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

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Moral Imperative to Opt Out Until the System is Changed

Editorial from Philadelphia Inquirer (ht to Ken Derstine)
POSTED: Tuesday, March 25, 2014, 1:08 Am
Parents are right to protest the oversize emphasis placed on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment exams when so many schools are poorly funded.
Robin Roberts says her three children won't be taking the PSSAs with the rest of the students at Philadelphia's C.W. Henry Elementary School. "If it's so important for us to do well on these tests, why are they not setting us up to succeed?" asked Roberts.
It's a good question. You can't expect much success on standardized tests when students don't even have basic supplies. The Philadelphia School District is still operating with a deficit. A fund-raising drive was held just to provide pens, crayons, and paper to students.
The state allows students to opt out of the PSSAs for religious reasons. But if enough parents follow Roberts' example, maybe Gov. Corbett and the legislature will make it a higher priority to increase funding not just for Philadelphia, but for schools across the state.

The editorial board is getting there, but what they haven't gotten yet is that more money pumped into poor, segregated community schools will never equalize the playing field for standardized testing.  Any assessment system based on family income, which is the system we have now, can never be fixed inside the school building.  That's why fairness and equity demand that high stakes testing end, rather than rubbing on some monetary salve to open gashes caused by years of racist and classist tests.  

We can't wait for someone to come up with a solution that will perpetuate the unacceptable unfairness for another generation.  

Does your religion allow for support of such a morally-debauched system, regardless of how your own children do on tests?  All parents need to opt out to show their disgust for an assessment system that guarantees failure, all the while uttering foolish bromides about education as the civil rights issue of our generation.  

The human right to personal and collective dignity and autonomy is the civil rights issue of our generation, not more strategies to provide regiments of indoctrinating corporate missionaries to browbeat children and parents while attempting to sterilize their character.

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