Delaware Governor Jack Markell took his stand on the opt-out bill today and vetoed it. But he didn’t stop there, from the looks of it he went on a press junket to collect quotes from all the Kool-Aid drinkers in Delaware. Especially the sell-out traitor from Milford, but I’ll get to that one later. For something this big, I have to give my thoughts on the utter stupidity and lack of understanding of the Governor and his reformer friends.
Governor Vetoes Opt-Out Bill, Signs Legislation to Reduce Testing for All Students
Date Posted: Thursday, July 16th, 2015
Considering I know for a fact he didn’t receive the bill until this morning, he sure had a lot of time to put all this together and collect all these quotes and come up with a three page statement to the House of Representatives.
Emphasizes importance of annual statewide assessment for improving schools, while saying the state must move forward with reducing time spent on other tests
This was all concocted by your Education Policy Advisor Lindsey O’Mara, yourself, the DOE, State Rep. Earl Jaques and State Senator David Sokola (who I will have much more to write about VERY soon). It was one of your first responses to the opt-out movement and House Bill 50. It was shady then and it’s shady now. But I have a voice recording coming from Ms. O’Mara indicating the Smarter Balanced Assessment would be included. I will make sure no one forgets that public comment during the Senate Education Committee meeting on June 3rd 2015. I have yet to see one shred of data how the Smarter Balanced Assessment will improve schools, especially since it was announced today by Penny Schwinn and the gang over at the DOE the scores won’t even be in until September now at the earliest. Way to go Jack! Real timely data!
Wilmington, DE – Governor Markell announced today that he has vetoed House Bill 50, which would allow for any student to be opted-out of any state or district assessment, while he signed Senate Joint Resolution 2, which aims to eliminate unnecessary, ineffective, or redundant tests required by the state, districts, and individual schools.
House Bill 50 never “allowed” students to opt-out. It codified and honored a right that is ALREADY there. The ink on SJR 2 was probably dry months ago. We all know you waited until the equally disrespectful State Senators Coons and Carper voted no on an opt-out amendment yesterday. You are all cowards!
In his veto statement (full text below), the Governor expressed agreement with concerns raised by parents and educators about the need to reduce the amount of time students spend on testing. However, he said he could not support encouraging opt-out of the annual state assessment, which provides information for teachers and school leaders to determine areas in which students are excelling or need additional help. It also represents a vital tool for evaluating the effectiveness and ensuring the best use of the more than $1 billion in state funds directed to the education system.
The only parents who expressed agreement with you were…I don’t know? Who were they? I remember one parent giving public comment in Legislative Hall against House Bill 50. One. The rest were teachers, charter cheerleaders, and your corporate buddies, and oh yeah, the very misguided and misinformed civil rights groups. The information it provides is which schools can we turn into priority schools again and hopefully convert into charters. Cause you have to fill up the old CEB Building in Wilmington, right Jack?
“HB 50 would undermine the only objective tool we have to understand whether our children are learning and our schools are improving. It has the potential to marginalize our highest need students, threaten tens of millions of dollars of federal funding, and undermine our state’s economic competitiveness – all without adequately addressing the issues that motivated many to support the legislation. That is why educators and school leaders have joined the civil rights community and business leaders in opposing the legislation, and why I am returning the bill unsigned,” wrote the Governor in a statement delivered to the House of Representatives.
So many falsehoods in this paragraph it’s disgusting. First off, if you only have one objective tool to measure progress, then that’s your problem. For being such an education minded Governor, you sound like a complete jackass saying that. We will see how the high needs students are truly marginalized when the scores come out in…September…October…November…whenever. Why the long wait? For something we sunk millions and millions of dollars into, where is the timely data which is required by Delaware state code? In terms of the federal funding cuts, look no further than HR5, passed by Congress, which eliminated federal funding cuts based on federally mandated standards and assessments. Nice try again Jack…you lose! In terms of Delaware’s economic competitiveness, you have been so obsessed with education that you let many key businesses leave our state. Your state budget is in shambles and most of the legislators have no faith in you and can’t wait until you are GONE! All these excuses are things you created and threw out there as an obstacle to House Bill 50. You just can’t support parents, just admit it and stop hiding behind excuses. The reason parents supported this legislation is pure and simple, and I said this on Rick Jensen’s radio show today on WDEL…it’s a craphole of a test. You know it, I know it, and all of Delaware knows it. The only “educators” who support your veto are listed below, the very same ones that gave their “expert” testimony at education committee meetings and the one traitor who gave what I perceive to be completely false testimony at the Senate vote. Oh yeah, the Sussex Academy lady, can’t forget her. Where are the voices of opposition? You don’t have enough bandwidth to cover all of them Jack!
“I have heard the concerns of some parents and teachers that our students are experiencing too much testing. I agree… And that is why I have signed Senate Joint Resolution 2, which will bring together teachers, parents, civil rights leaders, and legislators to help us review our required assessments and eliminate those that are unnecessary, ineffective, or redundant.”
You got this from Sokola about hearing from all these parents. And a few other legislators that have been “promised” something. Once again, and please get the wax out of your ear Governor Veto! Parents didn’t want to opt out of any other test but YOUR Smarter Balanced Assessment. I never once heard a parent say “I want to opt out little Jack from DIBELS or MAPS.” I can’t wait to see who is on your little assessment inventory committee. We all know this was an added bonus to get rid of non-Common Core aligned tests and keep the ones that are.
SJR 2 builds on an initiative started by the Governor earlier this year, when he announced an inventory of all required state assessments, and support for districts to take stock of assessments required at the local level. The legislation signed today brings legislators and other key groups into the process of reviewing the inventory results and making recommendations about what assessments should be cut. In addition to requiring completion of the inventory, SJR 2 will:
- Require districts to report the results of the inventory, including assessments that will be eliminated;
- Require the Department of Education to do the same thing at the state level;
- Require the Department to publish the results of the inventories to the House and Senate Education Committees, and to the public; and
- Require the Department to convene three members each of the House and Senate Education Committees, along with representatives of the state teachers union, the state’s superintendents, the civil rights community, and parents, to review the inventory results and make recommendations about assessments to eliminate, with final results reported publicly by June 2016.
Because it takes a year to figure all this out? How much is Achieve Inc. getting paid for all their “hard work” on this? The company that started so much of this Common Core crap?
Civil rights groups and Delaware employers, along with the State Board of Education and teachers and school leaders, applauded the Governor’s decision:
Like they didn’t know about it ahead of time? Please, don’t insult us…
“We strongly support Governor Markell’s decision to veto House Bill 50 because we must know if our children are learning, and we cannot fix what we cannot measure. If too many children opt out, we’ll lose perspective on how our children are doing with achieving the proficiency most important to succeeding in today’s world. We’d risk being unable to make meaningful demographic comparisons and track progress in relationship to other schools, districts, states, and countries.
How about cleaning up the mess in your own backyard before you try comparing the students in your area with ones that get more resources, have less crime, and more money. Talk about an inequity gap! How about we stop comparing everyone and look at each individual student and see what their individual needs are. The children in your city, that you are so proud of and want to protect, will not do well on this test. Let me hear from you then after years of data show SBAC was more about the money than improving their lives.
“If a school misses its threshold on participation, it also has implications for school accountability and funding, potentially harming the most challenged in our communities: particularly families of color, families struggling with poverty, and families who need special education services or are learning English. While we support reducing the number of tests and the total testing time for our students, opt-out is not the way to accomplish this goal. We thank the Governor for recognizing this and understanding that we need to know where our children are on the learning curve in order to hold those responsible for teaching our children accountable.”
The very Governor you praise was on the steering committees that helped to perpetuate the very things that are holding students back. He has been involved in this for a long time, before Common Core even had a name. This was a long-term plan and all of you folks espousing civil rights fell for it hook, line and sinker. Who else sets up accountability systems based on standardized test scores and when they fail to meet these insane proficiency marks in the schools with the highest populations of low-income, minority, and special education students they are punished (priority schools) or shut down (Reach, Moyer). All in your city! How did that work out?
– Deborah T. Wilson (President and CEO of the Metropolitan Wilmington Urban League), Maria Matos (President and CEO of the Latin American Community Center), H. Raye Jones Avery (Executive Director of the Christina Cultural Arts Center, Inc.) and Jea P. Street (New Castle County Councilman for District 10)
Yup, the same four you always trot out…
“As employers in Delaware, as supporters of Delaware public schools, and as parents, we thank the Governor for his veto of House Bill 50. There are better ways to deal with legitimate concerns about over-testing, and we support the effort by the Administration and General Assembly to reduce testing for all students through Senate Joint Resolution 2.
Said from someone who probably hasn’t been in a classroom for more than two hours in the past twenty years…
“We must have a way to determine how our children compare against others in their school, the state, and the world. Opt out would damage that process. It signals to businesses and the families that we shouldn’t strive for all of our students to graduate ready for college or the workplace. The results of the annual state assessment inform families and educators on student progress, and will provide lawmakers with a better view of how millions of tax dollars are being spent. As business leaders and as parents, we need our education system to support each and every student and school in our state to help them succeed.”
If these all-important assessments don’t determine retention or graduation, and the scores come back AFTER the student has advanced to the next grade, how is that valid and reliable and timely data? I can tell you how millions of our tax dollars are being spent: on crap like this and all the vendors the DOE contracts out to “fix” our struggling schools based on the same standardized assessments they helped to create. It’s called a close circuit. Opt-out is the means to cut that vicious cycle.
– Mark Stellini (CEO Chair of Delaware State Chamber of Commerce), Rich Heffron (President Delaware State Chamber of Commerce), Mark Turner (Chair of Delaware Business Roundtable), Ernie Dianastasis (Chair of Delaware Business Roundtable Education Committee), Bob Perkins (Executive Director for Business Roundtable)
I’ve never heard of most of these people. Who are they again? Whatever… They must be the same people who make sure advertisements get in the News Journal the most so the newspaper can’t do real investigative work.
“We have openly and repeatedly shared the Board’s opposition to this bill, which we believe will do real and lasting damage to both our education system as a whole, and our goal of ensuring that all of our students – irrespective of their gender, race, or socio-economic background – graduate from our schools ready for college, career, and citizenship.
Jack, this is coming from your hand-picked State Board of Education. Do you think you are fooling anyone putting their quotes in here?
“Should HB 50 become law and parents simply decide to opt their child out of the assessment, teachers and administrators will be unable to collect and use the data to address necessary improvements to the curriculum, as well as identify specific areas where students are struggling and where they are excelling. This is especially important information for our most vulnerable populations who may need additional support and assistance. Furthermore, we will be at risk of not complying with federal requirements with regard to test administration and school accountability, potentially jeopardizing millions in federal Title I funding, which directly impacts those children and schools that need support the most.”
Dr. Gray, you are so boring. I think I covered everything you said up above. I can see why Jack picked you to be President of the State Board. You are just his mini-me.
– President Teri Quinn Gray and Vice President Jorge Melendez (State Board of Education)
“I believe the opt-out movement has been driven in part by many misconceptions about the Smarter Balanced Assessment. The main misconception about the assessment is the amount of time it takes to complete it. The math portion of the test is made up of 35 questions along with one performance task. In my class of special needs students, the test takes up a minimal amount of time compared to past state assessments. It is also aligned to the curriculum and standards teachers are using, so there is no need to do anything special to ‘teach to the test.’ The results of the state assessment provides teachers the necessary data to help their students and I appreciate the Governor’s opposition to House Bill 50.”
– Jesse Parsley (teacher, Milford School District)
THE TRAITOR TO PUBLIC EDUCATION! I’ve talked to a few of your peers and they truly think you have been bought or you are living in a fantasy world. Your “appreciation” of the Governor’s opposition came with something, didn’t it Jesse? What was it? A position? A title? A seat on another Rodel council? Money? I’m sure we will find out soon enough. I talked to teachers in YOUR school about how great the Smarter Balanced Assessment went, and it was horrible for them. Along with the rest of the state. So how is it that your ONE classroom, out of the thousands in the state, had such a Mary Poppins dream-like ease with SBAC? You are either lying or smoking something…
“I understand the concerns that have been expressed over the stress some students experience in taking tests. However, my experience has been that students benefit when we challenge them to meet a higher bar – when we give them the chance to see how well they can perform. Further, my experience is that our teachers are on board. They are working hard to make whatever adjustments are necessary to ensure that students are learning and that their learning is measured.
If the teachers don’t they get bad evaluations across the board and they get fired. That’s an environment that is toxic and dangerous. It’s like having kids jump in a pool when they don’t know how to swim. I hope that doesn’t happen in your Schell brothers donated pool!
“One primary mechanism to measure that learning is through standardized tests; right now the test is “Smarter Balanced.” I believe that we will make the necessary adjustments to meet the demands of this test. We have a responsibility to give our children the best possible education, and these tests are an important measure to gauge that education and the academic progress of all students.”
– Patricia Oliphant (principal, Sussex Academy)
“The necessary adjustments to meet the demands of this test.” That is the problem, isn’t it. The actual test can’t change, everyone else has to change. The best possible education does not equal a high-stakes standardized assessment based on the Common Core State Standards. Only those who profit from this ideology (charter schools, Governors, DOE, Rodel, yada yada yada) would dare to say such a thing.
“Strong educators at every level assess students constantly. The state assessment is an important piece of the puzzle as it can help us understand how our students are performing and their progression from year to year. Test results also help push us to make the necessary changes to ensure students aren’t falling behind and help us reflect on instructional choices. Whether or not you support opt out is a different question than whether students are over-tested. We should still do more to evaluate the volume of tests, or the value of the existing ones, and I urge the Governor, the Department of Education and the General Assembly to keep an open dialogue with teachers, parents and stakeholders so that together we can solve even the toughest of testing questions.”
– Courtney Fox (Head of School at First State Montessori Academy and former State Teacher of the Year from Brandywine School District)
Ah yes, Ms. Fox, the former Pearson teacher of the year (funny how that website disappeared after I published it). The ONLY charter school leader or teacher who publicly opposed House Bill 50 until Ms. Oliphant’s above statement. And how much do you get paid for your head of school position up there? And which Rodel council are you on this month?
Governor Markell Statement to House of Representatives Vetoing House Bill 50:
July 16, 2015
TO THE MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
OF THE 148TH GENERAL ASSEMBLY,
Pursuant to Article III, Section 18 of the Delaware Constitution, I am vetoing House Bill 50 by returning it with my objections to the House of Representatives without my signature.
Just out of curiosity Jack, what took you so long to veto? It’s obvious to all this was your plan. Why now? Oh yeah, Carper and Coons. Riding off their votes, trying to make yourself look just that little bit better (you don’t, you look like more of a jerk than ever to Delaware).
We have no higher priority as a state than providing all of our children with a world-class education, and ensuring that they are prepared to compete in the increasingly global economy. Every child, no matter his or her family situation or income or background, deserves the chance to reach his or her potential. Their future, and the future of our state, depends on a quality education.
I agree with everything you say, except your definition of a world-class education. Common Core and SBAC it is not, but you don’t care about that. You are already getting for your post January 2017 position.
House Bill 50 would not help prepare our children, or our state, for success in the economy of tomorrow. To the contrary, HB 50 would undermine the only objective tool we have to understand whether our children are learning and our schools are improving. It has the potential to marginalize our highest need students, threaten tens of millions of dollars of federal funding, and undermine our state’s economic competitiveness – all without adequately addressing the issues that motivated many to support the legislation. That is why educators and school leaders have joined the civil rights community and business leaders in opposing the legislation, and why I am returning the bill unsigned.
This was already said up above…yawn…
Universal statewide assessments provide our teachers, parents, and education officials with objective information about how children are doing – not just in their classrooms, or in their schools, but relative to their peers across the state and the country. These test results are the clearest way we can evaluate whether our efforts to improve Delaware schools are working. The state spends more than one billion dollars on education every year, and we all deserve to know whether those resources are spent well and whether our students are making progress.
And out of that one billion dollars, how much is spent in actively reducing classroom sizes, getting funding for basic special education services for K-3 students, and how much is spent on DOE salaries, and contract after contract with studies and reports and complete waste? How much of that one billion gets spent by charter school leaders who think a school bank account is their personal ATM card? How much goes to admins in our districts and never reaches the classroom? These are the hurdles, not parent opt-out. We know those resources are NOT spent well, but you do nothing about that. Our students superficial progress based on high-stakes assessments are as fleeting as a feather staying in one spot during a wind storm.
If the test results don’t paint an accurate picture, particularly if struggling students are disproportionately encouraged to opt out as has happened elsewhere, we may not be able to identify the children who need intervention to be successful. That is why civil rights groups in Delaware and across the country – including the NAACP, the National Urban League, the United Negro College Fund, the National Council of La Raza, and the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund – strongly support universal testing requirements and oppose “opt-out” legislation. Low-income students, students with disabilities, and students of color have benefitted the most from the adoption of statewide testing requirements. Those tests help us identify individual and groups of students who need more support, effectively focus additional resources on preparing our young people to reach their potential, and hold schools and districts accountable for ensuring that all of our students are learning. That is also why federal law requires us to assess at least 95 percent of our students to receive millions of dollars in federal funding – it’s that important. The loss of those federal funds, which disproportionately support low-income and high-needs students, is a risk I am unwilling to take.
And yet you never mentioned parents in this paragraph. If schools and educators are “disproportionately encouraging” students to opt-out, that is against the law and you should enforce that. But to base a veto on legislation that is about something PARENTS are doing shows you never listened to the conversation.
I have heard the concerns of some parents and teachers that our students are experiencing too much testing. I agree. While I believe strongly in the value of a universal statewide assessment to tell us whether our students are making progress, the first priority of our schools must be to ensure that our students have the time they need to learn. But to address that concern, we should not be encouraging certain students to opt out of a test that provides valuable information – we should eliminate entire tests for all of our children and put that time to work in the classroom.
Ah, now your using the DSEA’s latest mission statement, “time to teach, time to learn”. Very crafty Jack. Who is encouraging “certain” students to opt out? I encourage all students to opt out IF that is what their parent chooses. See, you are all about choice when it comes to charter schools. You support that choice. But when it affects your bottom line, your reputation, you can’t support our choice. You can’t pick and choose your battles like that in a choice war. It either is…or isn’t.
That is why the Department of Education is conducting an inventory of all required state assessments, and providing districts with financial and technical support to do the same at the local level. And that is why I have signed Senate Joint Resolution 2, which will bring together teachers, parents, civil rights leaders, and legislators to help us review our required assessments and eliminate those that are unnecessary, ineffective, or redundant.
Why is your PR person repeating the same stuff you wrote above?
I also understand, and have taken action to address, other frustrations that have led some parents and teachers to support HB 50, including concerns about the design of the Smarter Balanced statewide assessments and the use of student data for teacher evaluations and school accountability. We asked for, and received, permission from the U.S. Department of Education to delay using Smarter Balanced results in teacher evaluation for two full years, while we all adjust to the new test. We use many other measures to evaluate the progress of our students, and the effectiveness of our teachers, because we understand assessments are only one snapshot of our students’ success. We have approved a process to allow schools and districts to pilot new educator evaluation systems. We are continuing to provide feedback on Smarter Balanced to help make it better. And we don’t require our students to take or pass the Smarter Balanced assessments for advancement or graduation.
Cause if you did, there would be a lot of students either not graduating! And failing their grade. Nobody wants to be in 8th grade at 31 years old! Tell me more about what you are addressing with SBAC and how you can fix a sham of a test? Oh yeah, it was designed that way.
I am committed to working with our entire education community to continue to address those concerns, but HB 50 is not part of the solution. This bill does not reduce testing and does not say anything about how the state uses test results. The only effect of HB 50 would be to establish a process for individual parents to prevent their individual students from participating in the Smarter Balanced English and math tests and any district assessment, which doesn’t solve the problems that our parents and teachers have named. However, it can undermine our ability to identify students who need help and to measure our schools’ improvements.
Are you done yet? By writing what you wrote in this paragraph, you have shown you don’t care one iota about individual parents. The process is already established. We give the school a letter, tell them our kid is being opted out, and we want them to receive some kind of education while the other kids are taking the test. House Bill 50 would have stopped schools from being bullies about it though. That was the heart of the bill. And the accountability factor. But the fact you made such a big stink about it catapulted opt-out into a front-page headline on numerous occasions, all across the state. Your very opposition to a very easy to understand bill prompted more opt-outs in this state than anything I could have ever written. Sure, I reported on it time and time again, but you gave me the words to write Jack.
In today’s economy, opportunity is increasingly tied to the quality of one’s education and our schools are the key to giving all of our children – especially those from struggling neighborhoods – the best chance to realize their potential. But we can’t make that possible if we find out too late that students have fallen behind. If House Bill 50 becomes law, we will not know if many of our students really are on track to graduate ready for college or the workplace.
Sure you will. We’ve been doing it for the past hundred or so years. This high-stakes testing craze doesn’t make kids college worthy. Neither does Common Core. Students went to college long before this testing craze, and they will go long after it is a footnote in a textbook or some out-of-date website. Students will reach their potential if they believe in themselves and they have good teachers and safe schools. Boom. That’s it. The rest is just nonsense.
I cannot support a bill that runs counter to our efforts to ensure an objective, consistent, and reliable measure of all of our students’ progress. Without it, many students would be too easily forgotten.
The Smarter Balanced Assessment is neither objective, consistent or reliable. It is not progress. It’s a step into a time when students were put into sub-groups and labeled and schools were punished and our Governor looked the other way when parents needed him the most. To step up and say “I believe in what you are saying. You do have rights. I understand your concerns.” But instead, he gave the same tired old excuses we have been hearing about for the past 15 years. We call this point in time the Markell administration. And July 16th, 2015, was the day you sealed your legacy in Delaware. And every single lie, abuse, fraud, and sin you have committed as Governor of OUR state, as well as your time as State Treasurer, will be exposed. All in due time Governor. If not by me, than by the next one. But rest assured, we will leave NO stone unturned. Your days may be numbered, but your sins are immense. But REFUSE THE TEST DELAWARE is your creation. Own it!
Jack A. Markell
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