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Book on NYS's opt-out movement receives 2020 AESA Critics’ Choice Book Award

Book on NYS Opt-Out Movement Receives a 2020 AESA Critics’ Choice Book Award

The new book Opting Out: The Story of the Parents’ Grassroots Movement to Achieve Whole-Child Public Schools, from Warner School of Education’s David Hursh, is a 2020 American Educational Studies Association (AESA) Critics’ Choice Award winner. The five-chapter volume was among 12 publications to receive this honor in September.

Hursh, a professor in teaching and curriculum at the Warner School, collaborated with doctoral student Zhe Chen ‘18W (MS), and alumna Sarah McGinnis ‘18W (MS), all of the Warner School, and two parent leaders—Jeanette Deutermann and Lisa Rudley—to write Opting Out (Myers Education Press, 2020). The authors set out to inspire parents to become educational activists beyond standardized testing.

The book tells the story of two parents becoming education activists in the opt-out movement against standardized tests and how others—students, parents, and teachers—have joined them in resisting high-stakes testing in New York State. The story of parents resisting not only high-stakes testing but also privatization and other corporate reforms parallels the rise of teachers nationwide going on strike to demand increases in school funding and teacher salaries. The success of both the opt-out movement and teacher strikes reflect the rise of grassroots organizing using social media to influence policymakers at local, state, and national levels.

Each year, a committee of AESA members selects a number of titles it regards as outstanding books that may be of interest to those in educational studies. These books are designated as AESA Critics’ Choice Award winners and are displayed prominently at the annual meeting. This award serves to recognize and increase awareness of recent scholarship deemed to be outstanding in its field and of potential interest to members of the Association.