“I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.”
We’ve heard from a lot of heroes lately in the ed reform movement; from teachers and parents like Chris Cerrone and Renny Fong who are stepping forward and sharing their struggles, to principals who are standing up and speaking out against the standardized testing debacle.
These are ed reform heroes. These are the people who will help empower our children with the freedom to learn; the ones who push for an education that is customized to the child rather than standardized to the system.
While these parents, teachers, and school leaders push for students’ rights to receive the education they deserve (rather than the ones politicians and corporations want), there is yet another important voice bubbling up.
The newest heroes of the ed reform movement are the students who opt out and speak out. Their voices are both loud and proud. They are against tests that they know do not benefit them, and in many cases actually do them harm.
While there are adults who believe the education system pulls the wool over the eyes of children, many young people are also becoming wise to the standardized testing farce. Last year 5th grader Joel from Harlem wrote an essay exposing the truth about standardized testing Then 12-year-old Anthony Hererra made a video and wrote an article explaining why he doesn’t want to take the test and thanking everyone for their support of his decision.
Our latest hero is 12-year-old Joseph Dougherty who did his best to opt out of the standardized tests. He knows they are useless for children in general, but he has also discovered they are harmful to him in particular. They cause stress and anxiety, which leads to emotional and physical distress. As a result Joseph’s mom informed his school principal that he would be opting out of the test and asked that he be provided with alternative activities during all the days of testing. Against the wishes of this young man and his mother, his principal, Thomas Capone, forced Joseph to take the test.
When Joseph explained he did not want to take the test, his teachers called him “a fresh little boy who needs to do what he is told.” He also knew his principal wrote an email to his mother explaining that if he didn't follow orders, he could be taken away from his mother because he'd call child protective services.