The holiday season is a time for giving, for sharing and for reflection.
Please join us in acknowledging the MANY volunteers – parents AND teachers – who give of themselves all year long, sacrificing precious time with their families in order to help the public to understand the truth about their rights and options regarding testing in Florida.
The Opt Out Florida Network is ALL of these people – from 35 local Opt Out groups all over this state – who stay up night after night after their kids (and significant others) are fast asleep, or after grading papers and planning lessons – reading emails and messages from parents, researching local and national news articles, DOE documents, and state statutes, even reviewing videos of the state legislature and so much more – in order to provide the factual, documented and verifiable information needed to stand up to poor enforcement of policies in OUR public schools.
Group administrators lead the way in their communities by moderating discussions in local opt out groups, by sharing information both to and from the district, and by showing up and speaking at Florida Board of Education meetings and local school board meetings. They work with their local teachers’ unions to support teachers by demystifying school district propaganda to teachers about the opt out movement. In other words, they help others to find their voice so that they, too, may speak truth to power.
We are parents, students, teachers and former teachers, who share many different perspectives – from different backgrounds, different religions, different customs, different beliefs, and different political persuasions – but we all fight for the same thing – to return our public schools to places of real teaching and learning, where classrooms can be filled with wonder and curiosity and amazing questions – instead of training children how to succeed on a test.
So what do we have to be grateful for?
The most important growth and change that anyone can experience usually comes out of our most challenging times. It’s easy to be angry and resentful of any harm to our children as a result of poorly implemented policies. It’s harder to keep the bigger picture in mind when we want immediate relief for our children and it isn’t forthcoming. But many of us would admit that were it not for a particular misfortune that befell our children, we would still be blissfully ignorant, even accepting – of testing, of test prep that has taken over our children’s school experience, of poor placement, of promotions denied, and on and on.
Being informed can be hard… It’s not easy being “woke.” But it’s far better to be informed, or else we could not call out the monsters by name. We can be grateful that our eyes have been opened to the truth, as distasteful as it is, so that we can fight it. We can be grateful that there are others like us, here and across this country who have joined their voices with ours to fight to stop the testing monster. And we can be grateful for a community of activists, who gather to share experiences and information with the hope that no child will continue to suffer the same.
Although things have been quiet, we remain especially grateful to the plaintiff families and their attorneys still embroiled in the 3rd Grade lawsuit, fighting mandatory retention in Hernando, Orange, Osceola, Seminole, and Pasco Counties. The FLDOE and the various districts have an army of 25+ attorneys to defend this lawsuit. It bears repeating that as of last September, only the families who agreed to withdraw from the suit have had their children promoted – contrary to what a FLBOE member recently said in a public meeting.
We eagerly await the ruling of the Appellate Court so that the lawsuit can continue in earnest. We remain hopeful for systemic change.
In peace and solidarity, with gratitude to each of you, who ARE The Opt Out Florida Network.