A recent story in the Cleveland Plain Dealer posed the question of whether the state of Ohio should penalize schools for students who opt-out or let them “game the system.”
Marti Franks, a retired teacher and board member of Public Education Partners had this to say:
The article on opting out is enlightening and discouraging. There is a line from “The Crucible” that seems to fit. John Procter asks the judge, “Is the accuser always holy now?”
We start with the assumption that these tests are valid measures of learning, and that any objections to these measure are admissions of inadequacy. There is no objective measure of this “objective measure” of student learning and achievement. There is so much time and energy spent flexing muscles and threatening schools, students, and parents with a variety of punishments that the concept of education is totally lost.
There is a place for testing or measuring learning but it is not the center. Educators should be in the business of opening doors, challenging creativity, encouraging risk-taking, which by definition encourages failure as perhaps the most effective learning tool. And yet, the conversation is all about who can opt out and what measures can be used to sanction those who do.
Meanwhile, as legislators fight over jargon and buzz words, parents, teachers and even some courageous administrators are standing up. People see bullying tactics, and giving into a bully only reinforces the behavior.
The high stakes testing was always a bad idea, along with for profit charter schools and NCLB and any number of initiatives that never came from the educators. Instead of trying to make this work, let’s go back to the drawing board. Do we even remember the problem we were trying to solve?
There is work to be done, and it will not get done until we back off the foolishness, hand the job back to the folks who are trained to do it and who have dedicated their days to it. Parents don’t want to opt out of education, but they are losing faith in a system that is being crippled by the greedy and the foolish.