The Colorado legislature, as noted in a post earlier today, is debating whether to cut back on standardized testing and whether to permit parents to opt their children out of tests.

A Republican state senator who is a sponsor of the opt-out bill said that he and his wife had opted their own children out of the tests.

State Senator Michael Johnston, author of the infamous law that makes test scores count for 50% of teachers’ evaluations, defended high-stakes testing.

Johnston likened the bill to a ban on school coaches running their athletes through sprints, and said that the bill threatened to cut off $360 million in federal funding if the participation rate drops below federal requirements.

He also stressed that the students who skip the tests tend to come from lower-income and minority groups.

“Has it been a lot of upper middle class white folks,” Johnston said. “No.”

Easing the ability to opt-out, he argued, will prevent the state from helping to measure and serve those who struggle.

Likening a mandate to take tests whose reliability and validity have not been established to banning athletes from sprinting is illogical. It actually makes no sense. Coaches don’t need a law to have their athletes run sprints.

And like others who are desperately fearful of the Opt Out movement, he makes the spurious claim that testing is exactly what is needed to help struggling students. But tests don’t teach. Teachers teach. They teach even better in an atmosphere of respect and collegiality.

The other curious thing about his statement is that it is opposite what other reformers are saying; they claim that only whites are opting out. Johnston claims the opt outs “tend to come from lower-income and minority groups.” The reformers have different songbooks.