Delaware Legislature Sends Opt-Out Bill to Governor

delaware-state-flagLast week the Delaware Senate approved HB 50 a bill introduced by State Representative John Kowalko (D-Newark) that allows parents to opt their kids out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  It also requires school districts to notify parents about their rights to opt their children out before the assessment is given.  The bill originally passed the Delaware House on a 31 to 5 vote on Tuesday last week.  The Senate later passed the bill on a 15 to 6 vote on Friday.

“This is a sincere and honest attempt to clarify in state law that parents have a constitutionally guaranteed right to direct their children’s education,” Kowalko told DelawareOnline.com.

The desk lands on Governor Jack Markell’s desk.  His Secretary of Education Mark Murphy has warned that the Feds could withhold as much as $90 million dollars.  The 10th Amendment Center reports that the Feds threatened states like Illinois, Colorado, Oregon and Oklahoma who considered opt-out bills this legislative session.  No Child Left Behind requires that school districts within a state assess 95% of their students.  The opt-out measures threaten that, especially in light of how many parents and students were taking this action nationwide before state laws gave them additional legal cover.

Markell has said that he does not support the bill.  The Delaware Constitution says that the Legislature can pass a law vetoed by the Governor with a 60% supermajority (which they have).  The Governor also has 10 days after a bill is presented (not including Sundays) to act on a bill or it will automatically become law.