Sunday, September 11, 2011

Explaining Opposition to High Stakes Testing

The"Opt Out" movement is growing. Petitions are being signed. Australians and New Zealanders have joined. And still some just don't truly understand why we are opting out. An important group that needs to understand that this movement is in support of public schools are school leaders. Below is my attempt to explain why I will not let my children take high stakes tests. Feel free to use or modify for your purposes. Just change the names of people and places to fit your localities. :-)

Dear Dr. Toth (Superintendent),

I'm sure you know my opposition to PSSAs (NCLB) and the Keystones (Exit exams). However, my guess is that you don't fully understand why. It has nothing to do with a fear that my children will experience failure. My kids are fine.

My disdain for the testing culture is centered on the fact that testing and the data the testing provides are the weapons being used by "reformers" that want a privatized system of education. The standards and accountability movement was never really about making public education stronger. It was designed to "prove" public education was failing and provide leverage for the voucher, charter, and private school movement. It's a beautiful strategy on the part of the "reformers" because it has convinced our own neighbors that our public school and the taxes being used to support it are being wasted.

Their (reformers) new narrative portrays all teachers, administrators, custodial, and support staff as lazy and overpaid. The data provided by standardized testing feeds the propaganda machine that sucks away the support communities typically provide neighborhood public schools.

I'm not against standards and rigor. I'm against a system that defines standards and rigor as standardized tests and takes the power away from neighborhood schools in defining and delivering a truly rigorous experience in learning. You, the other administrators, and the teachers are the professionals with the knowledge and experience and expertise. I want all of you to be able to do your jobs. Don't worry about "accountability" as defined today. We (parents and community members) will hold you accountable (That's our responsibility as engaged citizens). Don't let politicians being funded by McGraw Hill, Pearson, ETS etc, decide what's best for our community. Again, as a community, that is our responsibility.

I am convinced that our neighbors, if given the alternative narrative (truth) that the Bellwood-Antis School District (actually all public schools) is slowly being dismantled by forces that don't care about our community and only care about using public dollars to make a profit, will never allow this to happen. Except for a few, the citizens of Bellwood-Antis (My town) love their community. And if given the opportunity they would rally around the schools because the Bellwood Antis School District is the center of this community.

Kind Regards,


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