JUNEAU, Alaska (Jul. 29, 2016) – Yesterday, a bill became law allowing parents to opt their children out of standardized testing. The new law gives parents a powerful tool to push back against Common Core.
Rep. Wes Keller (R-Wasilla) introduced House Bill 156 (HB156) last year. The legislation broadly defines the rights of Alaska parents to direct the education of the children. An important provision in the law allows parents to opt their children out of standardized testing.
(1) recognizing the authority of a parent and allowing a parent to object to and withdraw the child from a standards-based assessment or test required by the state;
The legislation also allows parents to object to and opt their kids out an activity, class, or program.
Shane VanderHart with Truth in American Education explains the significance of the opt-out right.
This doesn’t change Alaska’s standards which are essentially Common Core, but this is a win for parents who were having issues opting their students out of assessments and certain classes, like sex ed. This is something all states should do if they haven’t already. While parents have a natural right to opt their children out of assessments it is so much easier when the government cooperates with parents rather than oppose them.
The House passed HB156 in April by a 22-17 vote. The Senate approved an amended version of the measure 15-5. After some back and forth to reconcile the House and Senate versions, the bill received final passage on May 5. Becoming law without a signature from Gov. Bill Walker, it goes into effect on October 26.
New York serves as a shining example of the effectiveness of an individual opt-out campaign against Common Core testing programs. Grassroots activists started a movement that spread across the entire state and sent a powerful message against Fed Ed.
The New York Post reported that 20 percent of parents chose to opt their children out from the Common Core standardized testing last year. In the Lower Hudson Valley, the number reported this year was even higher, according to the USA Today:
Some school officials voluntarily reported their figures on Tuesday; others declined, saying the numbers should first be reported to their boards of education; others did not respond at all. Those who responded were responsible for nearly 44,000 students, nearly 10,000 of whom declined to take the test, at a rate of 24 percent.
The Washington Post reported that he number of opt-outs were also high in other areas.
Eighty-six percent of test eligible students in the Long Island district of Comsewogue refused the test, and 89 percent of students in Dolgeville in the Mohawk Valley said “no.”
Newsday reported that 49.7 percent of all Long Island students refused the test even though the Newsday editorial board has repeatedly urged parents to have their children take it.
Massive opt-outs create a path forward for Alaska parents wanting to eliminate Common Core standards and put education back into the hands of state and local bodies where it belongs. Ultimately, if enough students opt out of the testing, it could collapse the Common Core system altogether.
Common Core was intended to create nationwide education standards. While touted as a state initiative through the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), the U.S. Department of Education was heavily involved behind the scenes. Up until recently, the DoE tied the grant of waivers from the No Child Left Behind Act to adoption of Common Core, using the standards as powerful strings to influence state educational policy. The Every Student Succeeds Act passed by Congress this year now prohibits the DoE from attempting to “influence, incentivize, or coerce State adoption of the Common Core State Standards … or any other academic standards common to a significant number of States.” But under the new federal law, states still must comply with College and Career Ready Standards, based on Common Core, as a condition for receiving some federal dollars. It also requires the federal education secretary to approve each state’s plans for standards and assessments.
Even with the federal strings partially cut from Common Core for the time being, it is still imperative for each state to adopt its own standards. The feds can once again use these national standards to meddle in state education at any time if they remain in place. Just as importantly, one-size-fits-all standard simply don’t benefit children. State and local governments should remain in full control of their own educational systems.
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