I attended a PTA meeting this morning where the main discussion was about the TNReady standardized testing fiasco. I’ve already touched on this before, but my correspondence with the Assistant Superintendent for Accountability and Testing at the Hamilton County Department of Education raises an interesting question: Who is ultimately in control of a child’s education?
I have mixed feelings on this, but I think the bottom line is that parents are in control. As far as testing goes, Tennessee law seems to agree:
TCA 49-2-211: Policy for student surveys, analyses or evaluations.
(a) Every LEA shall develop a policy setting forth the rights of parents and students and guidelines for teachers and principals with respect to the administration of surveys, analyses or evaluations of students.
(b) (1) The policy set forth in subsection (a) shall allow a parent or legal guardian access to review all surveys, analyses or evaluations, prior to being administered to the parent or legal guardian’s child. The policy shall enable a parent or legal guardian to opt their student out of participating in a survey, analysis, or evaluation.
(2) Notwithstanding subdivision (b)(1), the policy shall require a parent, legal guardian or student, in the case of students eighteen (18) years of age or older, to provide written consent before the collection of individual student biometric data.
(c) The LEA shall also disclose to the parent or legal guardian of the student the purpose for the survey, analysis, or evaluation materials as well as who will have access to the results.
Taking this to the big picture, do parents have the right to opt their children out of sections of the curriculum with which they disagree? Can I opt Zari out of sex education, since in Tennessee that means abstinence education, which studies have shown to be ineffective at best and harmful at worst? Can a Biblical literalist parent opt her child out of the evolution discussion in biology?
While I think the latter parent is misguided, I think that, ultimately, parents control the education of their children. If schools can accommodate reasonably, then a limited amount of opting out must be allowed. Obviously, if a parent decides that math is immoral, we may need to encourage that parent to homeschool…
What do you think?