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I’m not pro-testing. But this is silly.

favicon Protests against standardized testing are heating up this year as we head into assessment season. Some parents are opting their children out of the mandatory tests, and educational leaders like Diane Ravitch are calling for more boycotts.

I don’t mind the protesters. They have a good point — that maybe there’s too much testing, that it reduces the humanity of their children to a zombie-like state. It’s an important debate. Even though the new Common Core State Standards will likely reduce the overall amount of testing, I can see why parents and their children might feel frustration.

But pictures like this make me crazy.

Antitesting Pic

Here are a few reasons this protest is silly:

  • Sign made by the parent, not by the child.
  • No, one test cannot ruin your life.
  • Doesn’t help that the child is smiling.

It just doesn’t make sense to argue that your 9-year-old boy is a robot of standardized testing and then force him to a protest with a sign that you made yourself.

Of course it’s normal that things get heated when people become impassioned. Unfortunately, the education debate is now strongly either-or. Either you are for public school or you’re for corporate privatization. Either you’re for creativity and humanity or you’re for standardized testing. Either poverty is the reason for everything bad in education, or teachers are.

Some say that a real conversation wouldn’t get us anywhere. A false compromise is what the corporate reformers want. A revolution is necessary.

That’s fine. There’s nothing wrong with revolution, but please, while you’re at it, have your students reading a book of their choice instead of standing behind a sign they didn’t make. favicon


  1. Rebecca Hipps

    I went and heard Diane Ravitch speak last week and I had a very similar reaction. I just don’t see what opting out, protesting, backing out of the Common Core, etc. is actually going to solve. I think dialogue is helpful. Running away is not.

  2. Mark Isero

    Hi Rebecca. Prof. Ravitch is very smart and very well-spoken. But I agree with you. Sometimes I feel like she’s saying that everything is OK in education except for poverty. If we solve poverty, then we’ll solve the ills of education. I just don’t think that’s the most appropriate theory of action at this point.

    If Prof. Ravitch doesn’t like the Common Core, which is fine, then I would like to hear more about what her alternative is. From what I’ve heard, it seems like she would like to go back to things as they were. That’s just not good enough, especially for urban kids of color who will be the first in their families to go to college.

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