Spring testing brings out protests and tin foil

Spring testing brings out protests and tin foil

(Mo.)  With a large number of states set later this spring to launch some form of new testing based on the Common Core State Standards, partisans on either side are taking some extreme positions.

A coalition of opposition parent groups, for instance, is organizing a national protest over the coming weeks to encourage millions of families to opt out of the testing and eventually get schools to drop high-stakes standardized assessments altogether.

Meanwhile in Jefferson City, leaders of a Missouri legislative panel proposed adding another $8 to the state’s $25 billion budget plan to facilitate purchase of “two rolls of high density aluminum to create headgear designed to deflect drone and/or black helicopter mind reading and control technology,” according to an item in the Kansas City Star.

The tin foil amendment came from Republican  Mike Lair, a former football coach and history teacher, who offered up the funding proposal as a jab at Common Core opponents who are seemingly too “paranoid” about the standards, according to the Star report.

The new standards, developed by a governor’s association and strongly backed by the Obama administration, were adopted by 45 states as long as five years ago, but as schools began the transition in earnest red flags began popping up from parents, teachers and policy-makers all over the country.

Some of the loudest complaints are coming, surprisingly, from the left side of the political spectrum. Teachers and lawmakers in New York, for instance, pressed the state’s board of education to delay for five years using test scores based on the Common Core for employment decisions and as a high school graduation requirement.

The swirl of controversy has opened a big hole for critics of standardized testing in general, something the Massachusetts-based Center for Fair and Open Testing is using to their advantage.

“Virtually no one in the education realm thinks the volume of testing and the consequences attached to it are useful educationally,” said spokesman Robert Schaeffer, in a December  interview with Cabinet Report. “There is an ideological and political agenda being imposed on public schools and we need to mobilize sufficient power to overturn it.”

Toward that end, Schaeffer’s group along with Parents Across America, United Opt Out, Network for Public Education, and Save Our Schools have organized what they hope will be the spring of testing reform.

According to their website, protests are planned in eight states – Alabama, North Carolina, Texas, Colorado, New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Illinois.

Nothing yet, it should be pointed out, has been organized in Missouri so Rep. Lair may have to export his tin hats when the time comes.

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