About two weeks ago I shared a blog post with the contents of my letter stating that my daughter will not be taking the Smarter Balanced Assessment this spring at her school, Linden Hill Elementary School in the Red Clay Consolidated School District. On February 23, 2015, I received a phone call from the principal, at which time he notified me he was in receipt of my “opt out letter” and explaining the potential consequences for the school and district, as per the directive sent out by the Delaware Department of Education. Obviously I’m well aware of what that letter says, and I’m well aware of the district’s obligation to notify me, so I listened, thanked him for his time, and told him I still intend for Cait to not take the test. He gave me the name and number of a person in the district office and said I would need to call her for the next steps.
Today, February 24, 2015, I attended Young Author Day at my children’s school. Early in the day was the visit time for my son, Craig, and on my way in I made sure to introduce myself to the principal so he knew who I was by sight; I usually see him in the afternoons when I pick the kids up at school. Afterwards, I made sure to swing by and vote YES for the referendum! Later today I will be attending the visit time for my daughter, and I expect things to get really exciting then…
More on that in a moment.
When I returned home around 10:15, I called the contact at district office. She was extremely pleasant and polite, as was the principal last night, and she essentially told me the same pieces of information he had. She seemed rather flustered, which I found kind of funny because I expected her to be very emotionless and almost combative. (That isn’t the word I really want, but it’s the first word that comes to mind.) Apparently she expected the same of me, as she told me I am the first parent who she’s discussed this with and thanked me multiple times for “taking this so well”. I told her I understand she’s in a very untenable position, and that “this isn’t New York”, and that I’m aware of all the information on both sides of the issue.
I was fully prepared to REALLY get into sharing who I am and why nothing she said would change my mind, but none of that was necessary.
The tone from both officials to whom I spoke was courteous, straight-forward, and clearly concerned with following procedure. I did not get the impression from either that what I was requesting was wrong, or that they were unreasonable individuals hell-bent on making my daughter take the test.
In a nutshell, within the next two weeks I will receive a letter from the Red Clay Consolidated School District stating all the information that both the principal and district official told me on the phone. If you really want to read the DDOE position statement, it’s been published numerous times online; I’m not interested in wasting my time looking it up because, frankly, I don’t care as it is a pile of lies designed to intimidate and frighten parents into backing down. Or maybe it’s not, maybe DDOE really believes in what parents are doing but can’t say it out loud, so they crafted this thing to make it seem like they’re trying to frighten parents when really they’re hoping we’ll all call their bluff.
HA. Okay that was fun.
Once I receive The Letter, I will follow up with my own “thank you for the information but my daughter is not taking the test” statement, and that will be the end. My daughter will not take the test. She won’t be forced to. It sounds as though the expectation is she will attend the test taking session in the computer lab because “that is the educational programming scheduled for those days” but her teacher has already said he’s willing to give curricular work to the students who are opting out.
I’ll give you a second to re-read the second part of that last statement.
My daughter must have the best, most awesome teacher in the world! (She does teehee)
I’m not interested in outing her teacher or in any way getting him in anything even slightly resembling trouble. Which probably means I should pull her out of his class and cut off all communications with the poor man, since just that connection is probably enough to get him a place on the FBI’s subversives list right next to me, but that’s beside the point. What I WILL say, however, is that being aware of the ridiculous amount of time being
wasted spent (oh, what the hell) WASTED on this test, is a very powerful thing.
Which brings us to this afternoon. Bet you thought I forgot about that ellipsis up there…
I made sure to get up this morning and come downstairs prior to my kids leaving for school specifically so I could recommend to my daughter that she wear her opt out t-shirt today. (If you want one of your own, check here.) Of course she did, and I’m SO ready for 1:15, when I get to saunter into her classroom for the visit time and (hopefully!!!!) field questions from other parents who will SURELY put two and two together between the testing update we have all received and a sly comment about providing curricular work for students who have been opted out, notice her amazing t-shirt, and ask her mother (ME!!!) all about it!
So here we go, folks. The opt out movement is alive and well in RCCSD. One last point before I go; in no place and at no time did I ever state that I would be opting my daughter out from the test. My exact words were, and have been: “At this time we are formally notifying you that Caitlin will not be taking this assessment.” If you read my letter, and I hope you did, you’ll see that I also didn’t make any statements about parental rights or legal consequences or anything else, just a statement of refusal worded as an expectation (not a question or action anyone could argue against) and a statement of firm support for her educators, who are unquestionably stellar and trustworthy as stewards of my daughter’s educational upbringing.