DOVER, Del. (June 26, 2015) – Yesterday, the Delaware Senate gave final approval to what is being called the “Common Core opt-out bill,” sending the legislation to the Governor’s desk.
Introduced by Rep. John Kowalko (D-Newark) in March along with eight bipartisan cosponsors, House Bill 50 (HB50) gives parents the right to opt their children out of Common Core’s “Smarter Balanced” tests, and will require schools to give advanced notice to parents and students about these rights before tests are administered.
After some debate and approval of different versions in the House and Senate, the bill passed in the House on June 23 by a 31-5 vote. It then passed in the Senate on June 25 by a 15-6 vote. HB50 will now be placed on Gov. Markell’s desk where he has the chance to sign it into law.
“I’m very happy it passed by such a wide margin,” said Rep. Kowalko in a Newsworks report. “It shows (the legislators) support parental rights.”
The bill comes as the backlash against Common Core testing grows in Delaware and nationwide. Parents in many school districts around the state have opted their children out of the tests in recent months. A similar bill was signed into law in Oregon earlier this week.
According to a Delaware Online report, Secretary of Education Mark Murphy stated that the feds could revoke as much as $90 million if HB50 were signed into law. The federal government has warned other states considering new opt-out legislation this year — including Illinois, Colorado and Oklahoma — but has not yet withheld any money.
Under the 2002 federal No Child Left Behind law, 95 percent of students in all groups must be tested or schools will be penalized.
As the opt-out movement grows, federal officials have ramped up pressure on states to ensure that at least 95 percent of students take the tests — a benchmark that they say states are legally obligated to hit.
“This is clearly an abuse of federal power and when the U.S. Department of Education attempt to coerce a state to vote down a bill that strengthens parental rights then Congress needs to provide a stern rebuke by removing that power,” said Shane Vander Hart of Truth in American Education.
“As someone who represents a 72 percent minority district, I felt that I was obligated to speak out,” said Dover City Councilman David Anderson, as reported by DelawarePolitics.net. “This test has not been statistically normed or validated for cultural bias or minority populations. The State of Wyoming is responsible for validation. How many minorities are in Wyoming? ‘Smarter Balanced Assessment’ is potentially devastating to the people that I represent.”
The fate of HB50 now rests in the hands of Gov. Markell, a fierce opponent of the legislation.
“I never say what I’m going to do to a bill in advance, but I can say I absolutely do not support that bill,” said Gov. Markell, as reported in a WDEL report.
To implore Gov. Markell to sign HB50 into law, you can call him at (302) 744-4101 for his telephone line in Dover or at (302) 577-3210 for his line in Wilmington.