I look at stories like this, and I wonder if this is the natural evolution of the test opt-out movement?
I take it that anti-test activist groups tout themselves as very pro-public schools, painting them as venerable democratic institutions that endeavor to promote wholesome, American values and with the potential to restore justice.
But can you have it both ways?
That is, empower parents to the degree that, specifically regarding standardized testing, they know what is best for THEIR children and that THEIR decisions are sacrosanct, but then at the same time relinquish parental authority when it comes to other potential decisions, like the above linked story about the acceptance of a transgendered child.
Testing activists like to pump up parents, saying they’re the key to this movement, that you can’t fire a parent, and that parents have the ultimate say in how their child is educated. After all this time, giving parents this power, how do you then say that they cannot resist or “opt-out” of other aspects of the curriculum?
Opt out or test refusal movements offer tremendous power to parents because teachers may not, in the vast majority of cases, be able to assume the risks of resisting standardized testing. The argument goes that you can’t “fire” parents and they ultimately know what is best for their children (except when they don’t).
I’ve wondered over time if there are any caveats to teachers standing behind parents, relying on the parents to fuel the resistance. But what happens when the resistance crosses their children? The rejoinder might be, “Well, we have the best interests of children in mind, so technically it never will.”
I wouldn’t be so sure.
I was reminded once again of my previous thoughts about parent-power when reading about a beloved PE teacher’s abrupt dismissal over what seems like a very spurious accusation:
Sloan, 60, a popular coach hailed as a role model for overcoming his handicap, was yanked from PS 102 in Harlem after a parent setting up for a party last year complained she smelled booze on his breath. He claims it was the alcohol-based mouthwash.
Far be it from me to rely on the New York Post for anything friendly about teachers. Yet, how could an accusation like this cause a seemingly illustrious career in teaching to take such a nosedive? Perhaps this is instructive of nothing when it comes to our relationship with parents. This might be more indicative of a broken system that permits one very small complaint to snowball into something much larger. Or, that trust of teachers is so broken that the smallest perception of impropriety is codified in stone.
Reform gives tremendous power to parents in terms of school choice and other measures, largely based on viewing parents and students as consumers of education. But then anti-reform gives parents tremendous power because they apparently know what is best for their children, and it is assumed that it is what Diane Ravitch and others have to offer. Teachers have the best interests of children in mind, parents do as well, ipso facto they are on the same side.
If we take the NY Post article at face value, here we have a parent complaint completely tanking a successful career spanning decades. This doesn’t seem right. As teachers, do we need to keep parent power in check?
I’m sure there’s more I could have done. I’ll need to reflect on it. But of the 17 children I have in my current Kindergarten class, only five of my parents or family members attended our Back to School Night. That’s about a third. I sent home several notices. The school sent notices. I shook […]
I may get blowback for this one, so here goes: is the relative apathy of teachers, and the myopic ignorance of the larger political realities affecting education, forcing them to cede control of the activist narrative to parents? I am part of many activist groups, passively and otherwise. Many of these groups are led by […]
As testing season is upon us, we’ve got a couple of recent, special episodes on the subject of opting out or refusing state testing. In the few years we’ve been covering this issue, this is the first time, at least to my knowledge that, one, massive opt outs are occurring, two, they’re being covered extensively, […]