It is been two weeks since we delivered our Letters of Professional Conscience to the Renton School Board. We have not received a response from them to date, thus we were prompted to speak to them again this evening.
We met before the board meeting to craft our joint speech to the school board. Although we had touched on some of our talking points in the last two weeks, tonight we strategically planned the tone and content of our speech during the first quiet time we had had together since that important night.
We decided to employ a friendly, yet strong stand in hopes that the school board would take some actions for the benefit our students. Unlike some cities where may oral control has taken root, we still maintain a semblance of local control. We wanted to give our board a chance to use some of this local control for the students we mutually care about.
We decided that only one of us would speak for all four of us tonight so as not to test the board’s patience.
Julianna Krueger-Dauble went to the podium, while Becca Ritchie, Susan DuFresne and two supportive teachers stood in solidarity behind Julianna. Here is what we had to say to our school board this evening:
Members of the board and Dr. Rieger, tonight I speak on behalf of of the four of us who delivered our Letters of Professional Conscience to you two weeks ago.
There is a crisis in education. Much of the message delivered by the steady stream of teachers at these meetings is not in your control. We who have voiced concerns about over-testing, the lack of time, training, and support for our students in this high stakes environment are here to respectfully ask you to take action in some areas that are in your control.
We have heard no response to our concerns about the harm done in the new high stakes testing environment imposed on our students from preschool to high school seniors.
Two weeks ago we presented to you our letters of professional conscience in which we outlined in detail the objections we have to the Smarter Balanced Assessment. These letters included two options for our building administration or you, the board, to choose from. These were the choices we presented to you:
____ Ms. Dauble, Your concerns are noted and valued and you will be allowed to opt out of administering the SBA without any retribution.
____ Ms. Dauble, Your concerns are noted and your professional conscience is being discounted. Administration requires you to administer the SBA despite your objections and the harm, outlined in the narrative, that children will experience.
We know that you don’t have the authority to assign us other duties at our schools on test days but our building administrators can make this decision. Administering this test goes against our conscience and we find it morally objectionable. We will not remain silent. We are joined by colleagues across the country in this stance we are taking for children.
We request that you recommend to our principals that during testing we assume other duties in our buildings to support student learning.
We request that each Board member take the SBA practice tests in ELA and Math at different grade levels.
We request you use the actual technology in our classrooms to take the practice tests as though you are a student so that you may understand their reality.
We request that you show support for parents of Renton by informing every parent of their rights in deciding which tests their child will take; Please consider that just as in a medical diagnostic situation parents would be informed of their rights in choosing which tests their child would be subjected to, so here parents have rights to decide what tests their child may take at school.
We request that you explicitly share that some parents are refusing administration of the SBA test to their children and explain, fairly, the reasons why many parents are opting their children out.
We request that you recommend to the district that our students’ SBA scores are the LOWEST priority data point in instructional decisions and policy.
We ask for your support tonight in this way as a matter of public record but we invite you all to a face to face meeting with us to discuss these issues further. Please look for that invitation soon.
Again, our first request was that you respond to our letters of conscience and we hope that we will hear that response prior to the next board meeting .
It is our sincere hope that our school board will consider and comply with all of our requests. But will they?
Stay tuned as we continue to report on this important movement.
What do you think? Should parents be advised of their rights to opt out of the state test? Should teachers have the right to be conscientious objectors to toxic high stakes testing?