Friday, January 30, 2015

Representative Frederick Protects Parents' Rights

Oregon Save Our Schools encourages those who support a parent's right to opt his or her child out of high-stakes standardized testing to contact the Oregonian Editorial Board and let them know that testing is not providing the information and support needed, either in the classroom or in the home.  Also, contact your legislators and encourage them to support Lew Frederick's HB 2714 which supports a Parent's Right to Opt Out for any reason.  Finally, check out Opt Out resources from Oregon SOS here.

                                                        Dr. Rex Hagans

Your Editorial titled "Misguided bill would nudge parents to say 'no' to state testing: Editorial Agenda 2015” sarcastically attacks Representative Lew Frederick for sponsoring House Bill 2714, which provides that parents have the right to excuse their children from state wide assessment and directs that the school districts must provide notice of that right to parents. As one of the Co-founders of Oregon Save Our Schools, I am here to tell you that Representative Fredericks is, once again, simply doing the right thing.

It is no secret that high stakes testing has grown increasingly onerous over the years, forcing a narrowing of the curriculum, putting children and their teachers under great stress and literally sucking all the joy out of learning.

Or that the so-called "Smarter Balanced” tests have shamefully and secretively developed by non-educators and rushed to market in a red hot hurry by the huge testing concerns who stand to make billions of dollars from them. Quick - before parents (and the public at large) come to understand just how damaging they will really be.

Parents know this, and in rapidly increasing numbers, are becoming very concerned about the impact on their children. Like their children’s teachers, they know that this is a recipe for disaster.

But instead of responding to this deep concern, and following the example of many other states in calling for a pause in this ridiculous process, our Governor and his minions on the Oregon Education Investment Board have launched an all out campaign, orchestrated from the very top, to convince parents that they should not exercise their best judgment in this matter and to frighten them with thinly veiled threats of negative repercussions for their children's schools of they do decide to opt out.  

The Editorial Board now contributes to this campaign in its editorial by describing these parents as "disgruntled"- a belittling word which the dictionary equates with such terms "sulky', "peevish" "petulant" and even "malcontent."  How about “responsible”,"worried" and “informed” instead?

And for what?  There is absolutely no evidence that these tests or the standards they are intended to support will produce anything. William J. Mathis, a noted researcher from National Education Policy Center writes "No studies support a true causal relationship between national standards and economic competitiveness, and we know that nations with centralized standards generally tend to perform no better (or worse) on international tests than those without. "

Your editorial concludes "In what universe does it make sense to invest billions of dollars in a sweeping educational enterprise without any expectation that it deliver a verifiable return in the form of smarter kids?"  Wrong question.

You should be asking, "In what universe does it make sense to invest billions of dollars in a sweeping, poorly planned and disruptive educational enterprise without any evidence that it can deliver a more vibrant and engaging education to our children?" And to that question as you so glibly put it, "Surely not this one, Frederick's colleagues must agree."

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