Friday, December 16, 2011

A New Year's Resolution. Opt Out of State Testing. January 7th.

United Opt Out National has declared January 7th to be National Opt Out Day.  It is our goal that students, teachers and community members will express their dislike for corporate education reform and will use various means to demonstrate how they plan to OPT OUT.

There are many ways to opt out.  You can explore these ideas at our website.  Today I'm going to talk about the most powerful way to opt out: refuse to take the state test.  Educators across the country are supporting this concept.  You must peruse the Call for Action and see who has signed it.

It is time to raise our voices and be heard loudly. Corporate education reformers are attempting to work with educators and parents and create the appearance of respecting the opinions of the 99%.  Do not be fooled. We continue to compromise and they continue to chip away at our public schools.  I must ask, is there truly any room left for compromise?  What else are we willing to sacrifice?  As we compromise we are harming our children and we are losing our democracy. It is time for action.  I believe that civil disobedience is not only necessary, but vital if we intend to reclaim public schools for all of America's children - specifically the 99% who are suffering silently, while the children of the 1% live abundantly and thrive in private schools - where state tests don't exist. 

As an educator, parent and a community member, I have a moral responsibility to stand up for children who cannot speak for themselves.   

There are currently children attending schools where they receive nothing but test prep.  There are children with low test scores who are required to stay in for recess, miss PE/music/art in order to prepare for the state test.  Most children no longer have any access to fine arts, libraries or play.  Some children attend schools in which they are asked to come in on Saturdays to prep for a test. Some children are squeezed into basements in order to share a building with a new charter school. Kindergarten is all work and no play. Learners are not finding their passions; they are losing their childhood in the name of standardized testing. Learners are finding out how to fill in a bubble sheet. Children in low socioeconomic areas are not being sheltered from the effects of poverty.  The love for learning is disappearing, and with it goes the potential of an entire generation.

As corporate education reform continues, all students – rural, suburbs, urban – will receive a poor, or mediocre education due to the emphasis on a one size fits all set of national standards, scripted curriculum and high stakes tests.  Because everything is attached to the standardized test, learning will be shallow.  One simply cannot create a high level learning situation around a multiple-choice test with four right answers and formulaic responses for short answers. We will raise a generation of test-takers who have minimal skills to function in a world in which multiple-choice tests have no real life application.  We will no longer be the innovators of the world, leading with the most innovative patents.  We will become the puppets of America as the 1% continues to use us to create more profit.

Many of us are not awake yet and believe we are immune to all that has been listed above.  No one is immune. They have infiltrated all aspects of education – early childhood programs, elementary, middle, high school and higher ed.  Everyone is being asked to drink the Corp. Ed. Kool-Aid.  Those who chug it down need our support to see and understand what is truly happening.

ALEC continues to write legislation that takes away our rights to a free and equal education for all. They have taken two professions – that of student – that of teacher – and have completely reconfigured what these professions look like and have influenced what our society believes about our country’s education system.  Teachers are not bad.  Students are not robots who should sit straight in their chair at all times, hands folded, eyes tracking the speaker, and regurgitating information on tests.

It is a grim prediction for our future.  2012 will be here soon and with it comes the spring state testing window. We must shut that window.

On January 7th, OPT OUT of corporate education reform.  The slam dunk is opting out of the state test.  Without the test data, they cannot punish our students, educators and communities.  A mass opt out would create an education revolution.  6% opting out would be enough to make the test results null/void.  They would be required to listen to the 99%.  What if our society's New Year's Resolution was to reclaim public education for all children?

We are warriors who can think for ourselves.  We are much more than the results of a standardized test.  We are a think tank of multiple right answers that cannot be expressed by shading in a bubble.  

Begin by sending a letter or postcard to your school district on January 7th and tell them your plans to opt out.  Flood their mailboxes.  Drown out their test prep rally calls, their extrinsic rewards, their punishments, all based on a bubble sheet.  We are much more. Tell them. Create your own rally call and march to save public schools in your community. 

A mass opt out will shut them down.  A mass opt out will send a message and they will be required to listen.

National Opt Out Day.  January 7th.  OPT IN to real learning and real teaching.  Make a New Year's Resolution and commit to reclaiming public schools for all children.


  1. Salutation Peggy, thank you for sharing and posting. I loved the blog piece: "A New Year's Resolution. Opt Out of State Testing. January 7th.
    United Opt Out National has declared January 7th to be National Opt Out Day. It is our goal that students, teachers and community members will express their dislike for corporate education reform and will use various means to demonstrate how they plan to OPT OUT."
    And then reminding parents and teachers that: "There are many ways to opt out. You can explore these ideas at our website." I like the idea of giving people choices in how to Opt out. It makes perfect sense in my view for parents and teachers who are at various stages of resistance.
    I think it might be nice to have some "Love of Learning Days" days without testing. Days where teachers and children celebrate the love of learning. Would love to see some Opt Out "Love of learning days".
    My Momma dinners always began with what did you learn in school today little Jess. Nothing Momma...Then she say there is no such word as nothing, and I begin to share...she always made that sharing feel good. I fell in love with learning at Momma dinner table.
    I will be joining Opt Out in DC on April 1 & 2 as they occupy the U.S. DOE,

  2. I still have the wonderful tshirts I made years ago with a picture of a tomato plant that say High Stakes are for Tomatoes. Interested?