PARCC and the Deafening Irony of Choice

By Amanda F. Vega

With part two of PARCC fast-approaching, the overwrought discourse continues on either side. There have been countless articles supporting PARCC, covering the PARCC backlash, and then the response to the backlash from the pro-PARCC-ers. So here’s one more, touching on the irony of 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 Assembly passed a bill package that does two things:

  • 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.
  • 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 andwhether schools were 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 have-nots don’t.

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About New Jersey Charter Schools Association

Formed in 1999, the New Jersey Charter Schools Association (NJCSA) is a 501(c)(3) membership association that represents the state’s charter school community and, by extension, charter school students and their parents. We are committed to advancing quality public education for New Jersey’s children through quality public charter schools, with the vision that every child in the State of New Jersey should have the opportunity to attend a high-quality public school that best meets his or her needs.
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