We are asking that you allow our son, (Name), to "opt out" of PSSA testing for religious reasons.
We are Unitarian Universalists with values rooted in the teaching of Jesus. Forced participation in state testing violates the following religious principles we value and strive to teach in our home.
"Unitarian Universalists believe in the never-ending search for truth. If the mind and heart are truly free and open, the revelations that appear to the human spirit are infinitely numerous, eternally fruitful, and wondrously exciting." NCLB and PSSAs are antithetical to this belief. These tests assume a static truth and train the mind and heart to close to the possibilities of multiple answers or interpretations. They force children to believe in a single correct answer and that there is no need to search for knowledge -- knowledge is given. This contradicts the value we are trying to teach our son concerning curiosity and the endless possibilities available to him as he searches for his own truth.
As followers of the teachings of Jesus, Luke reminds us that Jesus said, "Do not judge, or you too will be judged" also "For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. And finally, "Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned.” PSSAs are designed exclusively to judge and condemn children, teachers, schools, and communities. We are also trying to teach our son to be open to the possibilities that "others" sometimes have different values or ways of seeing the world. We do not want him to judge others for their differences. We hope that one day our son will recognize differences in others and value and celebrate those differences. PSSAs force children, teachers, and schools to devalue differences.
We also believe in the Ethic of Reciprocity or the Golden Rule -- we are to treat other people as we would wish to be treated ourselves. As a family, our belief in the Golden Rule encourages us to help our son learn the value of fairness. We want him to treat others fairly and we hope that he will in turn expect others to treat him fairly. PSSAs have been demonstrated to not treat differences in children fairly. They fail to recognize the multiple intelligences present in all children. PSSAs discriminate against students from lower socio-economic conditions and unfairly penalize students with special education needs.
In summary and respect, we would like you to permit our son to "opt out" of NCLB and PSSA testing this school year for the religious and cultural reasons stated above.