Four years ago they called us "Opt Out" folks crazy. They laughed at us.
Then, at the UOO conference, over a year ago in Denver, our website was hacked and maliciously destroyed. At that point we clearly had become a threat.
Now, headed into year five we don't get hacked anymore, but everyone with loads of money and power is trying to ride the tails of Opt Out and/or co-opt it. Right now, in my opinion, is the most dangerous time for all of us. We are on the brink of winning, so they must try to appease us - this is where the whole "less testing" mantra comes in. Less testing is better than getting nothing right?? Wrong!!!! Remember - we must get all for all children. Do not negotiate and do not settle for less.
And then, they (corporate reformers) have to CLAIM the Opt Out message as their own because watching it come towards them like a stampede of wild stallions that is OUT OF THEIR CONTROL (yes, that's good), is honestly causing them to scurry in circles trying to figure out - how dear god - to rein us in!
So......what do they do? They create their own pathetic little inaccurate Opt Out guides (by ECS and NASBE) that show that "some legal" Opt Out is allowed in some states - - mind you these groups are FUNDED BY PEARSON, GATES, among others. And then..these big money power players share these pathetic guides with well known educational reporters and union leaders, to mention a few - and this gets shared in social media as the "guides" for Opt Out. (Ummm... Opt Out is an act of civil disobedience - no legal mumbo jumbo needed, but thanks). These guides they have created could actually discourage Opt Out because it brings forward the mentality that it must be legal to do it. Again, NO. We do not need anyone's permission to refuse these tests. And do not forget that United Opt Out has the real guides, written by the people for the people over two years ago FREE OF CHARGE. We created these guides in order to make Opt Out easier for parents and students who are trying to navigate legal waters and deal with the harassment that comes under these incredibly high stakes conditions. We also have over 70 Opt Out leaders who walk parents and students through the Opt Out process (by phone, email, and in person) - sometimes taking weeks per Opt Out situation. This support is provided free, by the people, for the people. We at UOO have no money, only passion, determination, and an absolute belief that all children deserve whole, fully resourced public schools and social policies in place to support communities. This is grassroots - we cannot let it be co-opted.
So here we stand. They've mocked us, they've tried to destroy us, they've tried to appease us, and now they are trying to co-opt us and claim the Opt Out message. None of them EVER mention that our ultimate demand requires getting ALL for ALL children while also demanding social policies to support communities. Why don't they mention this? Because they want to keep the message around the "test." They can control that false reality which attempts to keep privilege in place; they can make money by reinforcing this "system" which continues to state that our schools, teachers, and children are failing. Without the test/punish system they have NOTHING. This "reform" is built on a fraudulent system used to prey on children and absolutely devour and destroy public schools in our neediest communities. The test/punish system does not support student learning - it does not support learning for ANY of our children. It is stripping our schools of resources and learning opportunities for our children. It is definitely destroying any opportunity for democratic thinking as our children, teachers and schools have been placed in a fear-based environment which requires them to bow down to the test/punish system. We must tear it down and force politicians and our society to acknowledge poverty and acknowledge the need for equitable funding in order to have fully-resourced neighborhood public schools for all children.
Don't let them co-opt the message. Eyes open and question everything. This is the people's movement and we will stand strong and steadfast with our demands for our children and our country.