Al Sharpton is against opting out, here is my response to him…
Damn Reverend Al! I’m disappointed in you. Why are you against an act of civil disobedience? Opting out of the state exam sends a message to our government that enough is enough. Parents are tired of being the guinea pigs in the common core experiments. They’re tired of their kid’s teachers being evaluated based on unreliable and invalid assessments. Parents understand that in the current testing climate, the curriculum is incredibly narrowed and anxiety overwhelms our profession. Parents have had enough and parents expect more.
Education is diverse brother Sharpton. There are multiple intelligences that need to be taught and assessed in our schools, so that students are prepared to thrive in the 21st century. S.T.E.M. and the arts must be a core component of an integrated approach to teaching and learning in our schools. Why? Because technology is rapidly changing how we think about and interact with the world. Why? Because the arts creates an aesthetic learning experience for our students, which strengthens their empathy and wakes them up to the beauty of the world around them. With an over reliance on math and E.L.A. (English Language Arts) reverend Al, students will simply read and write all day in school. Obviously very important, but not enough in the climate of our current economies.
You can’t have it both ways brother Al. You can’t say in one breath that over reliance on exams for rating students and teachers pose legitimate concerns, then in the next breath say you are against opting out. Which is it? Remember the words of Abraham Lincoln during the Gettysburg Address, This is a “government of the people by the people and for the people.” The people are our parents! Their voices must be heard and you should support their voices brother Al. The withholding of state or federal funding because of mass opt outs, is akin to the punitive “Intolerable Acts” instituted by Parliament after the Boston Tea Party which among other things, took away Massachusetts’ self-government and historic rights. As American citizens, parents have a right to say NO to state administered exams and have a more powerful voice in the education of their children.
One last thing brother Al, if the state really wants to help poor communities of color, instead of investing millions annually to administer standardized testing (Pearson creates exams, sells curriculum, and administers our gifted and talented exams), invest into early childhood education and directly supporting at-risk families. “Get them while they’re young” is common sense policy. The earlier we intervene in the lives of our children the more we can close the language gap, solidify executive functioning, and provide parenting supports. Many studies have shown that focusing supports on children from birth to age five improves student outcomes not just in grades 3-8, but into college and careers. Let’s hold the state accountable for doing right by our children. Opting out sends the message that we expect something more.