Education, Ohio, Opt out, Test Refusal


“Little Tommy TestTaker sang for his District’s Deal Breaker
While Little Suzy Stupor, they Standardized her future.” ~kelly

I am a widow with five children.  I have tremendous patience, or so I have been told.  It seems to take much to push me “over the brim”- but I have had it.  I am there now in Ohio.  I no longer feel tolerant for those who are ill-informed or intentionally deceitful.  I want folks to see the strings on the carrots, not the piped-out, propped-up promises. The worry of “the damage to districts” is the biggest decry currently to those seeking to refuse to have their children partake in the numerous PARCC or similar standardized tests. I feel our largest fight right now is against fear.  The districts are afraid. The teachers are afraid. The parents are afraid.  And, most gut-wrenchingly, the students are afraid.

In the last 24 hours these are a sampling of the waves of thoughts:

“At my grandmas church today, a fifth grader stood up and asked for prayers as he will be taking his PARCC test soon and he “knows it will be very difficult” and he “is afraid [he] will not pass“,

a parent voiced to me in person “I am afraid that I will be seen as crazy, if I am the first one in my school opting my son out”

a teacher concerned about opting her own children out of her school district wrote “I am so sick of being scared”,

and now a superintendent responded to a parent’s questions about opting out with this fear-riddled answer— “The on-line testing required by the state is too intrusive to the learning process in our schools. The student day is disrupted from mid-February to mid-May and our computer labs cannot be used to promote student learning. That being said, opting out of these tests only hurts the district, not the Ohio Department of Education and our State legislators who require these tests. I encourage parents who believe as I do that these tests are too intrusive to the learning process to contact the following people:
Troy Balderson, State Senator
Tim Schaffer, State Representative
Dick Ross, State Superintendent
John Kasich, Governor”

I am the lead administrator in Ohio BATs. I have watched painfully, since the beginning of the year, as Buckeye parents and teachers awaken to the nightmare we plead to prevent.  For two years, we who have fought education ‘reform’ in our Teacher and Parent activist group have known this time would come.  But, like knowing a surgery date, that knowledge has not diminished the pain. Common Chaos or Common Confusion have come.  Much of it is rooted in FEAR.  I want truth to dispel these fears!

Dear fifth grader, I am sorry and so sad to say your fears are founded on truth.
Schneider: The Rapid Decline of Pearson’s PARCC Test ……/schneider-the-rapid-decline-of-pearsons-parcctest/Dec 20, 2014 – I desperately need these practice PARCC testing days to teach! …..based on the tests scores designed to produce artificially high failure rates.

Dear Parent, I am sorry and so sad to say your fears may also have some validity.
“Courage doesn’t mean you don’t get afraid.
Courage means you don’t let fear stop you!”
~Bethany Hamilton

Dear Teacher, I am sorry and so sad to say that your fears are ever so real. You are S.O.L.  “SHIP OUT of LUCK”.  The only way out of this storm right now is THROUGH!  Consciously alter your fear to FIGHT. Your nervousness to angry energy.  And by all means, if there is NOT support in your school, come into Ohio BATs and be with others.  Numbers are our safety net right now!

Wow, so are readers scratching their heads by now? I said I wanted to discharge FEAR and yet three out of four instances, I have said the darkness of fear is real.  It is not a trick; it is all truth.  And it brings me directly to the DISTRICTS.

DEAR DISTRICTS (Superintendents, Admins, and Principals, etc), IT IS YOUR DUTY to recognize the FEARS in your communities, not to ADD INTO IT ALL OR FEED IT MORE!  Your schools are already predestined to be deemed a public letter grade, and for many a failing grade letter. Reformers need you and your schools out so the ‘Pirates of Privatization and Profiteering’ can head your way with charters and TFA! Your teachers are already damned and doomed by the bogus algorithms connected to the results from these high-stakes testing scenarios. The money dangled in front of your district for RttT has long been gone or never really was.  Your district has already been operating on less-than-required-to-properly-resource-funds for several years now.  Education CUTS never heal.  (Go here and look up your county’s “cuts to education” -it will match your books!)

To push pressure off onto parents to not “refuse” testing and ultimately lay responsibility on a child to not only TAKE TESTS, but to do well on them so that you can obtain funding for the district is desperate and cowardly.  To think that writing letters to legislators is the answer (as if that has not already been going on) is delusional.  (And yes, I am daily still writing letters, as should all be writing to our legislators.  But, the ground has to move now— not the clouds.)

Districts are the only ones to have “safe harbor” in 2015 against the punitive repercussions of PARCC PLUS!   (Unless of course, HB7  seeking “safe harbor” for students passes somewhere further on Weds. Feb. 11th  )

You need to quit looking over your shoulder at the threats from on high, and start staring hard in the tearful faces of your students (kids, children, babies—all of those terms work) and your teachers.

I seriously so needed to hear the  superintendents’ voices who are speaking out against all of this over-testing recently and ongoing. They are bold in their bravery and bonded in the truth they speak.

Dear Districts, DO NOT DISSUADE PARENTS from ‘stabbing at the eye of this beast’ by exercising their constitutional rights to protect their children. You do understand your job is also in the beasts’ ‘line of firey breath’?

If you want to be afraid of anything,  you should fear your primary stakeholders finding out later that you gave them a boatload of guilt manipulations. Your parents with all of their upset should be welcome openly to express those feelings and act as they best see fit for their child(ren) without nary a hindrance sentence from you or your offices either verbally or written. Do the right thing because it is the right thing to do.

When my husband was dying, we were so afraid….our fears were so real….five babies we had between the ages of 1 ½ and 13. My husband chose Garth Brook’s song “The River” to help us through. I find it apropos for all that all are experiencing now. Let’s ALL SAIL OUR VESSELS!

~Kelly A. Braun


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