During my school board campaign last year, I stressed to parents in Newport Beach that as a board member, I would strongly resist any attempts to “fix” their schools. The Newport schools were doing very well and I saw no upside to messing with them.

But I was not elected and since then, the district has implemented Common Core and Swun Math, both of which are fixes that the Newport Schools do not need.

“But Steve, the district was forced to implement these programs because they came from Sacramento.”

No argument from me there – I get it. What bothers me is that there was no attempt by the N-MUSD to get Sacramento to reverse their decision – no organizing other districts, no petition, no media campaign – nothing.

So what Newport parents are left with is an entirely new teaching program that is an experiment – exactly the thing I promised I would not support. Go figure.

But wait, there’s more!

There is more bad news. Perhaps even worse is the fact that students will not be tested using the old, pre-Common Core tests. Instead, they will be tested using new Common Core tests. Most readers understand that when you test a new program with new tests, you are measuring nothing. To accurately determine whether a new teaching program is better than the old one, students must be tested using the old tests.

But,  that will never happen because Sacramento has conveniently covered its tracks by mandating the new testing. As a result, this years’ kids are guinea pigs.

What many parents do not know is that they can exempt their kids from having to take statewide performance assessments (tests), questionnaires, surveys, and evaluations of any kind. Parents don’t have to give a reason, they just have to fill out a form. I could not find it on the N-MUSD website, but you can download it by clicking here.

This morning, some concerned parents were in front of Kaiser Elementary passing out flyers informing their parents of their right to opt-out their kids. If you’d like this same coverage at your school, just let me know.

So in the end, the Newport parents got what they least need for their successful schools: New curriculum, new tests, and a new battle to fight.

Steve Smith

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