This is National School Choice Week, but I want to talk about parents' school testing choice. Moms and dads, you have the inherent right and responsibility to protect your children. You can choose to refuse the top-down Common Core racket of costly standardized tests of dubious academic value, reliability and validity.
Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
I'm reminding you of your right to choose because the spring season of testing tyranny is about to hit the fan. Do you object to the time being taken away from your kids' classroom learning? Are you alarmed by the intrusive data-sharing and data-mining enabled by assessment-driven special interests? Are you opposed to the usurpation of local control by corporate testing giants and federal lobbyists?
You are not alone, although the testing racketeers are doing everything they can to marginalize you. In Maryland, a mom of a 9-year-old special needs student is suing her Frederick County school district to assert her parental prerogative. Cindy Rose writes that her school district "says the law requires our children be tested, but could not point to a specific law or regulation" forcing her child to take Common Core-tied tests. Rose's pre-trial conference is scheduled for Feb. 4.
The vigilant mom warns parents nationwide: "While we are being treated like serfs of the State, Pearson publishing is raking in billions off our children." And she is not just going to lie down and surrender because some bloviating suits told her "it's the law."
Pearson, as I've reported extensively, is the multibillion-dollar educational publishing and testing conglomerate -- not to mention a chief corporate sponsor of Jeb Bush's Fed Ed ventures -- that snagged $23 million in contracts to design the first wave of so-called "PARCC" tests.
The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers raked in $186 million through the federal Race to the Top program to develop the nationalized tests "aligned" to the Common Core standards developed in Beltway backrooms.
As more families, administrators and teachers realized the classroom and cost burdens the guinea-pig field-testing scheme would impose, they pressured their states to withdraw. Between 2011 and 2014, the number of states actively signed up for PARCC dropped from 24 (plus the District of Columbia) to 10 (plus D.C.). Education researcher Mercedes Schneider reports that the remaining 10 are Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio and Rhode Island.
State legislators and state education boards in Utah, Kansas, Alaska, Iowa, South Carolina and Alabama have withdrawn from the other federally funded testing consortium, the $180-million tax-subsidized Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, which administered field tests last spring to three million students in 23 states. In New Jersey, the parental opt-out movement is "exploding," according to activist Jean McTavish. Many superintendents have conceded that "they can't force a student to take a test," NJ.com reports.
Last week, Missouri withdrew from PARCC, while parents, administrators and the school board of the Chicago Public Schools spurned PARCC in the majority of their 600 schools.
In California, the Pacific Justice Institute offers a privacy protection opt-out form for parents to submit to school districts at pacificjustice.org. PJI head Brad Dacus advises families to send the notices as certified letters if they get ignored. Then, be prepared to go to court. PJI will help. The Thomas More Law Center in Michigan also offers a student privacy opt-out form at thomasmore.org.
Don't let the bureaucratic smokescreens fool you. A federal No Child Left Behind mandate on states to administer assessments is not a mandate on you and your kids to submit to the testing diktats. And the absence of an opt-out law or regulation is not a prohibition on your choice to refuse.
Here in Colorado, the State Board of Education voted this month to allow districts to opt out of PARCC testing. Parents and activists continue to pressure a state task force -- packed with Gates Foundation and edu-tech special interest-conflicted members -- to reduce the testing burden statewide. For those who don't live in PARCC-waivered districts, it's important to know your rights and know the spin.
In Colorado Springs, where I have a high-schooler whose district will sacrifice a total of six full academic days for PARCC testing this spring, parents are calling the testing drones' bluff about losing their accreditation and funding.
"The Colorado Department of Education is threatening schools to ensure that 95 percent of students take these tests," an El Paso County parent watch group reports. "Be assured that MANY parents across Colorado -- FAR ABOVE 5 percent in many schools -- are refusing the tests, and not one school yet is facing the loss of accreditation, funding, etc. As long as schools can show that they gave a 'good faith attempt to get 95 percent to test, they can appeal a loss of accreditation' due to parental refusals to test."
You also have the power to exercise a parental nuclear option: If edu-bullies play hardball and oppose your right to refuse, tell them you'll have your kid take the test and intentionally answer every question wrong -- and that you'll advise every parent you know to tell their kids to do the same. How's that for accountability?
Be prepared to push back against threats and ostracism. Find strength in numbers. And always remember: You are your kids' primary educational providers.