The United States Department of Education sent letters to 12 states about issues with lower participation rates for either all students or sub-groups of students on the state assessment. Delaware’s letter, from the US DOE Director of State Support Dr. Monique Chism, has all the intimidating and bullying language we have grown to expect from these federal intrusionists. So much for the Every Student Succeeds Act and the clause about states determining how to handle participation rates. The US DOE has learned nothing about standing up on the bully pulpit and telling states what to do.
So what bully lingo do we see in this letter about Delaware not meeting the 95% participation rate for English Language Learners and high school students? The biggest “threat” is turning a school that has multiple years of low participation rates into a priority or focus school. There are the usual funding cut threats. But Delaware already addressed this in their last ESEA Flexibility Waiver edit sent to the US DOE on November 30th. You know, the one where they have the participation rate multiplied against a school’s participation rate. The one that nobody but the DOE, Godowsky, State Board of Education, Rodel, and the Governor’s Advisory Council for Exceptional Citizens wanted. DSEA, Delaware PTA, district and charter superintendents and heads of school opposed it. Parents opposed it.
The timing on this couldn’t be better. As the Smarter Balanced season begins next year, opt-out will become a huge conversation. Our legislators have an awesome responsibility to override Governor Markell’s parent disrespecting veto of House Bill 50. This final vote from the legislators over this issue will decide once and for all who they stand with: a departing Governor’s absolutely horrible education legacy or the constituents who elect them. The Delaware DOE is probably emailing this letter to every single legislator as we speak. But guess what? I am calling the US DOE’s bluff. Let them try to cut funding. Let them try to interfere with a parent’s God-given, fundamental and constitutional rights to dictate the best interests of their children. We will fight them all the way to the United States Supreme Court if need be.
Every single parent of a public school student in Delaware needs to make a choice for their child if they haven’t already: do they continue to let corporate education reform allow our children to be in huge classes with little funding going to support and resources in favor of a once-a-year test that dictates everything about their child, teachers, and school? Do they allow our Governor, DOE, State Board, Secretary and the US DOE continue to take away local control from our schools and spend our taxpayer dollars on tests that do not give immediate feedback, do not impact the level of instruction an individual student receives and actually tramples the civil rights of every single sub-group of students in our state? These are the questions parents need to ask. Parents can and have made a difference, and their voices are growing stronger every single day. Say no to the US DOE. Say no to Governor Markell. Say yes to your child.