Every year we read or hear from parents about how their school administrators are misleading parents who refuse to let their children take the annual standardized test. Some administrators even resort to bullying parents and children.
If you are concerned about the mental health of children, is it then appropriate for school administrators to mislead and bully parents and children into this testing scheme?
We’ve got a mess in New Hampshire and it comes directly from the removal of local control in education. Policies on testing and accountability (not to parents but to bureaucrats) have created a situation where parents have lost their voice. No longer can they opt their children out of harmful testing practices without school administrators coming after them because they are afraid they might lose some $$ money.
Go to your local school board and insist on a policy of NO BULLYING, MISLEADING and PRESSURING parents into harmful testing practices. No school district has lost any $$ money over test refusals. Even if they did withhold funding, is it worth the mental health of your children to participate?
STOP THE BULLYING!
This year Greenland administrators sent an e-mail to parents with misleading information on testing. Here is how a physician/ parent responded:
Letter to Editor:
May 18 — To the Editor:
The concern for Greenland students’ social-emotional well-being that prompted the elimination of seventh and eighth grade accelerated math in October has now taken a sharp decline in May (see Greenland Dumps Accelerated Math, 10/23/16).
In an email sent primarily to fathers of students on Wednesday, Principal Peter Smith expressed his frustration with “an inordinate amount of parent refusals for eighth grade Smarter Balanced (SBAC) Summative Assessment.” He indicated there would be an impact to school funding, stating, “If that 95 percent [of participation] is not met, federal dollars could be withheld from the state,” citing the NHDOE Assessment Administrator as the source of this information.
He went on to warn, “Under the law there is no option for an official opt out request,” hinting that GCS is honoring parental refusals out of good will.
The truth is that we still live in a country where parents are free to make choices that are in the best interests of their children. There may not be a state law providing an option for an official “opt out” request, but there is no state law prohibiting a “refusal.” And according to federal law under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), p.144-145:
″…PARENTS MAY REQUEST, and the local educational agency will provide the parents on request (and in a timely manner), information regarding any State or local educational agency policy regarding student participation in any assessments mandated by section 1111(b)(2) and by the State or local educational agency, which shall include a policy, procedure, or PARENTAL RIGHT to OPT the child OUT of such assessment, where applicable.”
The disapproval of opt outs is also evident at school on testing days, where children testing are given substantially more recess time, treats and rewards, while children opting out are assigned to sometimes noisy rooms for silent reading and not allowed to participate in the extra social activities.
It seems the emotional well-being of bureaucrats in Concord is superseding that of our children in Greenland. Parents are being asked to ignore what is best for their children, and children are expected to bear the burden of securing school funding by enduring almost 15 hours of testing – testing that was designed to compare districts, not improve their learning. The American Board of Emergency Medicine re-certification exam that assesses a physician’s ability to make life and death decisions is no more than 5 hours. The real problem lies in the bureaucracy that imposes this excessive, age-inappropriate testing, not the students and their parents.
The children opting out may be missing out on extra recess and doughnuts, but they are learning a valuable lesson – following your conscience about what is best for you is not always the easiest path, but it is usually the right one.