Last night I made the mistake of jumping into a comments thread about the Opt-Out Movement, the teacher-led campaign to persuade students and parents to refuse to take the annual assessments used to identify academic achievement gaps.
Written by Brooklyn civil rights attorney Charles F. Coleman, the piece laid out why black learners are the ones most hurt by the trend. And correctly pointed out that most of those who opted out last spring were from wealthy white communities.
“To put it plainly: white parents from well-funded and highly performing areas are participating in petulant, poorly conceived protests that are ultimately affecting inner-city blacks at schools that need the funding and measures of accountability to ensure any hope of progress in performance,” Coleman wrote.
“This is one of the more obvious examples of the sort of ‘double bonus’ that privilege can create. The ability to opt out of standardized testing without serious concern for the consequences on parents’ school districts is only buttressed by the notion of having greater availability of alternative options.”
It’s a solid article. Yet within minutes it acquired a comment thread rife with hyperbole and venom. Much of it, a little Facebook backtracking revealed, from white commenters who it’s hard not to imagine neatly illustrate Coleman’s point.