Duncan also said that students in some states are tested too much, and acknowledged that the exams are challenging for many students. But he argued that annual standardized exams are essential for tracking student progress and monitoring the score gap between different student groups.
He also said the tests are “just not a traumatic event” for his children, who attend public school in Virginia.
“It’s just part of most kids’ education growing up,” he said. “Sometimes the adults make a big deal and that creates some trauma for the kids.”
Duncan said if states don't get parents to stop opting their children out of state tests, the feds "will have an obligation to step in.”
Couple points to make here:
First, considering that Duncan once blamed "soccer moms" whose kids "are not as brilliant as they thought" for opposition to the Common Core, we shouldn't be surprised that Duncan is scapegoating parents over the opt-out movement.
His argument is ridiculous, of course.
Given that these tests are now used to close schools and fire teachers, his argument that the tests are "just a part of most kids' education growing up" doesn't hold water anymore.
Before No Child Left Behind, before Race to the Top, that argument may have held some water.
But since then, there are so many high stakes attached to these tests for school districts, schools, individual teachers and even children themselves (remember when Bloomberg used the tests for class advancement?), that this argument that they're "just tests" leaks more water than the Titanic as it was going down.
Testing anxiety is rife throughout the system and while educrats and politicians want to blame adults for making a big deal over these tests when they say there is no big deal, the children know from all the anxiety that adults have over the scores that they are a very big deal indeed.
That's what happens when you take a couple of days of testing and make the existence of a school or the career of a teacher contingent upon the scores.
Second point to make here:
Duncan is not the only educrat/politician to make this argument that the tests are no big deal - so did NY State Senate finance committee chair, John DeFrancisco:
“Quite frankly, I grew up at a time—I’m ancient. If I wouldn’t take a test, … my father would have whacked me on the side of the head.” [PRO] http://capi.tl/1zHV9TM
Is the Senator suggesting that's what parents should do now to their children who don't want to take the Common Core tests, "whack" them "on the side of the head"?
That's a bit unclear, but one thing is clear - DeFransciso, like Duncan, is trying to minimize the overtesting and test anxiety issues and make it seem like a bunch of cry babies just won't do what they're supposed to do and make their kids take the tests.
Now maybe this will be a winning argument for educrats like Duncan or politicians like DeFransciso, but frankly, I doubt it.
It's more likely that the parents who are opting their children out of the state tests will see this rhetoric for what it is - a desperate attempt to infantilize the opposition movement to the Endless Testing regime in order to keep the education reform train chugging on a little longer.
I suggest you call DeFrancsico and ask his office if the Senator is suggesting parents commit child abuse on their children in order to make them take their tests.
That certainly is one interpretation of the statement he made.
As for Duncan, he's irrelevant at this point. He's a lame duck educrat in a lame duck administration that sunsets a year and a half from now.
But the politicians and educrats in Albany who continue to try and infantlize opposition to education reform must be dealt political prices to pay for their dirty work - and that includes DeFransciso and his "whack" statement.