As I mentioned recently, the number of parents who are choosing to opt their children out of the Common Core testing initiative will become a major story all over the United States. The momentum of the narrative is beginning to build as the New York Times ran a piece about how the movement is affecting towns across New Jersey titled As Common Core Testing is Ushered In, Parents and Students Opt Out:
BLOOMFIELD, N.J. — On Monday morning, a few hundred students will file into classrooms at Bloomfield Middle School, open laptops and begin a new standardized test, one mandated across New Jersey and several other states for the first time this year.
About a dozen of their classmates, however, will be elsewhere. They will sit in a nearby art room, where they will read books, do a little drawing and maybe paint.
What they will not do is take the test, because they and their parents have flatly refused.
A new wave of standardized exams, designed to assess whether students are learning in step with the Common Core standards, is sweeping the country, arriving this week in classrooms in several states and entering the cross hairs of various political movements. In New Jersey and elsewhere, the arrival has been marked with well-organized opposition, a spate of television attack ads and a cascade of parental anxiety.
Almost every state has an “opt out” movement. Its true size is hard to gauge, but the protests on Faacebook, at school board meetings and in more creative venues — including screenings of anti-testing documentaries — have caught the attention of eduction officials.
The true size will be “hard to gauge” until testing is completed. While some schools and districts will choose to massage the final statistics to hide the fact that some parents and students chose to opt-out, they will amount to far more than just a drop in the bucket.
So the new batch of tests in New Jersey, created by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, is faced with an unusually diverse list of enemies.
“There are forces united against it on the left side of the aisle and the right of the aisle,” said James Crisfield, a former superintendent of the school district in Millburn, N.J. “We’re also talking about things that are happening to one’s child. You mix that all up into a caldron and it does create some really high levels of interest, high levels of passion — and, shall we say, enthusiasm.”
New Jersey’s teachers’ union, the New Jersey Education Association, is in the midst of a six-week run of advertisements against the partnership, which features an emotional parent describing his overworked first grader, and another talking about the elimination of science classes to make way for test preparation. (Testing begins in third grade, but the union contends that schools begin grooming students for it earlier.)
“Grooming” begins in kindergarten, and thanks to the work of Jeb Bush and those of his ilk, the focus on high-stakes testing has taken much of the fun and organic learning that is supposed to take place in schools.
Speaking of Bush, another Republican presidential hopeful has distanced himself from the early favorite, and taken a public stand against the Common Core. Following the strategy of Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, Senator Ted Cruz of Florida declared that the initiative should in fact be repealed. Breitbart.com reports:
Senator Ted Cruz spoke out against Common Core during a speech to a Florida conservative organization. “We should repeal every word of Common Core,” he said. “We should get the federal government out of the business of curriculum.” This was not the first time Cruz said “no” to Common Core, but it was a great opportunity for the presidential hopeful to express his steadfast opposition to the progressive education reform movement standards. Cruz’ remarks came one day after his potential GOP presidential rival, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, endorsed Common Core.
Cruz described Common Core as “national standards being dictated from Washington” during an appearance at the influential anti-tax Club for Growth’s annual winter meeting in Palm Beach, Florida, on Friday, February 27, ABC News reported.
“There is no remedy when they are dictating what’s being taught to your kids,” said the Senator. His comments stood in stark contrast to those from Bush, who told the same group that the education goals would help more students be prepared for college or better jobs, also according to ABC News.
The newest GOP contenders are wise to let Jeb Bush hold on tightly to the widely despised federal educational initiative. While the early favorite to win the Democratic party’s nomination has enjoyed the benefits of name recognition, that may not be enough to save Bush from spoiling his own run for president.