Common Core State Tests: I Refuse.

The collusion between big government, big business and private foundations conspired to develop a system of educational reform linking Common Core standards with special testing groups (SBAC and PARCC) to evaluate the implementation of Common Core. In the original federal legislation in 2009 (Race To The Top), SBAC and PARCC were created by the federal government with 365 million dollars for the express purpose of assessing the teaching of Common Core State Standards.The legislation did not explicitly name Common Core, but it used Common Core language. As the nation has learned more about Common Core and the SBAC and PARCC tests, the more people are shocked to find that Common Core means more than a change in just educational standards. It means loss of parental rights, loss of local control, and loss of accountability, transparency and flexibility. This is unacceptable.

I refused to allow my daughter to take the Common Core aligned SBAC test last year and I am doing it again this year. As children prepare for the Common Core tests, individually parents across America are also refusing these tests in growing numbers. Last year, over 60,000 students opted out in New York State. This year, that number will be bigger, as in other states.  The conflict between administrators and parents is growing because school administrators around the nation are doubling down on despicable practices in order to force students to take the illegal, useless, intrusive and destructive SBAC and PARCC. Evidence shows that public officials and administrators continue to lie to parents. In Connecticut, the governor publically lied to a mother saying that she did not have the right to opt out of the tests.The State Commissioner of Education in Connecticut, and perhaps other states, instructed administrators to tell parents the lie that their children must take the test. This memo describes in table format exactly what to say to parents for each rebuttal. There are many more examples of parents being bullied in this manner. While many parents are troubled by Common Core, they admit they don’t fully understand it. In this way they are easy to control. Even if they want to fight back by refusing the test, they hesitate.   

Why not just comply and take the test? For one, the tests are illegal. Judge Green of the state of Missouri ruled in late February that the SBAC test is unconstitutional and that the state has to exit the illegal consortium. There is also no evidence of validation supporting the tests use, and the test administrators take too long to return results to be of any use to the teachers. The designers of these high stakes test are wrong in trying to convince us that a single test should determine the success of a child’s school year, the effectiveness of a teacher, and whether a school should be classified as a failure. These shoddy tests are part of a system that aids and abets a centralized system that is contrary to the Constitutional concept of local control. The tests contribute to diluting traditional math, diluting classical literature, and ultimately destroy the Western canon. The tests also track personal information including behavior indicators while creating a government dossier of our children to which parents will have no access and will be stored forever. This nonacademic information is part of a long-term plan by the federal government to create a workforce database known as P20. You can check for yourself. Finally, the scores are arbitrarily cut high to create the false impression of failing children and failing schools with the goal of eliminating public schools. The test is planned intentionally, for example, to fail 95% of sixth grade English Language Learners on English. 

So then, why are school districts so adamant about subjecting our children to this? The most important reason appears to be the intimate connection between federal funding to support state staffing positions for education. For example, in Alaska 43% of the jobs in the department of education are federally funded. An Alaskan legislator also pointed out that two-thirds of their educational administrative costs are federally funded. Concern over this intimate connection creates a culture of silence where teachers and administrators fear losing their jobs. Another reason is school administrators believe they must have 95% participation on the standardized test in order to receive funding for their schools. Local districts also comply with the tests because they have been both pressured by the federal government and conditioned to obey federal mandates (however unconstitutional).

The SBAC and PARCC tests and Common Core are acts of educational tyranny never agreed to, never voted on by parents or legislatures, and never discussed or debated. This system of so-called educational reform is radical, egalitarian, socialist and counterproductive. Should we accept this conversion to nationalized education with unflinching obedience?  It is up to us. Will we protect our children from planned failure based on poorly designed schemes? Or will we refuse this poorly disguised federal tyranny? I will refuse. A growing number of parents are joining me. Will you?

Mary Anne Marcella is a parent and public school teacher who wants the best for her children and students. Her views are her own and do not necessarily reflect the views of others in the education field.

Cort Wrotnowski is a parent, and President of BioSpark Associates, LLC, a management consulting company.

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