Yesterday a very curious editorial appeared in the Lansing edition of MLive.com. Laura McDonell, an English teacher for St. Clair Middle School, wrote the brief guest opinion where she scolds parents for choosing to refuse the new M-STEP exam for their children.
Our children mean so much to us, and we want to protect them. Wanting to take an active role in your son or daughter’s education is one of the things that make you a great parent.
But when you choose to opt your child out of a learning experience like taking a test you are actually doing a disservice to your son or daughter.
McDonell goes on to describe all of the terrible, traumatizing things that will happen to those children because selfish parents decided they didn’t want their child taking the test. Things like:
McDonell ends her editorial with a quote from Superintendent Mike Flanagan and repeats the lie:
While we support parents in making choices for their children, there is no allowable way in state or federal law to “opt out” of assessment, and students who are not assessed will count against their schools’ participation rate.
So here is a piece where a Michigan public school teacher attempts to persuade her audience by guilt tripping them into thinking they’re depriving their students of a learning opportunity. M-STEP is not a learning opportunity, it prohibits teachers from providing more learning opportunities for their students.
Right now all over the state of Michigan, teachers face the problem of not having all of their students in the classroom every day because there are always some taking the test instead of learning in the classroom where they belong. This means students are being deprived of real learning experiences they will need to be successful next year. Some school districts are so desperate to keep students from refusing to participate in M-STEP testing they are telling parents their child will not be allowed to take advanced placement classes, like Chippewa Valley Schools for example. This is illegal, and if your school district has told you something similar, just know they are desperate and scared enough to lie to you. You can legally opt out your child from the test.
But back to Laura McDonell. This public school teacher belongs to an organization called Michigan Educator Voice Fellowship. The group contains members from public schools, for-profit charter schools, and even teachers from the Education Achievement Authority. The fellowship is part of a larger national organization called America Achieves. America Achieves was founded by two men, Peter Kannam and Jon Schnur. Both are very active with this 501(c)(3) organization, and enjoy funding from well known names in corporate ed reform. Kannam and Schnur were both introduced into education through Teach For America.
So the truth of Laura McDonell’s admonishing editorial addressed to Michigan parents of school children is clear. She’s doing her part to promote the corporate takeover of our public schools through her involvement with an organization funded by corporate education reformers and operated by TFA members. Mrs. McDonell has the choice to support people who are driven to eliminate her job. We have the choice to not listen to her, and instead fight to restore our public schools.