Opting Out
The Story of the Parents’ Grassroots Movement to Achieve Whole-Child Public Schools
Published: January 2020
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Published: January 2020
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Published: January 2020

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Published: January 2020
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6" x 9"
Language: English

A 2020 AESA Critics' Choice Book Award winner

The rise of high-stakes testing in New York and across the nation has narrowed and simplified what is taught, while becoming central to the effort to privatize public schools. However, it and similar reform efforts have met resistance, with New York as the exemplar for how to repel standardized testing and invasive data collection, such as inBloom. In New York, the two parent/teacher organizations that have been most effective are Long Island Opt Out and New York State Allies for Public Education. Over the last four years, they and other groups have focused on having parents refuse to submit their children to the testing regime, arguing that if students don’t take the tests, the results aren’t usable. The opt-out movement has been so successful that 20% of students statewide and 50% of students on Long Island refused to take tests. In Opting Out, two parent leaders of the opt-out movement—Jeanette Deutermann and Lisa Rudley—tell why and how they became activists in the two organizations. The story of parents, students, and teachers resisting not only high-stakes testing but also privatization and other corporate reforms parallels the rise of teachers across the country going on strike to demand increases in school funding and teacher salaries. Both the success of the opt-out movement and teacher strikes reflect the rise of grassroots organizing using social media to influence policy makers at the local, state, and national levels.

Perfect for courses such as:
The Politics Of Education | Education Policy | Education Reform
Community Organizing | Education Evaluation | Education Reform | Parents And Education

Table of Contents:


Foreword by Amy Stuart Wells

Chapter One: Becoming Activists

Chapter Two: The Rise of High-Stakes Testing and the Opt-Out Movement: A Brief History

Chapter Three: Organizing to Resist the Common Core State Tests

Chapter Four: Technology: Promise or Peril?

Chapter Five: Beyond the Opt-Out Movement: Current Challenges and the Future


About the Authors


Reviews & Endorsements:

“I am pleased to endorse this very important and informative book about the origins, the goals, and the accomplishments of the parent-led Opt Out Movement in New York. The public needs to know why parents like Jeanette Deutermann and Lisa Rudley devoted their time to fighting the testing regime. It needs to know how pointless the tests are. It needs to understand how a small group of parents, without financial support, were able to persuade the parents of about 200,000 students to join them in refusing to submit their children to tests that lasted for hours and had no diagnostic value whatever for the students. They and the other leaders of this movement are heroes of our age.”

Diane Ravitch, Research Professor of Education, New York University Founder and President of the Network for Public Education (NPE)

Opting Out documents one of the most important movements in education today. It helps us answer a crucial question: Can communities act back against the standardized testing regimes that dominate our schools? By centering the voices of community members who are actively engaged in acting back against these policies and practices, Opting Out provides us with a sense of real possibilities.”

Michael W. Apple, University of Wisconsin, Madison, author of The Struggle for Democracy in Education

“The Opt-Out movement has achieved unimaginable success given the pressure many schools place on parents to submit their child for testing. This parent led grass-roots movement is driven by dissatisfaction with educational reforms that rely on test-based accountability, and with the increased role of ‘edu-businesses’ and corporations in schools. This powerful book highlights the power of moms organizing with educators to push back against the state to take back our schools and re-establish the purpose of schools for democracy.”

Sheila Macrine, Professor, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth

“Faced with a truly awful testing regime in schools, and with policy makers not listening, New York State’s fledging Opt Out organisations seemed to have little chance. This book recounts, often drawing on the authors’ personal experiences, how they mobilised and turned the tide. Crucially, Opt Out not only resisted but also sought to articulate progressive alternatives. We need such accounts of contesting neo-liberal educational reforms more than ever. A really inspiring and informative book for all who fight for public education around the globe.”

Martin Thrupp, Professor of Education, University of Waikato, New Zealand

“…the authors have crafted a compelling activist’s handbook that parents, teachers, and other educational stakeholders will find useful as they set out on similar activist journeys. Importantly, it can offer hope in the face of resistance… I agree with the authors that “the opt-out movement can provide a model for how to work politically to develop more democratic, humane and equitable educational institutions and society” (p. 22). Anyone interested in seeking that future will find Opting Out helpful, inspiring, and informative.”

Review excerpt by Stephanie Schroeder for Teachers College Record, ID No.: 23839, 9-10-21