Fast Focus: 'Should children be encouraged to opt-out of standardized tests?' Listen to teachers' warnings

April 20, 2014 

Once again, you are asking the wrong question. It is not a matter of empowering the students to opt-out of standardized tests (third graders don't have the cognitive ability to make an independent choice on such matters); it is a matter of informing parents regarding their children's education to allow them to determine what's best for their child. The standardized testing being used to assess Common Core learning isn't what's best. (Common Core itself is a discussion for another day.)

Teachers have been pointing out the hazards of over-testing for more than 10 years. Neither you, nor parents, nor state legislatures have listened. Indeed, legislatures across the country have been in lock-step with the Gates, Broad and Walton foundations which are pushing more testing for the public schools (but not, it should be noted, into the private schools where they send their children). If the government required doctors to use the wrong surgical instrument, or worse, only one instrument for every operation as they do with teachers, you would be up in arms in minutes. Why is it that teachers have warned the public for 10 years and you not only refused to listen, but you choose to blame teachers for doing their professional duty to expose the problem?

The current testing regime is harming students and reducing student learning. It strips away the professional judgment that teachers have regarding your children and threatens them with job insecurity if they speak out against testing.

Ultimately, it is up to the parents to weigh in on excessive testing; teachers have a professional duty to inform parents of the opt-out options even as administration and the media threaten and excoriate them for doing so.

Your editorial position that teachers should not advise parents of their legally available options runs contrary to your duty to fully inform the public of those options. That's not what we expect from a quality newspaper.

-- RICHARD REUTHER, Richland

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