Saturday, July 6, 2013

Edu-reform and the Opt-Out movement

         I viewed the July 4th proclamation purporting to reclaim public education. The organizers/administrators of the Unitedoptout movement  are suggesting that parents, teachers and students join together to stop what they perceive as the corporate takeover of public education. Please do not be swayed by the pathos of their argument. It is merely a fearful response to change.

     The administrators define opt out as 
"Def: (verb)To opt out is to take any and all actions to end corporate reform of public education.
Actions include: Refusing to participate in high stakes testing which is the life’s blood of the destruction of public education."  High Stakes testing is not new. Students in countries around the world take tests that determine their future. In the USA, students are blessed to be able to take the tests (ACT and SAT) as many times as they can pay the fee. Students in other countries are not so blessed.  The administrators of Unitedoptout see the annual state exams and next generation tests as a threat to public education. WHY? The data from these exams will now be used as part of the evaluation of teacher effectiveness.
    The education world is on its way toward a data informed model. If we want to be perceived as professionals, it is time to allow the data to inform our decisions. We need to value the data. More importantly, we need to make the changes necessary to provide a better education for all of our students. Running fearfully away from the data, encouraging parents and students to opt-out is not a professional reaction. Professional educators need to stand united facing the data and do the work of changing to meet the needs of our students.

1 comment:

  1. Your post and sentiment remind me of this quote from Switch by Chip & Dan Heath: "If the Rider [rational side] isn't sure what exactly what direction to go, he tends to lead the Elephant [emotional side] in circles. And as we'll see, that tendency explains the third and final surprise about change: What looks like resistance is often a lack of clarity."

    The argument against testing (which I distinguish from assessment) indeed has an element of pathos - and why I think the opt-out movement has gained such support from parents and Boards of Ed in NYS. We had state assessments and data long before the accountability of including them in teacher evaluation - but I don't think it was consistently done (or used) well. And while there were murmurs of discontent - it certainly wasn't as widespread as I have seen this past year.

    I am hoping that a clarity of purpose and use might help tame the elephant and let the rider grab the reins again!