Archives for category: Parents

This is one of the best parodies ever, using an all-purpose clip that has served many parodists in the past.

I have seen this clip used at least half a dozen times to ridicule education scams and frauds.

In this case, the clip parodies the New York State Education Department, determined to shove Common Core standards and tests down the throats of the state’s children and furious that parents are opting out.

This will give you a good laugh!

The Oregon state legislature passed a law permitting parents to opt their children out of state tests.


The state Department of Education is not happy. It sent out a form to parents interesting in opting out. Before signing the form, they must read a warning that parents will lose access to valuable information about their child and may harm their child’s school.


An article by Betsy Hammond in The Oregonian captures the parents’ reaction:


The portion of the form that has testing opponents most livid are the two sentences above the line where a parent must put their signature to get their child out of testing:


“I understand that by signing this form I may lose valuable information about how well my child is progressing in English language arts and math. In addition, opting out may impact my school and district’s efforts to equitably distribute resources and support student learning.”


Steve Buel, a Portland school board member who is a leader in the anti-testing group Oregon Save Our Schools, called the forms “maliciously misleading.”


Opt Out parents don’t like to be intimidated or condescended to.


This parent predicts:


As in other states, Oregon will start to see building principals, district administrators, superintendents stepping forward about the harmful effects of high-stakes testing. School board members, teachers, specialists, parents, and students have been speaking up, and the numbers continue to grow. ODE adding that phrase above the signature is not only misleading, it’s obnoxious, and on the wrong side of history. 


Governor Cuomo’s Common Core task force held its first meeting on Long Island–the epicenter of the Opt Out Movement–and it got an earful. Parents, teachers, even superintendents turned out to tell the task force that testing should be delinked  from teachers’ job ratings; that testing was overwhelming the school calendar; and that the Common Core should go.

Jeanette Deutermann, leader of the opt out group on Long Island, predicted that opt outs might double (from 220,000 in 2015 to 500,000 in 2016), if real changes do not happen.

The reporters pointed out that the hearing was very different from the one conducted by State Commissioner John King in 2013, when the audience was angry and rowdy, and King canceled future public meetings.

Lesson: ignoring parents makes them angry. Patronizing them and condescending to them will energize the opt outs.

PS: when I opened the article, I read it in full. When I went back to open it again, it was behind a  paywall. Hope you are lucky.

When the Indiana legislature held hearings about education, parents drove hours to testify and sat for several hours as the imported “experts” spoke. Many of the parents had to leave after waiting for five hours.

Look at what happened in Massachusetts when the Legislature held hearings about lifting the charter cap.

The politicians danced in and out; some left early. The parents waited.

The foundations testified. The parents waited.

The school committees testified. The parents waited.

The heads of charter schools testified. The parents waited.

The charter parents in their matching T-shirts testified. The parents waited.

After hours went by, and almost no one was left, the parents spoke.

Look at the photo. It tells the story.

Who owns the public schools if not the public?

Cathy Fuentes-Rower went to the Indiana legislative hearing about the teacher shortage, and she patiently waited seven hours to testify. Cathy is a parent, not a teacher. She was forced to listen to a lineup of “experts” who insisted there was not too much testing, compared to Florida; and there is no teacher shortage, because the superintendents who reported a shortage are biased, and the conservative NCTQ said the data were inconclusive.

When she finally testified, she spoke out boldly.

She said:

I am a mother of four children in public schools.

I know that my children’s learning conditions are their teachers’ working conditions.

This educational environment has become a pressure cooker for our kids and teachers because the legislature has decided that somehow educators weren’t accountable enough. The learning and teaching process has been transformed into a test-taking, data collecting nightmare to somehow prove accountability… at the root of which is an apparent deep distrust of teachers.

We’ve had standardized tests for a long time. But it is what is at stake when the kids take the test now that has transformed their experience.

In the past, standardized tests were just one aspect of an overall assessment of how our kids were doing. We trusted teachers to relay to us how our kids were learning. Now it has become the end-all be-all. If my eleven year-old doesn’t score well on a test, it could affect his teacher’s job, his school’s letter grade, the label on his district, property taxes, and the community as a whole.

This intensity of pressure comes down and lands right on the shoulders of my child.

Who stands between my child and that weight of the world? Buffering him and protecting him from this stress?

His teacher. And for teachers whose students have special needs, live in poverty, or are learning English as a new language, the pressure to perform is tremendous. The consequence is a stigmatizing F on their small heads—or in 3rd grade, flunking.

These policies are not brought about because parents clamored for them. Parents have not been begging for a better school than their neighbor’s child. They’ve been begging for a great school. Period.

Parents want equity. Instead, we get competition.

Competition involves winners and losers. No 6 year-old should be a loser when it comes to educational opportunity.

These recent changes in policy are occurring all over the country. And this is also why the teacher shortage is not unique to Indiana. Bills that have transformed our kids’ learning environment into a pressure cooker are all from the same source: ALEC (the American Legislative Exchange Council). The goal of this organization is to create more competition in education and to privatize it. There is even an Indiana Reform Package of model legislation on the ALEC website touting our reforms. Our governor has written the introduction to the ALEC report card on American Education. Many members of our education committee are or were ALEC members. In fact, you, Rep. Behning, our house education committee chair, were the ALEC chairperson for Indiana for several years.

The A-F grading of schools, teachers’ loss of voice in advocating for kids through the loss of collective bargaining, the draconian 3rd grade reading law, vouchers and charters creating a competition for funding, a developmentally inappropriate 90 minute block of literacy instruction, these are all ALEC laws. They were not backed by research of what are best practices in teaching. They were not created by teachers. Parents do not want this obsession with data.

We want funding for our public schools such that all children have smaller class sizes for individualized instruction. We want WHOLE CHILD accountability for our teachers and our schools. That means research-backed education. Kids learn through play. Are they getting recess? Kids need to have time to follow their interests and do hands-on projects. Are they getting the broad curriculum and what is NOT on the test: social studies and science? Many of these things are being squeezed out for test prep. Do our high schoolers have extracurricular activities—things that keep them connected and wanting to go to school?

We want our teachers to be paid as the professionals that they are and to have more time for teaching and less for testing. You cannot reduce the time on testing if you don’t reduce the stakes attached to it.

We want a multi-measure evaluation of teaching and success.

You cannot say you respect teachers when every single thing they do is micromanaged by having to prove themselves with data. You cannot quantify joy, creativity and critical thinking. My children are not numbers.

They are unique human beings who are learning and growing. I don’t want my eleven year-old college and career-ready because he is a child. I don’t want him to have pressures to perform like an adult, because he is not one. His teachers know how to give him that childhood, they know what is developmentally appropriate for him, AND research (yes data!) shows that giving him these learning experiences will ensure that when the time comes, he will be ready to take his part in our society and our democracy.

So let teachers do their jobs. The best way to do this is to give them a voice, allow them to create policy, not business people and legislators who know nothing about it. Certainly not ALEC backers who make money off of it.

There is nothing more precious to me in this world than my children and every day I entrust them to the care of their teachers. I care more about what they tell me regarding my kids’ education than I do about any stinking ISTEP score. This is because they are the professionals. I trust them to do their jobs.

If you truly support teachers, you will, too.

Thank you.

Cathy Fuentes-Rohwer

Mark Pafford, House Minority Leader in the Florida legislature, supports parents who tell their children to opt out of standardized testing.

Pafford says that Florida does not have the public education system that the state’s children need. He singles out the overuse of testing as an area where the state has gone wrong. It uses tests not to help people, but to punish them.

Wise man! Pafford for Governor!

Thirteen-year-old Alex Trevino decided to take a stand against the Texas STAR test: she opted out. She might be held back and not promoted with the rest of her class. She and her mother say she is willing to take the consequences.

Alex told 12News, “I feel that we are not learning anything that we can use in life, we’re taught to a test, nothing comes out of it.”

State officials say she is not allowed to refuse the test.

Her parents support her actions. Her mother said she is proud of her. Rebellion against unjust authority is a tradition in Texas. It also is a tradition in the United States. Our nation was born of a Revolution, led by men who pledged their lives to fight for independence.

Alex is not backing down. She has started a Facebook page called STAAR SOS to encourage others to take a stand. To her surprise in the first four hours that the page was up, it gained more than 9,000 followers.

Alex’s Facebook page is

One determined teen could spark an opt out movement in Texas.

The latest from Ohio: parents and educators take a stand against the destruction of their public schools:

“Ohio now has Public Education Partners – a new 401(c)3 that aims to act as an “umbrella” advocacy group that unites all the many grassroots parent/teacher/community groups in Ohio that are fighting corporate “reform,” including charters. We don’t have the money that Lager, Brennan, et al have, but we do have the power of our voices & our votes. Our Board includes current & retired teachers, local school board members, and such notables as Bill Phillis – executive director of Ohio Coalition for Equity & Adequacy in Public Education Funding (Diane has posted his blog entries several times), among others.

“Our inaugural “Summit” is being held on 10/17 in Dublin, OH. Stephen Dyer of Innovation Ohio is our keynote – he has been relentless in writing about charter abuses. We will be having breakout sessions on Youngstown, Charters, Opt Outs, Parent Advocacy groups, etc. Tom Dunn, Superintendent of Miami County ESC is rounding out the day by helping us “connect the dots” and determine the next steps in our fight. It should be a great networking opportunity for those in Ohio who truly want to save our public schools. Cost is a modest $15 which includes lunch. Message me through this site if you would like registration information – I would love to meet you Chiara, Deb, drakestraw and other Ohio frequent commenters!! “

In the previous post, I referred to Din Armstrong of Lee County, Florida, as a hero for his principled stand against Florida’s insane obsession with testing.

Here is more from Don Armstrong:

“Good morning, everyone. Like always, I spend my Sunday, gathering my thoughts and thinking of the upcoming week over a cup of coffee.

“One thought that has crossed my mind this past week is regarding our Constitution. Perhaps this is due to the fact that last week was Constitution Week in the United States. Yet, while listening to our leaders in Tallahassee, as well as many here locally, it seems the Constitution is rarely considered in their talk about parent rights and student rights, specifically with regard to what options and control parents have in schools.

“Specifically, I am referring to our Lee County, FL school district’s stance on parent rights to opt out of testing. In a recent communication from our district, taken from previous board attorney comments, legal advice was provided that although the “14th Amendment provides that parents have the right to control the upbringing of their child, including the education the child receives … the right does not enable the parent to dictate the instruction provided to the student or the assessments administered to the student.” This quote is taken directly from our district directive that further implies the only control a parent has is to choose public or private schools. I can not disagree strongly enough with this statement.

“This misinterpretation of the 14th Amendment infuriates me. Our Constitution is clearly defined and gives specific rights to parents which has been upheld in court precedence. To borrow from Fair Test, a national organization ran by Lee Cty local advocate, Robert Schaeffer, here is a more correct interpretation of the 14th Amendment, with regard to parenting:

“According to the U.S Constitution, specifically the 14th Amendment, parental rights are broadly protected by Supreme Court decisions (Meyer and Pierce), especially in the area of education. The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that parents possess the “fundamental right” to “direct the upbringing and education of their children. Furthermore, The Supreme Court criticized a state legislature for trying to interfere “with the power of parents to control the education of their own.” (Meyer v. Nebraska, 262 U.S. 390, 402.) In Meyer, the Supreme Court held that the right of parents to raise their children free from unreasonable state interference is one of the unwritten “liberties” protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. (262 U.S. 399).”

“Like the Supreme Court who criticized a state legislature for trying to interfere “with the power of parents to control the education of their own”, I also suggest our school district reconsider its position on parent rights. Lee County is lucky to have an active community, highly involved in our school system. And, while involvement often leads to greater accountability, it is exactly what we strive for here in Lee County. It is the true definition of local control and I know that is what Lee County residents want. It is certainly the wish of every parent: not just local control over their schools, but especially, local parental control over their children. To expect less of our community is not reasonable.

“So, as I try to always offer solutions, here are a couple. Firstly, I would solve the problem of parent concern by redrafting the district position on parent rights to fully recognize the rights of our local parents, more correctly honoring the 14th Amendment of our Constitution. Let our local parents know we understand their concerns with the overtesting and scripted curriculum. Let our parents know that we appreciate their activism and we know that only through the combined voices of board members, parents, and citizens will we get relief from the overbearing mandates from the state and feds. Local control comes from local voices. Listen to the parents.”

A note from an admirer who sent this letter from Don:

-Don Armstrong, former Lee County School Board Member, well known for being the first board member to opt his own, twin children out of the state FSA exam, creating the momentum to garner the first county wide opt out in the US. While Lee County reversed its decision to opt out of tests, Armstrong and local parents are keeping up the fight.

The Néw York State Allies for Public Education, representing more than 50 grassroots groups across the state, denounced Governor Cuomo’s commission to review and revise the Common Core standards and tests. Yet th Cuomo commission includes no parent who opted out, no early childhood educator, but many who served on Cuomo’s last, failed commission.

NYSAPE describes the commission as”donor-driven,” chaired by the same banker who chaired the last Cuomo commission on standards and tests.

Opt out leaders promise to refuse the tests next spring.

“The Cuomo Commission consists of many members from his first unproductive Commission and will again be led by the same businessman, Richard Parsons, despite the public’s outcry for an educator-led process. Parents know the Common Core standards and the Common Core exams are damaging their children’s education, not because they are “confused”, but because the standards themselves are invalid.

“Governor Cuomo cannot use a political task force to get politics out of education. Until our children’s education is once again under the direction of real education experts and classroom teachers, parents will not comply. Continuation of an unreliable teacher evaluation system tied to test scores, inappropriate and untested Common Core curriculum in our classrooms and inappropriate exams will not be tolerated. A task force devoid of critics is pointless.” –Jeanette Deutermann, Long Island public school parent and founder of Long Island Opt Out.

“If the governor really wanted to fix this mess, he would have called back the legislature for a special session to undo the laws that got us here in the first place. It is time to get back our real learning in our kids’ classrooms and to local control by elected school boards. Without a fundamental improvement to the Common Core standards, the state exams and the way test scores are being unfairly used to stigmatize schools, teachers and students as failures, the number of parents opting out is guaranteed to sharply rise again this year.” –Lisa Rudley, Hudson Valley public school parent and NYSAPE founding member.

“Governor Cuomo is not trying to fix the problems with Common Core and testing. He is trying to make it salvage his reputation and his poll ratings, to make it ‘look like’ he is fixing these problems. These problems are not difficult to fix. Start by disconnecting tests from teacher evaluations to the extent allowable by Federal law, and then totally redo the standards and the exams by allowing New York teachers to rewrite them. But it appears that the Governor does not really want to do what is best for our children.”–Eric Mihelbergel, Erie County public school parent and NYSAPE founding member.

“Cuomo claims Common Core is headed for a total reboot. Oddly enough, he has chosen 15 individuals as members who never had a problem with the standards to begin with. It is not often that you ask a bull to clean up the mess it has created in the china shop.” –Kevin Glynn, Long Island public school parent and educator.

“Governor Cuomo claims he is listening to parents, yet he has established another group that contains many of the same members as his previous commissions, which totally failed to provide answers to the education crisis created by the corporate reform movement. Polls show that the public is opposed to the Common Core, over-testing our children, and tying teacher evaluation to assessment results, yet the vast majority of Cuomo’s latest task force support the very policies rejected by New York families.” – Chris Cerrone, Western NY public school parent, school board member and educator.

​“For too long the majority of NYS Regents led by Chancellor Merryl Tisch have failed to provide the leadership necessary to protect children from harmful reforms. While the tide is changing with six Regents representing kids, the parents of Central NY see that Vice Chancellor Bottar has failed to protect kids and will call for his ouster.” –Jessica McNair, Central New York public school parent and educator.

“To show how off-base Cuomo is, in his speech he bragged about the teacher merit pay system he has imposed on the state. Teacher merit pay has never been shown to work to help kids learn, and this is one more sign of his willingness to waste millions of dollars of our taxpayer funds on untested or even damaging programs, in place of proven reforms like class size reduction.” –Lori Griffin, Northern New York public school parent and educator.

“Parents don’t just want politics out of their kids’ education. They want Andrew Cuomo and his political contributors to stay out of their classrooms. Parents across the state have vowed to continue refusing these harmful tests and practices to protect their children and their schools.”

Join NYSAPE. Help them resist political manipulation of our children and our schools.


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