• Deb Mayer

Yes Oregon, there Is a Testing Scam!

Some parents have been reporting both in Oregon and across the country that principals and teachers are trying to convince them to make sure their children take THE TEST, even after moms and dads have sent in letters excusing their kids from it. Yes parents, you do have the right to opt your child out of high stakes testing.

Image courtesy of FairTest

In 2015 Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed the Opt Out bill -- HB 2655 into law. Immediately after the bill was signed, parents in other states wished they had such a law. In the past, parents’ education rights have been protected, not by state, but by federal law.

The Supreme Court of the United States has repeatedly held that parents have the fundamental right to direct the upbringing and education of their children. For almost a century, the Supreme Court of the United States has affirmed and reaffirmed that parents are, first and foremost, in charge of the education of their children, once in 1923, again in 1925, and yet again in 1944. More recently though, courts seem more likely to rule against parents in favor of school districts. Oregon parents, choosing not to rely on federal law, instead fought for a state law, specifically granting them the right to opt their children out of high stakes tests.

Oregon parents are most likely confused about their rights because immediately after Governor Kate Brown signed the Opt Out bill into law, she said that parents shouldn’t do it – that they shouldn’t opt their children out of state tests. Brown said she wants Oregon educators to make the case to parents that taking part in state tests is valuable so that they will opt for their children to keep taking the exams. That wasn’t a good idea last year, and here’s why it’s an even worse idea today. From the Washington Post, March 16, 2016:

More than 100 education researchers in California have joined in a call for an end to high-stakes testing, saying that there is no “compelling” evidence to support the idea that the Common Core State Standards will improve the quality of education for children or close the achievement gap, and that Common Core assessments lack “validity, reliability and fairness.” Complete study here.

"More than 100 education researchers in California have joined in a call for an end to high-stakes testing."

When asked if the SBAC was a valid test in February of this year at the annual Oregon Education Association Symposium, OEA President Hanna Vaandering said, “Not yet.” It was announced at that meeting that there were problems with the test, but the test-makers had been invited back by the state to fix it. If this type of situation occurred in business or industry, the inferior quality product would be recalled.

Educators, parents, students, and politicians have known for some time that a high stakes test like the SBAC is the “gateway reform” to the corporate privatization of our public schools. Here’s how the process works:

  • students take an invalid, unreliable, unfair test (SBAC or PARCC) loosely correlated to the developmentally inappropriate, mediocre Common Core State Standards;

  • cut scores are deliberately set high enough after the test results are received to assure that the proper percentage of students fail because reformers like to collect data "proving" that students, teachers, and schools fall short of expectations;

  • teachers are evaluated (and fired) based in part on students’ test scores;

  • between 5 and 15% of schools will be labeled as failures based on test scores, and may be “turned-around,” closed, or replaced with privately owned charter schools; and

  • generously funded elected officials (think ALEC politicians) and nonprofit corporate reform groups claiming to speak for parents (think Stand for Children and Chalkboard Project) divisively manipulate state and local officials to further the interests of their wealthy funders.

Oregon has not been barraged by corporate reformers as have some other states like California and New York, but privatization predators are gaining a grip here, too. Please, parents, protest the gateway reform – resist the test! When you do, you protect your child and your public school from the corrupt corporations and the bully billionaires who want to own them. Oregon parents would be wise to join Californians in calling for an end to Common Core and high stakes tests.

Our officials have been lying to us about Common Core and the tests. Our government is being purposely opaque about its future plans for the education of our children. In almost every instance, parents have been left out of the decision-making process, and teachers have been kept in the dark.

On March 31st, Dr. David Beliner will be in Portland to talk about his book, 50 Myths and Lies that Threaten America’s Public Schools. His presentation will provide further evidence of the dangers of test-based corporate reform. The event will be held at Concordia University, Luther Hall, Room 121 at 7 P.M. The event is sponsored by Parents Across America Oregon, Portland Parent Union, and Oregon Save our Schools. Please join us. Register for a free ticket here.

#Optout #EducationReform #50Myths #DavidBerliner

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