The desire to provide our children with the best possible education is universal. Even those who have no kids or whose children are long grown understand the importance of fostering a top-notch educational system that produces intelligent, well-rounded young men and woman who possess the skills and knowledge to achieve their dreams and contribute to society. However, this desire is currently being hindered by a cabal of special interest “education” groups whose intentions lie in data gathering, testing for profit and drifting as far as possible away from the foundational principles of American education. Excessive standardized testing—the love child of Common Core and big business—is strangling creativity, hobbling teachers and sending some students straight to the nurse’s office with stress-induced symptoms. One Kentucky mother is fighting back by opting her sons out of the endless testing cycle and reestablishing the parent as the true steward of their children’s education.
Mason County mother of two Laura Arrasmith, knew something was up when her son was brought to tears every night by his homework. “Last year when we started crying every night at 4th grade math I knew something was wrong,” said Arrasmith. “It wasn’t being taught the way I was taught. The teacher said his hands were tied. He had to teach it the way the standards presented it.” This inflexibility led her to books, the internet and the local chapter of Kentuckians Against Common Core (http://www.kentuckiansagainstcommoncore.com/) where she learned all about the system and its inherent testing. From there, she began questioning her kids’ school on what options were available to parents who did not want their child tested. “I emailed my principal and started asking questions,” she said. “I am the first parent in my district to even ask about opting out.”
Arrasmith was entering uncharted territory and had no baseline from which to begin. Her options were to have her kids simply leave the test blank, or keep them home on testing days. Because so many days are set aside for testing, however, the latter choice would lead to 20 or more “unexcused” absences. Also, if her sons attend on testing days but do not answer the questions, they are automatically tagged as low achievers. “If a child doesn’t test, they receive a ‘novice’ score, according to my district, which is the worst score, and that will appear on their record,” said Arrasmith. “I take issue with that. It should read ‘opted out’ rather than a made-up score.”
Arrasmith turned to the site http://unitedoptout.com/ to learn more about the process and access the current opt-out forms. Nothing is clear-cut about opting our students out of standardized testing, and many states, Kentucky included, are dealing with the situation on a case by case basis. The consequences for opting a student out are vague, and official exemptions seem reserved only for extreme cases. But if things are going to change in the Bluegrass parents need to step-up, speak-up, and demand that their children not be reduced to a collection of data that amounts to little more than fodder for profit. Arrasmith sums up her frustration, the need for action and the unfortunate truth behind Common Core. “I joined a committee at school that reviews the KPREP score card provided by the Department of Education. I did it so I could learn more and saw that it’s all a numbers game. It all boils down to money in the end—money the government dangles like a carrot in front of states. Money that greedy law makers jump to grab without considering what the consequences are to our children. These tests don’t determine a child’s progress as much as they tell the Department of Education everything under the sun about our family.”
Visit http://www.kentuckiansagainstcommoncore.com/ and http://unitedoptout.com/ Also checkout Laura’s Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/themovetooptoutmaysvilleky/posts/712032858894251?notif_t=notify_me to learn more about Common Core, standardized testing, and exercising your rights as concerned parents and tax-paying citizens, and say no to big business testing.