Del. Gov. Markell Vetoes Common Core Testing Opt-Out Bill, Veto Override Possible

Delaware Governor Jack Markell vetoed HB 50 last week, a bill that would allow parents to opt their children out of Common Core’s Smarter Balanced Assessment tests.

The News Journal’s Matthew Allbright wrote, “Lawmakers and parent groups who supported the bill are furious and demanding the General Assembly override the action when it returns in January, which would require a three-fifths majority in both chambers.

HB 50 previously passed the state’s House by a vote of 31-5 and the Senate by a vote of 15-6, meaning that, if every legislator who voted for the bill were to also support a veto override attempt, it would succeed.

[HB 50] has the potential to marginalize our highest need students, threaten tens of millions of dollars of federal funding, and undermine our state’s economic competitiveness – all without adequately addressing the issues that motivated many to support the legislation,” said Governor Markell in a letter announcing his veto.

The Tenth Amendment Center notes that a provision in the 2002 No Child Left Behind law signed at the federal level by former President George W. Bush requires states to conduct the tests on 95% of students or risk losing federal funds.

A letter supportive of Markell’s veto from members of Delaware’s Chamber of Commerce and Business Roundtable read, “Should HB 50 become law and parents simply decide to opt their child out of the assessment, teachers and administrators will be unable to collect and use the data to address necessary improvements to the curriculum, as well as identify specific areas where students are struggling and where they are excelling. This is especially important information for our most vulnerable populations who may need additional support and assistance. Furthermore, we will be at risk of not complying with federal requirements with regard to test administration and school accountability, potentially jeopardizing millions in federal Title I funding, which directly impacts those children and schools that need support the most.”

HB 50’s sponsor, Representative John Kowalko (D-Newark), told The News Journal that Markell “is just flying in the face of what parents want in the state of Delaware and what they deserve and what they should get.” He added that he and other legislators would “certainly challenge this [veto] when we get back.

Delaware Parent-Teacher Association president Terri Hodges called the veto a “slap in the face to Delaware parents.

Yvonne Johnson, Delaware PTA’s vice president of advocacy, said, “We need the General Assembly to stand by the parents, their constituents and do the right thing and override what the governor did.

The Delaware General Assembly has not yet attempted to override any of Markell’s votes as governor. Representative Kowalko told The News Journal, “I hope we have the votes [to override the veto]. I think those people who voted for the bill were very sincere. They supported this because parental rights were being demanded and should be given to them.”