New York’s ‘opt out’ Parents Cause Headaches for School Leaders, Common Core Supporters
U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and his pro-Common Core cohorts have a serious problem on their hands in New York where a growing number of parents are opting their children out of Common Core-aligned standardized testing.
So many students are opting out of the tests that some school districts are seeing their assessment participation rate drop below 95 percent as required under the federal government’s No Child Left Behind law. A low participation rate in back-to-back years causes the federal government to classify a district as not making “adequate yearly progress.” That status would force local school leaders to create an “improvement plan” and could lead to the loss of federal grants, reports Syracuse.com.
In other words, the federal government will attempt to cause bureaucratic headaches and financial problems for uncooperative school districts.
The standardized tests are important to the Common Core experiment because they’ll provide education researchers and technology experts with the apples-to-apples data they need to unlock the “science” of teaching and learning. Without that data, Common Core is only a set of nationalized learning standards of dubious quality.
In most political showdowns, penalties from the D.C. overlords would be enough to scare the peasants into submission.
But Common Core isn’t just another political issue.
Many parents in New York (and elsewhere) see the one-size-fits-all learning standards as a threat to their children’s academic futures, and the corresponding tests as too stressful and demoralizing for their kids to take. As such, many parents are keeping their kids at home on tests days, or sending them to school with a book to read while their classmates take the assessments.
For example, 10 percent of parents in New York’s Red Hook Central school district opted their kids out of this year’s Common Core-aligned test, up from 7 percent last year, reports RHObserver.com.
As a result, the Red Hook Central district fell below the 95 participation rate for two consecutive years and can expect federal penalties.
If Red Hook Central school leaders warned parents about the consequences of skipping the recent tests (as seems likely) and fewer parents complied than last year, it suggests enough families are so strongly opposed to the nationalized math and English standards that they’re willing to suffer whatever consequences get handed down from on high.
And that has to be a major concern for Education Secretary Duncan and the rest of the Common Core apologists. If parents keep opting out of the tests and local school districts suffer financially as a result, one can bet more state and national lawmakers will be getting involved in the school standards debate.
That means Common Core will become a bigger political issue – not a smaller one as supporters are hoping for.
It’s not inconceivable that those unhappy representatives could take legislative action to rein in Common Core.
Of course, the reverse is also possible. Legislators could pass a law making it illegal for parents to opt their children out of the testing. (The practice is currently not illegal in any state, according to education professor and opt-out advocate Tim Slekar.)
Lawmakers could also work with local school officials on a public relations campaign to shame and bully parents into compliance.
It’s impossible to say how this will ultimately play out.
But one thing is knowable: The elites who foisted Common Core unto K-12 schools in 44 states never expected the parent-led pushback they’re getting in New York.
New York is currently the center of the opt-out controversy because the Empire State is a year ahead of almost all other states in using the Common Core-aligned standardized tests.
But look for this controversy to grow over the next year as parents in the other 43 states rise up and say, “No more.”