This post appeared on EduShyster’s blog. It was written by the grandmother of a student enrolled in the North Star Charter School in Newark, New Jersey.

 

The child’s mother decided that the child should not take the state tests. That’s when the trouble began.

 

Her mother read about PARCC testing and decided that she didn’t want to put the child through that. She gets anxious over tests and she has nightmares after testing. From everything we’ve been following about PARCC in the news reports, these tests aren’t well designed, they don’t indicate much about the children’s progress and they’re being used to rate and assess the teachers and the schools. These tests also aren’t mandatory. Our question has always been: *What’s the benefit for the child?* We didn’t see any. She’s on her fourth school in three years and was just settling down and starting to get her grades together, and we’re not going to disrupt that for a week of testing that serves no clear purpose.

 

Our question has always been: *What’s the benefit for the child?* We didn’t see any.

 

At the end of February, her mother sent a letter to North Star letting them know that she was opting not to have the child take the test. That started such harassment! North Star would call and call and call. Sometimes they would call two and three times a day. They wanted us to change our minds about the child taking the PARCC test. They would tell us that she’s going to have to take standardized tests in high school and taking the test now would help her learn how to take these tests. They also argued that by not taking the test the child was letting down the North Star community, and that this was part of the responsibility to the school community that her mother agreed to when she signed the papers….

 

Testing starts on April 25th. I’m concerned about what North Star is going to do to my granddaughter during that week. I contacted Save Our Schools New Jersey because I wanted to know what happens if we keep my granddaughter out of school. The state says that the school can’t just make the kids sit and stare during the tests. Her brother is at a school for kids with special needs and the school is making all kinds of accommodations for kids who won’t be taking the tests. I also contacted the Charter Schools Association in Trenton and talked to someone who said she’d contact the school and find out what their plans are for kids who aren’t taking the test. When I heard back, I was told that there is no opt out.

 

I don’t trust the school. I have a feeling that if my granddaughter goes to school, they’ll either have her doing nothing or they’ll really push on her. At first our plan was to accompany her to school, to take turns just to keep an eye on things, but her mother has two other kids and I work nights. So we decided to keep her out of school that week. I’ll take her to New York to the museums. If she sits home and plays on the computer that’s OK by me too, as long as she’s not at school being pressured.

 

The child has taken up the cause. At first she was just relieved not to have to take the test. Now she’s in the fight with us. She’s all activist-minded at this point. When we asked her how she felt about telling her story to the newspaper, she said: “Absolutely. What if there are other kids who are being pushed around and being bullied like this and their parents don’t know how to stand up for them?”