NOTE FROM THE EDITOR: Livingston resident, Justin Escher Alpert, whose daughter Skylar testified in front of the State Board of Education in Jan., shared his PARCC Refusal letter with TAP into Livingston and agreed to let the paper run it for the readers.

Dear Superintendent O'Neill and Principal Ostrowski:

Take a look at the lesson plans on Achievethecore.org.

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We shouldn't want our children learning this way. We have seemingly removed everything that is important from education. Up at the Essex County Take-the-PARCC-Test event earlier this week, no one could make sense of the questions being asked. Yesterday at the State Assembly Education Committee meeting in Trenton, Dr. Sandra Alberti spoke. It says in her biography that she went from the New Jersey Department of Education to her present job. Who knows who backs that concern, but working for them should not, in my opinion, be a more rewarding job than working at the Department of Education (or, for that matter... in a classroom directly with the children). The door swung in a similar manner with Commissioner Cerf.  It is worth taking a look at the methodologies of Amplify Insight and formulating an independent opinion.  

How can we return local Control and local Responsibility? Nobody from Pearson ever came to the high-performing districts and asked what makes them tick. A locally-controlled and accountable Public School system is the backbone of any healthy community. It is where responsible feedback comes from. The professional Administrators across the State should be demanding that Responsibility be pushed downwards and that Accountability flow upwards. 

THE TEACHING METHODOLOGY HAS NOT BEEN THE PROBLEM. The problem is socioeconomic. They didn't like that the old test scores correlated to the wealth and education of the parents of the test-taker, so they made a harder test. At the most recent State Board of Education meeting, Jersey City Superintendent Dr. Lyles was speaking about crumbling infrastructure, portable classrooms on the blacktop, and budget shortfall...in part due to Charters draining resources from the System. If THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS do not meet OUR standards, then it seems silly to think that the children therein ever should. We should fix the real-world problems before we start paying people to make up new ones.  

The problem is socioeconomic...and it is solvable. The broad political will exists to address and fix it.  

Our children should not be doing mundane work for the research, development, and profit of large multi-national corporations (or, for that matter...for their false-front non-profit organizations). Neither should our teachers. That's not a direction we should go in.  

We can create more robust assessments that would themselves be learning experiences...experiences that bring out the best in each student as an individual...with more immediate and actionable feedback. The talent presently exists here in The Garden State and in the Department of Education and in every district if we empower ourselves to work together. It's a shame that the PARCC doesn't test for team building skills.

Martin Luther King, Jr. said that we have a duty to disobey an unjust law. He said that, "An unjust law is a code that a numerical or power majority group compels a minority group to obey but does not make binding on itself." They don't take the PARCC test at Sidwell Friends.

I refuse to permit my children to take the PARCC Test. The test did not stand up to even whiff of public scrutiny. We shouldn't want our children learning this way. We have lost sight of what is important.  

Please provide my daughter with the kind of compelling education that Livingston Public Schools would have otherwise been providing her had we not had to suffer these immeasurable mandates.

Thank you, to you and everybody on your team, for continuing to continually set new standards of excellence in our locally-controlled, accountable, and dynamic Public School system. I am proud that my children are students here under your leadership. 

Very truly yours,

Justin Escher Alpert

Livingston, New Jersey