As stated in Part 1 and Part 2, even though Arizona legislators are ultimately to blame for causing the ugliness, humiliation, undue stress, and mental anguish experienced by parents and their children who dare to reject AzMERIT, it is the teachers, principals, and administrators who are inflicting the pain. As you will see from these parent comments, some local school "leaders" seem to take delight in emotionally punishing children for their parents’ actions. Local school authorities are willing to suspend their own consciences and actually harm children under their care, all in the name of standardized testing. The comments you will read below aren’t unusual. They are representative of what’s happening all over Arizona. These parents will never again trust the "public school system."
"Today was the 1st day of testing in Yuma. They tried to force my daughter to test. She stood her ground, so proud of my 3rd grader. So as a punishment, she was forced to sit quietly all day. They wouldn’t let her read a book. She ask to call home so I could get her, they said no. The teacher had a coloring book for her to do. But the principal, Ms. (name redacted), said no, for her to do nothing all day."
"At the Benjamin Franklin Queen Creek K-6 school, they held a "dance party" for all the kids who took the AzMerit test. They made a big deal out of it. None of the "opt out" kids could attend. It was humiliating and embarrassing for these innocent children." (See ***below for the school’s email.)
"3rd graders, 9 and 10 year olds, sitting in front of a computer screen from 8:15am-3:15pm…some until after 4pm, taking 1 of 3, AZMERIT tests. This was yesterday at our school. Not okay"!
"My child took the test, and I am worried that she failed it. The fact that the school forgot to deliver lunch to my child’s classroom the day of the reading portion did not help her score I’m sure. She came home from school that day starving! Eight hours is too long for a 9-year old to go without food"!
"I had no idea what all this was about until one day, after school, my 3rd grader started bawling and threw himself on the floor. I thought he was injured and almost called 9-1-1, but finally got him to calm down. His teacher had told the class that if they didn’t pass AzMERIT they would be held back a grade. He’s a straight A student. Tests never have bothered him. But this one is different. The Superintendent told me that the only way my son could avoid taking the test is if he’s absent from April 4 – May 5, but that means he will have so many absences, he could be expelled."
"I opted my daughter out of the AzMerit this week, the school was incredibly rude with me. When I carried in the letter this morning, the attendance clerk told me that I have no parental rights to refuse the test, once I drop off my daughter I have lost that ‘right’ to choose."
Here’s a facebook post by a charter school teacher in the southeast valley who openly disparages parental authority. "Parents claim that… they have a right to decide what their child does or doesn’t do in schools, even public schools. I have nothing against parents that want to be involved with the school system. I have a problem with parents who think they own the school system simply because they pay taxes." (Gina Ray asked her, "So, who ‘owns’ the school system? And to whom should schools be accountable." No response.)
"I have a 3rd grader who is on the honor roll, but due to the stress of these tests she has given up on everything to do with school because she told me that the teacher told her if she doesn’t pass the test she is going to be in third grade again. So now she feels why do anything because she is going to be in third grade again next year. Too much stress on these children. This has to stop, and I am the only one complaining about this at her school."
"That’s why I pulled my kids out to home school. The stress and the tears from both me and my kids were making them hate learning! Is home schooling hard? Yes, but it’s totally worth the sacrifices, emotionally and financially. I know it’s not an option for everyone. And I thought I couldn’t do it until I had had enough with the school system."
"I am so glad I went with my own Homeschooling plan over AZVA. I ended up leaving the local school district over AZmerit last year. I’d hate to be right back to being beholden to testing."
"I am homeschooling next year too. This is insanity. I’m done dealing with these sickos and the robot teachers who go along with it."
"People throw a fit about parents punishing their kids in the store. However they allow the schools to bully and push their kids around. Every school has an anti-bullying program." (Yes, they do, but anti-bullying doesn’t seem to apply to "local school leaders.")
"The school tried to force my young daughter to take the make up test today….My daughter told me ‘I just gave it right back. The teacher wasn’t happy but I went back to class.’ I asked her how long the issue was and she said ‘Mom, I got taken from class and told to take the test. The teacher asked me about why you don’t want me to take it. She asked me what you said at home. I refused to take it, and ten minutes later I was back in my regular class.’" (If the teacher wants to know why a parent has refused AzMERIT, interrogate the parent, not an 8-year old.)
"My children’s school has been clear about the dates and times for the test, so I was able to keep them from taking the test, but there were plenty of otherwise gentle and kind students who got quite nasty with my kids. They believed that to not take the test was somehow a betrayal of the school and that it would ‘hurt’ the school financially, socially (bad reputation), or both. "
"Last year, my kids took the test, not this year. They recalled some very strange questions, such as: ‘Statistical studies have shown that affluence leads to individual depression and overall unhappiness. Write an opinion essay to support this claim.’ Oher test questions have nothing to do with education, nor can they be right or wrong but are simply gathering private data about our family, such as: ‘How many parents does your household have?’ ‘Are there guns in the house where you live’? ‘Do both parents work’?"
"Sooo… I pulled my third grader out of school on Thursday. Forced and/or blackmail testing. Never a better time to start homeschooling, I guess. Problem solved."
"The principal told my daughter that by not taking the test she won’t be promoted to the 7th grade next year. My daughter told her ‘I didn’t take the test last year and I moved up to the 6th grade this year!’ BOOM !!! She’s only 11 and she can see the head games the schools are trying to play."
"I homeschool because I don’t want the government in my children’s education. It can be time consuming at first but I pieced together different curriculm for my child. There is a group on here called crossing over to homeschool that is very helpful."
"My son is a junior at Kellis High School, and we informed them in writing at the beginning of the year that he would NOT be taking AZMerit. They already had a photocopied letter ready to give me from the attorney general’s office saying that it was mandatory. THAT IS NOT TRUE!! I told them it was well within our constitutional rights to refuse this test, as his parents, guiding our child’s education. Fast forward to last week, and they didn’t even send out notices to parents for what day the AZMERIT was going to be given…they tried making my son take it, even after they knew we provided them our rights in writing! MY SON REFUSED FLAT OUT, AND THERE WAS NOTHING THEY COULD DO. They told him to work on homework during testing. ALL PARENTS NEED TO STAND FIRM! They are doing more testing next week!"
"The school (San Tan Foothills High School) tried to COERCE my daughter to take the make-up AZ Merit today, less than 24 hours after they agreed to NOT do that. So we are pulling her back out. It’s amazing how they spread this test out over weeks. What a waste of time for our children"!
"I decided to refuse the AzMerit this year for all of my children. The school called and tried to convince me of the importance of taking the test, however they lost their argument when they stated that I may be the parent at home, but they ‘are the parents’ when my children come to school"!
***From: Janet Grawey <JGrawey@bfcsmail.com>
Date: March 28, 2016 at 11:01:26 AM MST
To: Name Redacted
Hi (Name Redacted),
We will be administering the AZ Merit test on Wednesday March 30th & 31st, and Friday April 1st. We will also be having a “Rock the Test” celebration on Friday April 8th for those students who completed the testing. Hope you had a great break and I look forward to seeing the kids back tomorrow!
Janet Grawey, Registrar
Benjamin Franklin Charter School, Power Campus
22951 S. Power Road
Queen Creek, AZ 85124