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Timothy D. Slekar Headshot

Teachers, This One Is for You

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If you've been following my blogs, you know that my family has been wrestling with idea of boycotting NCLB testing this year. My wife and I decided on "Bartleby light." So as parents, we opted our son out of NCLB testing and did not put the pressure on him to write, "I prefer not to take your test."

In our small town, word spreads fast and it came to our attention that some of the teachers didn't understand why we were "mad" at them. Didn't we (my wife and I) understand that they (teachers) are forced by law to administer NCLB assessments?" My wife and I know that "opting out" of NCLB may initially hurt our schools AYP, but in three years all schools will fail to meet AYP. Then what (see here)?

I needed the teachers to understand that we are 100 percent supportive of them and public schools. I decided to write a letter to the school's principal. The next day the principal asked if he could share it with the teachers. "Absolutely!" By the end of the day my wife and I had found out that the majority of teachers were now supportive of our act of civil disobedience.

Therefore, I decided to include the letter in this blog.

Dear Principal,

If the teachers don't understand what we're doing please let them know they can contact me directly. We want them to know that we feel like this the only option left that might help them (teachers) get their professional autonomy back. We have worked with all the representatives (local, state, and federal). Each level has dismissed us. The boycott is not against the teachers. It's actually in support of them. I can't stand seeing teachers and teaching having the life sucked out of them. Michelle and I want the teachers and administrators put back in charge, in collaboration with the local community. This is how a public school system is supposed to work in a democracy -- parents, teachers, and administrators working together to provide the best education possible for our kids.

Teachers need to know that the accountability movement is really a rigged witch-hunt. In the end (actually occurring now) teachers are being blamed for not holding kids accountable and failing schools. Michelle and I want the teachers to know that if they were leading the discussion concerning quality education we would never have had NCLB. This system was specifically designed to fail. As supporters of teachers and public education, Michelle and I had to be a little extreme (boycott), because the end result of NCLB testing will result in the extreme ending of public education as we know it. We refuse to let a corrupt system (not designed by teachers and administrators) use our kid as a data point to prove that teachers and public schools are failing. We greatly admire the teachers and administrators that work in our public schools.

Sincerely,

Tim

Teachers, if your students start to "opt out" of NCLB, it has nothing to with their feelings towards you. This is a movement in support of you. We know you are being held hostage by NCLB. At this point, only we (parents) can fight against the high-stakes standardized testing madness. Your jobs are on the line and your hands are tied. We (parents) are the only ones that might be able to make a difference.

Should my wife and I do anything else? Does this "adequately" explain our intentions? Should teachers and administrators support or condemn us?