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More Creativity, Less Standardization: Why You Should Support National Opt Out Day

Parents, educators, students, and social activists are fighting back against standardized testing on January 7th, National Opt Out Day

In 2013, mandates which take away real learning and real teaching are many—students and educators are surrounded by testing schedules, test prep, and lockstep curriculum. At the same time many parents, educators, students, and social activists find ourselves working hard to preserve and improve what we know must occur in public schools: creative, critical, and conceptual thinking.

To that end, we at United Opt Out National, a grassroots organization committed to ending the influence of high stakes testing and corporate-driven education reform, are declaring January 7 as National Opt Out Day. What does it mean to opt out? It means a refusal to buy into something—in this case the stranglehold that high stakes testing has on public education. We must resist and rebuild public education this year, and here are a few strategies we can try:


  • Pass out "opt out" brochures in your neighborhood, local coffee shop, or school.
  • Mail postcards to senators, superintendents, and your Department of Education and tell them how you’re opting out of corporate education reform.
  • Facebook flash mob specific Facebook pages frequented by parents, and share information about high stakes testing, scripted curriculum and the lack of play in our public schools.
  • Have coffee with your neighbor and speak the truth about the impact of standardized testing.
  • Write a letter to the editor of your local paper and expose the truth.
  • Sign up to go to Washington D.C. this April for our Occupy the Department of Education protest and and start writing your mic check speech.
  • Simply take a risk.
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  • Leave handouts of A Declaration of Professional Conscience for Teachers in all the teachers’ mailboxes.
  • Refuse to test on January 7. Allow for creative thinking in whatever form it make take: art, PE, music, play, drama, building and more.
  • Ask students questions that have no finite answer.
  • Let the children play, paint, or sing.
  • Never refer to a child by his or her test score.
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  • Opt your child out of district interim testing.
  • Begin your child's opt out letter and mail it in before state testing begins.
  • Pay attention to the homework coming home and demand a more creative curriculum if you find the work to be boring and defined by surface-level thinking or skills drilling.
  • Tell your children that the state test score does not define them.
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  • Tell your teachers about National Opt Out Day and encourage them to participate.
  • Write a letter to us and share your story about your experience as a learner in today's public schools.
  • \n

There are many ways to opt out of corporate education reform—please add to our list. And, we hope you join us. Always know that the slam dunk is refusing the high stakes tests. If no one takes the test the profit for the companies that create these tests ends, we can begin to focus on what is important—equal opportunity for all learners in our public schools.

We want every classroom to be filled with joy and creative thought on January 7th—and every day. Real learning and real teaching is messy and has heart—a number cannot define what we do, who we are and who we may become. Resist and rebuild on January 7, 2013 and tell us how it went. Together we can empower the masses to take back our public schools for all children.

Click here to add sending a postcard telling education policy makers and politicians how you plan to opt out to your GOOD "to-do" list.

Student filling out answer to test image via Shutterstock

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