The Lydster, Part 134: Opting out

Neither my wife or I want to have our daughter become a tool to our own sense of activism, ESPECIALLY when it affects her directly.

opt-out5There has been a great deal of controversy in the state of New York about the school tests tied to something called Common Core. It is more complicated than I wish to get into here, but I wrote about it a bit in my Times Union blog.

There was a statewide movement to get students in grades 3 to 8 to opt-out of the test, which was somewhat successful in many districts, including in my area.

The movement has been around a few years, but I had not paid a great deal of attention. The Daughter took the tests the last couple of years.

This year, however, the framework and the rhetoric changed, with Governor Andrew Cuomo specifically tying education money to teacher performance, based on these tests, and practically ignoring their classroom effectiveness, in the budget passed at the end of March 2015.

Here’s the thing, though: neither my wife or I want to have our daughter become a tool to our own sense of activism, ESPECIALLY when it affects her directly. Moreover, she’s generally a compliant child, eager to please others.

The Sunday before the tests began, on a Tuesday, we FINALLY broached the topic, quite gingerly. I said something like, “You know there are those tests coming up this week. Some people are opting out. Whether you take them or not is entirely up to you.”

She said, rather quickly, “I’m opting out. They’re using the test to grade the teachers, not us.” This is largely correct and astute.

We hadn’t specifically talked about this, certainly not directly to her, although we’ve been watching news reports. Most parents would say they chose their kids to opt-out, but The Daughter made her own decision. I happen to agree with it, but I’m more pleased that she’s become this separate, thinking person.

For the periods of the test, a total of 18 hours over a few weeks (!), she was assigned to help the kindergarten teacher read to the kids, and the like. She liked it.
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Here are some anecdotes about the English language test. There are many out there.