Standardized testing opponents call for National Opt Out Day 1 - Florida Independent

Pic by sebrenner, via Flickr

Public school advocates who oppose mandatory standardized testing to determine teacher salaries and state and federal funding for public schools have called for a National Opt Out Day.

United Opt Out National

has declared January 7th as National Opt Out Day. On this day we are encouraging Occupy movements everywhere to endorse this action. We are asking parents, students and community members to write letters/postcards to their school districts stating how they will OPT OUT.

United Opt Out adds: “Members of this site are parents, educators, students and social activists who are dedicated to the elimination of high stakes testing in public education.”

High stakes testing, or standardized testing, is a strategy of the national movement to change public schools, a movement that has implemented publicly funded, privately run charter schools and merit pay for teachers.

The No Child Left Behind Act signed into law in January 2002 by George W. Bush and supported by the Obama administration mandated standardized testing that evaluates teachers by score results. In late 2011, the Obama administration offered states “waivers from the most onerous requirements of No Child Left Behind.”

The Washington Post reports today: “The battles over education policy that marked 2011 will continue, ever more heated, in the new year. As a starting point, and in honor of this Sunday’s 10th anniversary of the day when president George W. Bush signed No Child Left Behind into law, here is a speech written by education historian Diane Ravitch that addresses what is really at stake in the fight over how to fix troubled public schools.”

Ravitch, who supported testing and now opposes the reform movement led by conservatives like former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, said in July that test scores in U.S. schools with less than 10 percent poverty rank No. 1 in the world and schools with less than 25 percent poverty achieve test scores that equal Finland and Korea, considered education world leaders.

Students First, which supports standardized testing, writes that “Florida passed sweeping education reform legislation” in 2011 “that takes huge strides in ensuring that every Florida student has access to a great teacher and a great school.”

Students First — led by Gov. Rick Scott advisor Michelle Rhee, supports school choice, charter schools and standardized testing — adds: “The Student Success Act reforms teacher tenure, saves great teachers even in the face of layoffs, and raises effective teachers’ salaries. Other reforms empower parents through providing them with real information and better options so they can make the right education choices for their children.”

In August, Scott said at a gathering for conservative politicians and organizations that his administration has done four things in education: eliminate more teacher tenure; pay teachers based on standardized test results; support and increase charter schools (which Scott defined as public schools run by a third party); and offer scholarships.

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