Opting out hurts the poor most / by Christopher Stewart

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Should educators use their positions as trusted informants to suggest that parents opt their children out of annual testing? This guest post republished from Raymond Ankrum points out how the opt-out movement, driven mostly by affluent families, hurts kids in poverty most. Currently Mr. Antkum is the Executive Director/Principal of a K-8 Charter school in Suffolk County, Long Island, NY that serves 375 students, with over 70% who receive free and/or reduced lunch. *****

0435e19I find myself questioning why I'm even in education, based on the actions that I've seen from educators on Long Island.

Since when did it become the job of teachers to call parents, and suggest that they "opt" their kids "out" of testing?

Since when did it become the job of principals, to openly encourage parents to "opt" their kids "out" of testing?This is unacceptable behavior exhibited by educators, and something needs to be done to ensure this never happens again.

When Common Core was first introduced in NY State, it had the support of the Teacher's Union. The Teacher's Union stopped supporting Common Core, because it was opposed to teachers being judged based on student outcomes. I see their point, but I will agree to disagree. If teachers and administrators are doing right by kids, there are formative assessments, and interim data that can be used to predict how well a student does on state testing. If a student is an A student, and the curriculum is one that is rigorous, that child should have no problem scoring a level 3 or 4 on NY State testing. If this movement was solely based on "testing injustice", it should focus on students with disabilities, and minority students.These are the students that historically fail at high stakes testing. Not the affluent students, to whom these high stakes tests are written and geared towards.

I read an article today, in which Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education was quoted as saying "The federal government will have no choice but to intervene" re: the record number of "opt outs" on Long Island, NY . Federal intervention means taking Title I funding away from students. Those familiar with school funding, know that Title I students are usually the minority students. Title I funding is meant to even the playing field, so students below the poverty line can compete with their more affluent peers. The threat of Title I funding being taken away hurts minority students. So, in essence, minority students in Title I schools are being hurt by a movement that they are not even a part of.

How is that fair?

In every other job field, people are accountable. If you don't do your job to a high level, you are given supports, with the expectation that you will improve. If you don't improve, you don't have a job.

There should be nothing different with teaching. Teaching is about students, not adults.

If teachers can't move students, they do not deserve their job. I know this may sound inhumane to some, but undoing the affects of one bad teaching year could take three years. Don't we owe it to our students to put them first? Don't we owe it to our kids to accept responsibility for their achievement? Help our students to be great, and put them first. Accept the responsibility of being accountable for our students.

What say you?