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Opt-out bill still alive, returns to State Senate

Delaware Public Media

The legislative rollercoaster that is the opt-out bill continues to ride the tracks with House lawmakers first defeating, then passing it back to the Senate for a second time.

In May, the House overwhelmingly approved the measure in its original form, which was only tailored to apply to the Smarter Balanced Assessment, based on Common Core standards.

But last week, state senators tacked on two amendments.  One would have it apply to any and all required tests.

Chair of the House Education Committee Rep. Earl Jaques (D-Glasgow) said that would upend the modern educational system.

“Does that mean that no child will ever be tested again in our schools? Are we not going to be able to assessments to figure out the benefits of where resources need to go?"

Rep. Jeff Spiegelman (R-Clayton) tried to override the second amendment, allowing 11th graders in Delaware to opt themselves out, but it initially failed.

Sponsoring Rep. John Kowalko (D-Newark South) said that he didn’t want the amendment tacked on.

“I know one thing that will be true, if this bill goes back to the Senate it’s dead and I’m not going to stand silently and allow that to happen without trying to make it move forward,” Kowalko said.

Following that, the bill died from lack of support.

It didn’t take long for lawmakers to recall the vote, eventually passing it with plenty of votes to spare.

Kowalko says it’s better to send the bill with some life back through the gauntlet than to kill your own bill.

“It’s apparent to me that unless the Senate has had a rebirth of legitimate ideas and not try to tack on another foolish amendment, then it should pass.”

As it stands, the proposal will still apply to all district or statewide tests. Gov. Jack Markell (D) has staunchly opposed the bill, but has never said whether or not he would veto it should it come to his desk.

Senators could take up the issue as early as Wednesday.

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