The use of nosy questionnaires by public schools has been a bone of contention between schools and parents for years, but New Jersey recently came up with a question that really has parents up in arms. Third-graders were asked on a standardized test to reveal a secret about their lives and explain why it is hard to keep. This question was asked of 4,000 third-graders in an official test called the New Jersey Assessment of Skills and Knowledge. This test is supposed to judge elementary school students on their proficiency in math and language arts, and determine whether or not a student ends up in basic skills classes. The school wasn't eager to answer parents' questions such as, What if a kid answered "my dad smokes marijuana" or "my mom drank a beer while driving me home"? Would the school report that to the "child protective" agency? School teachers might think they are required by the law to report any unlawful activity they hear about, which would make the kid an informer on his own parents.
This question about a secret should have been banned as a violation of the New Jersey law that requires prior parental consent before a student can be required to reveal personal information. That law was sponsored by then-state legislator (now Congressman) Scott Garrett. And it's a good law that all should obey, especially schools. The practice of making schoolchildren answer nosy personal questions has gone on for years, and parents should warn their children NOT to answer nosy questions even if the schol demands it.
Listen to the radio commentary here: