Across the United States, concerned parents and students are refusing to participate in new tests aligned with the federal government’s Common Core state standards, and international journalist and educator Alex Newman could not be more excited about it.
“The explosive growth of the opt-out movement has been one extremely encouraging development in a sea of bad news when it comes to government education in the United States,” Newman told WND. “As more and more parents and teachers realize what is going on with Common Core, I expect this movement to continue growing by leaps and bounds.”
Newman, the co-author of “Crimes of the Educators: How Utopians are Using Government Schools to Destroy America’s Children,” believes Common Core and its affiliated tests are not just ineffective but dangerous.
“There is no doubt that this Obama scheme to nationalize education is designed not to educate children properly, but to shape their minds with propaganda and reduce their critical thinking abilities for nefarious purposes,” Newman said. “As we show in our new book (“Crimes of the Educators”), rather than improve education, Common Core is the next phase in the education establishment’s destruction of American children. One state lawmaker with an education degree told me this plot was ‘state-sponsored child abuse.’
He is right.”
Many parents and students appear to have reached a similar conclusion, choosing to opt out of the Common Core tests. For example, nearly 1,000 students in the Portland, Oregon, Public School District have opted out of taking the new Smarter Balanced tests scheduled for later this month. The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) is one of two federally funded multi-state consortia in charge of developing tests aligned with Common Core standards.
In Pacific Grove, California, one mother told local news station KION that she chose to withdraw her fifth-grade son from this month’s SBAC test upon discovering the test would not affect her son’s grades.
The mother also said she didn’t know she was allowed to opt out until another parent mentioned it. While California parents are allowed to make that choice, school districts don’t generally mention it to them.
That seems to be the case elsewhere as well. In Kennebunk, Maine, several parents complained at a school board meeting that their district did not make it clear their students had a right to opt out of the new SBAC test. The assistant superintendent had sent parents a letter describing the new Common Core-aligned test, but parents claimed the letter didn’t give information on how to opt out.
Newman, who has written extensively on education issues in the U.S. and worldwide, said states have different policies on opting out of the Common Core testing regime. Some claim the exams are mandatory, while others clearly give parents and students the right to refuse. Regardless of what a state’s laws are, Newman believes people always have a right to refuse what he sees as federal encroachment on a child’s education.
“Government does not own your children, so regardless of what bureaucrats and politicians in some especially radical states say, parents need to absolutely stand firm to protect their kids and their privacy,” Newman said. “We cannot allow government to usurp parents’ role in raising children and making decisions on education or anything else.
“Bureaucrats making lawless threats against parents and children who refuse to be subjected to this unconstitutional invasion of privacy are way out of line and need to be held accountable by voters, taxpayers, and our elected officials. Parents should research the law in their state carefully, but we must never allow ourselves to be intimidated by these lawless threats.”
It’s not just parents and students who oppose Common Core. Some teachers oppose it as well, and in one Seattle school district, the students are saving their teachers the trouble of protesting. At Garfield High School, the site of a 2013 testing boycott, roughly half the juniors have refused to take the new Smarter Balanced tests. Therefore, teachers who oppose the tests have said they don’t feel the need to protest this time around.
New York State has seemingly been the center of the opt-out movement. The Washington Post reported that about 60,000 New York students refused to take the state’s Common Core-aligned tests last year, and even more are expected to decline this year.
That anti-Common Core spirit was on display Tuesday in New Paltz, when more than 100 students, parents and teachers held a rally to call on families in their region to boycott the tests.
New York state law makes no provision for parents to opt out of the tests, although some state lawmakers want to change that. Assemblyman Dean Murray, a Republican, recently sponsored a bill to allow students to refuse the tests without negative consequences.
Newman believes students should refuse Common Core tests regardless of any threats of punishment, because he sees the alternative as far worse: a dumbed-down population that lacks privacy.
“These federally funded Common Core tests are being used to gather unimaginable amounts of private data on your child for the federal government – records that will follow him or her from ‘cradle to career,’ as Obama officials put it, and beyond,” Newman warned.
But Newman is encouraged by the opt-out movement, believing it could stop the education establishment from achieving its goals.
“Because the federally funded national testing regime is so crucial to both the Orwellian data-mining and the alignment of school curricula with Common Core, I think the opt-out movement may play a major role in derailing the whole abomination,” Newman said.
“Parents who love their children and do not want the federal government creating invasive dossiers on them need to educate themselves and refuse to participate in this nightmarish scheme foisted on America by an out-of-control Obama administration. Our children deserve better.”