Bonnie Cunard Margolin wrote this letter to other parents and teachers in Lee County, Florida. If you recall, the school board of Lee County briefly tried to opt out of testing last year but one member switched her vote and the testing proceeded. Florida may be the most over-tested state in the nation.



She writes:



Being an 8th grade teacher in a K-8 arts school here in town, I love the excitement of the end of the year. Because my students are leaving for high school, this particular last quarter of the year is a huge one. Also, since some of our students have been with us since kindergarten, fourth quarter is a bitter sweet end to a wonderful arts program for them. Our students not only look forward to summer and high school, they are also excited to begin their final ARTS ALIVE week, showcasing all they have learned at our academy. No doubt, fourth quarter is an amazing time for my students.

Except …


It is Testing Season.

Testing season changes everything. Testing season fills our halls with a sense of gloom. Doors are locked down and instruments fall quiet. Testing season empties our auditoriums, deadens our playgrounds, and silences our stage. Testing literally shuts down our arts program for months.

Testing season forces compliance, instills a feeling of dread, and frustrates most. Testing season involves signing agreements full of threats to our teaching certificates … threats of law enforcement. Testing season involves scripts and scores. Testing season overwhelms our teachers and testing season overwhelms our children.

Lee County Board Member, Mary Fischer, called it child abuse.

I agree.

So, even though I am a teacher in this county, who loves my school and admin, who loves my daughter’s teachers, who loves our district and town … I still choose to opt my own daughter out of the FSA.

More specifically, when state tests are administered to my daughter, she minimally participates by sitting through the test, but she refuses to answer any questions. As per statute, she receives a NR2, did not test, score. Portfolio assessment is used to determine her promotion. When she gets to high school, she will use concordant scores on the SAT to graduate. She OPTS OUT.

This is my choice as a parent. I have opted her out of state testing for years and I will continue always. Opt out is my way to boycott the state assessment laws while protecting my daughter from the abuse. Opt out is my way, as a parent, to express civil disobedience to an unjust law.
Opt out is my right as a parent.

But, as a teacher, my rights are limited. I can not express my opinions about the test to my own students. I can not reach out and inform their parents of their rights. I can not use my platform in my classroom in any way. So, I don’t.

I use other platforms. I use social media. I wrote a book. I write newspapers and magazines. I write representatives and senators. I podcast, blog, vlog, tweet, insta it all.

I scream from the rooftops from the minute I get off work until the minute I return.

I scream because I love my schools, I love my teachers, I love my district, I love my state, and most importantly, I love my children.

I scream for better.

Our schools are ours and we must scream our hearts out when we can. We must fight for better for our students and children. We must take a stand for our kids.

We must.

I will.

Will you?