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As Common Core testing gears up, rebels move to opt out

While the numbers of rebels appear to be small, pockets of intense opposition to the new Common Core testing set to begin next month are percolating.

In Louisiana, opt-out politics have some school districts on edge. School boards in Terrebonne and St. Tammany parishes are asking the state to allow them to opt out of the tests, in part because, as things stand, students whose parents do not allow them to take the tests will count as zeros for the high stakes accountability system.

"Those students who refuse to take the test would register a score of zero," The Times-Picayune reports. "So if lots of children 'opt out' of the assessment, their zeros could end up skewing the overall assessment results for their home school or district, said critics of the test. Schools that earn failing grades are more likely to be taken over by the state."

Gov. Bobby Jindal recently issued an executive order protecting parents who opt out, but schools would still be on the hook. Jindal has moved opposition to the Common Core to the front of his presidential campaign strategy, NBC News notes, which quotes him telling a conservative group that the new curriculum "involves the federal government in local decisions where the federal government has no business being."

In New Jersey, three school districts are allowing students to opt out, and even some who support the tests in the abstract are expressing concerns.

Newark, New Jersey, Mayor Ras Baraka is also urging for a rethink on the testing program.

"I stand in solidarity with their opposition to this regime of standardized testing and call upon the district to meet parental decisions to "opt-out" with educationally appropriate, not punitive responses, including alternative settings and activities wherever possible," Baraka said, according to an NJ.com report.

While actual numbers are hard to pinpoint, in parts of Ohio, opposition to the new tests is fierce, according the Cleveland Plain Dealer, with both parents and teachers involved. One 16-year veteran teacher used a forum on the tests to announce she was resigning at the end of the year because of overtesting.

“I can’t do it anymore, not in this ‘drill ‘em and kill ‘em’ atmosphere,” Stacie Starr told an assembled group of parents, the Chronicle-Telegram reported. “I don’t think anyone understands that in this environment if your child cannot quickly grasp material, study like a robot and pass all of these tests, they will not survive.”

Email: eschulzke@desnews.com