Dear fellow parents,
This organization is NOT “The Minimal Participation Network.”
We are The OPT OUT Florida Network. Proudly.
Since 2012, parents have turned to us in desperation, sharing their outrage and frustration about the campaign of intimidation they receive from schools when they voice any objection to the obsessive and inappropriate high stakes testing, which labels our capable children as failures, with devastating results. We empathize with parents AND teachers’ stories of incessant, weekly i-Ready minutes… or else…; bogus threats of retention that will not happen; unsubstantiated threats of remediation to their (YOUR) children – all based on test scores – FSA scores, to be specific. You are lied to, in order to secure your compliance and deliver up your child to a rigged test. You AND your children are bullied and harassed when you do opt out, even if you call it minimal participation. These are not appropriate behaviors for professional adults in a school environment.
Opting out says, “I do not consent.”
Anything else IS consent.
In our earlier days, when opting out was often met with hostile responses from schools, parents were hesitant to opt out and the term minimal participation was coined by a parent out of good intentions. It was a way to avoid pushback from the schools. But that comes from a place of fear, not empowerment, and it implies minimal effort.
We have rejected minimal participation before.
Also see here.
Even though we continue to promote opting out in a way that does not affect the precious 95% participation, too many principals tell us, by their words and deeds, that they value school grades more than our kids.
Guess what, folks?
What minimal participation and 95% participation guarantees is that the Florida legislature will NEVER listen to you.
Think about it. Why should they?
Not until parents wake up and let it be known, en masse, that we reject their high stakes accountability, will the powers that be hear you.
Years ago, a teacher commented on the lengths parents go to just to make testing less painful for their children. He said to me,
Parents are constantly trying to figure out ways to make what schools do to their kids less traumatic. It’s as if they don’t realize they can shut down all the stupid testing with one, giant, focused protest.
“Minimal participation” is an example of that. It is parental tribute to the very adults who facilitate this broken system of test and punish accountability; a system, which makes children hate school and veteran teachers leave their profession.
It is a misnomer that has also led to the misperception, which implies:
that parents who opt out harm our schools. They do not.
that opting out is about “just this child.” It is not.
that parents, who opt out, thumb their noses at our schools and the people who work there. We. Do. Not.
There is a bigger picture, and we are all a part of it.
We know that standardized tests are a better measure of affluence than of true academic ability. When schools don’t “make the grade,” they are labeled as “failing schools” and are denied equitable funding and resources. Such schools are subject to being taken over by private, charter corporations; removing local control, and fracturing close-knit communities, in particular, predominantly black and brown communities.
We OPT OUT of that.
The Opt Out Florida Network objects to high stakes testing in order to strongly support public school teachers, who are also harmed by high stakes accountability. Because of high stakes testing, experienced teachers are fast becoming an endangered species.
We OPT OUT of that.
No school has ever been denied funding because students opted out. None. Nationally. Not even in the state of New York, where annually, 20% of all students… OPT OUT.
There are many public school teachers, former and current, in our ranks, who not only support the movement with their time, but also opt their own kids out of testing. The behavior of a few rogue teachers or principals is not reflective of our alliance with educators in support of public education. Bad behavior on the part of our schools diminishes public education and it must be called out. Don’t complain about it. Report it.
This week, a very informed parent notified her child’s school about opting out of the upcoming FSA.
Twice, the principal asked her if she wanted to opt out or “minimally participate.”
Twice, she told the principal that she wanted to “opt out” of all FSA testing for the year…
Principal: “There really isn’t an “opt out” option. “Minimal participation” is better for the school because it shows that we attempted to give the student the test, so they do count in our numbers.”
“Please let us know what you would like (Name) to do.”
She did. Twice.
Was the mother not clear enough, when she twice communicated,
“My child will opt out of all FSA tests this year”?
Or did the principal just dismiss her?
This principal is not informed enough to understand that minimal participation IS opting out, permitting one action and forbidding the other. The spelling and meaning are different, but the manipulation of parents and students to test at all cost is what is perpetuated by using the language of minimal participation.
Even though schools know that we have successfully opted out for nearly a decade now, they must continue the line, because heaven help us if they ever gave us permission to opt out and it ends the testing abuse.
Don’t be afraid to call it what it is. Your protection against institutional bullying comes not from appeasing them to keep the peace, but from being informed, so that you can use that knowledge from a position of strength and confidence. You have that information here. Continue reading