Kathy Perez has been an activist and a friend of MORE for some time. I have a great deal of respect for Kathy and glad that I can call her a friend.
Kathy took the lead herself several years ago in opting her children of testing. In fact, Kathy's daughter Elizabeth, who is now 15, has refused to test since 5th grade and in fact was the first student to opt out ever in the Baldwin, LI school district.
With that in mind, Elizabeth now 15 and a freshman at Calhoun HS in the Bellmore-Merrick school district, is still a leader in the opt out movement. She can see clearly through all the BS.
Elizabeth took the time to share her thoughts with The Crack Team on what opting out has meant, and still means, for her. We need to hear from more student leaders like Elizabeth and take comfort that we know that we who advocate for opting out are passing our beliefs and core principles down to a younger generation.
We here at SBSB wish to thank Elizabeth for sharing her words and are proud to share them here on these pages.
For the first few years that I opted out of the New York State tests, people looked at me funny, asked me why I wasn’t taking them, and I was pretty much the only one to be reading a book rather than filling in a scantron, being sure to not make any stray marks. But as the years went on, the number of kids not taking the tests increased, and we eventually were taken into the cafeteria while the tests were being taken. I almost looked forward to testing week, even though everyone else was stressed. I got to spend a few hours taking naps, reading, or doing homework rather than sitting in class. All throughout elementary school and middle school I opted out of the tests, turning in my refusal letters on the first day like it was routine, and never did my parents or I think it affected my grades or my chances of getting into college, as some people claim it does.
Now, I’m an honor roll high school student, with a plan to go to college, become a psychiatrist and an advocate for human rights, and I’ve refused the New York State exams. So, I’m pretty sure that my opting out of the tests hasn’t taken a toll on my education. I never really understood why these tests were even administered in the first place, considering the fact that they hold no benefit to anyone who takes them, and all they do is somehow display a teacher’s effectiveness through a student’s test grade. I know that I’m more than an ID number or test score. I don’t need a rigged exam to tell me what I’m capable of, or how effective my teachers are and hopefully, when I’m older, I won’t have to write refusal letters for my children at all.
Great words from a future leader.