While Other Districts Ignore Opt-Out, Christina Aims To Revise Their Policy

Christina School District, Parent Opt-Out Policy

Christina Board of Education member Elizabeth Paige is looking to revise the district’s policy on opt-out at their next meeting on Tuesday, August 11th.  Paige drafted the original policy passed last Spring by the board on a 6-1 vote.  With three districts honoring parent opt-out in Delaware, including Capital and Red Clay, Christina is the first to actually revise their policy.

I spoke with Elizabeth Paige, and she wanted not only Christina residents, but all residents of the state to know the following:

“The CSD Board passed a resolution in March expressing its support for parents’ rights to opt students out of state standardized testing. An official Board policy is a natural progression from that and will help ensure that the rights we professed to support are honored in the most professional, efficient way possible.

I am disappointed that the Governor vetoed HB50, but his veto does not mean that local school districts can’t continue to support and honor parents and their rights.”

This policy will be read officially on Tuesday evening to the other members of the board, and it is my hope it is passed unanimously!  To read the policy, please read below:

Senator Lawson Gives The Knockout Punch To Markell and the “We Know Best” Bunch!

House BIll 50 Veto, Senator Dave Lawson

Not sure how I missed this one, but on the day of the Delaware Governor Markell veto of the parent opt-out bill, House Bill 50, the Delaware State News wrote an article with awesome quotes by Senator Dave Lawson where he said the following:

“This action by Gov. Markell proves, without a doubt, that he and the ‘We know best’ bunch have NO regard for what parents and the legislature approve.

“It is sad that the Governor decided to veto a piece of legislation supporting parents’ rights,” he added.
Gov. Markell had opposed the bill since the beginning, but the measure passed the House by a 31-vote and the Senate by 15-6 vote.

As one of the co-sponsors of the bill, alongside State Rep. John Kowalko, Lawson has stood of for parents rights and has been a strong parent advocate during this whole process of opting out.  During a press conference in early April, he referred to opt-out as a “God-given right for parents” and I couldn’t agree more.  In the past year, Lawson picked up the education baton and ran with it.  He served on the IEP Task Force which led to the passage of Senate Bill 33 to give parents more rights during the IEP process.  As well, he is the chair of the taskforce for the blind which came about from hard-hitting public comments during the IEP Task Force.

State Rep. Pete Schwartzkopf Will Not Vote For HB50 Veto Override, Cites SJR #2 As Reason

House Bill 50 Veto Override, REFUSE THE TEST DELAWARE

In an article today by Melissa Steele in the Cape Gazette, Delaware Speaker of the House Pete Schwartzkopf emphatically said no to any type of veto override for House Bill 50.

On the House side, Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf, D-Rehoboth Beach, said he will not support an override attempt. He voted yes for the bill in June, but he said he would call no special session to override the veto, and he will vote no for the override if it comes up after the legislative session resumes in January.

How does that song by Cyndie Lauper go, “I’ll see your true colors, shining through…”.  It sounds like he swallowed the poison pill that is Senate Joint Resolution #2 as well.  This is the statewide assessment inventory resolution that was always meant to counter House Bill 50.  Schwartkopf even said so in the article:

Schwartzkopf said based on the joint resolution, a task force is being established, and a lot of concerns of over testing may be resolved by its recommendation.

“Let’s give the task force a chance to look at this,” he said.

For those who may not recall, I was livid when SJR #2 was introduced, and even beforehand.  Once Markell announced his “overtesting” initiative, I knew this would be his huge attack against parent opt-out.  I even called allies out in their support of SJR #2, because I knew what it was meant to do.  And here we are, with a veto of an opt-out bill and a push for SJR #2.  If ANYONE thinks Smarter Balanced will be a major discussion point in the assessment inventory, in terms of eliminating that test, they are going to be fooled.  The talk will last for five minutes until someone says “We can’t get rid of it, it’s a federal requirement.”

Perhaps the day has come where Schwartzkopf shouldn’t be able to run the show anymore on the House side in Dover.  Maybe the House Bill 50 veto isn’t the only thing that needs to change down  there.

Meanwhile, Delaware State Senator Ernie Lopez is very much in favor of overriding the veto.

“Smarter Balanced has been the culmination and been on the receiving end of frustration on all levels,” he said. “All of us are disappointed in the governor’s response.”

Now that is a legislator quote I can agree with!  Once and for all we will see which legislators side with parents and which side with Markell in any veto override attempt in January.  And yes, as Senator Bryan Townsend said during the final senate vote on House Bill 50, legislators are being tested with this vote.  And with 11 out of 21 senate seats and all 41 of the House Representative seats open for re-election in November 2016, you better believe it!  Parents are watching what our legislators do like never before.

HB50VetoGate Ends Before It Even Began


I just received an email from Richard Puffer at Legislative Hall in Dover, DE.  He indicated the wrong date was put in for House Bill 50, the parent opt-out bill.  It was vetoed on July 16th, not July 15th.  I’ve met Richard a few times, and he’s a stand-up guy!  If you’ve ever been at Legislative Hall or listened to the audio on their website, he’s the guy that reads off the roll call during votes and does an awesome job doing it.  He sounds like one of those auctioneers!

Here’s his email:

  • ‘Kevin Ohlandt’
  • Markell, Jack (Governor)
  • Kowalko, John (LegHall)
  • Schwartzkopf, Peter (LegHall)
  • Williams, Kimberly (LegHall)
  • Matthews, Sean (LegHall)
  • Lynn, Sean M (LegHall)
  • Sokola, David (LegHall)
  • Jaques, Jr, Earl (LegHall)
Good afternoon,

How Could Governor Markell Veto House Bill 50 On The 15th When It Was Presented To Him On The 16th? HB50VetoGate!!!!

Governor Markell, HB50VetoGate

You know it’s official when it’s on the General Assembly website.  Not that it wasn’t before.  But this was the page I went to the most during this legislative session.  Especially the past few weeks, looking for any action on it, and always left wondering- when would he do something on this.  What is he waiting for.  We found out the answer to that on Thursday July 16th, 2015.  The day Delaware Governor Jack Markell sealed his legacy for thousands of parents in Delaware…. Wait one minute… The legislature website says he vetoed the bill on July 15th. How could that even be if it wasn’t presented to him until 11:57am on Thursday July 16th? What kind of game did Governor Markell play on this bill?

This was the email sent from Richard Puffer:

From: Puffer, Richard (LegHall)
Sent: Thursday, July 16, 2015 12:01 PM
To: Kowalko, John (LegHall)
Subject: HB 50 – Just sent to Governor’s office



Just sent over HB 50 at 11:57 a.m.

Best regards,

Rich Puffer

Below is the information on the http://legis.gov website:

148th General Assembly
House Bill 50 w/HA 1 + SA 1, SA 2 + HA 2
Primary Sponsor(s): Kowalko Additional Sponsor(s):    Sen. Lawson

Co-Sponsors: Reps. Baumbach, Keeley, Matthews, Spiegelman, K. Williams, Yearick; Sen. Henry

Introduced On: 03/12/2015


Synopsis of Bill: 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.

Current Status: Vetoed   On  07/15/2015

Date Governor Acted: 07/15/2015 Effective Date:

Volume Chapter: :

Full Text of Legislation:
(HTML format)
Legis.html     Email this Bill to a friend

And here is the information on Governor Markell’s own website: http://governor.delaware.gov/ and I’ve enlarged and bolded the date for emphasis:

July 16, 2015

Governor Vetoes Opt-Out Bill, Signs Legislation to Reduce Testing for All Students

Governor Markell announced that he has vetoed House Bill 50, which would allow for any student to be opted-out of any state or district assessment, while he signed Senate Joint Resolution 2, which aims to eliminate unnecessary, ineffective, or redundant tests required by the state, districts, and individual schools.

Unless he got a flux capacitator and went back in time, this is literally impossible.  I’m calling this HB50VetoGate.  Did Markell circumvent Delaware law and veto legislation passed by the the Delaware House of Representatives and Senate before it was formally presented to him?  Physically?  I posted the original letter sent to the House of Representatives, where Richard Puffer, the Chief Clerk of the Delaware House of Representatives said it was delivered back to him at 12:55pm.

Once again, we have a Governor who does whatever the hell he wants, and if you don’t like it, too bad.  How in the world did the legislators put up with him for the past six and a half years?  And all his staff and other departments?  And the other Governors of the USA?  And Obama?

Or…this could just be an error on someone’s end.  I’ll definitely have to check on this.  Can we see the original document signed by Markell?  No, because he never signed it, the whole point of a veto.  So will we ever know the truth on this?

Weasel Of The Week: Governor Jack Alan “Veto” Markell…But Who Are The Offspring?

Governor Markell, Weasel of the Week

Every week, Rick Jensen on WDEL has a Weasel of the Week.  This week, in honor of his veto of House Bill 50, Governor Markell was the chosen one.  But who are the offspring weasels?  Find out here, for a limited time in this awesome podcast!

Hear Chest-thumping & Applause By State Board of Education & Coach Murphy on Markell Veto of HB50

Delaware State Board of Education

One good thing the Delaware State Board of Education has done in the past day is release their audio recordings of their meeting yesterday in lightning speed.  Bravo!  Now let’s listen to their condescending and boastful comments about Governor Markell’s veto.  Other highlights include Mike Matthews, Sabine Neal, and my own public comment in part 1, the introduction of a new state board members and more boasting in part 2, my fiery interruption of Mark Murphy in the beginning of part 3, the controversial update on the Smarter Balanced Assessment survey given to educators who administered the test in part 5, and charter school hoorahs in part 6.

You can find it all here: http://www.doe.k12.de.us/domain/225

It Took Governor Jack Markell One Hour To Veto House Bill 50

Governor Markell, House BIll 50 Veto

I got the call at 12:57pm yesterday from State Rep. John Kowalko that Governor Jack Markell vetoed House Bill 50.  When did he receive it?

From: Puffer, Richard (LegHall)
Sent: Thursday, July 16, 2015 12:01 PM
To: Kowalko, John (LegHall)
Subject: HB 50 – Just sent to Governor’s office


Just sent over HB 50 at 11:57 a.m.

Best regards,

Rich Puffer

And yet he also had an hour to supposedly “review” the legislation, get multiple quotes from people at the top of the state to the bottom, sign Senate Joint Resolution #2, and draft a three page letter to the Delaware House of Representatives.  More proof this was pre-planned and he never had any intention of signing the bill…

John Young Video On Governor Markell Veto Of Opt-Out Bill That Is A Must-See!!!!

Governor Markell, House Bill50 Veto, John Young

John Young, blogger extraordinaire and board member of the Christina School District, shot a video with a very long message to the citizens of Delaware and Governor Markell.  In a word, it is awesome!  I won’t ruin one word of it for you it is that good!  And remember, opt-out is dead, it is now REFUSE THE TEST!

All Hell Broke Loose Today At Delaware State Board of Education Meeting

DE State Board of Education

The Delaware State Board of Education meeting today didn’t have anything major on it’s agenda.  An overview of the Smarter Balanced Assessment administration survey was the big highlight.  Unfortunately, I left very early.  Right before the meeting began, I received THE call.  The Governor Markell vetoed House Bill 50 call.  I got a story up just in the nick of time for me to give public comment to Mark Murphy and the gang.  I gave my public comment about special education and the DOE screwing me over so bad on a FOIA I had to file a complaint with the DOJ who ruled the DOE overcharged on the FOIA five times higher than they should have.  An Academy of Dover parent who has a child with special needs gave public comment about how AoD failed to give her child an IEP and how a teacher abused her child.  Mike Matthews then gave public comment about how the DOE was screwing over Red Clay with priority schools funding.  That was just the beginning of the meeting.

At this point, board members Heffernan, Gray and Melendez commented on Markell’s veto of House Bill 50.  They all gave the same tired old excuses about how they need the data, and blah blah blah.  At this point in time they were going over the legislative update for the last six months.  Mark Murphy starts talking about the assessment inventory bill, Senate Joint Resolution #2 which Markell did sign today.  I got up, gathered my stuff, and yelled “It’s never been about the other assessments, it’s always been about the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  You people are a joke.”  And I walked out and didn’t look back.  I will no longer go to the chest-thumping meetings where idiots use words like rigor and robust again.  I can’t.  My stomach can’t take the nausea I feel.

I will now rely on Mike Matthew’s Facebook posts on the rest of the meeting:

Here at the State Board of Ed meeting and I’m disgusted to hear so many members praising Gov. Markell’s veto of opt out.

Department of Education just gave a presentation on this survey that teachers received last month. Click the link. Some of you, particularly RCEA members, will remember this.

At the State Board meeting just now, Sec. Murphy’s team presented on the results of the survey. They did NOT include any of the typed comments that I know many of the teachers in my district gave.

Very disappointed. I’ve requested the release of this information and have copied the leadership of the House and Senate Education Committees.

DOE reports Smarter Balanced data won’t be available until “early fall.” Fall starts Sept. 20, right? So how will this help teachers?

Newark Charter School awarded $250,000 to build a STEM lab.

Christina School District lays off 100+ teachers.

I’ve had enough. Time to leave this State Board meeting. When they start talking about giving “need-based” awards to charter schools who have no real need because they pick and choose who can enter their school, then there’s really not much I can say. I’ll be back next month!

The difference between Mike and I is that I will not be back next month.  If I absolutely have to hear it, I’ll wait until they put the audio up a few days after.  But this unelected and clueless state board of education is worthless, as well as the DOE they support.  I told them in my public comment I don’t hate them and in an alternate reality Mark Murphy and I could be bowling buddies (not a reality I would want to live in).  But I told them their mission statement is out of synch with reality.  Never has that been more true than today.  I turn my back on them just like they have done with all of Delaware parents.  And our Governor as well.  But trust me, they WILL hear us.  They will not be hearing about opt-out, because it is now REFUSE THE TEST!