Delegate files brief to stop funding for standardized test

By Kyla Asbury | Apr 29, 2015

MARTINSBURG – A West Virginia delegate has filed a brief in Berkeley Circuit Court seeking to halt the state funding for the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium.

Del. Mike Folk filed his brief April 27, requesting the court to grant injunctive relief, permanently enjoining Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, W.Va. Superintendent of School Michael J. Martirano, the West Virginia Department of Education, the West Virginia Board of Education, W.Va. Treasurer John D. Perdue, the Office of the Treasurer, Secretary of Administration Jason Pizatella, the Office of Administration and the State of West Virginia from taking any action to authorize, permit or allow disbursement of West Virginia taxpayer funds to the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium.

"Since 2009, Governor Tomblin (and his predecessor) and Superintendent Martirano (and his predecessors)  have engaged in a course of conduct that would have ceded West Virginia’s sovereignty over educational policy within its borders to SBAC, an interstate consortium operating under the influence of federal regulators located in Washington, DC," the brief states. "Congress never sanctioned the interstate compact that created this consortium."

The West Virginia House of Delegates passed HB 2934, which would have repealed the use of the Common Core Standards in the state, according to the brief. The bill failed in the West Virginia Senate due to a great deal of lobbying by Martirano and his newly hired director of policy and government relations, commonly understood to be a lobbyist for the West Virginia Department of Education.

Folk, R-Berkeley, said the SBAC is a clear violation of Article 1, Section 10 of the U.S. Constitution.

"The way this testing works in West Virginia, schools are taking 4 to 6 weeks out of class time to do this testing," Folk said. "That's taking time away from the students when they could be learning."

Folk said the curriculum was changed from WESTEST to Common Core, there was supposed to be public hearings and public notice of the change, which was not done.

"SBAC says it is to radically reshape educational policy," he said. "If you're changing something to that extent, there needs to be public notice and public comment."

HB 2934 died in the State Senate due to extensive lobbying by the State Department of Education and Martirano that was based on misleading and false information and now students in West Virginia are being harassed and bullied by school administrators when their parents choose to "opt them opt" of the testing.

Folk said in April 2014, the previous superintendent said parents could opt their children out of the testing with no penalty.

"Now, they're sending mixed messages," he said. "They're saying you can't opt out and if you do, you could be  suspended or other punishments."

In a press release, Folk said that the idea that ending Common Core in West Virginia will cause the loss of millions of dollars in federal funding is a lie.

"We constantly hear that if we end this testing and Common Core in West Virginia, that we will lose millions of dollars in federal funding. That is an outright fabrication," Folk said in the press release. "Many states did not adopt Common Core and others have since opted-out. Not one has ever lost a single dime of funding. In fact Common Core and the SBAC actually costs our state money, and now is the time to stop it."

Folk said the bill that would have discontinued Common Core died because Martirano promised more public meetings on the issue.

Folk said it is important to stop payments on the unconstitutional testing.

In his press release, Folk asked if not now, when? If not us, who?

"Parental rights are being trampled and children harassed in our schools, all so the federal government can track and log information about our children from the cradle to the grave," he said. "Bill Gates and his corporations make billions and our school system continues to produce a subpar education for our kids.”

Folk said it is never the wrong time to do the right thing.

Last week, about 200 students at Spring Valley High School in Wayne County opted out of the state testing. The students were told they were not allowed to opt out.

Parents stated the testing violated student privacy by asking questions that have nothing to do with education and the test has no weight gauging a student's performance.

In Harrison County, students who attempt to opt out of the testing were treated as a disciplinary matter, punishable by suspension, in-school suspension or other disciplinary measures.

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