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.