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Scared Sleepless

Susan Notes:

This parent letter in response to a a rather remarkable John Merrow blog is an outrage but also good news because it gives news of parents resisting, parents acting in the best interest of their children. The letter linked to a website asking parents to Take a Stand. May they go forth and multiply and multiply and multiply.

And there is more good news: Merrow is exhibiting considerable dismay about the current standardized testing mania and even doubt about the Common Core State [sic] Standards.

by Jeff Nichols

Our family had a similar experience â not quite as drastic, but bad enough that we immediately took the decision that our children will not participate in any standardized testing in elementary school.

In brief, what got us started looking into the issue is this: the first of our children to reach third grade came home one day early in the school year and said with wide eyes and a terrified expression âMommy, Daddy, thereâs going to be a big test in April and if I donât pass it Iâm not going to get to go to fourth grade!â Then sure enough, a few days later, this child, who is a voracious learner, who LOVES his teachers and classmates, who never once in the grades K-2 expressed a desire not to go to school, started saying things like âI wish it was still summer vacation.â

We were furious, and to their credit his teachers were extremely responsive about talking down the test and helping him get over this totally needless anxiety. We do not blame them; all year whenever weâve had any concern about our son, they have done everything in their power to help him and us. But this is bigger than parents and teachers. The powers that be have instituted a system that is systematically demoralizing teachers and children. The more weâve looked into this the more weâve become convinced that all rhetoric to the contrary, what is going on is the tests are being used as an instrument to undermine and privatize public education. Whether thatâs the intention or not, that is what is actually happening across the country.

We as one family cannot stop this juggernaut. But we can refuse to participate in the fallacious data-gathering that powers it. Our children will be educated in the public schools, we will do everything we can to support their wonderful teachers, and we will also do everything we can to fight the ignorant politicians who have instituted anti-intellectual and anti-democratic test-based "accountability" measures at every level of our government.

Until and unless standardized tests are restored to the role the test designers themselves think is appropriate â as limited, secondary measures designed to supplement professional assessment by teachers of studentsâ progress â our children will be boycotting the tests.

We have been finding there are many, many fellow parents who agree with us. We have also had the bizarre experience of having many teachers contact us privately to support us â they often simply donât dare speaking out themselves for fear of being fired.

We do not want to live in a country in which the agencies administering education are creating a situation on the ground in which parents and teachers not only have no say in how children should be educated â they canât even talk to each other openly about it!

— Jeff Nichols
Learning Matters



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