DOVER, Del. (May 24, 2017) – A bill introduced in the Delaware House would allow certain students to opt out of Common Core Standards and testing, a small step toward nullifying nationalized education in the state.
Introduced by Rep. John Kowalko (D-Newark) in January with 12 bipartisan co-sponsors, House Bill 60 (HB60) would give parents the right to opt their children out of Common Core’s “Smarter Balanced” tests, and would require schools to give advanced notice to parents and students about these rights before tests are administered.
Additionally, schools would be banned from punishing children who opt out of the assessments. The state would create a data system to track the opt-out decisions of individual students, and those numbers would be included in accountability reports “to provide context and impact on school and district ratings.” A similar measure was approved by the legislature in 2015, but was ultimately vetoed by former Gov. Jack Markell.
The move would represent a small step toward reestablishing state, local and individual control over Delaware’s education system.
Last year, over 265,000 students in grades 3-8 refused to take part in New York State’s 2016 Common Core assessments.These New York parents didn’t wait for the state to act. They took matters into their own hand and started a movement of individual nullification that will make it extremely difficult to maintain Common Core in New York if it continues to grow, law or no law. Passage of HB60 could spark a similar movement in Delaware.
Common Core was intended to create nationwide education standards. While touted as a state initiative through the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), the U.S. Department of Education was heavily involved behind the scenes. Up until recently, the DoE tied the grant of waivers from the No Child Left Behind Act to adoption of Common Core, using the standards as powerful strings to influence state educational policy. The Every Student Succeeds Act passed by Congress this month now prohibits the DoE from attempting to “influence, incentivize, or coerce State adoption of the Common Core State Standards … or any other academic standards common to a significant number of States.”
Even with the federal strings cut from Common Core for the time being, it is still imperative for each state to adopt its own standards. The feds can once again use these national standards to meddle in state education at any time if they remain in place. Just as importantly, one-size-fits-all standard simply don’t benefit children. State and local governments should remain in full control of their own educational systems.
Rejecting nationalized education standards is the first step toward bringing true academic choice and freedom. HB60 would take a small step toward that goal, and possibly set the stage for further action. Ultimately, Delaware should simply reject Common Core completely and create its own standards that best represent the interests and needs of students in the Empire State.
HB60 was referred to the House Education Committee where it will need to be pass by a majority vote before it can move forward in the legislative process..