If you’re a public school parent in Texas, you're probably aware STAAR season is well underway. The first round of assessment in our elementary schools begins tomorrow. My kids are in kindergarten and prekindergarten which are not testing grades. However, my three and five year old already know the word STAAR and their experiences at school will be dramatically impacted by the testing that takes place on their campus this week.
You may have already seen that at your school today. On campuses all around our city, teachers and principals were engaged in pep rallies and other exercises to get kids “excited” and “pumped up” about the STAAR.
Thankfully, there were no pep rallies at our school, but tomorrow our school will go under a total lockdown. No visitors will be allowed on campus. There will be silent lunch and no recess.
In schools all across the State of Texas, classrooms will look like this:
If we are really supposed to believe that testing is no big deal and happens only once a year, the actions by adults in our public schools prove otherwise. These actions send the message to our kids that these testing days are VERY different than any other day of the year, and in fact, are THE MOST important days of the year.
Many parents, and even teachers and school administrators, believe these actions are mandated by the state government and shrug their shoulders. The truth is that they are not. The pep rallies, the decision to lock down campuses, to not give kids in non-testing grades recess or the opportunity to speak during lunch are LOCAL CHOICES.
These choices are developmentally inappropriate for elementary-aged students. The decision to ask my three year-old and five year-old to go all day Tuesday and Wednesday with no recess and silent lunch is torture. And because of this, we will stand with the thousands of other Texas Opt Out Parents and not send our kids to school.
I am fully aware this is a privilege we have and most parents cannot afford to find alternate child care for multiple days during testing season. But in exercising this privilege, I am trying to draw awareness of the fact that this accountability system and what it drives adults to do is bad for all kids. Until my campus and school board decide to make different local choices which put less emphasis on the STAAR test and treat these days like any other school days, they will not get the benefit of our attendance dollars.
If you are not able to keep your children home, I encourage you to write your local school board and tell them you are not happy with their choices. Until parents stand up and make their voices heard, the lunacy will continue.