A Mom’s Reply to the State Superintendent on Why Opting Out of SAGE Tests

Whitne Strain opted her children out of SAGE tests and spoke with the press about it. Afterward, State Superintendent Menlove contacted her and asked why she opted-out. This was her reply.


Dear Dr. Menlove,
Thank you for asking why I chose to opt out my child.  I am happy to share.
First, I would like to assure you that my husband and I didn’t come to this decision lightly.  I learned about Common Core and all of its related facets a year ago.  I have read articles almost daily.  I regularly read and listen to posts by Arne Duncan and David Coleman, major players in national education.  I read your website.  I went to the CAT demonstrations by the board last year.  I actually think the testing modality is brilliant to assess the level of knowledge of participants.
My first reason for opting out is the morality of assessment use on children.  Twenty years ago, I worked for Pace Membership Warehouses in their human resources department as a behavioral interviewer before it was sold to Sam’s Club.  I was responsible for hiring Warehouse Directors, the highest paid position outside of corporate.  Assessments such as the CPI and Meyers-Briggs were the rage back then.  We collected astoundingly personal information on our candidates based on the way they answered questions.  We created profiles on them and made decisions on who to interview based on their answers.  Assessments are only appropriate in my opinion for job interviews or possible college entrance.  Even then, the potential participants can choose whether they wish to go through the process to gain an interview or search elsewhere for employment; whereas, our children can’t.
Second, I question the morality of evaluating a teacher on results they can’t see.  And I lament the loss of academic freedom to expound and create lessons.  The pressure of high stakes testing will take its toll. Teachers all have unique gifts which they bring to the table.  They come to education because they love children.  I fear that the more confined they become in their substance and approach due to the pressure to keep their job based on testing, the more we could lose the best, most creative, most loving teachers.
Lastly, it is an issue of trust.  I trust my local community with my child’s information.  While I recognize we are still being told that our information is only placed in our state SLDS system, I do not have faith that the Federal Government will not at some future time use its will to access SLDS..  Arne Duncan has made it clear that this is his goal.  He wants ALL the data.  What contributes to this lack of trust?  Daily, I read of Federal Government overreach and violation of the Constitution whether it be data collection by the NSA, a loosely created national police force by DHS, or the most horrific violation of civil rights we’ve seen in a decade, the current circumstances of Justina Pelletier of Massachusetts.  Information is power.  Information in corrupt hands leads to suffering.  I’m a student of history.   We have a plethora of examples of abuse of power using information just from the last century.  Hence, I am doing everything in my power now to reduce the amount and kind of information collected on my child for his protection in the future.  That is why I said what I did about his future in my first request.
We are a well-educated family.  My husband I and were both publicly educated and we both have bachelors degrees.  I own two businesses and he is a commercial airline pilot.
I hope you wlll find this information helpful in some way.  Thank you for helping make it possible for my child to opt-out without local repercussion and for protecting the school and teachers with SB 122.  Obviously, our collective hands are tied regarding federal money and federal regulations..  It is my hope that someday as a society, we will stop seeing education as workforce training and job placement and take it back to pure local curriculum and standard creation, pure academics and family primacy in the decision of a child’s career.
A little long winded.  Thank you, again, for asking.  It is nice to have the opportunity to be heard.

Whitne Strain

2 thoughts on “A Mom’s Reply to the State Superintendent on Why Opting Out of SAGE Tests”

  1. She made a very good argument supported with lots of good historical evidence. She is very knowledgeable. I found it a bit humorous that she was being polite to Superintendent Menlove by thanking him for “helping make it possible” for her to opt her kids out of the testing. SB 122 was voted on and passed by our elected representatives in the Utah Legislature and signed by Governor Herbert. However, I am thankful that the State Superintendent of Education DID NOT lobby hard to prevent this bill from passing.

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