Two mothers in Minnesota have written opinion letters which claim teachers promoted the parental right of opting out of the state standardized tests directly to students. While doing so, teachers allegedly warned the students that school lessons (government services) would be missed if they didn’t opt out. If the allegations are true, the Minnesota parental right to chose to refuse does not seem to be a true right or a choice in any sense.
Here are the quotes-
Beth Hawkins – “Test anxiety: Is it the kids or the teachers who are driving opt-outs?” Minn Post 03/19/15
“Last Thursday my son, who is typically a reliable narrator, came home from Southwest High School with what I initially imagined was a tall tale. He told me I’d be getting an emailed version of the form Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) asks parents who object to the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCAs) to sign. I should agree to exempt him, he explained, because teachers were warning kids that anyone who took the annual state proficiency exams would miss a lesson that would be delivered at that time and would thus risk falling behind. His friends were either asking their parents to sign or forging their signatures.”
Lynnell Mickelsen – “6 thoughts about the opt-out movement -Are Teachers Trying To Dump The Evidence?” Star Tribune 03/23/15
“According to the girl, her 10th-grade English teacher had handed out the forms to everyone in class and had urged them to get their parents to sign it. The teacher said that if enough students opted out of the Minnesota Comprehensive Exams, eventually the state would stop giving them. He also said he’d conduct regular classes for everyone opting out, leaving the impression that those who took the test would fall behind.””
In prior articles we suggested that allowing teachers to directly promote test refusals was a conflict of interest that would inadvertently produce an atmosphere of fear, coercion or worse. The allegations above seem to depict all three and a very poor solution that results in no teacher accountability or observance of parental rights.
Thankfully there are other organizations that are on the right track. For example, the Delaware PTA is at least mindful of the possibility of fear and intimidation occurring and the largest teachers union in NY (NYSUT) has advised their members that talking directly to students/parents may have legal problems. For now, these solutions seem to be the best that parents, professionals and the taxpayer can hope for in order to avoid Minnesota’s “wild west” approach.
In conclusion and once again… refusing the state tests should remain a personal choice and right without influence from teachers and administrators who have a vested interest in the results.