An Ohio parent claims her children are being targeted in school as retaliation for having opted out of the Common Core assessments.
Joy Pullmann of Heartland Institute reported Thursday that Sarah Lewis sent Celina City Schools Superintendent Jesse Steiner a letter last week asking to opt her children out of the Common Core assessments.
On Wednesday, however, Lewis received a response from Steiner, who refused to excuse Lewis’s children from the tests. Steiner then reportedly visited the children’s school and demaned to have them weighed and measured, despite their principal previously allowing them to opt out of a body-mass index screening that had been conducted earlier.
Steiner’s letter to Lewis is addressed simply, “Dear, Parent,” and continues:
It is very import [sic] to evaluate what the students have learned and what they still need to work on. Only through careful formative assessments will we know when students have learned the required information to be successful on the summative assessments.
Ohio law requires students to take all tests appropriate for their specified grade level unless certain reasons exist. None of the reasons set forth in the law form the basis for your opt-out request.
“[O]n the recommendation of legal counsel, I am rejecting your request for your child to ‘Opt Out’ of any and all testing,” Steiner wrote. “Your child will be expected to follow the same educational procedures as the rest of the student body.”
However, as John Charlton, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) notes, Ohio law allows children to opt out of tests. In addition, the state recently repealed an earlier law requiring school districts to calculate children’s Body Mass Index (BMI). Nevertheless, when calculating BMI was mandatory, parents could opt out of the measurement by sending a letter to the state.
“We feel that health information is private, and especially when it comes to our kids,” Lewis said. “We would rather have that information kept between our family and our physician.”
According to Lewis, several other parents had recently asked Steiner to opt their children out of tests. She herself had consulted ODE prior to issuing her opt-out request and was informed by ODE staff that children were not required to take the state tests, but that there could be some consequences of opting out at certain grade levels.
For example, third graders who do not pass a particular reading test are held back one year, and high school students must pass several exams in order to graduate.
Lewis and her husband began discussing the effects of the Common Core standards when they noticed their third grade son was coming home with new kinds of math problems.
He was also “constantly coming home talking about how they were taking practice tests,” she said. “It seemed like that was all he was doing.”
Lewis said one night her son was so stressed about the tests he began crying.
But when Lewis approached her children’s teachers about the math problems, she claims she was told, “We have to do that this way because it’s going to be on the test.”
“Test, test, test, that’s all we heard,” Lewis said.
Lewis, however, did not let the issue rest. She and other mothers began learning more about Common Core and soon were giving their own public presentations, writing to local newspapers, and inviting speakers, such as Heidi Huber who leads Ohioans Against Common Core, and Hillsdale College Professor Terrence Moore.
The day after Moore’s standing-room only presentation, Steiner issued his letter to Lewis.
Lewis said the real issue is parental rights.
“Some people don’t think it’s a big deal, who cares if they weigh and mess with your kids,” she said. “It doesn’t matter why, what matters is that we asked them not to do it.”
As Breitbart News has reported, more parents are opting their children out of the Common Core assessments or simply withdrawing them from school completely in favor of homeschooling.
Parents, teachers, and taxpayers can follow the iREFUSE Great American Opt-Out Rally in New York State on Saturday on Twitter at #iRefuse.