PARCC and the Irony of Choice

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Accountability Amanda Vega Charter Schools New Jersey Opt-Out PARCC

PARCC and the Irony of Choice

PARCC and the Irony of Choice

With the second round of PARCC fast-approaching, the overwrought discourse continues on both sides. There have been countless articles supporting PARCC, covering the PARCC backlash and then the response to the backlash from the pro-PARCCers.

So here’s one more, touching on the irony of recent PARCC legislation, that I’ll just say flat out.

This spring, the education establishment—champions of the status quo—launched a statewide campaign promoting PARCC opt-out as a parent’s right. Yet, the very parents who decry PARCC testing and demand, no, expect educational choice for their children are the same parents fervently fighting to limit educational choice for families in urban communities.

And where does that leave us?

Last month, the New Jersey General Assembly passed a bill package that does two things:

  1. The proposed “opt out bill” (A4165) grants a student’s parent or guardian 14 days before the test to notify the school district or charter school, in writing, that the student will not be taking the test. The school would then be required to provide “educationally appropriate alternative activities” in another room for students not taking the test.
  2. The second bill (A4268) would create a task force to study what the state has done to support the administration of PARCC, how much it costs school districts and whether schools are technologically ready for PARCC. The panel would also be charged with studying the use of students’ results and confidential student and family data.

Given the controversies and philosophical disagreements around high-stakes testing and national education standards, parents and guardians are being granted a right to determine what is in the best interest of their child. Makes sense to me.

What doesn’t make sense is why some parents get choices (read: suburban communities), and others don’t (read: urban communities).

By no means am I submitting a vote for the over-testing of students. However, this hypocrisy calls into question who is allowed to make decisions about their child’s access to education and who is not. Clearly, the “haves” have it, and the “have-nots” don’t.

Amanda Vega joined New Jersey Charter Schools Association in August 2014 and is responsible for the organization’s strategy and execution of communications and marketing. This post originally appeared on the blog Charters Change Lives.
Photo by Gates Foundation, CC-licensed.

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