Will Governor Markell Show Up At The House Education Committee Meeting Tomorrow? #supportHB50

I’ve been wondering if he would dare show his face in front of all the parents supporting House Bill 50, which would allow parent opt-out of state standardized assessments in Delaware state code.  If you look at his  daily schedule you can see his last public appearance prior to the House Education Committee meeting is at 2pm in his office at Legislative Hall.  So he will already be in Dover.  I can picture him arrogantly giving a big speech about why parents shouldn’t opt out.  This will be THE education meeting of the year whether he shows up or not!

He is also making an announcement at Appoquinimink High School tomorrow at 9am to talk about something related to this “Pathways to Prosperity” initiative.  Markell talked about this during his State of the State address in January.  I am very curious what bomb he will drop on an unsuspecting Delaware this week….

I would highly encourage any parents who do come to the House Education Committee to follow House rules.  It is a very controversial issue, but this is a location that demands respect. While we may not agree with what some folks may have to say, they do deserve their say.  If you do wish to give public comment, I would recommend coming with prepared remarks which you can submit to the committee and would become part of the public record.  I will also be giving them all the signatures from the petition to support House bill 50, which you can still add your signature on here: https://www.change.org/p/delaware-house-education-committee-pass-house-bill-50-to-allow-parent-opt-out-2

The meeting will be live on the legis.delaware.gov website starting at 3:30pm, which is very unusual for a House Education Committee meeting.

State Rep. Kim Williams Slams It Out Of The Park On Parent Opt-Out!!!!!

Delaware State Rep. Kim Williams wrote an opinion piece in the News Journal on parent opt out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment, and she said the words so many parents need to hear.

This spring, thousands of schoolchildren across Delaware will take yet another brand-new standardized test devised to assess the competence and progress of students and their teachers.

My son, a Conrad Schools of Science junior, will not be one of them.

My husband and I, after carefully weighing the benefits against the drawbacks, decided that it isn’t in his best interests to take another standardized test – the third statewide system we have implemented in six years – at the same time he has to prepare for and take the SATs, a number of Advanced Placement exams, Component V post-tests, DCAS end of course U.S. History and final exams. Instead of primarily preparing for college, which is already stressful, he and his peers will also be preparing for the state assessments.

To say that we are over-testing our children is an understatement. Look at the above list of exams a high school junior would be taking this time of year. Now throw in that this same junior took DSTP through sixth grade, DCAS until last year and now Smarter Balanced. How are students, parents and teachers supposed to have faith in a system that is constantly changing the high-stakes tests we administer?

That is why I and a growing number of parents, legislators and teachers are supporting a movement to opt our children out of Smarter Balanced. It is why I am co-sponsoring legislation that would allow parents or guardians to opt their children out of the test. House Bill 50 will be heard in the House Education Committee on Wednesday.

Let me make it clear that although I sharply disagree with the Department of Education, I believe we all want our children to succeed both in school and in life. We simply have very different views on how we should prepare and evaluate students.

That, however, does not change my frustration at last week’s announcement that four Delaware colleges will accept the yet-unproven Smarter Balanced test results in lieu of other placement tests. The fact that this news came just a week before our committee hearing on the opt-out bill – and with nearly no notice to legislators – feels almost forced.

I cannot imagine a scenario in which an organization would accept the results of a never-administered test before the results have even been tabulated. A doctor would not accept the results of an unproven cancer test in place of tried-and-true exams. A police officer would not base an arrest on an unheard-of field test that wouldn’t stand up in a court of law. Why are we rushing to accept this new assessment, especially in the face of mounting questions about how it’s structured and how it evaluates our children?

Recently, the Delaware State Education Association (DSEA) and Delaware PTA have come out in favor of a parent’s right to opt their child out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment. DSEA stated that it “believes that standardized testing is an inadequate and often unreliable measure of both student learning and educator effectiveness” and that the “over-emphasis on standardized testing has caused considerable collateral damage in too many schools.”

Opting their children out of these exams is growing in popularity among parents because they are becoming increasingly frustrated with how these standardized tests are being relied upon more and more even while the tests themselves are clearly unreliable – three different tests in six years is a clear sign of a problem. Local school boards such as Capital, Christina and Red Clay have recognized the issue and passed resolutions supporting a parent’s right to opt their child out of the test.

The parents who are opting their children out of Smarter Balanced and the teachers who support the movement are not anti-assessment. We acknowledge that we need to properly assess how our students are performing so that we can better craft our education curriculum. But we also believe there already are existing metrics that can be effectively used to measure a student’s progress. One of the best means of assessment we have are the teachers who are in the classroom every day working with our children.

I firmly believe that there is a solution to this issue that does not involve more testing. But for that effort to move forward, we need to change the conversation. Opting our children out of this test will help shift the debate.

The original opinion piece can be found here: http://www.delawareonline.com/story/opinion/contributors/2015/04/20/best-choice-children-opt-test/26102977/?fb_ref=%5B%27Default%27%5D

For the distorted and pro-corporate education reform opposing view, you can go here: http://www.delawareonline.com/story/opinion/contributors/2015/04/20/test-boycott-will-obscure-student-progress/26102579/?fb_action_ids=10206755433550741&fb_action_types=og.comments but beware, this is from the Rodel guy, a charter school board President and the head of a group heavily backed by Governor Markell…  and you might want to bring a bag in case you need to throw up.

Governor Markell Is Having A Hissy Fit Over Smarter Balanced Opt Out Numbers! #supportHB50

Governor Markell wants ALL students to take the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  He isn’t getting his way.  What you are seeing with his announcements about “reducing” other standardized assessments and the whole Delaware colleges and universities and Smarter Balanced is basically a hissy fit of epic proportions on a political level.  Why didn’t Markell throw all these carrots out there before the test started?  Because he didn’t know the opt out movement in Delaware would become as big as it has.

House Bill 50 will be heard in the House Education Committee on Wednesday.  Please read my most recent posts to get all the information on that.  What Markell loathes and hates is any mention of the words “opt  out” in the media.  Because every time someone hears those words, at least ten more kids opt out.  House Bill 50 will generate a great deal of media attention.

Governor Markell banked on the opt out movement not getting a lot of attention in Delaware.  He didn’t count on parents like me pushing the envelope on it to such a degree.  Delaware is a very unique state.  We tend to run behind on the trends of other states.  There are various reasons for this.  Our media has been accused of being biased towards corporate interests and political associations.  Folks in Delaware don’t question items of interest and controversial issues as much as other states.

Jack Markell is fuming in his own head.  He probably thought the Smarter Balanced Assessment would go off without a hitch.  His own ego wouldn’t allow the possibility of parents rising up and turning the conversation around.  Well guess what Jack, it’s happening, and we are NOT done talking!   We are forcing the conversation to those who are in a position to listen AND act.  If it’s all about politics with them, we will make them act based on that.  But I have to think many legislators are now wondering what the political fallout for them may be if they vote no on House Bill 50.  This is a bi-partisan bill with bi-partisan backing from the citizens of Delaware.  If Markell was crying in his sleep over opt out numbers a week ago, wait until he sees what they are a week from now!

Please Sign The Petition In Support of Delaware House Bill 50: Parent Opt Out Legislation #supportHB50

Delaware parents, citizens, and educators: Please sign the change.org petition in support of House Bill 50.  This bill will be heard by the House Education Committee on Wednesday, April 22nd, at 3:30 pm, in Legislative Hall, Dover, DE.

https://www.change.org/p/delaware-house-education-committee-pass-house-bill-50-to-allow-parent-opt-out-2

I have heard some parents in Delaware want to opt their children out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment but won’t do so until House Bill 50 passes.  This bill does not have to pass in order for you to opt out.  This would codify the right you already have.  However, this bill would send a crystal clear message to the Delaware Department of Education, Governor Markell, and the entire corporate education reform movement in Delaware.  It would also prevent certain schools and districts from taking part in some of the shenanigans they have pulled the past few months with parents in regards to opt out.

Please sign this petition. This will be hand-delivered to the Delaware House Education Committee on Wednesday, April 22nd, at 3:30pm.  Please share the petition on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and anywhere you can think of!

I highly encourage parents and concerned citizens to go out and collect signatures from Delaware residents, whether it is in your neighborhood, your local grocery store, church, the beach, your mall, or even your place of employment. Please be respectful of others, especially when it comes to those who do not welcome solicitors. If you collect signatures, please scan them and email them to kevino3670@yahoo.com by 12 noon on 4/22/15. Thank you!

Great News About House Education Committee Meeting on 4/22/15, 3:30pm!!!!!! #supportHB50

Mike Matthews, President of the Red Clay Educators Association, Teacher at Warner Elementary School, former Down With Absolutes blogger, and the man who goes to more education meetings than Governor Markell, announced the following on his Facebook account:

Thanks to House Education Committee Chair Rep. Earl Jaques. I submitted a request last night to have the audio system turned on in the House Chambers during the education committee meeting next week. Typically, the audio is only used when the full House is in session and not for specific committee meetings. Because this committee is meeting in the House Chambers, I respectfully asked if they could just “flip the switch” so folks at home who can’t make it to the meeting could listen. Rep. Jaques was super responsive and just got back to me saying he approved the request. Now you’ll be able to listen to the debate and discussion on the parent opt out bill on the General Assembly website live on Wednesday at 3:30.

I still strongly recommend as many parents as possible show up, but if you aren’t able to make it, go the http://legis.delaware.gov to listen to the meeting.  This will be one of the most highly attended meetings of this year’s General Assembly, so I would get there early, and get to the door of the House of Representative chamber as soon as you check in so you can get a seat!