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!