Eugene school district doubts parent religious beliefs are legit

OptOutAgainstRacismWhen a system is pressured irrationally, it will start going haywire. The Eugene 4J School District decided to pressure parents to think about whether their personal/religious beliefs are legitimate. Oregon law provides that parents/guardians or students may opt-out due to physical disability or “religious beliefs” (read our How to Opt-Out page). Here’s the essential phrase from Oregon Administrative Rule (OAR) 581-022-1910:

(1) The school district may excuse students from a state required program or learning activity, where necessary, to accommodate students’ disabilities or religious beliefs

Districts and administrators being told to produce-test-scores-or-perish are tempted to lose sight of the rights of students, families, teachers, and principals. They will lose sight of the humanity of the people in their schools in favor of widget production quotas and other assembly line & factory metaphors. We’ve heard of building principals here and there challenging parents & students on their personal/religious beliefs, but Eugene is the first major Oregon school district that has stepped into this dehumanizing territory in a big way.

As reported in Eugene Weekly in a terrific piece about the growing opt-out movement in Eugene, the local school district has decided Oregon law isn’t enough. Read this galling maneuver (emphasis ours):

The 4J district’s form elaborates on this by adding the words “sincerely held” and requiring parents to initial a statement that reads, “The term ‘religious beliefs’ means religious, moral or ethical beliefs as to what is right and wrong that are sincerely held with the strength of traditional religious convictions. Merely wishing to avoid testing, or having political or social objections to testing not based on sincerely held religious belief, do not meet the requirements for the exemption.”

Districts are not completely obliged to accept opting-out requests due to religious reasons, but the smart ones do. Smart school districts do not want to get into the muck of telling parents and students whether held personal/religious beliefs are legitimate or not. By adding its own bureaucratic-ese to Oregon law, and acting like a religious legitimacy detector, the Eugene School District is being shortsighted and stupid. Take that dumb scare tactic off your form, Eugene 4J School District. You’re better than that.


9 thoughts on “Eugene school district doubts parent religious beliefs are legit

  1. Sounds like an ACLU lawsuit waiting to happen! Parents in Eugene….it just takes one to start a revolution!!!


  2. Shame on 4J. I remember when we were so proud of our school district. Now it looks as if the district is bowing to corporate deformers. How dare the district bully parents, teachers, and students.


  3. Nothing to see here kids. Just the Sith apprentice Kelly Noor drumming up business and billable hours. Attorneys have to feed their children and put gas in their BMWs. Have a heart.


  4. I teach at a residential treatment facility. Let’s talk about opting those children out! What data is going to be collected from their test taking? What are we measuring? How well Johnny can perform grade level math calculations while in the middle of a schizophrenic psychotic break from reality? Last year I had to do a room clear and move my test takers while one student attempted suicide. It is more insane to test some children. Some facilities should automatically be exempt, but the powers that be demand that we push ALL children through the assessment. I’m not in Eugene, I’m in Portland. I think parents shouldn’t be questioned, and I think we need to do a little serious pruning in terms of who all we are testing. No one is speaking up for the special needs children or those who are in the middle of a mental health crisis.


  5. This is not an education issue, it is a parental rights issue backed by the SCOTUS Parental Rights Doctrine. A parent does not need to conform to those two limitations – all they have to do is REFUSE the test (not opt out because they never opted in, a legal catch 22). If the school tries to prevent it, that is Conspiracy to Oppress Parental Rights, a 14th Amendment violation. the Doctrine has nothing to do with state laws or school rules, it is federal. More about refusing the tests, or any toxic content a parent does not want, like Islamic indoctrination in schools, here>>


  6. North Clackamas School District appears to be doing the same thing as Eugene.

    “Can I opt my student out of state tests?

    Currently Disabilities and religious beliefs are the only bases on which an Oregon school district may approve an exemption. You may request an exemption from state testing to accommodate your student’s IDEA or Section 504 identified disability or sincerely held religious beliefs. ”


  7. […] It seemed so simple.  The problem?  For some reason, since the implementation of SBAC, parents were finding it hard to opt-out of high-stakes testing. As more parents protested the new assessments by opting-out,  districts made up their own interpretation of the rules for opting out, some even going so far as to question parents’ request for religious exemption. […]


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