By some counts, 275 out of the 468 Juniors from Staples High School are opting out of the SBAC tests this week. Westport joins the nation in heated discourse as hundreds of thousands of students across the country opt out from these corporate-driven, time-consuming tests.

The missing link of this conversation is that these kids are exercising their right to protest in order to make change. For this, they deserve our praise and attention. Don't get me wrong: the kids taking the test are heroic, too, for merely sitting through the hours it takes to get through the SBAC's, which are roundly considered to be terribly written and sometimes incoherent.

But as a junior in high school, I don't think I would have opted out. I couldn't have faced the stern disapproval of my principal and other parents. I would have believed the line that taking the tests was fulfilling my civic duty as a data-provider. I would have felt guilty that my family was receiving letters and emails from administration that were chastising and sometimes threatening in tone. I would have just taken the tests.

Long before Common Core curriculum and the SBAC tests came to Westport, our students learned how our government works, and how citizens in this country have the right to dissent peacefully in order to make change. Learning about these things is one thing, but exercising these rights -- especially in a climate such as Westport where achievement takes precedence over all else -- is quite another. I am in awe of these students and their clarity of conscience.

I am looking forward to this generation taking care of mine when they take positions in our society that require strength and conviction. It would be nice if Superintendent Eliot Landon could seize this opportunity to praise these kids for their engagement in their education. I for one applaud them.

Darcy Hicks