Letters To Legislators

Delaware parents, teachers and citizens are emailing Delaware Senators feverishly this weekend.  It is so awesome to see everyday citizens become heavily involved in matters of education with their children, neighbors, and family.  In my view, this is what democracy should be about.  Legislators represent their constituents, not only in their district, but the entire state

If you would like to have your letter to the legislator published, please let me know and I put it up here as soon as possible.  Please advise if you want your name published.  My email is kevino3670@yahoo.com and I will gladly take both pros and cons of House Bill 50.  I will be posting letters I’ve received from folks who sent letters to the House of Representatives in the coming week.  In the meantime, please keep writing your district Senator, the Senate Education Committee, and Mark Murphy.  Murphy?  Sure, why not!  His email is mark.murphy.k12.doe.us and he should be receiving emails ALL DAY LONG if you are against the policies HIS Department of Education have created against our schools, teachers and students.  He is the Secretary after all!

Parent Opt Out Movement Gaining Steam In Delaware, Another Parent Opts Child Out At Capital Board Meeting

As the Smarter Balanced Assessment draws closer, more parents are catching on to the opt out movement.  Tonight at the Capital Board meeting, a parent read a brief public comment she was opting her son out and gave a letter to the board.  Later on in the meeting, the board unanimously approved a resolution to support the House Bill to allow Parent Opt Out but wanted to add language concerning school protections.  Superintendent Dr. Michael Thomas was concerned, and rightly so in my opinion, about the implications this could have on teachers and principals at the schools.  I actually advised the board at this point the bill was submitted today with new language to add certain protections for schools.

The bill will be released tomorrow with a House Bill number as per Delaware State Rep. John Kowalko. From there, it will go to the House Education Committee.  If it moves on from there, it would be voted on by the House, and would then go to the Senate if approved.  If it passes, it would go to Governor Markell to sign into law.  This is where it could get tricky.  If enough parents are behind this, Markell would have a public relations nightmare if he refused to sign this.  But he is a lame-duck and firmly in the pockets of the corporate education reformers.  Which is why parents need to make a lot of noise about this NOW!

Board member Matthew Lindell said the bill has the same type of language in Capital’s resolution from October which passed.  The Capital resolution stated there would be no penalty against students if they were opted out of the state assessment.  Board President Kay Dietz-Sass said she has personally had about 70 inquiries into opt out by concerned parents.

The Smarter Balanced Assessment testing window begins March 10th, and ends on June 4th.  Parents have 20 days to opt their child out of this test.  We need many more with the brave courage of the parents who have already done this.  We also need a count, so if you have opted your child out, let me know.  If you would prefer privacy, you can shoot me an email at kevino3670@yahoo.com If you are a special needs parent, and you are still on the fence about this, just be prepared for hell to be unleashed once this test starts.  You can stop that from happening.

Podcast of WDEL Interview w/Rick Jensen on Parent Opt Out of High-Stakes Testing

I had an awesome time with Rick Jensen today talking about parent opt out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.   There was so much more I could have said, but I had an hour.  Some folks called in.  John Young from the Christina School Board, Delaware State Rep Sean Matthews and Delaware State Rep John Kowalko.  Rick and I talked about special needs children, the Delaware DOE, Smarter Balanced Assessment, and how it is not illegal to opt your child out in Delaware.  We talked about the “scare tactic” letter the DOE wants districts to give to parents when they opt their kid out and how it is based on state code that does not include parents at all.  I hope to do this again soon!

Delaware Charter School Crowd Needs To Support The Parent Opt Out Bill, Two Major Reasons Why

I’m talking to you Delaware Charter Schools Network, Rodel, Schools That Care, and Publius!  In the next six days, Delaware legislators will be signing on to co-sponsor Kowalko and Lawson’s Parent Opt Out House Bill.  You may even be scratching your head at some of the legislators that will put their name on this.  But it’s going to happen.  This bill will be submitted.

The first reason you need to support this is because it’s a parent’s CHOICE.  I was reminded of this last night by two school board members.  You folks are all about the CHOICE.  You live and die by that one word.  Now it’s time to put your support where your mouth is.  While choosing a school for your child’s education is a CHOICE, so is determining how your child is educated.  It’s a parent’s CHOICE.  If you do not support this bill, we will all know that you don’t truly believe in CHOICE.

The second and more important reason is because of the nature of this bill.  Students who, for various reasons, may not be able to take the test will not count in the proficiency ratings.  This will make your scores go up!  Why is this good, aside from the obvious?  I know you aren’t going to go away.  You are a part of the landscape, and that’s not a bad thing.  But when the ACLU complaint goes forward with the OCR, and they rule on it, you know what’s going to happen.  You will be court-ordered to include more of the minorities, low-income and special education kids in your communities.  By default, test scores will go down.  You will be screaming for parent opt out then, so why not be proactive and do it now!  Many charters in Delaware pride themselves on their academic framework and proficiency ratings.  But when your populations change, and the new School Accountability System kicks in with the letter grades of A-F, your school could very well become the next priority school!

Delaware State Rep. Kowalko and Senator Lawson Sponsor Parent Opt Out Legislation To General Assembly

Parent Opt Out Legislation.  A House Bill.  Currently in circulation amongst members of the Delaware General Assembly.  This is it Delaware.  It is time to contact your state representatives and senators and give your support to this bill.  I will be posting an article soon with district maps for the House and Senate as well as each and every State Representative and Senators email address.  Contact them by next Wednesday, February 11th with your support for this potential game-changing legislation.

Sponsor: Rep. Kowalko & Senator Lawson

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES 148th GENERAL ASSEMBLY

HOUSE BILL NO.

AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATION ASSESSMENT.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE:

Section 1. Amend § 151(k), Title 14 of the Delaware Code by making deletions as shown by strike through and insertions shown by underline as follows and redesignating accordingly:

(k)(1) Notwithstanding any other provision in this section to the contrary, any parent or guardian of a student in any public school or charter school shall have the right to opt out of the statewide assessment.

(2) The parent or guardian must notify the student’s school in writing at least 2 school days prior to the scheduled exam. Schools shall honor any timely request and provide alternative educational activities during testing times.

(3) There shall be no academic or disciplinary repercussions on the student’s record for opting out of participating in the statewide assessment.

(4) The Department shall maintain a data system to track the student’s opt-out decisions.

(5) The Department shall report opt-out numbers in accountability ratings to provide context and impact on school and district ratings.

(6) Schools shall notify all parents or guardians of this right no later than 15 days after the start of the school year via school website and telephonic communication.

(7) A student having reached the age of majority shall solely possess the opt-out rights under this subsection. (l) Rules and regulations pursuant to this subchapter shall be proposed by the Secretary subject to approval by the State Board of Education.

SYNOPSIS

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.