Opting-out of the real world: on path to a dangerous precedent

I keep having bad thoughts because of the PARCC testing.

Relax; not because of the PARCC testing, but because of this opt-out movement that has tickled the fancy of many.

Like other districts in NJ, I had a much larger than usual amount of opt-outs for standardized testing this year.  I say this year, because I’ve had maybe one or two before this. Yes, as a parent, you were / are allowed to opt-out of the NJASK as well.

Why so different this year?  Simple; everyone has the like button to press, the retweet button, or is an expert in a blog. Social media created a big wave; many are riding it, but don’t really know why they are on in the first place.

I spoke to several parents AND students about why they chose to opt-out. A majority of my responses were along these lines:

  • My friends are opting out, so I asked my Mom and Dad to have me opt-out
  • I don’t feel like taking it
  • I heard at the basketball game that we don’t have to take it, so we’re not going to
  • It has no impact on the schools, so who cares
  • I’m against the common core (in this case, I asked both parents & students what they’re against — the responses were either “I don’t know” or “they are against it so I am too”)
  • Mrs. X (an employee) said we can opt-out by having our parents write a letter, so that’s what I did
  • I heard we can sit around and either work on our projects or play with legos
  • I don’t want the pressure of another test on my child

Of all of the responses, the last one was the one I could actually understand. The others… I’m just baffled. The school has peppered everyone with scads of information, ranging from common core flashcards to a fully interactive presentation posted on our website and social media accounts. I also had PARCC Parent Nights. I wasn’t expecting the masses to show up, but with all of the information that’s available today, how could you not know?  If you’re that concerned about opting-out of something, wouldn’t you want to know what that something is?

Here’s what I’m envisioning:

Potential employee: I’d love to work here!

Employer: Great! Just complete this application and take this test. Potential employee: test?  No thanks, I’ll just opt-out.

OR THIS:

Senior applying to college: Hey Mom! Did you see I have to do this essay?

Mom: Yes, it’s apart of the application process

Senior: I don’t feel like writing it; can you just write me a note opting out?

OR THIS:

Counselor:  This is a test to get into that trade school you’ve been talking about.

Student: Eh, who cares about the test.  It’s not like it’s going to count towards anything!

Parents opting their kids out with no logic or reasoning behind it sets a nasty precedent. Opting out because you don’t understand how students are being taught today (i.e. common core methodology) is doing a disservice to your child and is setting up your child to trying to catch up to the wave of current society.

I understand the test anxiety piece; but to opt-out just because your kid asked? What’s next… opting out of paying bills because you don’t want to?  Or opting out of something because it’s too hard? Let your kids struggle; it’s how they learn; it’s how YOU and I learn.

I know this post isn’t as tight or aligned as I like them to be; I have a meeting in a few minutes.  And no, I can’t opt-out of that.

Onward.

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