Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Janine Sopp, Opt-Outer

It was an incredible honor to stand with all of the parents, elected officials and press in Brooklyn today. It felt like a real movement, with the most lively opt out signs to decorate our celebration!.. Janine Sopp





These were my closing remarks at today's press conference:
 
Optout, The New Normal (Brooklyn Opt Out Press Conference, 4/1/14)

My name is Janine Sopp. I am a parent of a 5th grader at The Brooklyn New School who has opted out of the state tests since 3rd grade. We were the first family at BNS to opt out three years ago. It's wonderful to be surrounded by so many families who have decided to opt out this year. I'd like to thank everyone who has shared their stories here today and everyone who has come to hear them.

As we wrap up this morning, I'd like you to think about this experience as the NEW NORMAL!

Where Parents from all over Brooklyn have come together to help collectively explain what WE REMEMBER about ourselves, about our children, our teachers and our schools.

When a fog rolled in about 13 years ago, with the enactment of NCLB, and and even thicker fog tried to create a screen between parents and schools when RTTT and CCSS were put into place, parents were busy with their busy lives. When a nation at risk seemed to have all the answer to help all children succeed, laws were passed and no one on the ground really understood what was at stake. That the standardization of a generation, privatization and the collection of sensitive student data would become acceptable.

But then, one day, parents began to wake up out of this fog. We looked at our children and realized we did not recognize them. And in that moment, we began to REMEMBER that thing called "intuition", which had served us well just a few years before. We are here today to tell you that education for us is not about raising test scores, but about raising children. That education, when done well, can incorporate all the senses and all the joys of childhood.
Our children have one shot at this experience, and we want it to be filled with fond memories of our teachers and our schools, and to fill them with the love of learning that is found in private schools that teach to the whole child. 

There are many ways to educate and evaluate that do not require the use of high stakes standardized tests. It is clear that private schools know this best, and many of our public schools know this too.

Our children are not here to fulfill some corporate agenda. They are not widgets, they are not standardized and they are not happy when made to perform as such. They are children, who learn organically, whether some agree with this or not. They are individuals, with their own talents and strengths, and we do not want an education that puts them into a box or onto a spreadsheet. We see them as living, breathing and expanding beings and their education needs to reflect this.

So let's stop this "one size fits all testing". Let's take the millions of dollars now handed over to for-profit companies and put it where real teaching and learning take place, in our childrens' classrooms. And let's protect our children and keep the sensitive information about them private. This beautiful alliance of parents from all schools in the city coming together is the BEGINNING of the NEW NORMAL, and it's a place where we can all meet - policy makers, parents, teachers, administrators, experts in child development and testing, along with students. Where we can come together to discuss, look at and listen to ways to positively assess our children, our teachers and our schools, and once again, see them as individuals with their own needs and gifts and hopes.

This is the wish I have as a parent, for my beautiful and gifted daughter, and for all children. That their experience in school allows them to find their voice and self confidence as they grow to become the best they can be. And this cannot be measured by a test score.

Thank you.
Janine Sopp
BNS parent

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