I do not like to advocate for encouraging our children to “break the rules” by refusing the state tests. I wish that we as parents and teachers could engage in reasonable dialogue with those ‘in charge’ of our children’s education and have our concerns addressed. Like Carol Burris I would like to follow the rules but I can not stand by and have our children abused or our schools destroyed by the current education reforms. We have begged, we have pleaded, we have tried to discuss. Now we must act and refuse the state tests this April for grades 3-8!
Carol Burris writes:
It has become increasingly clear that Congress does not have the will to move away from annual high-stakes testing. The bizarre notion that subjecting 9-year-olds to hours of high-stakes tests is a “civil right,” is embedded in the thinking of both parties. Conservatives no longer believe in the local, democratic control of our schools. Progressives refuse to address the effects of poverty, segregation and the destruction of the middle class on student learning. The unimaginative strategy to improve achievement is to make standardized tests longer and harder.
And then there are the Common Core State Standards. Legislators talk a good game to appease parents, but for all their bluff and bluster, they are quite content to use code names, like the West Virginia Next Generation Content Standards, to trick their constituents into believing their state standards are unique, even though most are word for word from the Common Core.
The only remedy left to parents is to refuse to have their children take the tests. Testing is the rock on which the policies that are destroying our local public schools are built. If our politicians do not have the courage to reverse high-stakes testing, then those who care must step in. As professor of Language and Composition, Ira Shor, bluntly stated:
Because our kids cannot defend themselves, we have to defend them. We parents must step in to stop it. We should put our foot down and say, “Do it to your own kids first before you experiment on ours!”
Burris writes that 60,000 parents refused the state tests last year in New York and that number is expected to grow this year. In fact NYS Allies for Public Educatio (NYSAPE) has set a goal of 250,000 refusals in New York State and there are many parents within the grassroots movements trying to protect our children who are working to achieve that number.
NYSUT is also joining with parents by asking teachers who have students in grades 3-8 to refuse the state tests for their own students (the “I Refuse” movement) and the New Paltz school district board of education unanimously passed a resolution on February 18, 2015 supporting their local teacher association’s lobbying efforts against high stakes testing which include the “I Refuse” resolution.
NEW PALTZ CENTRAL SCHOOL DISTRICT BOARD OF EDUCATION RESOLUTION IN OPPOSITION TO HIGH STAKES TESTING
Whereas, the Board of Education believes that literacy and critical thinking skills should be the emphasis of education, notpreparing students to “take the test”; andWhereas, high quality education requires adequate resources to provide a rich and varied course of instruction, individual and small group attention, and wrap-around services for students; andWhereas, the Board of Education understands and appreciates the position of New Paltz United Teachers in opposing standardized high stakes testing and advocating for a student-based and research-based curriculum;Therefore, Be It Resolved, that the Board of Education supports increased funding for the schools of this State, in part, through the elimination of the Gap Elimination Adjustment; andBe It Further Resolved, that the Board opposes the overuse of standardized high stakes testing and standardized testingthat is inconsistent with the goals and objectives of education in this school district; andBe It Further Resolved, that the Board supports the lobbying efforts of New Paltz United Teachers and other groups of the New York State Board of Regents to eliminate the use of high stakes testing and to increase the funding of education in New York State.
New York was ahead of many other states in test refusal last year but the refusal/opt-out movement is also growing in many other states this year. Burris gives four reasons why the refusal movement will continue to grow. Read the article for the full details but basically they are:
- Backlash against the Common Core – parents/students see problems with both the tests and Common Core
- Pain but no gain – according to No Child Left Behind high-stakes testing will improve the academic performance of economically disadvantaged students while decreasing the racial achievement gap. That has NOT been accomplished but many negative effects from high-stakes testing have been demonstrated.
- Annual high-stakes testing has not resulted in equity gains – the tests were supposed to close achievement gaps but all that has been closed are schools. Burris references Fairfield University Professor Yohuru Williams who will be speaking at SUNY New Paltz on Monday March 3, 2015 – Challenging the Attack on Public Education
- The cat is out of the bag – the real agenda associated with the Common Core high-stakes testing is to get rid of locally controled public school systems. If you think this sounds like ‘conspiracy theory’, please think about what Governor Cuomo has presented as his ‘education agenda’ this year and how he will not give the schools and our children their money until the legislature gives him all of the items on his agenda.
I am a rule follower by nature. I have never gotten a speeding ticket. I patiently wait my turn in lines. I am the product of 12 years of Catholic schools–raised in a blue-collar home where authority was not to be questioned. I was the little girl who always colored in the lines.
But there comes a time when rules must be broken — when adults, after exhausting all remedies, must be willing to break ranks and not comply. That time is now. The promise of a public school system, however imperfectly realized, is at risk of being destroyed. The future of our children is hanging from testing’s high stakes. The time to Opt Out is now.
Please join Carol Burris and me (Jolyn) in refusing the Common Core tests for math and ELA for grades 3-8 this April 2015.