Delaware House Bill 50 Would Allow Parent Opt-Out Of Smarter Balanced & Protect Teachers

Delaware House Bill 50, co-sponsored by Delaware House Rep. John Kowalko and Delaware State Senator Dave Lawson has officially been released.  While it does not show up on the Delaware General Assembly website yet due to the recess during Joint Finance Committee hearings, the bill is official.

Since the bill was introduced for circulation purposes a couple weeks ago, new language has been added to give protections to teachers, principals and schools.

“The Department (DOE) shall report opt-out numbers in accountability ratings to provide context and impact on school and district ratings; however, the opt-out numbers shall not factor into the accountability ratings.”

What is interesting about this bill is the sponsors on it.  Kowalko told Exceptional Delaware “Kim Williams and Paul Baumbach are being added to the bill as sponsors.”  So sponsors from the House include Kowalko, Williams, Baumbach, and Helene Keeley, all reps who voted no on House Bill 334, which signed the Smarter Balanced Assessment into law.  But  State Rep. Jeffrey Spiegelman voted yes.  As for the Senate Sponsors, Lawson voted no, while Margaret Rose Henry voted yes.  New State Reps Sean Matthews and Lyndon Yearick are also sponsoring the parent opt out bill but they were not a part of the 147th General Assembly.

There seems to be a shift in thinking in regards to the state assessment in Delaware.  Spiegelman told this blog last fall that the legislature was in an impossible situation with the Smarter Balanced Assessment since Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy had already bought the assessment for Delaware.  Many legislators reported it didn’t matter what they voted because Governor Jack Markell’s staff told them even if it was turned down, Markell would sign an executive order if need be.

For many people, that very brief moment of victory when the bill was defeated in the Senate, and then rescinded a brief time later, and then passed was a dark moment for Delaware education.  Many folks blamed the one Republican Senator who changed his vote, but there were also three Democrats.

Below is a copy of House Bill 50 which is the version that will be submitted to the House Education Committee when the General Assembly returns in mid-March.  To help support this bill, please use the hashtag #supporthb50