Thursday, 19 March 2015

Common Core Rebellion to “Opt Out” of Tests Spreads Nationwide

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As the federally funded Common Core testing regime is rolled out across much of the nation, a growing rebellion against the tests and accompanying data-mining scheme is sweeping the country as well. In states all over America, parents and students are joining the “opt out” movement, refusing to take the controversial assessments funded and pushed by the Obama administration. Despite pushback from officials, many educators are encouraging children to refuse to take the tests, too. Because the national testing regime is so crucial to the overall plot to nationalize education via Common Core and compile Orwellian federal dossiers on each student, activists say the surging grassroots move to “opt out” has the potential to help derail the administration’s broader “cradle-to-career” education “reform” agenda.  

More than 40 states are currently in the process of attempting to force children to take the federally funded tests. The assessments, of course, are aligned with the widely criticized Common Core standards pushed by Obama and billionaire global government advocate Bill Gates. As of now, there are two “multi-state consortia,” both funded by the federal government, in charge of the testing regime. The first one, the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC), was ruled unconstitutional by a Missouri judge last month, but continues to be imposed on many states. The other is known as the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), and it, too, is facing growing nationwide protests. States have a wide variety of policies on opting out of the testing regime, with some making the right to refuse clear and explicit, while others claim the exams are “mandatory.”


Numerous states have already dropped out of the national PARCC and SBAC testing, and others are expected to follow suit. That could be devastating news for Common Core and its backers — primarily Big Business and Big Government — because the testing regime is the key enforcement mechanism to ensure that schools across America are submitting to Obama’s “education reform.” As chief Common Core financier Bill Gates put it in a speech to the National Conference of State Legislatures in 2009: “When the tests are aligned to the common standards, the curriculum will line up as well.” Even in the states that have not yet withdrawn from the national tests, though, it has hardly been smooth sailing, with protests and the opt-out rebellion spreading like wildfire.

According to media reports, at least tens of thousands of parents and students across America are involved in what some analysts are calling “civil disobedience” by refusing the tests. Many of the figures fanning the flames, though, admit that opting out of the tests is about more than just protesting against the standardized testing regime — it’s about the big picture and what is happening to education more broadly. “Opt-out is not an anti-testing movement. This is a movement to reclaim and do what’s right for kids in public schools,” United Opt Out movement co-founder Tim Slekar, dean of the school of education at Edgewood College, was quoted as saying this month by U.S. News & World Report. “This is a movement to restore real learning.” The opt-out advocate also noted that politicians have “no business” being in the testing, teaching, and learning business. “They're responsible for the absolute disaster we see in some of our poorer public schools,” he added.

Dr. Slekar has been urging resistance to the testing and the broader “reform” movement behind it for years. “We encourage parents, students and teachers to opt out of education reform by refusing to take and administer any high-stakes test that labels the child, teacher, or school,” he told The New American in late 2013. “The results (data) from high stakes tests are invalid and therefore any use of this data in the learning process is an act of pedagogical malpractice — opting out is an act of civil disobedience in support of children, teachers and public schools.” So far, though more must be done to successfully slam the brakes on Common Core, the efforts of Slekar and other advocates for proper education have paid off.

While exact numbers are impossible to determine, news reports from across America make clear that the opt-out movement is a burgeoning nationwide phenomenon. Earlier this month, for example, under the headline “Leery parents join nationwide boycott of Common Core exam,” CBS News reported on parents in New Jersey who refused to allow their children to take the tests. “I do not have any problem with measuring how strong a child is in reading or math,” said mother Sarah Blaine, an attorney, adding that she took the test herself and found it to be confusing. “What I do have a problem with is when the test starts to drive everything else that is happening in school.” She also blasted schools for skipping over subjects such as social studies, a term her daughter was unfamiliar with. Governor Chris Christie, an establishment Republican whose presidential ambitions will likely be harmed by his anti-GOP support for Common Core, said he was “discouraged that people are opting out” of the PARCC tests.     

In and around Chicago, meanwhile, the Chicago Tribune reported that hundreds of students have refused to participate in the PARCC scheme — even though some school officials are claiming it is “mandatory.” At one school, less than three dozen students out of more than 400 actually took the test, according to multiple sources cited by the paper. In all, students at more than 80 Chicago Public Schools refused to take the exam, reported an organization known as “More Than a Score” that opposes excessive standardized testing. As The New American reported last year, even the Chicago Teachers Union officially opposes Common Core, vowing to fight until it is “eliminated” and saying that children and education were both being harmed by the “overreaching” federal meddling into local schools. The opt-outs in Illinois were especially bold considering the fact that state education bureaucrats sent threatening letters to parents warning that refusal purportedly “directly violates state and federal law.”

In some cases, education officials are fighting back. According to news reports, in New Mexico, an eighth-grade student was suspended from school after being caught distributing forms to fellow students to opt out of the testing — a document available on the school district’s website. “My goal here was to just let the parents know that they have the option,” said the middle-school student, Adelina Silva, whose brother also opted out of the test. The girl noted that school officials even “started pulling the flyers out from kids’ hands” before she was taken to the principal’s office to wait for her mother. Adelina’s mom was quoted as saying that she was “very upset” about the news. “Parents need to know that this form is online and they are able to opt their children out of it,” Adelina's mother told reporters.  

Across Louisiana, where the governor tried to protect students from Common Core last year but has been defied by state education bureaucrats, some four-fifths of government school systems have reported that students “opted out” of the testing. Thousands of children refused, according to news reports. In New Mexico, the refusals were even more dramatic, with hundreds of high-school students walking out of the tests in a massive protest against them — even after being warned by bureaucrats that they would be “disciplined” for refusing to submit, including possibly missing graduation. After marching out of the testing, many of the “opt-out” students reportedly hit the sidewalks carrying signs and chanting their disapproval as drivers honked their horns in support, according to news reports.     

As The New American reported last month, the battle to opt out of the federally funded testing regime may all be a moot point soon. In a stinging rebuke of the scheme and the process used to foist it on the state, Missouri Judge Daniel Green ruled the “Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium” (SBAC) to be an “unconstitutional interstate compact.” Still, for now, some 40 states are still implementing Common Core and the accompanying testing and data-gathering regime — even including some states that supposedly withdrew from the program. With opposition to the controversial standards, often ridiculed by critics as “ObamaCore,” continuing to sweep America as awareness spreads, Common Core backers are working overtime to shield their “reforms” from outraged voters, parents, teachers, and taxpayers. Whether or not they succeed in defying the American people and the Constitution could very well define the nation for generations to come.


Alex Newman is a correspondent for The New American, covering economics, education, politics, and more. Follow him on Twitter @ALEXNEWMAN_JOU. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.:

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