Architects of civil disobedience. #optout.

The“Opt Out” movement is growing. Australians and New Zealanders have joined. And still some just don’t truly understand why we are opting out. They don’t understand that we are the architects of positive civil disobedience.

An important group that needs to understand that this movement is in support of public schools are school leaders. Below is my attempt to explain why I will not let my children take high stakes tests. Feel free to use or modify for your purposes. Just change the names of people and places to fit your localities. :-)

Dear Superintendent,

I’m sure you know my opposition to PSSAs (NCLB) and the Keystones (Exit exams). However, my guess is that you don’t fully understand why. It has nothing to do with a fear that my children will experience failure. My kids are fine.

My disdain for the testing culture is centered on the fact that testing and the data the testing provides are the weapons being used by “reformers” that want a privatized system of education. The standards and accountability movement was never really about making public education stronger. It was designed to “prove” public education was failing and provide leverage for the voucher, charter, and private school movement. It’s a beautiful strategy on the part of the “reformers” because it has convinced our own neighbors that our public school and the taxes being used to support it are being wasted.

Their (reformers) new narrative portrays all teachers, administrators, custodial, and support staff as lazy and overpaid. The data provided by standardized testing feeds the propaganda machine that sucks away the support communities typically provide neighborhood public schools.

I’m not against standards and rigor. I’m against a system that defines standards and rigor as standardized tests and takes the power away from neighborhood schools in defining and delivering a truly rigorous experience in learning. You, the other administrators, and the teachers are the professionals with the knowledge and experience and expertise—you’re the architects of powerful learning experiences.

Don’t worry about “accountability” as defined today. We (parents and community members) will hold you accountable (That’s our responsibility as engaged citizens). Don’t let politicians being funded by McGraw Hill, Pearson, ETS etc, decide what’s best for our community. Again, as a community, that is our responsibility.

I am convinced that our neighbors, if given the truth that the Bellwood-Antis School District is slowly being dismantled by forces that don’t care about our community and only care about using public dollars to make a profit, will never allow this to happen. Except for a few, the citizens of Bellwood-Antis (My town) love their community. And if given the opportunity they would rally around the schools because the Bellwood Antis School District is the center of this community.

Kind Regards,


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  1. Brilliant post. In a way I feel sorry for the heads of schools whose parents withdraw academically able children from the tests since the impression then created is that the school’s effectiveness is decreasing – but it’s then up to those heads to take a stand themselves, and explain to the world at large that they actually support this movement to get rid of an unacceptable and unnecessary testing regime. If more headteachers, superintendents, principals, whatever, had taken a stand in the first place then we wouldn’t have found ourselves in a situation where it’s only through direct action by parents and teachers that children’s rights can be protected and we can perhaps resist a worldwide effort to turn education into an industrial process for the masses, whilst the more privileged have the option to continue to purchase the benefits of an expensive and exclusive liberal and holistic education. Sadly far too many heads of schools actually support the testing regime – either because of fear of the consequences of opposition, or through personal ambition to do well out of a system that enables them to “prove” their effectiveness and thus gain promotions and higher salaries. The whole notion of payment by ‘results’ is disgusting, so let’s not go there.

    Hope you’re happy for us to reblog this piece at some point.

    • Please feel free to reblog. Thanks for the insightful comments too. I have always said the same thing: They should have recognized this in the beginning and advocated for the children and the teachers instead of just thinking it was some passing fad. I get that there are “high stakes” associated with supporting opt out or any other anti reform activity but if they fail to do anything they will be out of a job any way. Very frustrating.

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