The Real Opt Out Movement

Teachers, parents, students and administrators all have been threatened with consequences for opting out and challenging  DOE mandates.  Principals have been force fed talking points on testing, teachers have been threatened by the chancellor and parents have been fed a confusing mixture of threats and misinformation to keep them from opting out- and more important, to keep people from questioning the top down directives coming from federal and state governments.

The real story of opt out is the thousands of people- children, parents, teachers and principals who wish they could opt out but do not.

I spoke to a parent the other day who told me she hates the tests, her son hates the tests and is miserable at school but they are not opting out because…

1.The administration has put a lot of pressure on parents around testing

2. Her son is worried about what his peers would think if he went to another classroom during testing

3. They are nervous about getting into a public middle school without 4th grade test scores.

All understandable- especially for low income parents with few options for middle and high school. Just like it is understandable for teachers with mortgages and families to fear speaking out. So many teachers I work with fiercely oppose high stakes testing and  wish they could bring creativity and empowerment into their classrooms instead of test prep, but they don’t want to put their jobs at risk. And I’m sure that there are school leaders out there who wish they could use their budgets to hire more teachers instead of paying for test prep materials and curriculum. Taking or administering these tests is by no means an endorsement of high stakes testing.

So for every family that opts out- know that there are 3 families who wish they could. For every teacher that speaks out, there are 3 teachers who would say the same thing if they felt safe. For every principal who writes a letter or stands by their school’s commitment to children over data, there are 3 principals whose positions are too tenuous for them to take that stand.

Whatever we end up saying or doing-triple it- because that’s how powerful this movement really is. That’s how many of us want to see the end of high stakes testing. That’s how many of us want teachers to be respected and nurtured- not sorted and punished. That’s how many of us want to see children learning more than ELA and math. That’s how many of us want to see creativity, community, collaboration and joy in our public schools. Opt out numbers are just the tip of the iceberg.

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10 comments on “The Real Opt Out Movement

  1. KK says:

    This is absolutely spot on. Thanks for writing it.

  2. Mark Burrell says:

    As a student in Washington who has to deal with the unholy demon that is the SBAC test, I concur with you over here too. The test absurd, has very little context, and seems to depend upon use of the word “best”. Best is by definition a subjective term. Your opinion of what is best is different from mine, which is differently from my friends, and so on down the line. These are not tests, they are ridiculous arbitrary numbers with little or no bearing on real life, yet colleges and school boards seem to think they are vitally important. I want to make clear that I think some form of standardized testing is a good idea in order to help catch students who may need a little more help, but the way it is currently being executed is ridiculous and ineffective.

  3. thank you for publicly sharing this information. reinforces why we homeschool in the heartland, and battle the public bureaucracy to maintain our educational rights.

  4. Raphael E. Serebreny says:

    People: The DOE is a government agency. They have a secretary who is appointed by the president. Politics is a game of pressure. Without it, nothing happens. That should tell us all something. It is the corruption behind the system that is driving it. Someone, a whole group of someones, is making a lot of money off common core. And it is taxpayer money! Where are the lawyers? There is something here….it simply needs to be defined and then prosecuted. There is no wrongdoing until wrongdoing is uncovered.

    • R W Day says:

      Who is really benefiting from these tests if the students teachers, and administrators are not? Someone, somewhere is pocketing big dollars. I recall my youngest becoming physically ill because of nerves over these tests. Fear of failure exists in all of us – these tests greatly exacerbate this fear.

  5. angelia says:

    I am from South Georgia, and the parents and students here are facing the same challenge that you all are facing. What can parents in my area do to stop this madness!!!!

  6. Gwen Simshauser says:

    We live in NW Washington. My daughter used to like school. In first grade, she could add and subtract better than I could, and was starting to work on multiplication and division – looking forward to it with excitement I might add. Then Common Core hit in second grade, and from then on she hates math, hates school, hates life. She came home one day with homework that looked like a chutes and ladders game. I couldn’t make out WHAT it was. I told her not to worry about it, that as long as she could get the correct answer that was the important thing. Her teacher told her “You do it my way or not at all.” meaning if it isn’t done the Common Core way, you don’t do it.. Apparently, algorithms were not to be used in class but their practice sessions on-line with Xtra Math were just that. So confusing to a little 7 year old brain to try to learn and do one way in class, and then for after school practice do it an entirely different way. Mixed messages? After that my little girl came home and said with much vehemence “Mom, I’m stupid. I’m the only one in class who doesn’t understand this. I hate school.” She is now in fifth grade, preparing for middle school, and the dislike is getting worse. When is the insanity going to end? If the Common Core practice is to bring us up to standard to the rest of the world, how is this going to be accomplished if everyone ends up dropping out of school because they come to hate it?

  7. Bradley Aaron says:

    Troubling to see all of the deep discontent within the professional community, and the frustration of the parents, and of course, turning the kids off of learning and school at an early age.
    It seems likely any policy that does not enjoy the support of the people who implement it (educators and administrators) nor the people it is intended to serve (kids and parents) is very
    bad policy..

    If our system is broken, let’s ask the teachers who work in it how to fix and listen to them- odds are they know exactly what needs to be done.

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