Opt Out! Redux

opt outBy Nick McDaniels – Opt Out! parents are rising up and cutting the legs out from under corporate ed reformers. In 2012, I wrote an open letter to parents on this blog urging them to opt their kids out of standardized testing. And the answer to my letter is here.

The Opt Out! movement is growing. The movement that was once characterized as a passionate group of suburban moms is now spreading. Parents everywhere, noticing the ills of over-testing are rising up. I am inspired. I want to help.

Corporate ed reformers and testing vendors stand to make tremendous profits from testing our students. They stand to make more profits from conducting the tests as cheaply as possible. They are now doing tests online, saving money on printing and grading. But schools are not equipped to support this.

Imagine testing 1000 students on a crippled school wireless network. Imagine students crying because they are logged off the test in the middle of testing. Imagine computers freezing, in-test accommodations not working. Imagine students who are not testing who could be using the scarce technology resources to research for and write term papers but can’t because all resources are poured into testing.

Sadly, this is not imagination. This is a reality in many schools around the country. Corporate ed reform efforts to make even bigger profits off of the hard work and dedication of our teachers and students finally pushed teachers over the edge in Seattle a few years ago and is increasingly pushing parents over the edge today. Government-mandated use of inferior testing products will not stop people from opting out. Everyone is fighting back for children and we should all be inspired.

But we cannot pretend that merely keeping our children home on test day is enough to stop the spread of profiteering standardized testing. We must make sure that all parents opt their children out, so that that testing regime crumbles, so that teaching and learning can again happen, and so that the brave parents and children who refused to be widgets in the profit-scheme are not singled out as outliers. We must force our elected official to pass opt-out laws.

As we teachers have always known in education, it is the parents and students who hold the power. And their uprising over this issue could pop the corporate education reform bubble and save public education as we know it.

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