Florida’s “opt-out” lawsuit: As civil disobedience goes, pushing your kids into trouble is questionable

My kids – the youngest is 20 – have gotten themselves involved in projects related to things I care deeply about.

My middle child is designing a distance learning version of an interactive engagement SCALE-UP science teaching facility.

My youngest is working on the nuclear spectroscopy of Polonium-211 with me.

Heck, even my oldest is working on something that is at least fairly close to my heart – defending LULAC in a lawsuit on a pro bono basis.

Obviously, they all made their own decisions to get involved in these projects.

In contrast, a Leon County court is presently considering an act of civil disobedience performed by a group of eight-year-olds at the insistence of their parents.  This act of civil disobedience – the refusal to take Florida’s 3rd grade FSA standardized test – carried the risk of limiting the students’ academic progress.

The school districts where the eight-year-olds refused to take the tests have a policy of refusing to promote students who do not take the tests.  This was not a secret – the parents knew quite well what the consequences of “opting out” of the test were.  When the school districts acted according to their policies by refusing to promote the students, the parents filed suit to keep the students from suffering the consequences of the decisions made by the parents.

I’ve never been afraid of making people angry for the sake of what I think is a good cause.  I’ve been locked out of events and dialogues.  I’ve been shouted at over the phone by high-ranking officials.  I once caused Leon County School Superintendent Jackie Pons to defend his hated rival Rocky Hanna.  (Imagine that!)

But I would never have inserted my kids into those arguments.  In fact, in at least several cases I can remember we did really dumb things required by schools simply because they were required, and we taught our kids that sometimes you just have to put up with crap like that.

Today, I’m not even arguing about the value of testing or any of the other policies that Florida has adopted over the last twenty years.  I’m just marveling at the parents who would use their young children as battering rams against educational policies with which they disagree.  I don’t understand these parents at all.

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