He loved school. He was excited about so many things, so many of his teachers, especially what he was learning. He was usually up and ready to go to school. He was in love with life. He came home and shared what he was learning. We were very happy and proud of him.
All of that changed for the worse. We thought something was wrong with him. We sought counseling. We wanted to know what had happened inside of him that caused his anger and depression. What was wrong with him that eroded his love of life, learning, and school? What had we done to him? What had we missed. Were we bad parents?
Our whole family suffered from the ill that infected us. Seeking solace from other parents, we learned that our son and their sons and daughters exhibited similar symptoms. As we compared our children’s reactions, we learned that our kids were responding in a most human way to external forces that had descended on our schools.
Our teachers, many of whom had been pressured not to share information with us, let us know in certain terms that for over a decade the USDOE has put pressure on our state to implement data-driven education reform. Our state has implemented their top-down, coercive data collecting projects which abuse our children. The USDOE calls it High Stakes Testing… for example, PARCC. SBAC, AZMerit, CAASP, ACT, SAT. They have other names for what they are doing, like Common Core, and Data Based Education Reform. They use Federal money to force our schools to become data generators, not loving, nurturing places where great teaching and learning takes place. The sad thing is that the data they are collecting is for their own use either for profit or to make public schools and parents look bad.
The USDOE, working through Venture Capitalists, Adventure Capitalists, corporations and billionaire “self-appointed experts,” support profit-driven corporations like Pearson, even the College Board, to generate tests that force the teaching of what they decide is important. They force states and school districts to buy new curricula materials. They force teachers to take time away from instruction to give tests that are not based on what needs to be taught. Tests that are obviously designed to make parents, teachers, and schools look bad. Data, they say, will force districts to fire bad teachers and close bad schools. Data, they assume, will destroy public district (neighborhood schools) and force parents to select a “school of choice” which will replace schools with elected school boards and accountability. Schools which give profiteers and pirates access to the tax dollars citizens pay for public education.
Our schools are being used by the USDOE, corporations, and ideologues with little comprehension of what is happening to children. Legislators are allowing raids on taxpayer dollars for corporate and personal gain. This has caused great human suffering. Headaches, stomachaches, vomiting, depression, destruction of self-images, and the destruction of self-confidence.
What is being done to our kids is being forced on parents and teachers by the USDOE, corporations, and terribly uninformed people who use wealth rather than intelligence and facts to carry-out “hunches,” regardless of the human costs.
We parents got together, and in spite of the powerful forces arrayed against us, joined the Opt Out movement. The movement is sweeping the nation as a parent-driven undertaking to stop the rape of public education and excessive forced testing. The Opt Out movement is placing families, children, education, and communities back in power. The Opt Out movement is shedding light on the wrongs those in government and our corporate culture have done to children all across America. What they have done is not reform, it is an attempt to deform and eventually dismantle public education. It is an attempt to profit from our tax dollars.