New York Students, Parents, Teachers Criticized for Opting Out of State Testing

Published May 20, 2016

The New York Post recently published an article strongly criticizing parents who choose not to have their children take state-mandated standardized tests.

“Common Core opt-out movement is parents who can’t handle their kids failing,” wrote Naomi Schaefer Riley in the article.

The April 10 article claims “upper-middle class white parents get worked up about tests in school” after pushing their kids early on, only to opt them out of testing later on, rather than see them fail.

“The parents have a variety of issues, but one that comes up over and over is that kids in elementary school simply spend too much time taking tests and studying for tests, which deprives them of other experiences,” wrote Riley. “Not only does it reduce time spent on art and music, but it also reduces free time and recess.

“What they fail to realize, though, is that they have only themselves to blame,” Riley said.

“These helicopter parents are the ones who for decades have pushed their children to succeed academically at younger and younger ages,” wrote Riley, who goes on to say the “helicopter parents” are the ones opting their children out of standardized testing.

Riley says pulling children out of standardized testing “deprive[s] parents, schools and taxpayers of valuable information about how well (or badly) we are educating our kids.”

Common Experience

Yvonne Gasperino, founder and administrator of the Stop Common Core in New York State Facebook page, says harassment of opt-out students and parents is a common experience readers don’t see in the news, but it is well-known among parents active within the test-refusal movement.

“We have received many personal testimonies from parents across the state each year explaining their personal stories of intimidation tactics, favoritism … grade extortion, personal phone calls by some teachers trying to influence the parent’s decision, bribery via contests with monetary or other rewards, and exerting authority over the children who refused, … [as well as] children being reprimanded by some school officials for decisions their parents made on their behalf,” Gasperino said.

Such harassment is not confined to New York. The Opt Out Florida Network says on its website, “Since testing began in Florida on February 29, parents have reported incidences of retaliation, bullying, and intimidation from numerous districts across the state. Because the state has not seen fit to acknowledge parents’ rights to direct their children’s education, children who opt out are forced to sit and stare for hours, without a state mandate that they do so.”

Gasperino says she frequently hears from parents who are reluctant to speak out publicly for fear of retribution against their children, especially during testing season. Schools and others should not intimidate parents for exercising their rights, Gasperino says.

“No child should be put into these situations by any adult,” Gasperino said.

Jenni White ([email protected]writes from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.