About United Opt Out

United Opt Out National, Inc. is registered as a nonprofit organization incorporated in the state of Florida.

Information about our Admins

Members of this site are parents, educators, students and social activists who are dedicated to the elimination of high stakes testing in public education. We use this site to collaborate, exchange ideas, support one another, share information and initiate collective local and national actions to end the reign of fear and terror promoted by the high stakes testing agenda. Meet UOO’s administrators.


Rosemarie Jensen is a former teacher and currently a parent activist. She received her M. Ed. from the University of Florida and taught K-1 for ten years in both Alachua and Broward Counties. In addition, she trained teachers in Alachua and surrounding counties in Math Their Way and later worked as a K-2 literacy trainer for teachers in Broward County. In the past 15 years she has been an active participant in her local schools  and has worked to end high stakes testing and corporate reforms. She has been involved in  community, state and national efforts to support public education and teachers. She has opted her son out of FCAT for the past three years in Florida.




mornaMorna McDermott has been working in, with, and around public schools for over twenty years. Currently she is an Associate Professor at Towson University, in Maryland where she teaches various theory and methods courses in the College of Education. Her scholarship and research interests focus on democracy, social justice, and arts-informed inquiry in K-post secondary educational settings, and working with beginning and experienced educators. She explores how the arts serve as a form of literacy that challenges traditional classroom learning and dominant narratives. Recent art work and installations have emphasized the value of art as a “public pedagogy” in creating grass roots social-political-educational change. Dr. McDermott currently serves as the Arts Based Educational Research section editor for the Journal of Curriculum and Pedagogy. In addition to publishing in educational journals and books, she writes ongoing columns for www.examiner.com. She currently lives in Baltimore with her husband and two children. Contact Morna at mcdermottmax@yahoo.com or 410-294-3223.

headed backPeggy Robertson has taught kindergarten, first, second, fourth, fifth and sixth grade, beginning her career in Missouri and continuing in Kansas, for a total of ten years. She was hired by Richard C. Owen Publishers in 2001 to serve as a Learning Network Coordinator and spent the next three years training teacher leaders and administrators in educational theory and practice in the state of Colorado, as well as around the country during the summer months. In 2004 she was hired as the Literacy Coordinator by the Adams 50 School District in Westminster, Colorado. While working in Adams 50 she mentored teachers and administrators and supported them in the writing and implementation of school development plans. She earned her master’s degree in English as a Second Language at Southeast Missouri State University. She currently is an instructional coach at an elementary school and devotes the rest of her time to her work at United Opt Out National. Her blog can be found at www.pegwithpen.com . Contact Peggy at writepeg@juno.com or 720-810-5593.

ruth rodriguezRuth Rodriguez holds a BA in Social Work and did graduate studies in Bilingual Education at Boston University. She was a Community Fellow in the Urban Studies Department at MIT where she researched school violence. She has spent most of her career life in the field of education, as a kindergarten teacher, school/family and community coordinator, and supporter of parent/teacher collaboration. Ruth is a member of the national Save Our Schools Steering Committee and sits on the Advisory Board of Citizens for Public Schools (CPS) in Boston, MA. Ruth served on MA Governor Deval Patrick’s Readiness Project on MCAS and Assessment, an initiative that brought together a diverse group of educators, to advise the governor on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MA high stakes exam for promotion and graduation requirement).

tim occupyTimothy D. Slekar is an Associate Professor of teacher education and Head of the Division of Education, Human Development, and Family Studies at Penn State Altoona. Dr. Slekar began his career in education as a 2nd grade teacher in Williamsburg, VA. He also taught 5th grade in York, PA. Dr. Slekar attended the University of Maryland at College Park where he earned his Ph. D. in social studies education. During his studies Dr. Slekar worked with 7th and 8th grade teachers in the city of Baltimore. Dr. Slekar has published research in some of the top educational research journals (Teacher Education Quarterly, Theory and Research in Social Education, Journal of Thought). Dr. Slekar also co-hosts a local talk radio show in central PA (Tuesdays at 11:00 am eastern on WRTA 1240 am). The show is devoted to teachers and teaching in public schools. Dr Slekar and Dr. Shaun Johnson also host At The Chalk Face (BlogTalkRadio) Progressive Education Talk.

Contact Tim at tds12@psu.edu or 412-735-9720.

cerestaneaphotoCeresta Smith, an American University alumna, is a twenty-three-year veteran educator who has taught grades six through twelve reading and language arts, as well as beginning and advanced television production. Contact Ceresta at cerestas@yahoo.com or 786-303-4785. She earned her National Board Certification in Adult/Young Adult English/language arts in 2002 and now serves as a teacher leader and mentor. In September of 2008, she moved from a school deemed “high performing” to serve as a teacher leader and literacy coach in a school deemed “low performing.” While there, she became a 2009 – 2010 recipient of a Jordan Fundamental Grant that facilitated the implementation of Text Titans, a literacy building initiative designed by her and funded by Brand Jordan. A private foundation created by basketball great Michael Jordan, Brand Jordan honors teachers who motivate and inspire students toward achieving excellence. As a committed educator and activist, Ms. Smith founded the Concerned Teacher Coalition in 2009 to address the inequities in Miami-Dade County’s predominantly African-American public schools. One of the original organizers of Save Our Schools March and National Call to Action, she continues to champion for equity and quality pedagogy in America’s public schools.


Denisha Jones 2014Denisha Jones is an Assistant Professor in the School of Education at Howard University.  She is a former early childhood teacher and preschool director. She received her PhD from Indiana University in 2013. She has been active in the fight to stop the corporate takeover of public education since 2011. She is an admin for the Badass Teachers Association, and has recently joined the administration team of United Opt Out and has worked with Save Our Schools to expose the dangers of privatizing public education. She blogs about education for emPower Magazine, @ the Chalk Face, and the Badass Teachers Association. Her research interests include the de-professionalization of teaching, service-learning, providing meaningful professional development for early childhood teachers, and promoting diversity in education. 

35 thoughts on “About the Admins of UOO”



    My son is 7 1/2.He’s in a public school that is supposed to be good.Or,I should say,used to be good.I attended this district through high school.My son missed the first 2 weeks of 2nd grade(getting his tonsils out-had to be done).Now,he’s in class and is not doing well.Matter of fact,he is not doing his work in class.For the past 3 days,he’s had to sit inside during recess and finish work.Strange thing,he’s had to start taking timed math tests.He’s good at math,but does poorly on these.He is getting evaluated by the school psychologist next week.His 1st grade teacher thinks he has Asperger’s.I have a friend whose son does have it(she also has a special ed degree),if she thinks he does.She says no.So now the school wants to label him as this or autistic,which I think is crap to be blunt.I think my son actually is a Highly sensitive person,like me.This is causing problems.The actual reason he’s getting evaluated,is this.Last year,his teacher sent him to the wrong room for his reading class(I’m against all these room changes for younger kids).He went there,got scared,and had a “meltdown” according to the teacher.I feel as though this school has it out for my son.And I’m no idiot,I’m a RN.I like the school psychologist,I trust her.She’s at one of the high schools.I don’t like any of the people at his elementary school.I don’t trust them much.Seems to me like my son sits inside during recess,and is being punished.Also,he is a little socially awkward.He’s an only and is around grownups too much.I try as much as I can to let him be around other kids.He has a stubborn streak and is resisting things.He can read and understand things well,but writes slowly.He’s also a perfectionist,so he wants to do things right and gets easily frustrated.It’s 3 am and I’m up again worrying.I am letting them evaluate him,but am afraid they are going to mislabel him and ruin his life.They want to do an IEP for him.I have said okay.He hates school,except for art,gym,music,library,computer,lunch and recess.Any comments would be appreciated.My email is LAWBECK1000@yahoo.com.I don’t care if it’s on here.I want any opinions from outside sources I can get.I’d put him somewhere else,but can’t afford it.I am frustrated.I have to do right by him,he’s the only child I have.Too old to have more!Thanks,Lisa




        Hi Lisa
        Please visit our facebook at Opt Out of the State Test: The Movement, if you are on FB already. There we have continuous dialogues with our members about individual issues such as this. There you might find help from others in your state or district who can give you some concrete guidance or support! by the way-I have one little boy at home like that too!!! I share your fear, compassion, and concern close to my heart.




    I too had a different learner, two of them actually. The first one had several teachers tell me what was “wrong” with her. Lethargic ADD?, Aspergers? when tested, the speech pathologist found Auditory processing disorder–She did not have an IEP, but a 504 plan where accommodations should be made in the classroom. When we moved, we asked the teacher if he would be able to make any of these accommodations and with 42 kids in class, he shook his head. We now homeschool and she is flourishing. Any chance you could Home Educate? There are lots of families who take their children, who are socially awkward, out of school and find a more accepting environment in the home education arena.




    I have been writing about why we should ban high-stakes testing on my blog The Art of Teaching Science (http://www.artofteachingscience.org) for some time, and I am thrilled that United Opt Out is working to lead the way out of the current abyss that characterizes the way we treat students and teachers in public schools.

    The consequence of eliminating high-stakes testing would be the immediate removal of the pressure on students and teachers to be controlled by a Federal policy that is deeply flawed, and based on a factory mentality of education that does not fit with 21st Century society. The implementation of high-stakes testing has had more impact on what and how teachers teach than any curriculum innovation of the past 50 years. Teachers are pressured to teach to the test, and in a case reported recently on this blog, Florida science teachers are throwing out hands-on and inquiry activities so that they can spend more time teaching to the end of year test (FCAT).

    As a science educator, the consequence of eliminating high-stakes testing in science would enable science teachers to encourage innovation, creativity and science-inquiry. Teachers would also be free to relate science to the lived experiences of their students, to involve students in engaging scientific projects, and use the wealth of resources and curricula that have been developed by the leading science educational organizations in the Nation.

    In my e-Book, The Enigma of High-Stakes Testing in Science, (http://www.artofteachingscience.org/ebooks/high_stakes_testing.docx), I provide research embedded in 21 articles that supports the position that high-stakes testing should be banned.

    Thank you for leading this effort.




    My name is Nina Bishop and I am a collecting letters about parental rights violations regarding high stakes testing in your state for a multi family complaint to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). I need your letters and please include the following:
    1. Your story explaining how your parental rights were violated
    2. Copies of supporting documents; e.g. threatening mail from schools, denial to school activities/clubs, denial for grade advancement, diploma denial.
    3.Your contact information
    4.Your permission to join the multi family complaint

    Please send it TRADITIONAL MAIL (ACLU prefers snail mail) to:
    Nina Bishop
    3065 Windward Way
    Colorado Springs, CO 80917
    719-233-1508 Mountain Standard Time Zone

    Together we can reclaim our parental rights regarding the education of our children. Send you letter now!

    Nina Bishop
    Concerned parent and
    Education activist

    Parental rights are broadly protected by Supreme Court decisions (Meyer and Pierce), especially in the area of education, so why not in our Colorado state statutes? The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that parents posses the “fundamental right” to “direct the upbringing and education of their children.” Furthermore, the Court declared that “the child is not the mere creature of the State: those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right coupled with the high duty to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations.” (Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 268 U.S. 510, 534-35) The Supreme Court criticized a state legislature for trying to interfere “with the power of parents to control the education of their own.” (Meyer v. Nebraska, 262 U.S. 390, 402.) In Meyer, the Supreme Court held that the right of parents to raise their children free from unreasonable state interferences is one of the unwritten “liberties” protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. (262 U.S. 399).In recognition of both the right and responsibility of parents to control their children’s education, the Court has stated, “It is cardinal with us that the custody, care and nurture of the child reside first in the parents, whose primary function and freedom include preparation for the obligations the State can neither supply nor hinder.” (Prince v.Massachusetts, 321 U.S. 158).




    I was just informed by my childrens school, AZVA that is they do not show up and test they will be with drawn from school. So what good is Opt-Out if the school gives your kid(s) the boot? Any help anyone can give would be appriciated. Thank you




        Is this a charter school or virtual school? And is it in Arizona? Just trying to figure out the AZVA. Thanks. Peggy Robertson




            My son was kicked out of a charter school because I valued his health and eduction more than I valued our crappy state test. I won’t put him through it! We’re in a new school now where he’s treated like a human being instead of a score. Being kicked out isn’t the worst thing that can happen. It might even be the best thing.




    I just forwarded your website to the preservice teachers in my graduate seminar. Thank you for offering them a different schooling paradigm.

    Susan Cridland-Hughes, Ph.D.




    I don’t know what’s up with charter schools. I gave up today in teaching. I was called once for an interview and the assist. Principal just stood me up! Then he called again today for a courtesy interview! What a disappointment.It was so obvious that they could of have given a rats ass of what I had to say… Michio Kaku put clearly once into words what the educational system really is!




    Under the column “Guests: We Have Many” you post the following, “Sorry, no posts matched your criteria?” This is borderline oxymoronic. Cleaning this up might be a good place to start. Not a criticism, just a suggestion.




    I have put out a blog for the last 4 years about the corruption in aid privatizing public education, the first step of which is the targeting teachers at the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), the second largest school district in the country, and districts like it. In addition to privatizing public education, the second equally important goal is to dumb down the future electorate, so that the corporate agenda will not be questioned. In the process of doing my blog, I have made contacts with people all over this country where this same highly coordinated attack on public education is taking place- care to share information? Given the blackout in the corporate controlled media- both private and public- the Internet offers us the ability to create a virtual commons to reassert our 1st Amendment right to freedom of association- a sine qua non for any democracy and the governmental accountability to the people it is supposed to stand for.

    If you would like to work together, email me at: Lenny@perdaily.com.




    I was wondering what the thoughts are on Pennsylvania’s new test that students are now required to take in order to graduate….the Keystone Exams. So far, they have one for Algebra I, Biology, and Language Arts. Was wondering if there was an opt out for this exam. My daughter hasn’t had Algebra (she’s currently in Geometry) since 8th grade. On the PSSA’s she always got proficient or advanced in the math and she had a high B in Algebra. However, when she took the Algebra Keystone in December, she scored Basic, 30 points away from proficient, so she has to take it again in May. Now she is required to take an online tutoring program before she takes it again. If she doesn’t pass it in May, she has to give up an elective to take a remediation course….I am fuming! Is there anything I can do? Help!




    That just means that the Pennsylvania system is messed up. In Florida, when the instituted the Algebra EOC, anyone who already took the course and passed the course was grandfathered in and did not have to meet the EOC requirement. I feel sorry for your daughter and her having to retake an test for a course she already passed.




    Wow! Really people? Didn’t we have the same attitude back in the 60′s and 70′s…I think we called them free-thinking hippies! A couple of points: First, if there is no testing to help us determine the needs of the students, how can we determine if they are truly learning and applying the content? Sure, there is no perfect standardized test, but we need a measurement system. Second, the colleges look not only at student grades and GPAs (which in our state are way out of control…the scale is still a 4 point scale but they can earn extra points for taking honors or AP classes and kids are graduating with 7.8 GPAs) and extracurricular activities, but they look very closely at the SAT and ACT which have always been fairly good measures of potential success in college. True, CollegeBoard is a corporate entity that gives us a lot of these tests, but they obviously know what they are doing. So, instead of trying to get people to opt out of assessments that have validity in the educational process, how about fighting for a common system of instruction and assessment so that we can ensure that all students graduate with the skills to be successful in our modern society? Oh yeah, that’s right…it’s called Common Core and we already have it!




        Oh yeah…and I can’t wait to read all of the opposing comments that refer to me an an idiot. Really people? Can’t wait!




    To Chris Jackson: Right, “how about fighting” to keep state control of education in accordance with our Constitution Article 10 or let’s undertake the the long overdue process of reviewing and updating this great document? I also suggest that you do a little reading before you engage in propagating falsehoods like “a system of instruction and assessment … based on the ‘Common Core’ … (will) ensure that all students graduate with the skills to be successful in our modern society”. These standards, rejected by the very experts hired with fed funds to develop them, and developed under a cloak of secrecy are being imposed on parents and the education community as part of the hugest mandatory sociological experiment ever conducted in modern times.
    Act like a fascist dictator and that is what proponents of this system will be known as in future History Books, should we survive long enough to write them.






3 Responses

  1. June 13, 2014

    […] to gather data and make profits for businesses,” says Morna McDermott, an administrator of United Opt Out and an associate professor […]

  2. September 28, 2014

    […] mind that Ceresta Smith was an activist that obtained a $10,000 Michael Jordan grant that brought Dwayne Wade to Norland […]

  3. October 27, 2014

    […] for resistance to regimented testing in public schools. A national movement has been organized by United Opt Out of Miami, FL, and it is starting to have effects. Over half the students recently refused testing […]

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