Out of all the movies I’ve seen, this scene is one of my favorites. It is so simple. William Wallace’s father and brother were killed, and he is left alone. Crying, the boy feels like his world is gone. And then one action, by one little girl, changes everything for him.
I can’t believe it’s been twenty years since this movie came out. It feels like yesterday. Sometimes we all feel like that little boy, lost and confused, feeling like no one is on our side. But we always have to believe something better is coming. I was reminded recently that hope isn’t enough, you have to believe. I thank my friend for telling me that. I needed to hear those words.
We all have loss in our lives. It doesn’t even have to be a loved one. It can be a dream, or an idea. Loss is unavoidable. Its what you do with it that makes you into the person you are. When I look back at the person I was twenty years ago, and who I am today, I see so much change. For those who knew me back then, it is night and day compared to now. But the heart of me, the parts reserved for those who I’ve always been close to, that’s still there. I’ve just learned to bring it out and show it to the rest of the world. I’ve always been a person with very deep thoughts. But it’s not about me anymore. It hasn’t been for a long time.
I wish I could say it is just about my family, but it is beyond them as well. It’s about having the courage to say the things that need to be said, the things you wish you said. Its about actions taken, and actions to come. It’s about finding your voice after a lifetime of not knowing what to say.
I’ve heard a few folks say opt-out legislation is useless if there is not legislation to get rid of high-stakes standardized assessments like the Smarter Balanced Assessment or the PARCC. I question this line of thinking for several reasons. Standardized assessments of this sort have been around for a long time, closing in on twenty years in some states. It hasn’t been until the introduction of Common Core about seven years ago that this matter really got national attention.
Parent opt-out is not about waiting around for politicians to discuss whether or not standardized assessments are necessary. It’s about parents already realizing these assessments are not right for our children, and we are exercising a right we already had to control our children’s educational outcome. I fully support opt-out legislation because of how it has been created. Opt-out is a force, an action. It is something people see, on the tv, on social media, and in our very schools. Talking about it really hasn’t changed anything. Knowing others have done it is inspiring other parents to take a look at what is going on and make their own choices for their children. Politicians see this, and the smart ones know which way the wind is blowing. These are voters, and if an overwhelming amount are saying “We want change, and if you don’t do it, we will do it in our own way.”
Opt-out is making people notice what’s going on in education and it is opening the conversation for policy-makers to take a hard look at the impact education reform is having on our children. ESEA reauthorization has been talked about for 8 years now. There are no actual signs of anything happening this year. So parents are doing what is necessary. They are changing the conversation. And we will keep doing it. So for those who want these tests gone, take a hard look at what is happening: parents are opting out all over the country. Our children aren’t taking these tests you want to disappear. It isn’t perfect, but we are closer to getting rid of these bad, disruptive education policies than we have ever been. That didn’t happen because we talked about it. It happened because we took action.