Parents, Educators, Anti-Testing Critics Attend 'Opt-Out' Conference
United Opt Out National, an anti-testing advocacy group, is holding its fourth annual meeting at the Broward County Convention Center in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., a clear sign that parent dissatisfaction with standardized testing is showing no signs of slowing down.
The four-day event, which began Friday, includes discussion topics ranging from civil disobedience to organizing, which may mean the upcoming student-assessment season could be a rocky one. Last year, United Opt Out National leaders published "An Activist Handbook for the Education Revolution" as a guide to those seeking to form an opt-out group or lead a "resistance."
Holding the conference in Florida also shows how much traction the opt-out movement has gained in the Sunshine State. The Lee County (Fla.) School Board garnered national attention after it voted to pull out from all state-mandated testing last year. While the board quickly reversed its decision, the controversy may have fueled opt-out efforts in Florida. According to a story in the Sun-Sentinel, parents and educators have founded opt-out groups in Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties to advise parents how to bypass state testing this spring.
Cindy Hamilton, a co-founder of Orlando Opt Out, told the newspaper that in the past four months 24 opt-out groups have been established.
"We want our classrooms back, we want our teachers to be given back their autonomy," she said.