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You Can’t Be Anti-Opt Out and Pro-Democracy


You Can’t Be Anti-Opt Out and Pro-Democracy

Steven Singer

Our lawmakers have a problem.

This summer they doubled down on one of the most anti-democratic mandates in the federal repertoire yet they claim they did so to protect states rights.

Here’s the problem.

Every year, hundreds of thousands of public school parents across the country opt their children out of standardized testing.


I think that argument can be taken and any number of policies substituted, with only small tweaks in sentence structure and grammar, and it will almost always be true:
You can't be pro-TPP and pro-democracy
You can't be pro-fracking and pro-democracy
You can't be anti-open primaries and pro-democracy
You can't be pro-closed candidate debates and pro-democracy
you can't be anti-GMO labeling and pro-democracy

I'm sure there's lots more. Everybody, please add on.


These areas are much more important than "pro secondary testing" IMO. If the tests are reasonably short, an hour or two, WTF? All races have a starting line, a field, and winners. We like that!


The USA is the only country in the world that has these "primaries". Everywhere else, the party selects its candidates through an internal process open only to dues-paying party members. It works well. The party can even "decertify" an incumbent so that the incumbent must step down and be replaced by a new candidate in the next election. The UK Labour Party under Corbyn's majority faction is considering doing this.

The US does not need "open primaries", it needs more viable political parties who are free to organize internally any way they wish - and ballot access and electoral reform so that every party can put a candidate for every seat in every election.


You cannot disagree with my opinions and be "pro-democracy".


So I guess you can't be anti "opt out" of lots of other laws - labor, environmental, traffic, etc and be "pro democracy" too right?

The debate over mandatory standardized testing - something most democracies with far better education systems than the US have - is a debate that has nothing to do with democracy. However for a person to to say that those with differing opinion on it are not "pro democracy" is itself deeply anti democracy!


There is no doubt that standardized testing has been overdone, and the resulting ‘teaching to the test’ has degraded the quality of the educational process. The question becomes how do we best evaluate that process? We do need a set of parameters to measure the effectiveness of the process, and that measure needs to be applied uniformly across the board in order to provide the accountability and transparency we as parents and taxpayers need to make the decisions that will best serve our children and our society. Philosophically, i guess participation has to be consensual, but it should be encouraged as parents should want to participate in the communal effort to improve the system to which we entrust our children.

The ONLY chance for Democracy is if everyone participates. Almost all problems with our form of government stem from the fact that citizens get complacent, do not participate, and allow those with the strongest desire for power to seize it from the rest of us. We can try to mount a full blown revolution and topple the federal government, OR we can gather a couple of dozen friends and neighbors and simply take over town hall and the local school board. Which sounds more likely to succeed? The ‘Bernie thing’ showed what is possible and should give all of us the confidence to get on with it.


This blog didn't explain why parents would opt out? I used to love these test days. It was a break in the normal school activity. That was good. I became a parent while living overseas & I can tell you, every school my daughter attended had standardised tests. What's the problem??


Teachers like myself who have worked in K12 education for decades recognize how standardized testing has robbed teaching and learning of its creativity, innovation, and joy, replacing teacher-created curriculum and assessment with outside the classroom, test corporation-generated content and assessment that has little relevance to student learning. Instead, public education in the US today is all about creating a culture of pretesting, testing, and posttest review that diminishes instructional time, focuses on dubious data, and feeds the testing companies our students' data while paying them for using their corporate software. Parents who want a rich, varied curriculum for their students have little choice but to protest the testing regime by opting students out of tests like these or pay to send them to private schools like the wealthy and politicians do. Until the "reformers" are removed from political control of public education, opting out is a parent's most effective means of civil disobedience in the matter.