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Opting Out. Count Me In.

• Lowell Matthews

Satire by Lowell Matthews

Editors’ note: After this blog was written, members of the Lee County School Board listened to their superintendent, who warned opting out would hurt students, and rescinded their vote against testing.

By now, you’ve probably heard the news that the Lee County School Board in Florida has voted (3-2) to opt out of standardized testing of students. Although one of the three is having second thoughts, this is truly a watershed moment in education. It likely overshadowed other votes taken by the school board that night, all by 3-2 margins.

The food service department, for example, is no longer required to examine the quality of food from a nutritional aspect or even to check if the food is rotten. Shelly Burnley, Food Service Director, explained it best, “We’re spending way too much time away from cooking to do these silly checks. We no longer have to check for moldy food, and the deep-fried Twinkies are a real hit in the morning with the kids. The food safety inspections were hurting morale because the inspections can factor into your performance evaluation. This is truly a blessing.”

The building inspections are over. Sara Widdlestone, Director of Buildings, echoes the jubilation. “These damn inspectors were always checking to see if we had roaches in the building or how many fire drills we did. It takes away from my job, which is to put up school buildings for the kids. This has been a long time coming.”

Football tryouts were cancelled. Fritz Anderson, head coach of Lee County High School, said he wasn’t sure at first but now welcomes the change. “I thought it would still be a good idea to have tryouts for the team, but the board members assured me that it doesn’t matter how fast you run or how much weight you can lift. Everybody gets a trophy.” Everybody wins; except the football team just lost to its county rival 82-0.

Proof of immunization is no longer required for kids to enter school.  At first, Bill Nigher, a nurse who works in schools throughout the county, thought the idea was crazy. “Before the change, I handled a lot of bloody noses and sprained ankles, nothing too terribly exciting. Now, my job is incredibly exciting, and I love working with the folks at the Centers for Disease Control.” Bill had to leave before the interview ended. Apparently, there was a measles outbreak in one of the schools.

Union President Donnie Myers says teachers couldn’t be happier now that testing has been eliminated. “I even decided to get back into the classroom now that I don’t need to worry whether my students are learning anything. My kids watched three movies the first week alone. I turned struggling readers in my classroom into good readers overnight by tearing up their test results. Everyone has to guess which kids are struggling now. It’s like playing roulette in Vegas. Good luck with that.”

The parents of Tom Chambers are really happy. His father, Richard Chambers, said, “I don’t have to go to parent-teacher conferences anymore. Since nobody knows how Tom is doing in his classes, there is no point in having these meetings. Tom is happier and enjoys the extra time to play video games and watch TV. It’s becoming a real bonding opportunity for us.” Tom’s mother, Martha Chambers, is even more excited, “I always feared becoming an empty nester. Now that Tom can’t get into college or get a job, he’ll never leave.”

All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. The Lee County School Board did vote (3-2), however, to opt out of standardized testing on Aug. 27. It did not take these other actions described in this work but, hey, the night is young.

About the author

Lowell Matthews