These remarks were delivered by a parent in Brooklyn at the Opt Out rally:

“Good morning and welcome to Brooklyn!

“My name is Kemala Karmen and I am the parent of a 4th grader at PS 146, the Brooklyn New School. In recent years, our borough has earned a reputation as a trendsetter in everything from Indie music to urban farming to participatory budgeting—pioneered in NYC by Council Member Brad Lander, who is here today to support us.

“Now we can add one more way in which Brooklyn is blazing a trail: the parents of Brooklyn, outraged by the hijacking of our childrens’ educations, outraged by the assault on our public schools and on our public school teachers, we parents of Brooklyn are taking a stand. Whether we live in Brownsville or Cobble Hill, Ft. Greene or Greenpoint, we are saying ENOUGH! Stop using the blunt instrument of the state ELA and math tests to rank and sort our children, our teachers, and our schools.

“Maybe it’s our city, state, and federal policy makers who need to take the ELA test! When we delivered petitions or wrote letters about the misuses of the tests, they didn’t seem to be able to read—or heed—our urgent concerns about our children.

“Our policy makers also flat-out ignored experts in child development and test design, experts whose published research “warned against attaching severe consequences to performance on any test.” And, sadly, even the teachers’ union has been slow to protect its members from the stranglehold of testing.

“So now, we parents are invoking the only tool we have left. In growing numbers, we are refusing to let our children take these tests. No test score means no data. No data on which to base teacher evaluations. No data on which to justify school closings. No sensitive, personal data that follows our children from year to year, from school to school.

“This morning parents at our District 15 school stand together with parents at other Brooklyn schools to announce the explosive growth of test resistance in our borough, a movement that is gaining momentum elsewhere, too—in the city, and the state, and, really, anywhere in the country where parents see the joys of teaching and learning constrained, the spark of curiosity and creativity snuffed out.

“At 3 Brooklyn schools that we know of—our school, District 23’s PS 446/The Riverdale Avenue Community School (which is in Brownsville) and the Academy of Arts & Letters, located in Ft. Greene in District 13—this year there will be far more children NOT taking the tests than taking them. What that means in stark numbers: at PS 446 48 out of 60 children will REFUSE THE TESTS. At Arts & Letters 44 out of 53 3rd graders will REFUSE THE TESTS. At PS 146, Brooklyn New School 243 out of 306 students will REFUSE THE TESTS.

“It may be April Fools Day, but these tests and, indeed, the whole edifice of corporate “education reform” built upon these tests is no joke. It is no laughing matter when millions are diverted away from our children’s classrooms and into the hands of for-profit companies. It fails to amuse when our class sizes become so large that even our best teachers are hard pressed to know each child.

“I am happy to report that at Riverdale Avenue Community, Arts & Letters, & BNS, our families will no longer blindly default to taking the tests. We are fortunate, because the administration and teachers at our schools have supported us in exercising our rights as parents to make informed decisions about “opting in” or “opting out” of the tests. We hope that others will take heart from what is happening at our schools, that other parents will understand that they have the right to direct their children’s education—and not be afraid to exercise that right. And we hope more principals will not be afraid to stand up for their families.