Over the weekend, I wrote about the fact that perhaps it was time for the #OptOut movement to take shape in North Carolina.
On Saturday, the News and Observer published an article by Mary Nelson of Guilford county. Read it here: Why NC needs an opt-out option for school testing
At my son’s last Individualized Education Program meeting, considerable time was spent discussing how to help him get through the English Language Arts benchmarks and the End of Grade tests.
It was the consensus of his team that the tests were above his ability. Why should he be required to take tests that are above his ability when we already know what the results will be? The answer: “It’s the law.”
Nelson makes the case that parental rights are being discarded and requirements being forced upon children and their families simply by virtue of a child being in the public school system. This is the same argument about parental rights that I made in my article.
Similar to my arguments and observations, Nelson points out that there is no real policy or procedure for opting out in North Carolina and asserts her parental right to make decisions for her child over that of the state:
North Carolina does not have a procedure for officially opting out of state tests. But as my son’s mother, I have a constitutional right to make important educational decisions for him. While schools are required by state law to administer the tests, no law can force a child to pick up a pencil and start filling in bubbles. Like a growing number of parents around the state, I wrote a letter explaining that we would refuse to take the test.
Every parent of a school aged child in North Carolina should read the whole article.
A letter related to nelson’s article has been shared with me, from Gerald Egolf. The title is Why North Carolina Needs to Repeal and Replace Common Core. Common Core is driving testing and North Carolina EOG’s are aligned to the standards.
Egolf is a member of the NC Education Coalition; a citizen coalition formed to truly replace Common Core.
With his permission, I have reprinted his letter below. The text is unaltered except for addressing formatting issues to make it readable for a blog medium.
Why North Carolina Needs to Repeal and Replace Common Core
By Gerald Egolf
April 26, 2015
As a parent and grandparent, I can empathize with Mary Nelson and wish that our education system would be more accommodating to children with special needs, whatever they might be. Although my grandsons are healthy and fairly normal, the younger of the two is very smart and needs to be placed far ahead of his peers, especially in reading, writing, and science.
Unfortunately, like Mary’s son, he is part of the “masses” that our current educational system is content to address, and has been held back so that his classmates don’t feel inferior (he does not attend school in NC).
This is what we get when big government and big business run our school systems. Under the Common Core State Standards, combined with other big government programs that bribe states to take their “dollars for doing,” parents are being removed from the process. Mary’s experience with the testing is all too familiar with many other parents who wish to opt out of testing for their children.
Have you tried to help your son or daughter with their homework recently? Using Mary’s analogy, it is like they are now doing their homework in Greek, when you are only conversant in Latin and Germanic languages.
If you think that home schooling gets you a pass from all of this testing, please think again. Someone who believes in conspiracies would think the government is plotting to remove us from our children’s lives completely.
Now, let’s consider the good news. A grass-roots effort across the country is working to get the Common Core mess repealed and replaced in their respective states. There are many states that have realized their errors and have reversed course to remove the standards and return to a more sensible and effective way of educating their children.
Here in our state, the North Carolina Academic Freedom Alliance is developing a five-year strategic plan for removing Common Core and replacing it with a much better approach. The North Carolina Plan is a critical thinking-based set of standards that fosters reading and writing across the curriculum and all grades.
It is based on a set of standards that are the “best of the best”, using the strongest and most effective standards from around the country and the world as a framework. While the children come first in our strategy, teachers are also given a great deal of our attention.
Our Plan advocates better teacher training and preparation in order to properly teach critical thinking as well as using their subject matter expertise. One of our biggest goals is to convince the General Assembly to reinstate teachers’ in-service training days so that they may attend workshops, conferences, and the like to receive this training.
Teachers are the best, and most effective, agents in bringing positive change to the classroom. We firmly believe that a stronger set of standards and a better trained cadre of teachers can lift the learning levels of our students dramatically.
When the standards used for our framework were in place (and some still are, those states having refused Common Core-see Minnesota Math) have been used pre-Common Core, students in those programs led the nation and the world in scoring. Why were they not promulgated, instead of something far less effective and costly?
Finally, parents will be able to once more help their children with homework and see their constitutional responsibilities restored. They will be once more responsible for their children’s education.
Testing would be less intrusive and more localized, used by teachers to evaluate their students, not for the government to use in a “global” marketplace.
Please contact your local Representatives and Senators and ask them to repeal Common Core and to support The North Carolina Plan, an in-state plan for North Carolina students, teachers, and parents.
Development Lead, The North Carolina Plan
North Carolina Academic Freedom Alliance