Friday, May 2, 2014

Actions Speak Louder Than Words (Why I Chose to Opt Out My Son)

In the 2012-2013 school year the New York State Education Department under the leadership of Commissioner John King and the Governorship of Andrew Cuomo required schools to meet the Common Core Learning Standards under the following conditions:

  • without any of the promised state modules 
  • without any aligned textbooks 
  • without being prepared (for example, a curriculum map for grades 6-8 was not released until November) 

 On top of those conditions the State had the gall to test the students on this “ghost curriculum” and tie them and their teachers to those scores. 2012-2013 illustrated one thing: NYSED was unprepared. Totally unacceptable, but Governor Cuomo let them get away with it anyway.

It doesn’t stop there.

Enter 2013-2014 school year and enter the modules. The modules not only were created to meet the Common Core Standards, but they were to bring in a whole new line of thinking. However, you cannot simultaneously reprogram the thinking of all the grade levels at one time. Teachers need time, parents need time, the modules themselves needed time. A strategic implementation statewide was needed, but instead of one, Commissioner King provided us with a rushed, botched implementation. Totally unacceptable. Governor Cuomo voiced his disgust, but again, let NYSED get away with it anyway.

So what is one to do?

Actions speak louder than words.

Throughout these past two years I have been very vocal about how the actions of the State Ed Department have been harmful to our schools and my son’s education. However, talk is cheap and, unfortunately, it can be easily ignored. That is why I chose to opt out my son from state testing in the 2012-2013 school year and again during this year. Opting out seems to have grabbed their attention (and many others). Although my son does not know the full extent of things, we have discussed together that when we opt out we are sending a message to the State that we do not like how they are handling things. Personally for me, it’s the loudest message that I can send right now to let them know that I do not condone any of the actions that I have described above.

The State’s ill-preparedness, deception, and blatant ignoring of parental concerns has created “a mountain of mess” in New York State education. Ultimately, there are two choices an individual can make to try to move this mountain. One could shout at it all they want or they could move it by picking up one stone at a time (credit here goes to Confucius). Talk is cheap, actions speak louder than words. Little does my son know that everyday he opts out of State testing, he is picking up a stone and slowly moving that mountain. Although the numbers for the opt-outers are not in for the Math exams yet, there were over 30,000 students who opted out of the ELA. 30,000 stones being moved every opt out day. With the opt out movement strong and growing, we will have that mountain moved in no time.