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New York Parents Tired of Compromises: Vow to Continue Test Boycott; Encourage School Districts to Focus on Proven Best Practices, Rise Above Ed Bureaucracy

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 13, 2017
More information contact:
Jeanette Deutermann (516) 902-9228 nys.allies@gmail.com
Bianca Tanis (845) 389-0722 nys.allies@gmail.com
NYS Allies for Public Education www.nysape.org
 
New York Parents Tired of Compromises: Vow to Continue Test Boycott; Encourage School Districts to Focus on Proven Best Practices, Rise Above Ed Bureaucracy
 
By adopting putatively “new” standards and approving an ESSA plan that does little to move away from the test-based accountability that spurred hundreds of thousands of New York’s families to create and sustain the state’s historic opt out movement, the New York State Education Department and Board of Regents have effectively signaled that parents, educators, and school board members who value child-centered education must forge their own path toward that vision.
            —New York State Allies for Public Education (NYSAPE), a coalition of over 50 parent and educator groups         active across the state.

“Although there have been minor improvements that move us in the right direction, we continue to institutionalize a test-focused curriculum throughout our entire pre-k to high school education system,” said Jeanette Deutermann, parent and founder of Long Island Opt Out and NYSAPE. “We can do better. It will now be up to local districts, teachers, and parents to circumvent SED bureaucracy and just simply do right by their students. Most parents who opted out previously will continue to feel that state assessments based on flawed Common Core anchor standards do not improve the education of their children. Rather, they continue to be a roadblock to innovative and progressive classrooms filled with passion.”

The state’s Next Generation Learning Standards, alleged to be a replacement of the reviled Common Core Learning Standards, are in actuality little more than a rebranding. The preK-2 standards in particular drew ire from parents and educators alike. “The State remains unwilling to move away from the misguided notion that rigor is appropriate and beneficial for young learners. The standards continue to demand that all kindergarteners meet standardized reading expectations, failing to recognize the developmental range of young learners,” according to early childhood teacher and New Paltz parent Bianca Tanis.

Michael Hynes, Superintendent of Patchogue-Medford School District added, “I’m disappointed in the chancellor and not surprised by the commissioner. It is my belief that the preK-2 standards adopted are better than those proposed in June, but they have a long way to go to embrace a more holistic and whole-child philosophy. I believe having over 1000 standards for ELA drives the love of reading and writing away from children.” 

“While I am looking forward to examining what this may mean for New York State children and public schools, most of all I am disappointed that the NYS Regents and NYSED continue to listen to people/lobbyists who have NO experience working in our public school classrooms and with our children,” expressed Marla Kilfoyle, NYS parent, educator, Executive Director BATs.

Kemala Karmen, a parent with children in NYC schools concurred, “I served on one of the ESSA ‘Think Tank’ committees that was supposed to bring all kinds of voices into the process. It was a sham. We were channeled into what I believe were preordained conclusions that the State Education Department championed. It was a completely squandered opportunity. The state could have thrown off the shackles it has been wearing since NCLB. It could have shown vision and true compassion for the children in its care. Instead, it shut its eyes, stuck its fingers in its ears, and went for more of the same.”

Lisa Rudley, Westchester parent and founding member of NYSAPE, built on that point, “Despite the fact that Opportunity to Learn (OTL) factors such as class size, number of guidance counselors, physical education offerings etc. were the top priority of respondents to NYSED’s own accountability indicator survey, the state opted not to include an OTL Index in its ESSA plan. Instead, the plan places greater emphasis on attendance and on participation in advanced coursework.”

Rudley went on to say, “While chronic absenteeism has a significant impact on student achievement, emphasizing this factor in the accountability system will unfairly stigmatize schools with large numbers of poor and homeless students (the average homeless student in NYC, for example, misses 88 days of school)–without addressing any of the underlying causes of student mobility. Mandating advanced coursework might at first seem unobjectionable, but this emphasis will almost certainly cause some schools to divert resources away from enrichment programs and important foundational courses like art or music and into excessive AP courses that students may neither want nor are prepared for.”   

“During Commissioner Elia’s statewide ESSA listening tour, some of the most compelling testimony came from faculty and students who teach at or attend transfer high schools. Nonetheless, the NYS ESSA plan will heartlessly and wrongly identify these schools which serve high-needs and over-age students as being in need of improvement, even though many of them demonstrate successful outcomes with their students,” added Janine Sopp, NYC parent.  

​Eileen Graham, a Rochester parent expressed frustration, “Our leaders are fixated on standards and assessments, not what is best for the growth and development of children. We cannot keep allowing money to drive critical decision making. Children are brilliant, natural learners, who love to explore, and teach us as well. Children and teachers should not be treated as standards or assembly-line products, but should be empowered to learn in ways that will change their lives and the world around them. Parents and children feel abandoned and opt out is the only way we can fight for what we expect and deserve.”

Parents are no longer content with crumbs, baby steps, and the lesser of evils. These are our children and they are running out of time. For many it is already too late. This was a huge opportunity to put New York on the right educational path and once again we chose the path of test-based accountability and standards written without grade-level practitioner expertise. We intend to hold the Regents to their promise that they will continue to revise the Next Generation Learning Standards and add more Opportunity to Learn factors to our accountability system.  And we will continue to ensure that schools pay attention to these issues and focus on providing students with what matters: a quality education and a real chance to thrive.

​NYSAPE is a grassroots coalition with over 50 parent and educator groups across the state.

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