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

Sunday, May 03, 2015

California Parent Shares Excellent Opt Out Information


Liberty is the freedom to exercise our constitutional rights and not be bullied. State assessments are voluntary. In California, the right to opt out of standardized testing is a parental right guaranteed by Ed. Code 60615 which says, “Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a parent’s or guardian’s written request to school officials to excuse his or her child from any or all part of the assessments administered pursuant to this chapter shall be granted.” State tests are mandatory for districts to administer but optional for students to take (with a parent opt-out).

Why opt-out? Assessment scores do not affect class grade, help or hinder grade level progression or graduation. Data, some personally identifiable, is kept for the student’s life, and data mining results are shared with government agencies and private companies. According to Tony Dolz, standardized assessments are “an uncompensated market research initiative by the education establishment in collaboration with private company partners.” Every dollar used for standardized testing drains funds from our classrooms. 

“Bullying” against the right to opt out has gone on in our schools for years. Time and again parents, teachers, and students are “bullied” into compliance and students are forced to submit to these extensive batteries of unproven standardized tests. Consider Phillip Brown’s story:
Our family has been opting out of these types of tests since the beginning. At first, we were met with little to no resistance from the schools. However, during the 2006-07 school year, my son passed out “Just Say No to STAR Testing” forms at Rodriquez High in Fairfield and was constantly threatened with suspension and other punishments from the school’s administration. 

I am a 35 year ACLU member and past board member. I contacted the ACLU attorneys in San Francisco and they intervened on our behalf and under threat of legal action allowed my son to pass out the flyers. Although FSUSD relented to his 1st amendment rights of free speech, the school’s officials were not happy. They were so unhappy that they watched his every move and looked for any reason to punish him. He was harassed by teachers and administrators who spoke publicly against him and to other students during class.

A school vice principal actually told us that our son should go to another school should he wish to graduate. At which point he changed schools and we filed a civil rights lawsuit in Solano County against FSUSD. (FCS031361 - Brown, Phillip K. etal vs. FF-SS Unified School) FSUSD made an undisclosed cash settlement.

The right to opt out applies to every parent regardless of their reasons. Should any child or parent encounter resistance from any school district, I would be happy to provide contacts that we used to enforce parental rights.
Recent developments in the opt-out movement include more bullying from the federal government and more parents standing up and opting out. In Chicago, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan recently said wide spread student boycotts of standardized tests are not acceptable, and if state governments don’t stop them, the federal government will intervene. Why is he concerned? In New York so far, more than 185,000 students have refused to take the state’s English tests. In Seattle not a single 11th grade student showed up to take the SBAC test at Nathan Hale High School. Parents are waking up across the country and are choosing to opt out of standardized testing. Join them. 

Download “opt-out” forms and instructions. http://www.pacificjustice.org/california-common-core-data-opt-out-form.html 

Colleen Britton, Vacaville

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