Ravitch Calls for Parents to Join Opt-Out Movement in National Boycott of Testing

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April 3, 2016; Washington Post

Diane Ravitch, well known for her advocacy against corporate school reform, is calling on all parents to join in opting out of standardized testing for their children this spring.

Ravitch is the president of the Network for Public Education, from which this video, aimed at parents, was released.

Message from Diane Ravitch about Opt Out from Shoot4Education on Vimeo.

In the video, Ravitch says that although testing has had devastating effects on curricula and provides “no useful information” about either the students or teachers it claims to evaluate, it appears nothing will get the attention of public officials short of a national boycott.

“Opt-out is the only way you have to tell policymakers that they’re heading in the wrong direction,” Ravitch says.

NPQ has written in detail about this movement before, noting in April of last year that organized protests had taken place in Colorado, Florida, Oregon, Maine, Michigan, New York, New Mexico, and Pennsylvania.

Ravitch worked as assistant secretary in charge of research and improvement in President George H.W. Bush’s education cabinet, serving as counsel to then–Education Secretary Lamar Alexander. Though she began as a supporter of No Child Left Behind, her research on its effects convinced her of its wrongheadedness.

The “opt-out” movement has been growing in recent years, with 20 percent of New York State students sitting the tests out last year. States are supposed to be sanctioned by the federal government if less than 95 percent of students are tested, but the National Center for Fair and Open Testing (FairTest), another organization urging opt-outs, claims they know of no sanctions being imposed on states where students opt out.

Yohuru Williams, Fairfield University professor and a board member of the Network for Public Education, said in a statement:

Choosing to opt out is one way of fighting back against the tide of corporate education reform with its emphasis on high-stakes testing, which has had a traumatizing effect on young people. We have a moral responsibility to demand that the government attack the real source of inequality in American society, which is poverty, rather than promoting schemes that discourage rather than encourage social justice.

United Opt Out National and FairTest both have information on their websites about how to opt out.—Ruth McCambridge