"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Monday, February 20, 2012

Become the Lesson You Want Your Children to Learn: Stand Up, Opt Out

To stop the madness, we must stop the madness.  There is too much money involved to think that the testing industrial complex will suddenly acknowledge their crimes against children and decide to call it a day. 

Join Aaryn and Sam Belfer--write your school superintendent and rescue your children from the pressure cooker.  They used a template to craft their own letter.  Here is one of many you can use.  
February 16, 2012
Bill Kowba
Superintendent of Schools
San Diego Unified School District
4100 Normal Street, Room 2219
San Diego, CA 92103

Dear Mr. Kowba,

Please accept this letter as our request to excuse our daughter, Ruby, from participation in standardized achievement testing as is allowed in §60615 of the California Education Code. This request includes the state mandated assessments of the California Standardized Testing and Reporting assessment program (STAR/CAT 6), which will begin for our daughter in the 2012-2013 school year, as well as the San Diego Unified School District Benchmark Exam program.

We believe such testing to be unjust, counter-productive, and harmful to the education and development of our daughter; we do not see any intrinsic value in our six-year old spending time transcribing her answers from a test sheet to a Scantron. Timed, one-chance tests do not show regard to variables in context or circumstance affecting student performance on the days of testing. This is further underscored by the fact that, as a student of the Language Academy, our child is currently forced to take tests in English, a language she isn’t yet learning to read.

In addition, we do not wish to participate in mandated programs that coerce school districts into compliance with punishments that adversely affect the resources, standing, and operations of our locally controlled pubic schools. The state oversteps its bounds and does a disservice to the public when it ignores professionals in local schools, arbitrarily making educational decisions (funding, status, and otherwise) based solely upon these one-chance tests.

As parents, we resent being held hostage to tests—which cannot be cheap to administer—while simultaneously suffering absurd cuts to our school, cuts that continue to decimate our staff and much-needed resources.

We understand that it is an educator’s professional duty to assess the learning of each student in the classroom and we fully support our teachers, our principal and our staff. This request is not intended to restrict professional assessment (formative or summative) by the classroom teacher to which our child is assigned. On the contrary, we believe our talented teacher is our child’s benchmark, and that she has the skills and training to do what standardized tests cannot.

Best regards,
Aaryn and Sam Belfer
San Diego, CA

cc: [Our Principal]
Mr. John Lee Evans, President, San Diego Unified School District Board of Trustees
Mr. Tom Torlackson, California Superintendent of Public Instruction

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