Steve Nelson wrote a powerful case for opting out from state testing.

“”Opt-out” may be the most important political movement of this generation. It may seem, at first glance, a small ripple in the education reform debate — an understandable reaction to the frustration over increased testing and test-prep in America’s schools. I suggest that it is much more important than meets the eye.

That “first glance” is important in its own right. There is no reasonable argument in support of the tedious, stressful mess that education reform has made of the nation’s schools. Even within its own circular, self-fulfilling paradigm, the testing and accountability era has been a dismal failure. Test scores are essentially meaningless as a measure of real learning, but even by this empty standard, no progress is evident. For this analysis, let us just stipulate that it has not even achieved the limited objectives on which policy is predicated.

The broader issue is hidden within plain sight: This growing struggle over the future of American education may be proxy for the future of our democratic republic.

Most folks who follow education policy debates are familiar with the players and high stakes. Dozens of AstroTurf organizations are funded by the same Daddies Warbucks: Bill and Melinda Gates, Eli Broad, the Walton Family Foundation. The incestuous network they’ve created, aided and abetted by the Brothers Koch and the publishing cartel, Pearson, ETS, McGraw Hill, are engaged in a hostile takeover of the entire education enterprise in America.

The Common Core and its primary architect, David Coleman, are parts of a well-oiled, cradle-to-grave machine. It has been going on for years, beginning when George W. Bush was Governor of Texas and helped the industry-led Phonics First movement begin the insidious commercialization of education. Many others, especially “Mercedes Schneider in her wonderful book, A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who in the Implosion of American Public Education,” have exposed this process in alarming detail.

Fed up by the dreadful experiences their children are having in school, parents and teachers are beginning to resist. In New Jersey, Illinois and New York, for example, the opt-out movement is gaining strength. A national organization called United Opt Out is working tirelessly to unite the many strands of this genuine grassroots effort.

Many of these parents may not be aware of the broader importance of this nascent national movement. They are just standing up for the well-being of their children. It is this simple, yet powerful, impulse that is at the root of every critical political movement in our history. Institutionalized social injustice is, at its core, the aggregate impact of highly personal injury. And millions of American children are indeed being injured in the stark, punitive, increasingly barren wake of so-called education reform.

The stakes are high already, but this battle is going to dramatically escalate. Mark my word. Every incremental growth in the opt-out movement is going to draw increasingly severe response. This is not even about education any more. It is about money. There is no reliable estimate of the overall investment in testing, the Common Core, and the various sub-industries education reform has spawned. As frequently noted, pre-secondary education is at least a $500 billion market and the capital invested to date will not be squandered without a fight. Hundreds of millions if not billions of dollars are in the pot, and these folks don’t like losing…..

“If enough parents are willing to join the movement, keep their children home on test days, ignore the threats, the battle lines will be clear. School officials, local school boards, state legislators and members of Congress will be faced with a real school choice: Whose side are you on? America’s children and families or a shadow government of plutocrats, investment bankers and publishing companies?

“Opt-out! Even if your child likes tests, keep her home. Like every other powerful movement in American history, this one requires a snowstorm of small acts of defiance. Which side of history will you be on?”