A Bizzare and Awful Story of Test Refusal From And Ohio Parent- Guest Post by Allison Shipe

My Bizarro Story of Test Refusal
                                     I am on one of the most interesting and maddeningly 12 week long journeys of my life.  It begins on August 25, 2014, my hubby and I were there, at the beginning of this school year in August, and together we agreed that after all we had learned, about increased standardized testing,  we would decide  to “opt out” (refuse the test) for our kindergartener and second grader.  I formally wrote, signed, presented to the school district our formal test refusal, on September 5, 2014. All concerned people: superintendent, principal, classroom teacher were given in hand hardcopies and electronic copies of our signed letter. With that decision, we found ourselves traveling down the rabbit hole. I knew that it would be hard, but was not ready for the push-back, bullying and obstruction I received from our local district. I can handle the bullying, which has continued through the district’s superintendent, who has called my home. Isolated my contact with anyone else in the district,  with  a long string of emails between us telling me what I can and can’t do with the education of my own children and also mentioning that I am NOT allowed to ask my children’s teachers anything about testing, assessments, curriculum, materials (are they gagged?) Not wanting to start a major “war,” I did as he asked and had not questioned the teachers about those things, yet he continued escalating his tactics. The superintendent has since used in-person verbal scare tactics with me, such as a verbal suggestion that I really should look into homeschooling, and has also sent numerous certified letters about homeschooling, homeschool forms, links to homeschool sites and other unasked for materials. The elementary school principal, Mrs. _____, has called my home to ask about bus transportation and asked me “why won’t you sign the waivers?” and has said “I wash my hands of your test refusal.” My darling daughter, who had been kindergarten screened with flying colors in our previously preferred school district and who was formally enrolled never got to attend one single day there due to the pressure I received from my communications with the preferred school district administrators The administrator had left a phone message stating “don’t bring ____ today, because I still don’t have an answer to your opt-out request from anyone in district five for Ohio. I got scared about truancy, So, I withdrew my children from __________ Village School District to enroll them in the _____ City School District in early September of 2014 so that I could fight this test refusal closer to home. Day by day the battle gets a little stranger. At first, I didn’t know where to turn, for answers, but luckily I found many kind souls out there around the country who were willing to help and support me! People such as Fran Morello, from the Thomas More law firm in Michigan, Dr. Mark Naison, Professor of African American Studies at Fordham University and creator of the activist group Baddass Teachers Association, Ms. Peggy Roberts, an educator in Colorado & co-creator of the National Opt-Out Test site, Ms. Diane Ravitch, nationally published author of “Reign of Error” and political activist; &  the list goes on and on. In the state of Ohio, I discovered many other people willing to help and support me in my cause; the members of the Northeast Ohio Chapter of the Ohio Badass Teachers Association, headed by Kelly Braun and Dawn Neely Randall, have been and continue to be extremely helpful. I have joined the group and attend monthly BATs meetings in addition to political activist functions they hold. With their help, I’ve realized that I CAN fight this. Why? Because I believe in respectfully speaking truth to power and authority. I believe in the constitution of the United States. I want you and I to be able to lawfully exercise our constitutional rights when we think it is important. And I believe in my heart that my parental and constitutional rights have been violated in the public school district of East Palestine, Ohio. I intend to keep fighting.Currently, I have been asked or sent in the mail(the forms) 13X , to sign a specially created for you, district waivers. In early November 2014,  I spoke at my BOE monthly meeting, and here is  part of  what I read aloud.. November 3, 2014
Dear Board Members,  My story begins August 25th, spans 2 school districts, has continued for weeks, and still does not have an adequate ending as I address you. Here for the record, is my formal test refusal read aloud…(insert my 1 page test refusal letter) 9/1/14Dear Principal _______________:
We are writing today to formally inform you and the _____________ District, of our decision to REFUSE to allow our child, __________, to participate in any standardized assessments imposed on children across the state for the 2014-2015 school year. Our refusal should in no way reflect on the teachers, administration, or school board. These test are abusing our children mentally and indoctrinating our children to be anti-American and Anti-parents. Common Core is harming our children mentally, by lowering their sense of self and by breaking our children’s spirit.
Our child will not participate in any assessments other than those solely used for the individual classroom teachers (diagnostic) and those that will be used to calculate _____________ report card grades.
We REFUSE to allow any data to be collected in any way from our son, __________, without our permission. Any assessment, besides final exams, whose data is used to determine school ranking, teacher effectiveness, state or federal longitudinal studies or any other purpose other than for the individual classroom teacher’s own use to improve his or her instruction, may not be presented to our child. Therefore, our son, __________ will not participate in the following:
-Any questionnaires given by the school or any other while in school. All questionnaires need to be approved by me, the parent.
-Any State Assessment
-Any benchmark exams / pre–assessments connected to “Student Learning Objectives”
-Any surveys, or “field tests” given by corporate or government entities or testing companies
-Any exam used to formulate an evaluation or score for ______’s teachers or school, other than the final exams for each subject area.
We believe in and trust our highly qualified and dedicated teachers and administrators. We believe in the high quality of teaching and learning that occurs at _________________. We hope our efforts will be understood within the context in which they are intended: to support the quality of instruction promoted by __________________ and to advocate for what is best for all children, approved by us, the parents.
We anticipate that our son, __________, will be treated fairly during assessment periods, as this was not his decision, but ours, as his parents. Since the benchmark assessments will be taking place early in the school year, please inform us as to the plan for Adam during the time when the assessments will take place. We do apologize in advance for the inconvenience to the administration, the faculty, and staff.
Sincerely, ___________________________________
9/1/14
Dear Principal _______________:
We are writing today to formally inform you and the _____________ District, of our decision to REFUSE to allow our child, __________, to participate in any standardized assessments imposed on children across the state for the 2014-2015 school year. Our refusal should in no way reflect on the teachers, administration, or school board. These test are abusing our children mentally and indoctrinating our children to be anti-American and Anti-parents. Common Core is harming our children mentally, by lowering their sense of self and by breaking our children’s spirit.
Our child will not participate in any assessments other than those solely used for the individual classroom teachers (diagnostic) and those that will be used to calculate _____________ report card grades.
We REFUSE to allow any data to be collected in any way from our son, __________, without our permission. Any assessment, besides final exams, whose data is used to determine school ranking, teacher effectiveness, state or federal longitudinal studies or any other purpose other than for the individual classroom teacher’s own use to improve his or her instruction, may not be presented to our child. Therefore, our son, __________ will not participate in the following:
-Any questionnaires given by the school or any other while in school. All questionnaires need to be approved by me, the parent.
-Any State Assessment
-Any benchmark exams / pre–assessments connected to “Student Learning Objectives”
-Any surveys, or “field tests” given by corporate or government entities or testing companies
-Any exam used to formulate an evaluation or score for ______’s teachers or school, other than the final exams for each subject area.
We believe in and trust our highly qualified and dedicated teachers and administrators. We believe in the high quality of teaching and learning that occurs at _________________. We hope our efforts will be understood within the context in which they are intended: to support the quality of instruction promoted by __________________ and to advocate for what is best for all children, approved by us, the parents.
We anticipate that our son, __________, will be treated fairly during assessment periods, as this was not his decision, but ours, as his parents. Since the benchmark assessments will be taking place early in the school year, please inform us as to the plan for Adam during the time when the assessments will take place. We do apologize in advance for the inconvenience to the administration, the faculty, and staff.
Sincerely, ___________________________________
9/1/14
Dear Principal _______________:
We are writing today to formally inform you and the _____________ District, of our decision to REFUSE to allow our child, __________, to participate in any standardized assessments imposed on children across the state for the 2014-2015 school year. Our refusal should in no way reflect on the teachers, administration, or school board. These test are abusing our children mentally and indoctrinating our children to be anti-American and Anti-parents. Common Core is harming our children mentally, by lowering their sense of self and by breaking our children’s spirit.
Our child will not participate in any assessments other than those solely used for the individual classroom teachers (diagnostic) and those that will be used to calculate _____________ report card grades.
We REFUSE to allow any data to be collected in any way from our son, __________, without our permission. Any assessment, besides final exams, whose data is used to determine school ranking, teacher effectiveness, state or federal longitudinal studies or any other purpose other than for the individual classroom teacher’s own use to improve his or her instruction, may not be presented to our child. Therefore, our son, __________ will not participate in the following:
-Any questionnaires given by the school or any other while in school. All questionnaires need to be approved by me, the parent.
-Any State Assessment
-Any benchmark exams / pre–assessments connected to “Student Learning Objectives”
-Any surveys, or “field tests” given by corporate or government entities or testing companies
-Any exam used to formulate an evaluation or score for ______’s teachers or school, other than the final exams for each subject area.
We believe in and trust our highly qualified and dedicated teachers and administrators. We believe in the high quality of teaching and learning that occurs at _________________. We hope our efforts will be understood within the context in which they are intended: to support the quality of instruction promoted by __________________ and to advocate for what is best for all children, approved by us, the parents.
We anticipate that our son, __________, will be treated fairly during assessment periods, as this was not his decision, but ours, as his parents. Since the benchmark assessments will be taking place early in the school year, please inform us as to the plan for Adam during the time when the assessments will take place. We do apologize in advance for the inconvenience to the administration, the faculty, and staff.
Sincerely, ___________________________________
The districts reaction to my test refusal was first to encourage me to homeschool my children and then to create and ask me to sign 2 district waivers. I thought this was something I HAD to sign, but, when I asked, no law, or Ohio revised code, or policy, or legal writing was able to be produced. Because I did not sign these waivers that were never fully defined as to the language used in waivers, my parental rights are being ignored in the district, and under the direction of the superintendent, my children have been tested against my express concerns and written refusal.  They were tested in September with the kindergarten readiness assessment, & the 2ndgrade reading diagnostic standardized test.  I want you to understand as a board, that parental rights are being ignored and that these district waivers, signed or unsigned will in no way do anything to stop my children from being tested.  The school district waivers are in no way a legal backed document. The district’s decision to have my children tested and to continue testing my children is a violation of my parental constitutional rights.  Where does this end? In what ways will student and parental rights continue to be ignored? How many others will be counseled out of the school district so their rights do not have to be granted? A mechanism must be found for parents to test refuse in this district. Myself, as a parent being asked to sign multiple district waivers is clearly not working and will not work for the future.  There are many districts here in Ohio that have working proceedures  for test refusal.  I would be willing to participate in these conversations. Thank you for the opportunity to address the board tonight.
And, I am still stumped, as the only solution offered up to me from my chidren’s school district(yet again) is to sign 2 district waivers that address standardize tests already given to my children , 2 months ago.  Please help get the word out, that there are complex, strangeO true stories out there of parents struggling and trying to do what is best for their children.  What I want, is a collarboration between myself, my children, and our local school district.   Apparently my children’s school district thinks otherwise.  I’m thinking that The moment your children or mine step foot on school property,  our constitutionally backed parental rights are no longer valid.  The public school district can do whatever they want.  God forbid the health of your children are not in question, like when my neighbor relay her story to me, of last school year,  when her then, 5 year old daughter was on a 504 plan for health reasons, the school completely disregarded that legal document and gave her kinder child a life threatening treat to eat, that could easily have stopped her heart. This Mom friend of mine went into our principal’s office as she stated to me & raised Cain—(secretly I hoped so & applaud her so much).  I will keep fighting on, in my convictions on test refusal for my 2 very young children because I do not want to live in a country where we do not have our constitutional rights in working order for ourselves. Our forefathers fought and died for our rights to have the constitution lawfully when necessary.
 So, in my quiet moments,  when I don’t want to be so sad about my kids testing situation, or focus on how all our constitutional rights are being eroded away little by little, I make up story titles for myself, the most recent one goes something like this, “schools unlawful boo-boo & how Allison fell for it.” Others are, “the autumn of the testing mess, or,  trick or treat, some twits test your kids and Skip to the school, my darling & get tested..again” Poems also lift me up, one I wrote, goes like this.. Engine Engine, baby of mine,
 off to school, age 5 on the line
If you test, & deformers say “off track”
no way you’ll get your childhood back
But more seriously, I want to, let my town know, & more specifically the parents around me, that an unlawful situation happened to me recently, when I formally asked the school district my children attend to not standardize test my kids.  The administrators that work down the street from me, are conducting business w/me badly, they has been fond of bullying me, lying to me, singling me out, gagging my kids teachers, trampling on my parental rights, isolating me in communications with only the superintendent, chasing me around town with a made up unlawful waiver, and so very sadly, Under the cover of power, authority, politics, money.  This IS NOT LEGAL.  I am furious, I am furious for myself, my children, & the whole population of the district, because I have directly had (and having) a crap ass experience with them that is highly illegal.   I bow down on my knees for the chance to publish my story far & wide, because I think it is good to show transparnacey with authority when they knowingly hurt simple people like my children and myself.  Justice is so critically important.