Saturday, February 28, 2015

#PARCC: Is the "Opportunity" to Test a Civil Rights Issue?

I've gotten a numerous emails and tweets from people all over the country about my testimony before an Illinois House of Representatives committee on PARCC. My blog post has gotten over 3,000 views in about 36 hours, and for me that's a lot. I'm not a big time national blogger or anything. The support is very much appreciated, but I wish I had better answers for folks. It seems that the frustration has been building, and maybe we're at a tipping point now that these tests are real. Call your reps. Call your senators. 

With respect to my testimony, the impact on students with special needs is something I'm kicking myself for not hitting harder. For example, the time spent taking the test for ANY kid is appalling, but for those who need extended time accommodations (for example) it's truly sickening. Our State Superintendent of Schools Dr. Koch testified and talked about it being "educational malpractice" not to test every kid, especially students with special needs. I use that phrase so much in the audio in direct response to Dr. Koch's comments earlier in the evening. His argument is that giving all kids the "opportunity" to test is a civil rights issue. 

I would argue that taking potentially 9 days of instruction away from some students -- who may need all day to finish each one of the 9 subtests -- is in fact a civil rights violation. In addition to being morally wrong, that's a lawsuit waiting to happen. 

Over the last couple of days, it's become even more clear to me that this all comes down to basic principles of democracy: if people educate themselves about the insane amount of standardized testing that has infected our educational system, and start to speak up about it in significant numbers, this can and will change. Again: call your state reps. Call your state senators. Make yourself heard. 

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