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OPINION: Is Opting Out a Cop Out?

April 15, 2014 Raysa Rodriguez For Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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I’ve been reading lately about parents who are keeping their kids out of public school testing this week. They are “opting out” of the new higher standards that New York schools have adopted as part of an effort to increase the low number of kids who graduate high school prepared for college.

How someone chooses to raise their child is up to them, but as a parent of a public school student myself, I welcome the steps our schools are taking to improve education. What I tell my daughter is simple — study hard and do your best. I would never tell them to sit out a test at school. And I can’t imagine my parents letting me get away with that when I was a kid.

I’m concerned about the type of message we send young people when we tell them to “opt out” because the tests are too hard.  Does this mean they should “opt out” of homework, too?  Science can be hard. Math is hard. Should we opt out of them completely?  Where does it end?

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The world has changed since I was a kid. The economy is global and more competitive. I want my daughter to be as prepared as possible when she enters the workforce. New York’s new higher standards are based on the Common Core, a set of guidelines developed by educators that are built on commonsense principles like critical thinking and digging deeper into complex issues. These are the skills my daughter needs to be successful.

I wonder what other countries would think of American parents forcing their kids to “opt out.” I don’t think kids in China or Singapore are opting out.

Growing up, we learned about the start of the Cold War and how the Soviet Union launched Sputnik, the first satellite. Back then, America couldn’t stand to be second, so we made massive investments in education and we beat the Russians to the moon. I can’t help but think about what these parents today might have done back then if their kids were pushed into more rigorous math and science classes.  Would they have just given up?  “Ask not what your country can do for you, just opt out and it will all be fine.”

I don’t mean to diminish the concerns that many parents feel about standardized testing, but these new standards don’t add any additional tests — they just make the tests our kids are taking better. 

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