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Parents boycotting tests send the wrong message

I am a seasoned educator in a public elementary school, who has her own longtime concerns on the negative impact testing has on children and their teachers. Recently, I have developed significant concerns for organized groups of individuals who claim to be against testing and for children. Their message to parents across the state is to have students option out of taking the tests, even though “opting out” is not something the State Education Department will allow.

Staff members in our building by no means agree with the current system of assessment, but parents may want to reconsider how they are channeling their energies. I would suggest that these parents inform their employers that they are “opting out” of work to go to Albany. On the way there, “opt out” of speed limits, and bring your local school tax bill to Commissioner John King Jr.’s doorstep. Inform him that until the amount of testing changes, you are “opting out” of paying taxes. That’ll show him! Oh wait, refusing to adhere will be problematic? If rule breaking isn’t OK in the adult domain of the world to send a message, then why would we punish our children by asking them to do the same?

I truly believe it is time for the education system to change and I admire the energy of parents who are becoming informed to campaign for such changes. I find it upsetting, though, that when children are the pawns, there are possible long-term decision-making implications we are not considering. I strongly suggest parents rethink what they are doing in an effort to change educational mandates. More importantly, maybe it is best these groups realize they are merely swatting at the leaves of a problem tree, where they should be grabbing shovels and looking for the roots.

Sharon McCormick

West Seneca