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Thompson: The Moral Complexities of Opting Out

NsaI have long had conflicted feelings regarding teachers’ timidity in resisting test-driven “reform.”

Of course, it is disgraceful that we have barely resorted to direct actions ranging from work stoppages to boycotts or civil disobedience.  

I still can’t say where I should have drawn the line, much less determine at what point my fellow teachers should have fought back.

Above all, we must listen to students like California teacher/blogger Chris Thinnes' son, who decided to opt out of testing -- and then reconsidered.

California teacher/blogger Chris Thinnes, in Opting Out, Revisited captures the moral complexities involving in resisting the bubble-in mania.

In a previous post, Thinnes vowed to not hold his 9th grade son hostage to his convictions about the repugnance of high-stakes tests.

His son decided to opt out of testing.

Thinnes second post describes the reason why his son reconsidered. 

The high school student explained his “disappointment that valuable time that could be spent learning in my magnet classes is spent instead by completing standardized tests that show nothing about my learning ability or potential …”

But he read that poor school-wide CST scores could result in his magnet school’s loss of freedom to teach according to its unique interdisciplinary curriculum.

Consequently, he “realized that no matter what my opinion on CST testing may be, I still support the magnet and value its curriculum. On principle, respecting the magnet and supporting it is more important to me than using the CST testing as an opportunity to express my discontent with the way the testing is organized and presented.”

As I continue to play Hamlet in deciding how forceful we should be in resisting accountability-driven "reform," I will listen to both moderates like Randi Weingarten and militants like Karen Lewis. Above all, we must listen to students like Chris Thinnes' son.- JT(@drjohnthompson) Image via

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