School test refusal bill gets a hearing

Parents testified at the Georgia Capitol Monday for legislation that would solidify a child’s right to refuse to take school tests.

One mom said her daughter gets so nervous during the school year that she tugs all her hair out and must wear a wig. Another said parents in her north Fulton County neighborhood are ditching public school for private because of all the classroom time spent on test prep.

“Put less emphasis on testing,” said Kate Wittschen, whose daughter is a junior in high school. “There’s not enough focus on learning in the classroom.”

The Georgia Senate has already approved Senate Bill 355, which guarantees a parental right to refuse state-mandated tests in public school. The bill, by Sen. William T. Ligon, Jr., R-Brunswick, now must get through the House. It's idled in that chamber's education committee, where an education subcommittee that heard testimony Monday took no vote.

Lawmakers on the subcommittee asked questions that suggested they weren’t sold on the bill.

Tests, and the pressure surrounding them, have long been a part of schooling, said Rep. Tom Dickson, R-Cohutta. “I know pretty much what my parents would have said if I said ‘I don’t want to take this test.’”

Rep. Tommy Benton, R-Jefferson, said “testing is the only thing that we’ve got to hold the teachers’ and the school systems’ feet to the fire to show that we’re getting results.”

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