Our Response to KDE and Holliday’s Threats on Opting Out of High Stakes Testing


The mission of Kentuckians Against Common Core is clear: repeal it. Those involved in the organization share this view and are working diligently toward this goal. Now parents have begun asking tough questions and demanding their constitutional rights as guardians of their children —protected under the Fourteenth Amendment— be respected and upheld with regard to their education. Unfortunately, many school administrators and Kentucky Department of Education officials view themselves as the ultimate authority over Kentucky’s kids and are often at odds with parents seeking to protect their children from inappropriate content, inferior curriculum and excessive testing. KACC is working to educate the public on what Common Core is all about, why the “opt out” movement is growing, and what is really going on in Frankfort.

“It is not our right to tell parents what to do education-wise,” said KACC’s Terry Donoghue, “and it is not up to the Kentucky Department of Education or Terry Holliday to tell them their kids have to take all those standardized tests.” Holliday, who has served as Kentucky’s education commissioner since 2009, has been under fire from anti-Common Core groups for telling parents they do not have the ability to opt their children out of state testing. Parents have been doing just that in other states, New York being a prime example. According to an April 14, 2015 article in the New York Post, “Parents across the city and state drew a thick line in the sand Tuesday, boycotting high-stakes standardized tests that they blame for unnecessary student anxiety and unfair teacher evaluations. Vowing to shatter last year’s opt-out numbers, Common Core test opponents organized a social media campaign and got the backing of the state teachers union to encourage students to put down their pencils. Anecdotal evidence suggests they succeeded. The number of students statewide who balked at taking Tuesday’s English exam for third- to eighth- graders will likely surpass last year’s 60,000.”

But in the Commonwealth the KDE continues to mandate that the testing is not optional and parents have no right to keep their children from participating. “This whole thing is about money,” said Donoghue. Kentucky was the first state to sign-on to the so-called standards, and in doing so became eligible for federal grant money as part of the “Race to the Top” program. From the feds to Pearson Education, who handles the KPREP testing, to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, who have contributed extensive grant money, millions of dollars have been poured into Common Core as a means to undermine individual state authority—guaranteed under the Tenth Amendment—to oversee the education of our children. “We went to Louisville to protest Common Core for Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s visit. Terry Holliday ran away, but Duncan talked with us briefly. Nothing new, just the same old stuff. I wanted to ask Holliday if it hadn’t been for the money, would we have Common Core?” Donoghue reflected on the untested, unproven “standards” adding, “Even Holliday has said we are over-testing, but keeps supporting it. And Bill Gates said it might be ten years before we know if it works. Ten years? How can we do that to our kids?”

Beyond the unseemly money-for-goods angle, there is another aspect to Common Core that goes against the very fabric of our Constitution and the liberty it provides our citizens. The whole premise of CC is to create a cookie cutter, federally funded, top-down education system that necessarily diminishes parental involvement and allows control and power to operate via political ideological fiat. This is at best grievous, at worst intolerable. Concerned parent Carrie Cox recently sent a letter to Todd Allen, Assistant General Counsel at the Kentucky Department of Education, expressing great uneasiness with the attitude of the KDE with regard to parental rights, and the very real risk some of their Common Core dealings may pose to Kentucky’s military families. In her press release Cox stated “Allen argued that a parents 14th Amendment rights are limited to their choice of public or private education. Staunch opponents of this view hold that the Due Process clause of the 14th amendment has been upheld multiple times by the Supreme Court with the understanding that the child is the property of the parent, not the property of the state. That argument aside, some military families are objecting on the grounds that Pearson Education, who currently holds the contract for the KPREP testing has ties to terrorist organizations. When asked about their ties to terrorist; Pearson Education’s spokesperson, Chief Executive Officer, Marjorie Scardino said, “We did meet with one of their financial representatives, a European….We are a public company in a free market and we don’t choose our shareholders they choose us. The basic premise is, this is one of those glitches in the free market system. Unfortunately we can’t tell a share holder to get off our register.” (http://www.theguardian.com/media/2011/feb/28/libya-pearson-financial-times)

But we can tell Pearson to get out of our state. “Our long-range goal is to get rid of Common Core and the excessive testing,” said Donoghue. And at the center of that fight are Kentucky’s parents. KACC is not in the business of telling anyone what to do when it comes to the education of their children, as we firmly believe that inherent and constitutional right belongs solely to the parents. But we are in the business of educating the public on what is happening with Common Core and providing information for individuals interested in taking up the fight. Below are links to both the KACC web page and the United Opt out Movement. Learn all you can, and decide for yourself what will be the next best step.



I am a firm believer in education for my children but I am very concerned that my child is being punished for being 5 minutes late to one of these tests. Something that was beyond his control. And also something that the parents were unaware of as well. I don’t feel this is right and sends our children the wrong message when it comes to these tests.

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