Across Arizona, horror stories are told by parents who have attempted to opt their children out of the AZMerit exam this year, in response Senator Sylvia Allen this week urged local school leaders and administrators to work with parents, be respectful and not retaliate against a student for choices that a parent may make.
“Unfortunately, another legislative session is coming to an end where a parent’s right to make educational decisions for their children are not being recognized in our state laws. Senator Allen sponsored SB 1455, which would have allowed parents to opt their children out of the AzMERIT assessment,” noted the senator in a statement released on Friday.
This year Congress reauthorized the federal education law that gave states the flexibility to develop their own opt-out policies, but Senator Allen was unable to get it through the legislative process this session.
Senator Allen stated, “It is a core belief of mine that a parent’s rights come from God and not the government. Some parents have legitimate concerns about the increased pressure of high-stakes testing and the impact it is having on their children. There is conflict in the law and our values, which is causing confusion and distress and putting schools in unnecessary battle with parents. I will continue to fight for parental rights in directing their child’s education next legislative session.”
Senator Allen continued, “The absence of a law that recognizes a parent’s right to opt-out of statewide testing will not keep parents from making these important choices on behalf of their students. Some are making the choice to opt-out of AzMERIT and I have heard testimonials that some schools are working with parents with grace and dignity, while I have heard that other schools are bullying and utilizing scare tactics. I am urging our schools to work with parents, seek to understand and treat them with the respect and the dignity they deserve.”
“I have been disappointed to hear about some of the problems parents have come across when trying to opt their students out of statewide testing. While I understand that our state does not currently recognize what I believe is every parent’s right to do just that, I will always encourage our districts and schools to hear the concerns of parents and work with them to avoid any unnecessary conflicts,” stated Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas.
“It’s very sad that it took an Arizona Senator to urge our “trusted” teachers, principals, and other local school administrators to stop bullying children as young as 8 years old. That’s how prevalent it is. Some children are taken to a private room, alone, to be coerced; some are told they’ll be held back in third grade if they don’t take AzMerit. Third graders, whose parents refused the test, who stand their ground in spite of teacher/principal intimidation, have been forced to sit and do nothing all day, not even allowed to read a book. Young children who refused AzMerit are shunned by an entire school, while other children who took AzMerit, get to attend a big party. These ‘local leaders’ are a disgrace,” stated Anita Christy, publisher of GilbertWatch.com, which has covered the abuses extensively.
“Thank you Senator Allen for understanding Parental Authority does not come from government. Parents do have legitimate concerns about Common Core standards, testing, student privacy, and data collection. Another Legislative session is ending without concrete solutions to address our concerns,” said the Mommy Lobby in a statement released Friday.
“Parents know who is on our side, we watch, we listen, and we speak up at the ballot box. As the campaign season goes on, parents will be asking tough questions of those who seek to represent us. Our children are our special interest,” concluded the Mommy Lobby.