Here is Arne Duncan's take: "U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Tuesday that the federal government is obligated to intervene if states fail to address the rising number of students who are boycotting mandated annual exams."
At the state level?
"State education department spokesman Jonathan Burman said in an email Tuesday that the “the feds are discussing the possibility of imposing penalties for failing to hit participation rate targets.” He added that the state is also expected to “consider imposing sanctions” on districts that fail to meet the 95 percent threshold, which could include withholding money “in the most egregious cases."
And yesterday, the local news indicated Houston ISD might require summer school for those kids who opt out of the state tests.
In an era when parents can opt out of vaccinating their kids, this reaction to opting out of tests seems just a tad, well, over the top. Rather than perhaps reflecting on the reasons why the numbers opting out are growing (and not it is not the suburban Mom syndrome, Mr. Duncan) and what might be done to address those concerns, we are turning to not-so-veiled threats. The threats are wrapped up in terms like the federal government is "obligated" as if there is some sort of mandate to ensure the largest percentage of kids might be made miserable with testing. Or noting that opt out numbers are "egregious." This political speak tells those outside of education that officials know what is best (Father Knows Best, after all, or is it Big Brother?). Those opting out are somehow sabotaging education, making the tests worthless unless 95% of the kids take them (and where does this come from anyway?).
It is time for those in leadership positions to LISTEN to concerns, to RESPOND to those concerns, to ACT without threats.