An open letter to Delaware Senators regarding House Bill 50: Opt Out.

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In today’s world of policy making, it often a facile and easy technique to challenge those that wish to move the needle on an issue by challenging them to “offer a solution”. In Delaware, some of our elected leaders, who are elected to lead and solve problems, will sometimes fall prey to turning constituent concerns back onto their constituents using this logic. It’s their right, but sometimes they are just wrong. Take House Bill 50, a simple bill that identifies a clear problem and offers a clear solution.

  • Problem: schools and districts challenging parents’ right to opt out with letters and conversations designed to bully and intimidate parents into not exercising their rights. Often, these threats use tactics like declaring loss of federal funds (has not happened from opt out ever) or attempting to suggest that supporters of this right are seeking, without any evidence, the total elimination of standardized tests. The worst is this unproven sense that policy makers would lose data they claim allow them to properly assign funds (this is the most pernicious, duplicitous, and irresponsible of lies): policy makers know where the gaps are from EXISTING data and still fail to equitably fund our schools or support school seeking such funding.

  • Solution: A simple bill, that if passed, would have the following effects: support parents, defend parents from retaliation from their schools (CSD has done this with our resolution, but only 2 other districts have joined officially), and respect their decision making and role in their child’s education…a holy grail of policy makers.

There are opponents. They are literally making up arguments that have no basis in fact. For example, the idea that failing to test children is a threat to civil rights. We have been testing, identifying, shaming, and labeling schools using standardized tests for almost 20 years non-stop. These same folks are also arguing that schools are failing yet want to perpetuate this status quo   by oddly suggesting the tests that have so persistently used to solve the problem but have actually widened it are the solution?   Strange I say.

At the end of the day, to use an overused phrase, HB 50’s brilliance is its simplicity: it deals with a problem directly and succinctly by codifying an existing right.

How many bills to members for the GA get that are this clarion, this simple? All the other concerns like: SBAC good/bad, federal funds loss threat, and civil rights violations are either trumped up or need different solutions like funding action or proof of efficacy to be demanded by policy makers.

All this problem needs is a Senate committee to agree to the following premise: we support parents and their rights. Punishing parents for DOE promises or threats just feels like the wrong idea to me.

Please support HB 50 in committee on 6/3/15.

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