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News from the Anti-Testing Front

Susan Notes: I asked Don Perl what his group was up to, and look at this answer. We need this idea to spread across the country.

Ohanian Comment: Remember Don Perl, the Colorado teacher who refused to give the state test? This past spring Don spearheaded a petition drive for an amendment to Colorado Revised Statutes, calling for the elimination of the state test. With no money, they had no chance of actually getting enough signatures. But these resisters don't give up. I asked Don what they're up to now, and look at this answer: an advertising campaign. We need this idea to spread across the country.

Another Step Forward

The seeds of our advertising campaign to alert parents about their exemption rights really began on August 2nd of this year. That was the date on which we had to submit the petitions to the Secretary of State's Office. It was a foregone conclusion that we did not have the almost 68,000 signatures that we needed to make the ballot. But it seemed like a good way to meet with the activists who had worked to gather signatures, call a press conference, and submit the petitions. In fact we submitted 12,485 signatures - truly a remarkable accomplishment since we were working on something like the threads of a shoestring. It's a number which hints strongly about a groundswell against the standardized testing invasion here in Colorado.

The activist members of our listserv then began to brainstorm ideas on how to inform parents of their exemption rights. Costs of advertisements in the Denver mainstream newspaper were prohibitive. A graphic artist among us suggested a fundraising campaign. She designed bumper stickers which read "Just Say No" with our anti-CSAP logo and our website where parents could print out exemption letters. Another educator/activist contacted Viacom Outdoor advertising, and a representative met with us in mid-September to inform us what we could do depending on the amount of money we could raise. A student on our University of Northern Colorado organized two bake/burrito sales which netted us almost $300.

In October, a small group of activists met to have lunch, distribute the bumper stickers, and brainstorm what else we could do to continue our work as "town criers" of the abuses of CSAP. We left that luncheon to explore two avenues. One was to raise funds for our advertising campaign, the other was to work to elect candidates to the State House who were truly interested in saving public education. So here we are in early December. The make-up of the State House has changed, and the Democrats have a majority in both houses for the first time in more than a generation. A few of the freshman representatives have been in contact with at least two of us who have been leading the campaign against CSAP. And we raised almost $1800 towards our advertising campaign.

The ads on 25 bus benches in the metropolitan area and in two Denver malls will go up on January 17th. They will run for at least a month. Testing begins mid to late February. Our hope is that these ads will draw a lot of attention and the noises against CSAP will get louder and louder. I'll bet the governor already hears them.

— Don Perl



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