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Thinking about opting your child out of assessments? You might receive this threat from your Department of Education.


A mom from South Dakota asked her school district if she could opt her daughter out of the Common Core spring assessments.  Her district said it would check with the Department of Education and the mom received a letter from the department about her request.

From the mom:

Here is the letter that was emailed to me by our local school district. (Please see below.)  The letter was sent down by the dept. of education in our state after I asked about opting my daughter out of the assessment in the spring. I don’t do threats well so I decided to home school.

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The  South Dakota Department of Education is using the same argument that the Missouri Commissioner has used in House hearings: students MUST take the assessments even as the department has testified parents are the ones ultimately responsible for their children’s education. The South Dakota mother does not believe the Department of Eduation’s contention on how the South Dakota statute is written and should be interpreted:

Here is the statute as mentioned in the letter…..

13-3-55.   Academic achievement tests. Every public school district shall annually administer the same assessment to all students in grades three to eight, inclusive, and in grade eleven. The assessment shall measure the academic progress of each student. Every public school district shall annually administer to all students in at least two grade levels an achievement test to assess writing skills. The assessment instruments shall be provided by the Department of Education, and the department shall determine the two grade levels to be tested. The tests shall be administered within timelines established by the Department of Education by rules promulgated pursuant to chapter 1-26 starting in the spring of the 2002-2003 school year. Each state-designed test shall be correlated with the state’s content standards. The South Dakota Board of Education may promulgate rules pursuant to chapter 1-26 to provide for administration of all assessments.

Source: SL 1997, ch 84, § 3; SL 2001, ch 70, § 1; SL 2003, ch 91, § 1; SL 2003, ch 272, § 63; SL 2007, ch 84, § 1.

The way I, and others, which includes an attorney, and many of our legislators read this, is that the schools are required by law to administer the test but it does not say that students are required by law to take it.

We have heard here in Missouri and other states the threat to send child services to homes whose parents opt their children out of assessments that have little to do with individual achievement, but instead, are used to determine teacher evaluations and school benchmarks.  Like this mom, I can’t find in Missouri statutes the statute compelling students to take the assessments the state is directed to administer.

What do you call it when the school (the State) supersedes the wishes of the parents (the individuals who are paying for the system and providing the students for the system) and the government threatens the individuals for not adhering to statutes that very well could be misinterpreted by the State for its benefit?  For some reason, I don’t think the Common Core assessments and the implied threats of forced compliance are advancing the goals of liberty and freedom and ultimately, an education plan designed for individual students to determine their paths in life.

If the goal of the State is to test to a particular guaranteed outcome, the goal itself requires your children’s participation to determine if that goal has been met.  Common Core does not set an individual goal for your student, it is a set of common goals set by private organizations funded by Federal dollars.  Your child’s participation is necessary for the collective good, not for the good of your student as an individual.  If however, your state’s Constitution is worded as Missouri’s that the state’s obligation is to


missouri constitution education 1

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missouri constitution education 2

then the right guaranteed to the parent and child is to take advantage of that opportunity of education and its testing….or not.  The Missouri Constitution does not state the student must take advantage of the gratuitous instruction the Department of Education has fashioned for the public.  If the department implies that forced involvement is constitutional, then that negates the phrase “gratuitous instruction”.  If a parent and student refuse a gratuitous gift from the state, then where’s the crime and why would DFS be summoned to investigate the family?




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