from falling below the participation threshold.

Yeah, screw the parents but save the schools.  What are these state sanctions you speak of?  Cause last I looked and spent a considerable amount of time investigating, any sanctions were federally driven through ESEA flexibility waivers.  That our ass-kissing DOE and State Board caved on, which were based on federal “guidance” that was not congressionally approved or tied to existing law.  The Every Student Succeeds Act indicates states decide on these things, not the feds.  But the feds are trying to threaten funding cuts again over opt-out with no enforceable means of doing so.  Are you sure your Republican House attorney looked at this?

On Thursday, both measures were garnering broad bipartisan support and are expected to quickly move forward.

Passing an unenforceable resolution means as much as the hair on Jack Markell’s head!  And this “broad bipartisan support“… would that be with the House Democrats who also screwed parents over?  Bolden, Brady, Carson, Heffernan, Jaques, J. Johnson, Q. Johnson, Longhurst, Mitchell, Mulrooney, Potter, Smith, Viola and Schwartzkopf?  Added with the Repubs who voted no to student rights if they are opted out?  Briggs-King, Dukes, Gray, Hudson, Kenton, Miro, Outten, Peterman, D. Short, Smyk, Wilson & Yearick?  And the most cowardly of all, Rep. Ramone who actually thought not voting would prevent the wrath of parents and bloggers everywhere?  And for that matter, I saw this legislation RIGHT after the vote.  I was given copies of it in the Republican office.  It already had Reps. Spiegelman and Hensley on it.  Which means the attempt to “file it” before the vote on the suspension of rules would show Reps Spiegelman and Hensley already signed onto it.  But they still voted yes on the suspension of rules knowing other members of their party were going to vote no based on legislation they already signed onto?  Or was the broad bi-partisan support the deal you guys made with the Governor for the corporate tax bill in return for your Judas votes?  Sorry, the only broad bi-partisan support I see is the lack of support two thirds of our General Assembly provided to students and parents yesterday.  Possibly higher due to this latest find…

I have to say, I was really hoping to play my daily pin the tail on the state rep on one of the House Democrats who voted no on the suspension of rules, but after reading this House Republican newsletter, I really couldn’t resist.  Thank you Rep. Joe Miro, for making it easy!