Will a Florida County's Bold Decision to Opt Out of State Testing Catch Fire?

Does Palm Beach County, Florida, have the nerve to follow the example set by Lee County, Florida, which just last week voted to opt the entire district out of state testing?

The Palm Beach County school board is weighing that decision, according to the Sun-Sentinel.

"Palm Beach County School Board members want to opt out of state-required testing, a controversial move that could jeopardize funding, athletics and students' ability to graduate.

"They say testing has gotten out of control and creates too much pressure for students and teachers. After discussing the opt-out idea at a recent meeting, board members asked their lawyers for further study. They will discuss it again at a workshop in the next few weeks."

"Sometimes it takes an act of civil disobedience to move forward," School Board member Karen Brill said. "We must explore the consequences, but we cannot allow fear to hold us back."

"Last week, the Lee County school board became the first district in the Florida to opt out, after hundreds of parents pushed them to do so.

"But Joe Follick, a spokesman for the Florida Department of Education, said opting out would create chaos. The tests help determine a school's letter grade and can affect school enrollment, teacher pay and even the prices of homes.

"There's no way to know how you're doing if you don't take a test every year," he said."

The state warned that it could suspend funding to punish the district.

Imagine, as John Lennon sang. Imagine if many districts opted out. Imagine if most districts opted out. Imagine if every district opted out. Maybe then the state bureaucrats would remember that they work for the public, not the other way around. Maybe then the legislators would listen to their constituents.

Imagine schools where children were tested every three or four years, at transition points, as in the world's top-performing nations. Imagine schools where teachers wrote their own tests and used their professional judgment. Imagine schools that did not insist on giving tests to children in hospice care.