A Dream to Be Free At Last From State Standardized Tests

1/26/2012 7:09:00 PM
Parents and educators across the nation are fed up with a government sucking data out of our students like a vampire who needs their blood to survive. Fortunately, the jig is up. Parents have caught on to the fact that not only does all this ineffective, inaccurate, and outdated testing and prepping do nothing to help their children, but the reality is that it is harming them. Schools are literally turning parent’s once vibrant, playful, smart, and creative young treasures into student zombies who must memorize, regurgitate, and do what they’re told. If they don’t they are all too happy to drug into submission children who resist such efforts.  They even have pharma-funded research and doctors telling them to do this though few schools share with parents the harmful effects that experts not paid for by pharma companies want you to know.

Meanwhile, while everyone is profiting off our children, who are being used as pawns, the public realizes that something has gone seriously wrong. Our government has quietly and quickly stolen from parents control of their own children forcing them to be subjected to a test-prep-to-death curriculum that they know is wrong. Without their data, these young people are of no use to the system. Failure to comply can lead to serious consequences such as refusal to allow children to graduate as well as kicking them out of school.

Our zombie children and their parents know there is a better way, but they feel their hands are tied. Public school parents who don’t comply, not only face risks to their children, but are also often subjected to bullying by education employees and administrators.  Non public schools who don’t comply are faced with loss of accreditation. Home educators, who often have made this choice to escape harmful mandates, are threatened with child protective services. As a result organizations like HSLDA are getting action to fight for parental rights.

Fortunately, the social-media marketplace of the 21st century does not have to apply solely to consumer outrage against banks and phone companies.  Parents of all children can come together to stand up and unite against the government’s attempt to control their children despite the harmful effects it is causing. In order to take back the right to give our children the freedom to learn, parents, all parents, regardless of public education choice, can mobilize, opt out and stand up to the monolith institution driven by politicians, agendas, egos, and of course we waste a hefty sum of money when we “hire testing companies to create and score tests, third person companies to evaluate the reliability of the tests, test security companies to make sure the test is secure, statisticians who know nothing about teaching but create value-added statistical formulas to evaluate them based on data-- all on the tax payer dime (-via Mr. Fitz).”

How will this work? Well, first we need to look at the issues and then identify a solution. Fortunately, in the chart below, I’ve done just that.

It’s hard to get the facts
The government have no impetus to supply parents with the facts. Instead they make it very difficult to find information
Opt Out of Test Wiki
With the help of wonderful students, educators, and parents, we have put together an “Opt Out of State Standardized Tests” wiki. The beauty of a wiki is that anyone from that state can contribute information as they find it. Join us here.
There isn’t a system to connect with other parents, educators and concerned citizens in your state
There is currently no easy way for ALL parents to connect within a state. This makes mobilizing and acting difficult. Fortunately, with social media that’s all about to change.
Join your state’s Opt Out of Standardized State Test Group on Facebook
Concerned educators and parents have come together to create brand-new, easy-to-find, state-by-state groups on Facebook where parents, educators, and anyone who cares, can come together to mobilize and take back control of their children’s freedom to learn.  
You can join others interested in opting out in your state in two ways: 1) Type in the search: Opt out of State Standardized Tests - Your State i.e. Opt Out of State Standardized Tests - Ohio 2) Go to the page url: https://www.facebook.com/groups/OptOutYourState i.e. https://www.facebook.com/groups/OptOutOhio
The government is working to get parents to succumb to their bullying
The government is throwing all sorts of threats parents' way about what they will do if you don’t hand your children over to comply with their demands. Additionally they are threatening schools with losing funding if parents don’t follow their orders. Everyone is panicking that if they don’t comply with demand, despite the fact that children are being hurt, they will suffer grave consequences.
It takes a few strong parents to lead the way and stand up and make a difference
Renowned anthropologist Margaret Mead once said, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."
Parents, stand up to these bullies. Challenge their threats. Band together. Know your rights. Be aware that you can opt your child out of school if school is forcing your child to be harmed. Parents are pulling children out of school in great numbers due to the demise of our system and have been pleasantly surprised when they learn the many college and career opportunities available to children who don’t choose school.
Teachers are being told they’ll be fired for sharing the truth
Teachers know that excessive testing of their students is wrong. Not only does it demean the teacher as a professional it takes all that was good, fun, exciting, and inspiration out of teaching. Unfortunately, in many states, teachers are told they are mandated testers and that they are not “allowed” the freedom of speech to let parents know their children do not have to take the tests. They are being threatened with job loss if the do.
Teachers must unite and stand up for children
It will take some brave teachers to stand up to this bullying by the state and local politicians and administrators.  We need some brave teachers to stand up for what is right for our students and take on the system. Teachers are being threatened with their jobs. Some teachers will do what is right for kids even if it will cost them their jobs. Perhaps first any teacher planning to leave due to a number of reasons can be encouraged to take this on. Have parent meetings. Send literature home with children. If you are threatened or fired, contact the media. Ask your local politicians if they’ll get on board to support you.
The test-prep curriculum is dumbed down and leaving ALL children behind
More and more great teachers are leaving a school system that has dumbed down the curriculum to a point that no child is prepared for success in college or career. (50% leave within five years). Teachers got in this profession to make a difference and this is not the way to do it. Our best teachers are no longer able to engage in practices that harm children. They are leaving the system and looking for alternatives, unwillingly and helplessly, leaving our children behind.

Support your children and your teachers in pursuing meaningful learning
Unfortunately, many working parents see no alternative to sending their children off to government schools.  Despite the fact that our taxes are being used to support the institution, the institution is attempting to take away the right of parents and their children to learn meaningfully.  Tell your children they do not have to do test prep. Provide your child with resources that allow them to discover and develop their passions if test prep is  being imposed upon the teacher.  Inform your teachers that your child’s right to learn things that will make him a success in the world come before test prep. Ask that you hope she understands.

Schools today value  data and research over common sense. That’s okay. There’s plenty of research out there to point to that says test prep doesn’t work.
There is a focus on saving schools rather than students.
Several groups have come together to help parents opt out of testing. Unfortunately some of these groups are more focused on saving their schools and their jobs than supporting ALL children. In fact in some of these groups they have gone as far as banning, blocking, and censoring any parent or supporter of those who have made non-public school education for choices for their children. Such activities divide, rather than unite concerned citizens in our effort to help all children regardless of their political, religious, or school choices. Discrimination and support for only “some children” is not the message these groups should be promoting.
We are all in this together
If you belong to a group that discriminates against those who support the freedom of choice in education options, let these members know that intolerance and discrimination is the wrong message to stand behind. Be careful of groups that are known for engaging in the very behaviors most of us don’t wish to see from our schools or government i.e. bullying, bashing, banning, censorship.  Work to bring all those concerned about the well being of others together. If you find you are in a group that only accepts “some” consider joining groups that except “all.” Here is a list of some of those:

Getting started is as easy!
Here are ten things you can do now.

  1. Join the Opt Out of State Standardized Tests Wiki. Read and contribute information about your state.
  2. Find the Opt Out of State Standardized Tests group for your state and invite others to join.
  3. Inform appropriate parties that your child won’t be taking the test.
  4. If the school insists your child come to class and take the test, inform him/her that they can join kids across the nation in an act of civic dissent and write “I prefer not to take your test” across the front of their test. Join the Facebook group and if your child is a teen, let them know they can to here.
  5. Exempt your child from mindless test prep. Provide him or her with resources to meaningful activities to do at that time.
  6. Volunteer to host your state’s opt out page by signing up at http://tinyurl.com/optouthost
  7. Share this article with others via email, Facebook, Twitter, or print out.
  8. Tell your kids they are more than just data and that we need to Fix the Schools, Not the Child.
  9. Let your teens know that if school is not serving their needs they can opt out and embrace the freedom to learn to learn without school.
  10. Know that if school is hurting your child, you can pull him or her out temporarily or permanently, and there are ways to do this even if parents are working.  
Congratulations to you for being one of the pioneers that will not only save our schools, but are MOST importantly working to save our children.  I look forward to your contributions on the wiki, comments to this post, and conversations online.

Lisa Nielsen writes for and speaks to audiences across the globe about learning innovatively and is frequently covered by local and national media for her views on “Passion (not data) Driven Learning,” "Thinking Outside the Ban" to harness the power of technology for learning, and using the power of social media to provide a voice to educators and students. Ms. Nielsen has worked for more than a decade in various capacities to support learning in real and innovative ways that will prepare students for success. In addition to her award-winning blog, The Innovative Educator, Ms. Nielsen’s writing is featured in places such as Huffington Post, Tech & Learning, ISTE Connects, ASCD Wholechild, MindShift, Leading & Learning, The Unplugged Mom, and is the author the book Teaching Generation Text.

Disclaimer: The information shared here is strictly that of the author and does not reflect the opinions or endorsement of her employer.
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