Navigating Your Kids

Experiences and perspective on the School Years

‘Community Organizer’ Might Not Be A Bad Thing: Opting Out


Someone (who I don’t think agrees with me on much) asked me about a quote in the local newspaper article they thought was attributed to me.  (It wasn’t)  “You always seem to have something to say.” Why, yes…..yes I do usually have an opinion.  And my opinion usually comes after I have done my homework–observing, experiencing, reading and thinking about an issue.  And at my stage of life, I don’t mind sharing my opinion, in fact, I think it is my calling.  Check out the Andy Stanley message–your life, your experiences, your knowledge is a unique treasure to be shared with others… other words, be a Bridge Builder.

I have observed and personally experienced the downfall of the public education system in America.  I am a product of the public education system when it worked. Like so many other things, medicine included, it has been ruined by handing the reins of control to the government in exchange for the almighty dollar.  But that doesn’t have to be game-over…..there are still more of us than there are of them….which brings me to some thoughts on the glut of standardized tests, and inappropriate early childhood tasks being forced on our kids…..and how we can start to reorganize our communities.

1.  This is still America, these are still your kids, and you are still the parent and can call the shots.  And most teachers, real professional educators, will cheer you on….not so much with the administrators.

2.  It doesn’t take much to screw up averages, just ask Tiger Woods, or any other sports figure.  OUCH….School Report Card, administrator’s resume, school grants and recognition for government funding—all hinging on these test scores.

3.  ‘Critical Mass’ is not the same as ‘majority’, it is a much smaller percentage of the total, a tipping point that will encourage many to join– but it is the strong–the non-conformists– that must create the momentum.

4.  When the motivation is money, and you take yours elsewhere, you will be noticed.  Pearson.  Common Core.  Per-Pupil Spending.  Educational Savings Account.  Home School.  Charter School.

5.  There is a movement nationwide, including a cross-section of parents, educators and politicians of all stripes, to ‘opt out’ of testing.

6.  Have you ever seen the movie, ‘The Matrix’?  The projected reality that is created with all the testing, and data, and protocol, and ‘College and Career Ready’, and ‘rigor’, and ‘Path to Success’, and……. in the end it doesn’t matter, it is not helpful, and it is not real.  But you don’t see this until the end.  Read opinions of other thinkers outside the bureaucracy of the Department of Education.  You’ll be glad you did.


Sometimes it may just take someone with an opinion, sharing information to help a community organize for change.  Heck, Obama rode the ‘community organizer’ gig all the way to the White House….maybe I can at least give people some information and courage to rescue their kids from a failing system.



Author: Frances

Frances Graham is a practicing pediatrician and mother of two teens with a keen interest in all aspects of education.

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