The Treasure Hunter

A blog by Joanne Yatvin

Why Parents Must Opt-Out Their Children From Yearly Tests

on May 11, 2018

Too long ago I promised to tell readers why I think parents should opt-out their children from the yearly tests that all public schools  must give in order to receive federal funding. The first part of my explanation was a review of the laws that were enacted to improve school performances from 2000—to 2015 and have failed. Because it took me a lot of time and energy to get that information and report it accurately, I took time off before writing about why I believe that schools must be freed from government control in order to educate students properly.  Finally, I am ready.

My beliefs about education are borne of many years of teaching, being a school principal, serving as president of a national teachers organization, and writing about education. In addition, I spent time living in other countries, observing what young people there knew and could do and visiting many (50) European schools to study the teaching of English as a foreign language.

Among the things I learned over those years were that the assertions of “A Nation at Risk” were not valid, and the laws set over the past 18 years by the Federal government have deeply harmed our public schools rather than improving them.

Almost all the decisions made by Congress each year were based on the results of tests of questionable validity.  The things tested were students’ knowledge and skills for their grade levels as designated by the Common Core State Standards.  But the appropriateness of  the CCSS has been questioned by many educators from the very start.  Almost all of the people selected to create the standards had never been teachers, and they set the standards by stuffing every possible school skill into one grade or another, whether or not it was appropriate for students of that age or fit with their previous learning.

In addition, every new program or change in teaching methods intended to improve a school’s performance has been a failure. Large amounts of money, believed to be “cure-it-all’s”, were spent mostly on hiring “coaches” who had no experience or training.  The rest of it went for glossy new programs that claimed to make students succeed where they had continually failed before.

Although I could name and describe many more bad decisions and actions taken by Congress over the years, I think that most educators know them as well as I do.  We’re fed up with all the laws that have been made since the year 2000 and all the wasted funds spent on unfair tests, crummy programs and ignorant experts.

Since it appears that Congress has not learned anything from all its errors, it will continue down the same roads until our public schools disintegrate. I see only one action that would be effective in returning schools to the wisdom of experienced educators: large numbers of parents willing to opt their children out of the yearly tests.  Only then will the federal government  have to end its ignorant assault on schools.  That action, I believe, would leave the only real educators to do what is best for their students and parents to do what is best for their children.

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