Archives for category: Honor Roll

Representative Jimmie Don Aycock, the chair of the Public Education Committee, declared that the House would allocate $3 billion to public schools. In the past, the legislature has waited for the courts to order them to increase funding.

Jimmie Don Aycock is a Republican from Killeen. He is a hero to more than 5 million public school children in the great state of Texas. I humbly add him to the honor roll of this blog.

“The announcement also could signal a major fight with the Texas Senate, where budget writers have decided they don’t want to spend nearly as much on public schools.

“Texas still is battling a 2011 lawsuit filed by more than 600 school districts — including those in Austin, Pflugerville and Hutto — after state lawmakers made deep cuts to public education to balance a budget shortfall.

“Travis County state District Court Judge John Dietz — who presided over a similar challenge a decade ago — sided with districts yet again last August, saying the school finance system was inadequate, inefficient and imposed an illegal statewide property tax.

“Then-Attorney General Greg Abbott appealed the ruling directly to the state Supreme Court, which announced in late January it would hear the state’s appeal. But a ruling is not expected before the end of the 140-day session, leaving it up to lawmakers to decide what to do with school finance in the meantime.

“Aycock said Wednesday that an informal group of House lawmakers that had been meeting before and during this year’s legislative session, which began in January, first thought that they would wait until the high court rules, but have since had a change of heart — and hope the Texas Senate goes along.

“The Central Texas lawmaker said the decision came down to a fundamental question of “Do you try to do what’s right for children in the state of Texas or do you try to outguess the lawyers?”

Ohio seems to have an amazing number of district superintendents with integrity, unafraid to speak up. Superintendent Steve Kramer of the Madeira City schools wrote an open letter to the state superintendent Richard Ross, describing the unnecessary burden of testing.

For standing up for students, I name Steve Kramer to the honor roll.

He writes:

Dr. Richard Ross, Superintendent Ohio Department of Education
25 South Front Street
Columbus, OH 43215-4183

Dear Dr. Ross:

This week the Madeira City School District joined districts across the state and nation in implementing the new PARCC and AIR state-mandated testing. After witnessing the monumental amount of time and resources our faculty, staff and administrators have spent in preparing for, and now executing these tests, I am profoundly concerned that they are neither relevant nor important to the high quality instruction Madeira City Schools has been proud to provide for over 80 years.

State and federal legislation regarding high stakes testing has been enacted with little or no regard to best educational practice. Public school districts have been given no option but to administer the tests as mandated by law. And yet, many of our parents are now seeing first hand the amount of time that these tests are taking and questioning the overall value of their results. I would tend to agree with them.

The Madeira City Schools Board of Education and I have discussed these concerns at great length. While everyone can agree that school districts should have some measure of accountability to its taxpayers, I would argue that when those measures impact an organization’s ability to accomplish its core mission, assessment in the name of accountability has gone too far. This is certainly the case in our K-12 public schools. I urge you as an educational leader in this state to advocate for reducing the amount of state mandated testing and demand a more common sense approach that balances the needs of what we know about our students with how they learn. In Madeira, we are about kids and high quality teaching and learning, not testing.

Three clear recommendations have been talked about amongst my colleagues that I would like you to consider:

1. Continue to review the state mandated test schedule and advocate for reducing the amount of testing to one content area per grade level, per school year, starting no sooner than the third grade.

2. In your review of testing, stay focused on the state mandated tests and not on limiting the amount of diagnostic or meaningful formative assessments that actually help teachers in guiding instruction. The survey you
recently sent out neglected to focus on the state mandated tests.

3. As more mandates are discussed and debated amongst the politicians in Columbus, I urge you to support your
colleagues in the field and stand up for public education and against the misguided policies of lawmakers. Insist that lawmakers and the Ohio Department of Education involve local school leaders on any educational changes PRIOR to implementing new laws. The students of Ohio demand nothing less from the state superintendent of public instruction. Students and valuable instructional time are at risk when we chase practices that are not research-based or for that matter, are contrary to what educational research would say is effective.

I have been meeting the past few months with area superintendents and board members from southwest Ohio about how we can work together to effect change and return local control back to our communities. To that end, parents and community members of Madeira will be asked to join me in sharing their views with our elected officials on state and federally mandated testing as well as other significant issues related to our loss of local control.


Steve Kramer Superintendent Madeira City Schools

Senator Bill Seitz
Representative Jonathan Dever
Ohio School Board Representative Pat Bruns, District 4


Bill Ashton, an English teacher at Jacqueline M. Walsh High School in Pawtucket (RI), has been suspended for telling students about “OPT-Out” and other aspects of the Common Core-inspired PAARC test. The students and many parents in the school are protesting his suspension.

Students of Mr. Ashton have created a Facebook page to demand his return. It is called BRING BACK MR. ASHTON.

This is a time for truth and courage. Mr. Ashton joins our honor roll for living in truth.

The Network for Public Education released a statement supporting students, teachers, and administrators who opt out or support it.

Art Tate, the superintendent of Davenport, Iowa, public schools announced at a school board meeting that he was going to break the law by spending more money for his students than state law allows. He said the district has ample reserves to pay for the additional spending. The Legislature imposed a formula that gives Davenport schools less than 170 other districts. Two-thirds of the students in the district are eligible for free or reduced price lunch. Art Tate joins the honor roll of this blog for his courage and readiness to take a stand on behalf of students.


Davenport schools Superintendent Art Tate Monday said he intends to “violate state law” and use more money than the state of Iowa has authorized.


The move will stave off budget cuts that Tate and the board had been discussing for months.


“I am taking this action after careful consideration and understanding the possible personal consequence,” Tate said. “I take full and sole responsibility for the violation of state law.


“With this action, I am following the example of our state Legislature, which has ignored the law this year by not providing districts with the state supplemental aid amount by Feb. 12, 2015.”


Tate’s address to the board and the audience was greeted with thunderous applause and a standing ovation.


Tate said a legislative forum on Saturday, when he saw some of his students wearing T-shirts that said “I’m Worth-Less,” influenced his decision.


Three students wore those T-shirts to the Monday board meeting and spoke about the inequity of the state funding system for education.


“We won’t stand for our schools being underfunded,” North High School student Anthony DeSalvo said. “We won’t stand for inequality. Our students are not worth less than anyone else.”


All three students briefly stood behind Tate during the board meeting.


The forum, Tate said, made him realize his personal responsibility as the district leader to take action. The students’ T-shirts, he said, are literally correct….


Earlier, Tate had planned for the district to slash $3.5 million from the general fund budget for the 2015-16 school year and $5 million from the next year’s budget.
Several board members spoke in support of Tate.
“I think it’s criminal that we’re put in this position and that our children are made to wear shirts that say ‘I’m Worth-Less,'” said board member Jamie Snyder. “What investment does the state of Iowa think is more important than our children?”
“I applaud you, Dr. Tate,” said board member Ken Krumwiede, who also attended the Saturday forum. He said he was disappointed in the legislators who were there. “I hope you’re all listening out there … you need to contact your legislators to get things changed in Des Moines.”
Board Vice President Rich Clewell said, to much laughter, that he felt like he had “walked out of a board meeting and into a Baptist revival.”
“Although the cost of education might be high, what is the cost of ignorance?” Clewell asked.
Tate said he will make budget cuts with early retirement, utility savings through an energy conservation program, moving maintenance contracts from the general fund to the management fund and curtailing professional development during the school day, amounting to $1.4 million in savings.
“I will be asking no other reductions to programs and personnel, and most notably, I will not be increasing class size in order to reduce teacher positions,” he said.
Tate said he intends to use up to $1 million to support new programs to reduce the achievement gap, to “fight the effects of poverty, and to address diversion programs needed to turn around our out-of-school suspension numbers.”



I am pleased to add Superintendent Greg Power to the honor roll. He spoke up to those in power in Ohio, bluntly castigating them for the “assessment madness” that is ruining education. His statement was posted online by the Ohio Coalition for Equity and Adequacy.


Bill Phillis of the Coalition writes:


“The email from Greg Power (posted below) to State Superintendent Dr. Ross expresses the viewpoint of a lot of school administrators and teachers throughout the state and nation. As the Governor and 131st General Assembly gear up to unleash more K-12 public education legislation, other public school personnel may wish to weigh in on policy matters that relate to the education of Ohio’s children.”



Dear Superintendent Ross:


I write from the field to provide feedback regarding the ongoing drive by our state and federal governments to make public education “accountable.” As an advocate for the children of the Little Miami Learning Community, I can no longer remain silent regarding the legislated testing and assessment madness that has been thrust upon our schools. What has been occurring over the last several years and what is about to be unleashed upon our students and staff is nothing short of government malpractice. In fact, I believe the following quote from the 1983 A Nation at Risk is most applicable to what is being done to public education: “If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war.” Simply replace the phrase “unfriendly power” and insert our “state and federal governments.” In essence, the narrow assessment frenzy is moving us toward achieving the mediocrity referenced in the above quote.


In the name of “accountability” the new, different, and increased high-stakes assessments are in fact driving our learning environments to become so narrowly focused that the state and federal governments are creating a generation of stressed and bewildered test takers. What is being done to our children does not place their needs in proper perspective, nor does it properly support the efforts of our teachers with our children. Our schools cannot create successful, well-rounded students when there is such an overemphasis on high-stakes assessments. I would hope that it is not public education’s goal to create adults who perform well on high stakes tests, but rather adults who are good citizens with the requisite skills necessary to be economically successful citizens. Do employers require their employees to take annual high-stakes assessments on the job? What is going on now is wrong!


Recently, you made some recommendations to reduce and modify assessments and indicated this will require changes in the law. However, it appears that the “fix” will be to legislate a limit, resulting in local districts doing away with meaningful assessments that support the specific learning needs of students while maintaining the high-stakes state assessments. My district uses student assessments to progress monitor so we can ensure each student is progressing with appropriate supports and interventions. I would hate to see this go away because of a state mandated time limit on assessments. There are assessment frameworks available which provide both progress monitoring for formative instruction as well as providing summative student data which shows growth over time. Wouldn’t it be wonderful for the state to adopt such a framework absent the current high stakes framework?


As we prepare for the state-wide infrastructure test this Thursday and for the first of two twenty-day test windows beginning in February, our curriculum director, special education director, EMIS coordinator, technology director, principals, assistant principals and teachers are being required to abandon their primary functional roles to prepare for these assessments. These staff members have spent countless hours and will continue to spend countless hours in these preparation activities as we continue to receive ever changing protocol guidance that often contradicts and causes follow-on support requests from your Ohio Department of Education offices. Departmental guidance has certainly been untimely, ever changing, and at certain points unknowable. I believe the unrealistically legislated timelines of implementation for all of these changes cause even more concern. Why would anyone create such a set of circumstances? We certainly will be seeing the “fruits” of this legislative wisdom coming to full fruition in the coming months.


Of added note, our district continues to incur added expenses as we work to meet all of the requirements needed to support this mandated testing without the benefit of any added financial support from the state or federal levels. Our district has spent and will continue to spend dollars on technology to support the online components of this testing, and will most likely add staff to support this assessment framework. The costs associated with all of this are being borne in large part by the local tax payers. These dollars are better spent on other needs to support our students and their learning needs.


A guideline limitation of 6%-10% has been placed on the number of students who can utilize the “read aloud” accommodation on the ELA portion of the state assessment. We have been in contact with the Ohio Department of Education Office of Exceptional Children and have discussed our concern with this limitation at length. We do not wish to be out of compliance with the federal IDEA requirements related to our students who possess an IEP. We have been informed by your department that if we cannot attain the 6%-10% limitation on the “read aloud” accommodation, our test results above this threshold may be invalidated. After having been informed last November that districts needed to work toward this 6%-10% guideline threshold (not achieve it) we now receive ODE guidance that we must be at or below this threshold. All of this just days before the first test. Our district will endeavor to do what is right for our kids and provide the “read aloud” accommodation as verified by our teams. We will do this irrespective of what appears to us to be the arbitrary 6%-10% limitation.


Each community should have the kinds of schools it desires. We believe very strongly in local community control. My district, like many across the state, has been blessed with great kids, families, and staff. Little Miami is a great community where all of our stakeholders work toward supporting each child. In the current context of what has been legislated and mandated, continuing with measuring, assessing, quantifying, and grading our kids, staff, and schools does not provide the supports necessary for each child to succeed. In fact, the current state and federal approach hinders our schools from being able to do so. There is growing displeasure and mistrust of all that is being done to public education in the name of accountability. Please work with us to stop this madness.


Best regards,



Greg Power, Lt. Col. USAF Retired
Little Miami Local Schools

Troy LaRaviere is a champion of children and a champion of public education. He is the principal of Blaine Elementary School in Chicago and president of the Chicago principals’ association. He has spoken out strongly against Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s anti-public school agenda. He created a four-and-a-half minute video for the Chuy Garcia campaign where he says, “Of the 50 highest-performing schools in Chicago, all 50 are public schools that were here before he [Rahm Emanuel] arrived….Of the 20 lowest-performing schools in Chicago, 13 of them – over half – are turnaround and charter schools, which are cornerstones of the Rahm Emanuel education reform agenda.”


And now, in a letter to the parents of his school, he has advised them that they have his permission to opt out of PARCC testing. He even said that he planned to opt his own son out of PARCC next year when he is in third grade. He calls for all parents in Chicago, in Illinois, and in America to opt out. He definitely belongs on this blog’s honor roll!


The PTA of Blaine sent letters to parents encouraging them to opt out of the tests. Remember that teachers and parents were told by the city superintendent that the schools were not ready for the PARCC test, and that it would be given to only 10% of students. A few days ago, the city caved in to the state and federal government’s demand that it give the test to all students or the state would lose $1.3 billion in funding. It was undoubtedly an empty threat; Mayor Emanuel could have called either his friend Governor Rauner or his friend Arne Duncan and persuaded them to back off but he did not. So with only a few days notice, the children are expected to take a test for which neither they nor their teachers are prepared.


Principal LaRaviere wrote to his parents as follows:


I am writing to make it clear that the Blaine administration fully supports the PTA’s effort to maximize Blaine students’ instructional time. As a result we will respect and honor all parent requests to opt-out their students from the PARCC. Students whose parents opt them out will receive a full day of instruction. Teachers are developing plans that will provide enriched learning experiences for non-testing students during the testing window. I want to clearly state that whether you opt-out or not, Blaine’s administration and teachers will respect and support your wishes for your child…..


Opting out will not affect your child’s promotion and selective enrollment status for Fall 2015. There is also a belief that opting out will affect Blaine’s funding. There is no evidence for this belief. In fact, the test itself is decreasing resources that could have otherwise been targeted for school improvement. Each year, states and school districts spend billions of dollars on testing, while at the same time cutting budgets for instruction and learning. Our PTA believes it is time for parents to say “enough.” For more on the issue of funding, please see the statement released by the parent education advocacy organization, More Than a Score, at the following link:


For more on the PTA’s opt-out initiative, please see


In closing, our PTA’s focus on teaching your children rather than over-testing them is commendable, and we applaud their efforts on behalf of Blaine students.


Very Respectfully,


Troy LaRaviere, Principal


But then, READ THIS!


Since releasing the above letter, I’ve been asked questions like, “Since the PARCC might count for something next year, do you think the kids should just take it this year so they can get used to it?” My response is as follows: If the schools announced that next year they were going expose your children to exhaust fumes for five minutes per day, would you be resigned to that inevitability and submit your child, starting his or her exposure this year so he or she can “get used to it”? That analogy may seem harsh and over-the-top, but it is my lived experience that this massive over-testing has been as toxic to education in Chicago as breathing exhaust fumes would be to a living organism. Over-testing–and the punitive measures that have come with it–has narrowed our curriculum; it has led to massive cheating scandals across the country; it has led to the shutting down of good schools in low-income neighborhoods; and it has led to a reduction in practices that would actually improve schools, like collaboration and increased professional development time.


Over-testing has also given politicians a way to blame public schools for things that are clearly a result of the actions and inactions of the failed politicians themselves. When students in a low-income neighborhood show up on day-one of kindergarten three years behind their counterparts in a high-income community, that is not the result of the failure of public schools; it is the result of failed public policies; it is a result of a political system that has failed to deliver critical human services to the people who need them most. From Rahm Emanuel to most local aldermen, our city’s politicians have failed low-income children from conception to kindergarten, and they use attainment based test scores to chastise public schools for picking up the pieces of their monumental failures.


So no. We don’t need to get used to this. We need to stop this.


My son is in second grade. Next year he will be among thousands of 3rd graders who are scheduled to take the PARCC for the first time. He will not take it. He will not take it in 3rd grade to get used to it by 4th grade; and he will not take it in 4th grade to get used to it by 5th grade.


We do not want our children–or our schools in general–to continue to have to get used to unproven backward education policy ideas like the theory that testing our children is going to somehow magically improve our education system. It’s time to end the PARCC; not just opt-out of it. It’s time to implement real evidence-based strategies for enhancing our education system. We’ve been blindly following the testing theory for 14 years now. The No Child Left Behind law launched this era of testing and accountability in 2001. Remember? The massive testing and accountability the law called for was supposed to lead to 100% of children meeting standards by 2014. Those years have come and gone with no appreciable difference in outcomes for our children. Testing and accountability did not work in the last 14 years and it won’t work in the next 14. It’s time to call a failure, a failure.


Let’s all say it together:


“The theory of testing and accountability has failed our children.”


Opt Out Chicago.


Opt Out Illinois.


Opt Out America.









Fox News reported that an eighth grade student was suspended in New Mexico for telling her classmates about their right to opt out. She found the forms for opting out on her own school’s website. The Santa Fe school district reiterated that students have the right to opt out. Yet she was suspended for doing what everyone seemed to agree was legal and right. For her common sense and courage, I place Adelina Silva on the blog’s honor roll. Not only did she do the right thing, she said she would do it again.



12-year-old Adelina Silva printed out the forms from her own school’s website and was rewarded with a trip to the principal’s office.


Adelina and her mother, Jacqueline Ellvinger, appeared on “Fox and Friends” this morning to explain what happened and why Adelina was punished.


“I wanted the parents to know that they had the option to let the student either take the test or not,” Adelina said.


“I was sent to the principal’s office for an hour and 20 minutes and then at the end of the day she ended up suspending me.”


The school district released a statement, saying, “Santa Fe Public Schools supports a parent’s right to opt his or her child out of state-mandated standardized testing … no students in the district have been disciplined for supporting or promoting this district policy of a parent’s right to opt their child out of testing.”


Ellvinger said her daughter’s rights were violated even though she didn’t do anything wrong.


“She did absolutely nothing wrong and yet they are making her feel like she did,” Ellvinger said, adding that she’s “furious” and has spoken to the state’s senators.


Despite the negative reaction from the school, Adelina said she would do the same thing again.

This statement appeared on the blog of the Ohio Equity and Adequacy Coalition. I gladly add Tom Dunn to the honor roll for speaking out when the state is going in the wrong direction.

Another superintendent distressed by Ohio’s testing rage

Tom Dunn’s column in the February 22 The Troy Daily News should be requires reading for state officials.

How much of a bad thing is a good thing?

by Tom Dunn
Contributing Columnist

I have long contended that there hasn’t been an intelligent discussion held about public education in the Ohio legislature in years, and I have written more than fifty articles highlighting the many indefensible mandates lawmakers have enacted proving that to be true.

The recent hearings held by the Senate Education Committee on whether or not schools are testing their students too much (we are) and what to do about it is a perfect illustration of just how worthless political dialogue is. If their discussions weren’t so tragic they would be comical.

Before I go any further, let me say that there is no debating that properly used student assessments, otherwise known as tests, are a staple in an excellent classroom. Assessments, particularly those implemented in a way that provides immediate feedback, can help drive instruction, because the results can clearly show the teacher what his or her students know and don’t know. That teacher can then use this information to develop follow-up lessons to address those weaknesses … and kids actually learn what they didn’t know before.

There is also no debating that there are too many state-mandated tests, that the results from these tests are constantly used inappropriately, that the results, even if meaningful, are so long in coming back to schools that they lose their worth, and that this inappropriate use is dictated by lawmakers who apparently don’t know the first thing about how students are educated or how to use test data appropriately. Worse, they apparently don’t want to learn given the fact that there is plenty of scientific research that refutes their claim that student test results should be used to evaluate teachers, schools, and districts.

But something interesting has happened over the last few weeks that has given some lawmakers reason to reconsider their position on the testing epidemic, and I suspect it was the growing outcry they were hearing from parents who have finally had enough of their children being treated like human guinea pigs to satisfy political agendas. As a result of this push-back against excessive testing, State Superintendent Richard Ross was charged with researching if, indeed, we are testing students too much. Dr. Ross, after hours and hours of research, discovered what he should have known without doing any research at all; that being that, by golly, we are testing students too much. Nowhere in his report does he even so much as acknowledge the misuse of test data, which should be the crux of the discussion. But, true to their superficial view on education, politicians were focused on testing time, not testing effectiveness. So, instead of trying to engage them in meaningful dialogue, that is exactly what Dr. Ross gave them. God forbid he would try to engage them in meaningful dialogue about teaching and learning.

His stunning discovery resulted in legislative hearings where the folks who have created this mess listened with furrowed brows as superintendents from around the state trekked to Columbus to provide input on just how this dastardly problem could be properly addressed. And, this is where it gets really good.

Instead of focusing on something meaningful like the hours and hours of instructional time lost to testing, the unnecessary stress these tests place upon students, the fact that performance on a single test does not necessarily equate to future success or lack thereof, the narrow view of education these tests provide, and the rampant misuse of the data gathered from them, lawmakers focused on how we can reduce the time we spend assessing students and how much is too much.

In other words, they apparently feel that spending less time doing a bad thing rather than eliminating the bad thing altogether is real progress. As a result of this superficial view of life, they ignore the real issues that need addressed.

Isn’t it amazing that in the eyes of our policy makers that doing something that is wrong less often than we did it before is the blueprint for excellence? Do we need any more proof that they must be removed from all discussions on education if we ever hope to have meaningful conversations about what is best for our children?

Tom Dunn is the superintendent of the Miami County Educational Service Center.

William Phillis
Ohio E & A

Ohio E & A | 100 S. 3rd Street | Columbus | OH | 43215

Rocky Killion is an amazing superintendent in West Lafayette, Indiana. To begin with, he produced a wonderful documentary about the assault on public education, called “Rise Above the Mark.” You can go to the website to find out how to order a copy to show in your community (it is also for sale on He is very critical of the testing-gone-wild culture that has been foisted on public schools in Indiana and across the nation. He is very sensitive to the damage done to education, to children, and to teachers. His colleagues named him Indiana’s Superintendent of the Year for 2015.


Now he is furious because the computers that give the state test–the ISTEP–froze during a practice run. That was just too much.


“It’s inhumane what we are doing to the kids, what we are doing to the educational environment, we lost so much instructional time today, it’s ridiculous,” Killion told WTHR-TV in Indianapolis on Feb. 12, after computers froze during a dry run for ISTEP last week.


The Superintendent of the Year for 2015, as named by the Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents, followed it with this: “I would prefer all of my students’ parents withdraw and become home-schooled during ISTEP, and then we can re-enroll them…..


Killion wasn’t backing away this week.

He repeated the same advice Monday during a visit to West Side schools from Glenda Ritz, Indiana’s superintendent of public instruction. (Ritz didn’t jump on board, instead calling on parents get their kids ready for ISTEP days.)

And on Tuesday, Killion clarified the statement, saying he wasn’t necessarily advocating the withdraw/home-school/re-enroll plan.

“Since there’s no legislative mechanism, that’s the only opt-out workaround that I know to tell parents,” Killion said. “Typically, when I’m asked a question, I try to come up with the correct answer, and that’s what’s happened in this case.”


The journalist writing the column is critical of Killion and so is this legislator:


State Sen. Brandt Hershman, R-Buck Creek, wasn’t pleased to hear a superintendent “encouraging people to willfully thwart (the) system.”


“It’s just the latest episode in his series of irresponsible and provocative comments that bear little to no relevance to the school system he’s supposed to be leading,” Hershman said Tuesday, a day when the Senate was dealing with a bill that would strip some of Ritz’s authority and a resolution to shorten ISTEP that had doubled in length since last year.


“I think we test too much, and the ISTEP is not perfect, but testing is required under federal and state law,” Hershman said. “His comments represent a flawed example of leadership in education policy.”


Killion’s answer: “The only thing I’ve said is what I said in the interview when a reporter asked me how can parents opt out of ISTEP. That’s the only thing I’ve done.”


Martin Luther King, Jr., said: “One has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.” 


Welcome to the honor roll, Rocky Killion!







Mark Neal, superintendent of the Tri-Valley Local Schools in Ohio, wrote a sharply worded statement about parents’ right to opt their child out of testing.


When parents asked if they had the right to opt out, he responded with this advice:


While I am not (and never have been) an advocate of the PARCC Testing, Ohio got into this testing debacle with little to no input from local school officials. Therefore, I feel no responsibility to stick my neck out for the Department of Education by defending their decisions. What’s happening now, in my opinion, is that parents have figured out what is being forced upon their children, and the proverbial rubber… is beginning to meet the road. However, it is not our goal to discourage nor undermine the laws of our governing body.


Therefore, our position as a school district is that we do not discourage nor encourage a parent’s decision to opt out their child. We must respect parental rights at all costs. This is the very reason I advocate for local control. Our own Tri-Valley Board of Education is in a much better position to make sound decisions for the families of our school district, than are the bureaucrats in Columbus and Washington. I say that with no disrespect toward our own legislators, whom have worked diligently behind the scenes to address the over-testing issue. The unfortunate reality is that the parents who have contacted the school district up to this point, are the parents of high achieving students who undoubtedly would do well on these assessments. We will effectively be rating school districts and individual teachers based on test scores that do not include many of their highest achieving students….


I am quite confident that reason will ultimately prevail. In the meantime, we will respect the rights of our parents to make the best decisions for their children while simultaneously following the laws and policies of the Ohio Department of Education.


For defending common sense and speaking plainly to his community, I place Mark Neal on the honor roll of the blog as a champion of American public education.


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