Sunday, April 26, 2015

Blood and Guts Basic Organizing Grows Opt Out Movement - in Chicago

On Friday Albany Park, North Park, Mayfair Neighbors for Peace and Justice had a 4-person team go  out to  the Murphy Elementary School at dismissal time. ... Report from secondcityteachers        
There is an interesting concept in this report from Jim Vail in Chicago on the opt out movement. Plant people in front of schools and hand out leaflets with opt out info to parents picking up kids and to the older kids to take home. If groups like AQE and other community groups were free to do that -- and I mean free from being under the influence of people - like the UFT - funding them, we might see true organizing efforts at the school - grassroots - level. But it is more "showy" to hold a rally somewhere or issue proclamations of semi-support for opt out.

Where are the equivalents of Mayfair Neighbors for Peace and Justice here in NYC? The only group I know is Change the Stakes which is on such overload with such few resources - literally no money to even produce leaflets - or personnel to be out in front of schools. I believe the people in MORE could be doing more too - like try to get over to a nearby school to make contact, something that just hasn't been happening.

Note the reactions of school administrators to people leafleting outside their schools and the reaction to not having people listen to them when told to stop.

Opt Out Still an Option!

By Neal Resnikoff
Albany Park, North Park, Mayfair Neighbors for Peace and Justice

Another very good experience taking the opt-out message to another school.
On Friday Albany Park, North Park, Mayfair Neighbors for Peace and Justice had a 4-person team go  out to  the Murphy Elementary School at dismissal time.        
Many parents were very interested in learning about the issue.
Others already knew about the issue and had opted their children out of the Common Core PARCC tests in March, one estimating that about 10 students had opted out. One parent reported that there had been lively discussion in the Local School Council on the issue of the PARCC tests.
We also talked to a few teachers, most of whom opposed the tests and thanked us for distributing leaflets. One teacher tried to convince us that the tests are good for students. But she was willing to have a good exchange with one of the team members.
Students were very excited to learn they could opt of the PARCC tests.We told them that they had the right to refuse to take a harmful test, and that no one had the right to punish them for it. 

Many came over to get our leaflets after they saw their friends had them. They then gathered in groups of 10 or more to have discussion about the issues. They got especially enthused when we told them about the thousands of students across the country who are refusing to take the PARCC and other Common Core tests.  Students told us that they thought the PARCC tests that they took in March were a waste of time, and that they did not think they were fair or even clear.                 
This principal--like other authorities  we have been meeting was very upset. She said we were preventing students from heading home--about 50 were still hanging around when she came out. She and the assistant principal said we should not be handing out leaflets to students, only to parents. Though they were frantic and the principal even took a flyer out of a student's hands, they did not threaten to call the police the way the administration of North River Elementary did on Thursday
All of these administrators seem amazed that we would go right ahead--- after they told us--in effect-- to stop exercising the right of free speech, assembly and the press.                 
We are enjoying these opt-out experiences--feeling that whether or not we get more students to refuse to take the PARCC tests, we are getting some students and parents to think about the idea that they have rights and can exercise them despite what "authorities" tell them.

We are planning to distribute at two other schools at dismissal time and. If you would like to join with us, please let us know. It is very useful work. --Neal  


 A 4-person team from Albany Park, North Park, Mayfair Neighbors for Peace and Justice had a good time distributing leaflets in English and Spanish against the Common Core PARCC tests  today at the small North River Elementary school.
Students were exceptionally receptive to hearing about how they can opt of the new upcoming round of the PARCC tests. Some did not know that more PARCC tests are coming. But many stopped to share their view that the tests they did take in March were unfair and too hard, and that they didn't see any point in taking them and didn't like it. And many came over to get copies of our leaflets and to discuss opting out with us and groups of classmates. Some who had already passed by without getting our flyer came back to ask for one when they heard about it from their friends.
Parents were also interested in getting the leaflets, and one said she opted her special needs child out of the testing.
One teacher said that about half of the students in grades 6,7,8 had opted out, about 30 in this small school.
Administrators were very upset with what we were doing. A vice principal and another administrator and a security guard sent by the principal separately told us  that we could distribute to parents, but that we could not ”solicit to minors” (their words), that this was against Board policy. They were a little late in threatening that if we continued to do this  they would call the police—because almost all the parents and students were gone by then. We pointed out that the school administrators solicit children every day, such as by telling them to take the PARCC tests, and we have every right, including the legal right, to urge the students not to take the tests. --Neal

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