Helping Your Children Refuse

About refusing these tests … a mom writes …

Although I am 100% against it, and I have made my feelings clearly known to my husband, my son specifically asked that he be allowed to [take the] test … and my husband feels like we should allow him to do it.

I am beyond frustrated and want to SCREAM.

I saw my son’s Math teacher at a church function … I told her we were thinking of refusing …

She said, “DO IT! PLEASE!”.

She said someone has to be the first one, and others will follow.

I am caught between what I feel is right and what my son wants. It’s making me sick.”

Caught … between a rock and a hard place.  Lots are.  Especially kids.

Many parents agonize over the opt-out decision … particularly when they have a very confident … and very competent … youngster who’s anxious to show off his or her proficiency.  Their talent. Their hard work.

This seems especially true with the math assessments. Some kids just want the show-down … the chance to shine.

And lots of parents … like this mom …  know the inherent flaws of the entire assessment experience … and that refusing delegitimizes this testing farce …  but they think this one exception … for just this one test …  just this one time … might be okay.

Think again.  It’s not okay. And there’s a larger life lesson here.

Sometimes we have to teach our children hard lessons. And … as they grow older … we have to help them understand that they’re not the center of the universe. That there are issues larger and more important than their wishes … larger than their comfort. And larger than their personal triumphs.

And that sometimes … being right and noble is very uncomfortable. And stressing. Especially if it involves going against some authority … or some peers …  or one’s self-interest … for the very first time.

It’s an easy dilemma to understand … but not-so-easy to face. Even for adults.


Folks know these tests are educationally disruptive. Pedagogically flawed. Without scholastic merit.

They get that their child is the confident sort … and that he or she wants to ace those tests. Wants to showcase their mastery … and flash their talent.

I dig kids who dig challenges. I had kids just like that. They made me proud. Still do.

But sometimes there are longer-lasting life lessons that are very important … like refusing these tests. Lessons that shouldn’t be passed up … because their impact can travel with a child for the rest their life.

First, your child learns to champion others … even if it dims some of their own spotlight. And the world always needs more champions of that sort.

Second, your child learns to take the “first step“. That’s how leadership is learned. It’s how kids become bold and daring … and unafraid to stand by the virtues you helped instill.

Third, your child gains an understanding of the important process of resisting a wrong … and the uncomfortable feeling it sometimes creates. And how to manage that unease.

And last … and most important of all … it teaches your child that an injustice is still an injustice even when it never touches them. And that it requires them to act.

You can stop this ...

Now, tell me … over a lifetime … what lesson will have more permanence in that child’s character?

Shining for a moment on some bubble test? Or standing tall … so others can witness their integrity … and borrow their courage?

Denis Ian


4 thoughts on “Helping Your Children Refuse

  1. Typos and a missing link in my last post. This one should be acceptable. 😉

    Yeah, start introducing your kids to propaganda. They get it. As young as 7-8, they’ll get it, the Common Core system obviously has ZERO interest in teaching them what propaganda is, so you’re going to have to step up.

    Off hand, this looks like the most readily available list of propaganda. I browsed the first twenty images or so. About half of them I hadn’t heard of yet. About half of the ones I am aware of, I didn’t see. NOTE, click the link, then click ‘images’.

    Just stumbled across this, teachers asking how to teach their kids about propoganda:

    Whenever I have taught propaganda in my class I usually do it during our WWII unit. Dr. Seuss and Walt Disney both made political cartoons (newspaper and movie trailers) that the kids really love to see and relate to because they know those people. Other posters during that time are wonderful examples of propaganda and bandwagon. Disney sells a DVD that features all the shorts on Amazon (Walt Disney Treasures: On the Front Lines). If you don’t want to buy it then there are links to all of them, free, on this Wikipedia website:

    Dr. Seuss political cartoons:

    This is always one of my favorite lessons! I hope you enjoy it!

    Remember that standardized tests DO perform a valuable function. Standardized tests can gauge neither intellect or intelligence, but they do reflect comprehension. This allows us to gauge whether or not teachers are successfully engaging all of their students, or focusing on the teachers pets. It might be wise to allow your child to engage the tests once every few years to ensure that the teachers are at least attempting to instruct your child.. especially if you suspect that your child is getting (sub)substandard attention. I would let it go this year, and make sure the staff knows that you are paying very close attention to the testing methods and results. Start gathering materials and teaching propaganda shortly after.

    Once your child comprehends propaganda in general, and can easily recognize it in they’re lessons, you’re on the right path. I closely monitor my sons lessons and supplement them to refute any propoganda that crops up, including teaching about propoganda in general.

    So.. the next step would be to teach them about personal data and how advertising agency’s sell and buy your information. I believe that the schools start teaching about online safety and personal information at a young age, 1st or 2nd grade. So any grade school children should have a basic understanding of the concept.

    Here’s a fun bit. Here’s a good page with resources you teach them about online presence, etc. etc.. in particular, use materials from Google’s Interland website:
    The Interland online activities were a train wreck last time I checked, but the actual instructional materials and booklets were top notch.. also, your child gets an award for passing the test. 🙂 Now, here’s the fun bit.. after that, take them to and teach them about how Google abuses their personal data that they gather.

    So, NOW your child is wise in the ways of data mining and etc. Now it’s a VERY short jump for them to understand that the current state sponsored Standardized skills tests are stealing and selling their (your child’s) personal data. is cleaned up:


  2. Hi, Trent.
    Reading this is like being on a motorcycle that’s spinning out of control. You swerve from one point to the next … then crash into some other point … until you hop on another point that scrapes the guard-rail … and ends up in a gully.

    I hadda wear a helmet to read this.

    I’d respond, but I don’t know where to begin. The post was ultra-clear … that some kids need some explanations regarding these test refusals. But … but … but you skidded off the the road to Reason … so I stopped following you.



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