At the dawn of the last day of the weeks of testing in New York State, I want to offer my sincere thanks and deepest gratitude to the thousands of young people and their families who participated in the largest collective act of Test Refusal in American History. At a time when high stakes testing is deforming public education in virtually every state in the nation, when it has assumed the character of a out of control train that no one at the controls seems able or willing to stop, you have shown that people of courage and character can lead us out of a path that will only end in tragedy.
What you have done has not been easy. You have been vilified, ostracized, threatened, and in some instances punished in ways that no children of any age should have to endure- from being forced to sit in silence for hours staring ahead, to being excluded from extracurricular activities, to being told you will be denied promotion or access to honors programs. A few of you have been told you are jeopardizing your teachers jobs, your schools funding, or real estate prices in your town; more than a few have been told that your actions will make it difficult to get into a good college
But as in other great movements when people take risks based upon deeply held convictions, this campaign of intimidation has backfired. For the first time since the Opt Out movement has started, civil liberties lawyers have stepped forward to defend Opting Out children and families, and a lawsuit has been filed in Rochester against one such family subject to particularly grievous levels of abuse
And courage you have displayed in the face of this has also brought unprecedented publicity to the Opt Out movement- literally scores of articles and tv stories in local media, major pieces in the New York Times and other national publications. Every politician and editorial writer in the state, and probably most around the nation, now know that thousands of New Yorkers have said no to uncontrolled testing, and some are starting to express doubts about the current direction of education policy in the nation.
Because of this, everyone who cares about the future of public education in the country is in your debt for showing us that resistance to current Education Reforms policies is both possible and necessary
You have shown us that while "It Takes a Village to Raise a Child" sometimes "It Takes a Child to Lead a Village"