This morning, Save Our Schools New Jersey reported that 74 districts across the state have agreed to accommodate PARCC refusals with alternate settings for non-testing students.
Yes, you read that correctly: 74. That number will likely be higher by tomorrow.
Yet many districts, taking cues from an October NJDOE memo that references irrelevant policies and indirectly suggests that test-refusers should be disciplined, are still insisting that all New Jersey public school children *SHALL* take the PARCC.
And earlier this week, a group of attorneys–reiterating that there is no “opt out” provision in New Jersey–stepped the scare-factor up a notch and issued the following statement (emphasis mine):
As previously stated, students are not permitted to opt-out of the PARCC assessment or any state mandated assessment in New Jersey. Our office recommends reviewing your absentee and disciplinary policies in light of the Commissioner’s suggestion. We also recommend advising parents of the importance of testing and have available a sample letter you are free to use. You should be prepared to implement the District’s policies and impose discipline on students who attempt to defiantly refuse to sit for the PARCC assessment.
Great idea! Impose discipline! Sit for the test or else! Threatening children–especially in an educational setting–is always effective!
Obviously not. And you know what? I don’t believe that there are any educators–or even people who pretend to be educators–who think that threatening children is appropriate or effective. So what’s this all about?
One word: control. Fear of losing control. Fear of opening the door for civil disobedience. Fear of refusal contagion.
Fear that if one parent successfully refuses the PARCC, everyone will refuse the PARCC…and Common Core and its mandatory testing component will collapse…
…and then it’ll be ANARCHY!
(Either that or local control of public education will be restored–and the people who actually work with and know what’s best for children will be allowed to do their jobs the right way.)
That’s what this rah-rah PARCC rhetoric and these sit-and-stare threats are really all about.
People who actually acknowledge that the Principal Vernon and Principal Rooney methods of intimidation aren’t generally effective:
“From a practical standpoint, every district is going to have to have a procedure in place when a kid refuses to participate, because you can’t handcuff a kid to the computer to take the test.“–Philip Nicastro, Vice President of Strauss Esmay Associates (the group that issued procedural guidance that included alternative setting options to approximately 475 districts across the state)
“Nobody can force your child to put their hands on a keyboard.” —Mark Biedron, president of the NJ State Board of Education