Opting out: The story of the parents’ grassroots movement to achieve whole-child public schools

Abstract

 Presenter (s) David Hursh, Warner School of Education, University of Rochester
Zhe Chen, Warner School of Education, University of Rochester

The rise of high-stakes testing in New York and across the nation has narrowed and simplified what is taught, while becoming central to the effort to privatize public schools. However, it and similar reform efforts have met resistance, with New York as the exemplar for how to repel standardized testing and invasive data collection, such as inBloom. In New York, the two parent/teacher organizations that have been most effective are Long Island Opt Out and New York State Allies for Public Education. Over the last four years, they and other groups have focused on having parents refuse to submit their children to the testing regime, arguing that if students don’t take the tests, the results aren’t usable. The opt-out movement has been so successful that 20% of students statewide and 50% of students on Long Island refused to take tests. In Opting Out, two parent leaders of the opt-out movement—Jeanette Deutermann and Lisa Rudley—tell why and how they became activists in the two organizations. The story of parents, students, and teachers resisting not only high-stakes testing but also privatization and other corporate reforms parallels the rise of teachers across the country going on strike to demand increases in school funding and teacher salaries. Both the success of the opt-out movement and teacher strikes reflect the rise of grassroots organizing using social media to influence policy makers at the local, state, and national levels. See the publisher’s page here for more information, including Table of Contents and Reviews!

David Hursh is a professor in education at the Warner School, the University of Rochester. He has researched, written, and taught about numerous aspects of education, including neoliberalism and environmental health. Over the last several years he has focused on the politics of high-stakes testing and written two books: High-Stakes Testing and the Decline of Teaching and Learning: The Real Crisis in Education (2008) and The End of Public Schools: The Corporate Reform Agenda to Privatize Education (2016). He is an associate editor of the Journal of Education Policy. E-mail: dhursh@warner.rochester.edu

Zhe Chen is an international student from China pursuing doctoral studies in Teaching & Curriculum at the University of Rochester. She holds two master’s degrees, one in International Education from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the other in Education Policy from the University of Rochester. Her research interests focus on educational policy in China, the United States, and elsewhere.

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