Opting out of tests does not mean copping out on accountability

The Washington Post | Letter to the Editor | by Rep. John Kowalko

As the author and primary sponsor of Delaware’s “opt-out” bill, I was hard-pressed to understand the position in the Jan. 9 editorial “Opting out of accountability,” supporting Delaware Gov. Jack Markell’s (D) veto of a bill that would allow parents to opt their children out of standardized testing.

The governor is not “standing up for accountability” in vetoing the bill but rather standing firmly against parents’ wishes and rights. The legislation does not suggest or give “an imprimatur of state approval,” leading or even encouraging parents to think “it’s okay, even desirable, for children to duck these tests.” In truth, the legislation reaffirms the rights of parents to opt their children out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment without fear of academic or disciplinary repercussions. It provides an organized process and time frame and mandates “alternative educational activities during testing times.”

This bill is about parental and, of course, children’s rights. Who ensures the rights of children? Parents. Children are entitled not to be fearful and not to be humiliated and to go to school and learn. This bill ensures those rights. It says children may be excused from the test and engage in an alternative learning experience.

John A. Kowalko Jr., Newark, Del.

The writer, a Democrat, represents the 25th District in the Delaware House of Representatives.

Read published letter.

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