Tuesday, April 16, 2013

To The Children and Families in New York State Opting Out of State Tests

Today, in New York State, democratic renewal takes the form of thousands of children refusing to take tests they and their families deem oppressive. We are all in your debt. You are setting an example for an entire nation where testing has gotten completely out of control due to political opportunism, cynicism and greed. Many teachers, principals, school superintendents- and even a few state education administrators- agree with you but few have been willing to risk their careers to fight a Political Juggernaut that they regard as unstoppable because so much Big Money has been behind it. So it has come to you, ordinary citizens and their children, to stop this Runaway Testing Train.

But there is nothing ordinary you are doing. Taking this action, sometimes in the face of intimidation and threats, is the living embodiment of the democratic spirit in this nation, the same kind of courage that led Rosa Parks to refuse to give up her seat in that Montgomery Bus in 1955, and the four North Carolina College students who refused to leave the white section of a segregated lunch counter in 1960. Those actions eventually sparked a movement to sweep away segregation, but there was no guarantee that would be the result when those individuals took them. They only knew that their conscience would no longer allow them to endure this kind of wrong doing, which at the time was enshrined in law.

The tests that children opting out of today were imposed by state law. Parents are being told that refusing these tests is illegal. But challenging unjust laws, with dignity and purpose and in a spirit of peace, is what makes democracy work when government authority rides roughshod over peoples rights

So once again, in behalf of millions of people around the nation horrified by what testing is doing to our public schools, I thank you for your courage, I thank you for your sacrifice, I thank you for your example

You are truly making history today.

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