Tag Archives: Arne Duncan

Permission Denied… So What?

Many people have expressed anger and disappointment about the Opt Out amendment not passing in the Senate yesterday.

The chamber voted 64 to 32 against the amendment, proposed by Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) amid a backlash against mandated standardized tests. “Parents, not politicians or bureaucrats, will have the final say over whether individual children take tests,” he said. (Washington Post, July 14, 2015)

Newsflash!  Parents already have the final say in EVERYTHING about our children.  Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

The #OptOut movement isn’t about asking for permission. It’s about you doing what you know you have to do to effect permanent change.

I believe the bill will pass in some form or another, because they have to do something and they’re serious about reining in Arne’s office. Although many hoped, I don’t know anyone who seriously believed the amendment to give parents the right to opt out would have passed. The fact is that the amendment was not going to remove the high stakes from testing, which provides the teeth to education reform, and without which the reform agenda would disintegrate.

Had it passed, it would guarantee that the high stakes would continue to be attached because parents would then have the sanction of the government to choose to let their children test or not. No school district would be volunteering this information.  Schools would STILL be mandated to test your child incessantly, to waste precious instruction time on meaningless, invalid testing.  Read one account of a teacher’s day here.  I posted it in a national group and teachers from all over the country responded that this is what they, too, face on a daily basis.  Being granted the permission for a right I already have would not change this daily scenario in our schools.

Currently, the state with the loosest rules about testing is also the state with the most stringent gag rules on teachers about testing.

In California, right now, parents have the legal right to refuse state testing by simply sending in a note. “Matthew will not be testing this week. Thank you.” Thats it. Nothing else needed. No drama. The one-sentence amendment which will be repealed in six years, reads:

60615. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a parent’s or guardian’s written request to school officials to excuse his or her child from any or all parts of the assessments administered pursuant to this chapter shall be granted. (Added by Stats. 1995, Ch. 975, Sec. 1. Effective January 1, 1996. Inoperative July 1, 2020. Repealed as of January 1, 2021, pursuant to Section 60601.)

I ask myself repeatedly – If Californians can refuse the test with no consequences, why doesn’t every parent in California just opt out? In California, teachers are not only not allowed to inform parents of this right, they are contractually and strictly PROHIBITED from doing so, at risk of termination.

The growth and force of the opt out movement has been strongest where reforms have been the harshest for children and teachers – New York, Florida, Colorado, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New Mexico. These are the states where legislators have had to heed their constituents and have actually begun to enact better legislation regarding accountability. (I didn’t say perfect, or in some cases, even good legislation.)

In California, it doesn’t count against the child if they don’t test. But schools continue to lose precious instruction time because teachers are still forced to test, as much as ever. So the question is, If the test doesn’t count, why test them? Why are they collecting all of this data? What are they doing with all of this data? Is this all only for accountability?

From United Opt Out’s recent statement:  “Why UOO Opposes ESEA(ECAA) and Supports the Necessity of Revolution:

The legislators revising ESEA who support “less testing” or a “reduction of federal involvement” embrace little more than an appeasement to the bigger testing refusal movement and do little or nothing to challenge the existing power structures. The same corporate-driven entities remain cozily in their position of POWER making damaging, profit-driven decisions about public education.

I agree with this statement.  Nothing less than the complete removal of the stakes attached to testing will satisfy us.  Until the high stakes are removed from testing and we can use multiple measures of authentic assessment, which do not harm children, teachers or OUR public schools, we will continue to refuse these tests.

Besides our own, the children, who would be most harmed by this bill, are the ones we fight hardest for – the ones whose families are without a voice, the ones Bernie Sanders refers to as “those who live in the shadows.”

Parents still have the right to opt out, and have always had the right to do so. We don’t NEED the government’s permission to do so. So let’s just put our heads down and move forward.

OPT OUT.  YOU must be the #PublicEdRevolution.

Be The PubEdRevolution

For more information, help and support regarding opting out, please go to:  Opt Out Orlando on Facebook


John Oliver’s Epic Takedown of High Stakes Testing

Hat tip to John Oliver for his epic takedown of high stakes standardized testing. It’s taken the airwaves by storm.

“Something is wrong with our system when we just assume a certain number of kids will vomit,” ‘Last Week Tonight’ host John Oliver says.  

“Let’s put the tests to the test”

This is the most in depth and genuinely informed coverage of high stakes testing outside of the pro-public ed circles, to date.  Since it aired on Sunday night, it has been viewed more than 1.5 million times in just over 24 hours.

John Oliver was the perfect celebrity/media gun to take on high stakes standardized testing.  Why?  He has an uncanny ability to take a topic of national significance with an enormous amount of information and many different moving parts and distill it down to its most essential elements and convey it simply.  Satire at its best.

Considering the 200,000 opt outs in New York, plus all the activists in the states with major opt out activity – CA, CO, FL, NJ, OK, WA, and TX – John Oliver’s message has now reached hundreds of thousands of parents and educators who have not previously even been aware of the opt out movement. This is a huge boost to the opt out movement.

Here are just some of the articles that have been written about Oliver’s video in the first 24 hours.

HitFix: John Oliver’s rant on standardized testing is shocking

Time: Watch John Oliver Give Failing Marks to Standardized Testing

Huffington Post: John Oliver Explains Everything That’s Wrong With Standardized Testing

Curmudgucation: John Oliver on Testing

Diane Ravitch: John Oliver on Testing and Pearson on HBO

Wall Street Journal: John Oliver Rips Standardized Testing With Help From a Dancing Monkey on ‘Last Week Tonight’

Mother Jones: Let John Oliver Explain How Standardized Testing Makes Kids Anxious and Vomit Under Pressure

Salon: John Oliver perfectly sums up everything that’s wrong with standardized testing

Rolling Stone: Watch John Oliver Explore Insanity of Standardized Testing

Media Matters: Watch John Oliver Explain How Standardized Testing Has Gotten Out Of Control

Deadline: John Oliver Flunks U.S. Education System Over Its Standardized Test Mania

Business Insider: John Oliver has an epic takedown of standardized testing in America

Shortlink: http://bit.ly/1E3bi88


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