OP-ED | Alert! We are Under Attack! This is Not a Test
Our society accepts the sad fact that in our free-market democracy, money influences politicians.
Money-hungry corporations, which have recently discovered the untapped and unending resource called public education, know this. They have worked the political system to get what they want – Education Reform – with little concern for the collateral damage to our children and our country’s future. This “fracking” of our educational system for profit is criminal!
In Connecticut, education reform started in 2010 with the acceptance of the Common Core State Standards. As a stand-alone concept, the CCSS, which aims to help standardize national K-12 benchmarks in math and English, has some merit, but, tragically, it masks a much darker purpose, which is to systematically destabilize, dehumanize, and vilify public education. The Common Core is the equivalent of a Trojan horse packed with SBAC cyber attack testing, accountability bombs for teachers and public schools. The coup de grace is the continuing privatization of education by the expansion of charter schools predestined to “rebuild” in the wake of the destruction.
Fortunately, we can counter this surprise attack because parents are free from legislative education reform mandates and can write a simple letter to opt out their children, knowing very well that the U.S. Constitution also backs them. I see education from several lenses and so my reasons to opt out our children are many.
As Acting Chair of my town’s Board of Education:
• I see the economic costs of SBAC-associated state mandates for technology and materials while feeling the pain from budget proposals like Dan Malloy’s that simultaneously take money from public education and give it to charter schools.
• I see the high stakes “mandated” push for teachers and school administrators to focus more on student Common Core SBAC grades and less on the art of teaching. Legislative reforms are forcing schools to become a business and teachers to become simple collectors of student data.
• I know the reason why the deadlines for adopting and integrating CCSS and associated testing have been so ridiculously short is because in a business, profits can’t wait.
• As teachers do their best to build the plane while it is flying, our student passengers suffer.
As a veteran teacher and current candidate for vice president of Connecticut Education Association:
• I share the disgust of other professionals at being forced to become test administrators for testing that is unproven, inappropriate, and which wreaks havoc for weeks on the learning environment and takes away valuable professional development time.
• I see that a major goal of the ed reform movement is to weaken our union from the inside by creating evaluation inequalities among teachers, and from the outside by eroding public confidence in our profession through commercialized propaganda. Unions are the backbone of the middle class.
• I see the test results as educationally irrelevant for students and unjustifiably punitive for teachers and their schools.
Most importantly as a concerned parent:
• I am concerned about the undeserved stress from being subjected to 7-plus hours of developmentally inappropriate testing – especially for my third-grade daughter.
• I regret the learning that is lost to testing and test preparation.
• I realize the results have no effect on their educational career, class placement, or graduation requirements.
• I know that because corporations persuaded politicians to change FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) laws, my children’s privacy is jeopardized. Their personal information is now, for the first time in history, being sent to a third party to be graded and data mined for unknown future purposes.
• I reject the propaganda that the SBAC tests are somehow more mandatory than the CMT/CAPT tests.
I have no doubt that war has been declared against public education. Our family’s decision to “opt out” is our battle cry to say, “Get out.” Join us – and the many others who want these so-called reformists to retreat from our children’s schools – to oppose them and the Trojan horse they rode in on.
Sample letters can be downloaded at our campaign website. Find the post titled “’Tis the Season to Opt-Out”
Scott A. Minnick, a teacher in Glastonbury and resident and Board of Ed member of East Hampton, is a candidate for Vice President of the Connecticut Education Association.
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