ONE OF the most troubling developments in the debate over educational testing has been the push to get parents to opt their children out of tests. This undermines the collection of needed data while sending students a message that it’s okay to sit out if something seems too hard. Credit to Delaware Gov. Jack Markell (D), then, for standing up for accountability in vetoing a bill that would encourage parents to exempt their children from state tests.
Folks no doubt deeply seeded in the testing opt-out movement is labor who has the most to gain. Certain members of labor act as silent partners in the opt-out movement. Life for student will continue under the twisted Common Core Stand and bullying will persist, classroom disruptions will continue, homework will continue and testing will always be around. However, special needs children are the biggest victims of standardized test and are at-risk minorities. Special needs children have IEPs designed for them as “individuals”. Here is where parents have the uninhibited right to opt-out their child from state standardized test. The Smarter Balanced Assessment doesn’t have benchmarks to measure special needs children in groups associated with individual disabilities. Measuring special needs student’s achievement against non special needs children has not merit or value. The IEP is protected under IDEA and should supersede any state or federal standardize test that isn’t aligned with the IEP and at best at least aligned with the level and nature of the special needs children’s individual disabilities.
The Smarter Balance Assessment does nothing to improve academics of At-Risk African-Americans. In actually, the Smarter Balance Assessment diverts critically needed funding needed to address real problems within the root cause of low achievement of At-risk students. Think about this for a minute, its graduation day at Dickinson High School or even Charter School of Wilmington. Two males students one white and one black step off the stage with high school diploma in hand. Which student is most-likely to land a job first and which student will land the highest paying job? Lets move onto college graduation! A white female and black female steps off the stage with degrees in hand! Which student is most-likely to land a job first and which student will land the high paying job? Though black children are born in America with one or even two strikes against them, the most successful people of all colors are well-rounded confident people who are self motivated. A high school diploma in the state of Delaware has no common value and the real value in education is in the learning and teaching standards not measured by the Common Core but rather standards the put an end to social promotion. African-American families are often ridiculed for loud cheering as their child or family member steps off the stage with a high school diploma. For many its the first time someone in their family graduated from high school. What parents of all color don’t know is, the benchmarks to earn that diploma are low and even students with straight A’s are being fooled. Title 1 funding is being shifted via school-wide and district-wide Title 1 programs. Title 1 School-wide and district-wide allows the district to use Title 1 funding to benefit all student of all income level. There is a reason Title 1 Section 1118 was waived under the NCLB Wavier and eliminated in the ESEA / NCLB rewrite. The empowerment of Title 1 parents has been diminished to near null! If there is an achievement gap in America and Delaware why isn’t the funding emphasis targeted at the bottom where greats need is? Black parents need to wake up and understand a high school diploma being handed to their children is a thin piece of paper that does nothing to level racial barrier beyond high school and college. I don’t know how to put this but, the diploma shouldn’t been seen as a carrot to measure a child success but rather the character and poise of the student on graduation day should exceed the value of diploma that has no standard. Funding for the Smarter Balance is stealing from the needs of at-risk student.
Governor Jack Markell is part of an agenda that pushes over-achievers and underachievers to do better in efforts to complete in job competitiveness within the global economy. Makes sense but the racial barrier in the job market are not being addressed. We’ve drifted from address the achievement gap within our own community to a competitive agenda to regain America’s footing in the global economy.
I could rant on and on and sure my analogies might sound far-fetched but I assure you this, the critical thinking skills of political fence sitters like Rep Mike Ramone are inhibited by politics that tends to be self-serving.
The story isn’t over in Delaware. The state’s parent-teacher association and teachers unions are urging legislators to override the governor’s veto when they convene next week. Legislation protecting parents who won’t let their children take Delaware’s Smarter Balanced Assessment passed overwhelmingly in both houses last year, framed as an issue of parental rights. In fact, parents can already prevent their children from taking these tests. But the legislation would give an imprimatur of state approval that would lead more parents to think it’s okay, even desirable, for children to duck these tests.
So now Delaware PTA is classified as co-conspirator to preserve labor! To a degree yes! However, the political / Wall Street seeded Smarter Balanced Assessment is the worst of two evils. And killing this beast may help return local control to parents whereas funding can go towards local needs that counts is more teachers, more paraprofessionals. Our community needs better individualized services for all children driven by individual student needs and that can only be achieved by local control.
To Delaware PTA, you are at a crossroad that will define DE PTA in the future! Don’t be on the wrong side of history! Don’t buckle-under! Will this fight and shovel Markell’s veto straight up his ass!