FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 16, 2015
More information contact:
Eric Mihelbergel (716) 553-1123; firstname.lastname@example.org
Lisa Rudley (917) 414-9190; email@example.com
NYS Allies for Public Education (NYSAPE) – www.nysape.org
No Relief in Sight; Parents Will Continue to Opt Out Until Fundamental Changes are Evident
The end of the Albany legislative session in June brought no relief for parents of New York seeking to reduce the most excessive testing regime and reverse the most destructive education policies in the nation.
However, parent efforts, while not sufficiently rewarded, have led to shifting winds of change in the Empire State. For the first time in recent memory, massive spending by ‘Big Money’ donors were beaten back by the voices of the people and the Assembly, who resoundingly shut down Governor Cuomo’s unconstitutional attempt to illegally divert public dollars to fund private schools through his proposed Education Tax Credit based on model legislation from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Similarly, attempts to increase the cap on charter schools by the GOP-led Senate were rejected.
After the close of session, the independent Board of Regents, fired embattled school testing giant Pearson corporation. That change coupled with several leadership departures at the State Education Department (NYSED) and an exodus of ‘Fellows’ in the privately funded Research Regent Fellows program offered glimpses of light for outraged parents.
Left untouched however, was Governor Cuomo’s unconstitutional education mandate to link his politically motivated teacher evaluation system to student test scores, a centerpiece of his ‘Big Money’ donor’s agenda. A Siena poll this week shows that three out of four New York voters believe Cuomo’s education agenda is not working to help students. Parents in this supermajority of New Yorkers will not rest until the harmful, inappropriate high-stakes testing linked to teacher evaluations is reversed and real fundamental changes are made to the educational landscape.
The Opt Out movement will continue to grow until parent control of student data privacy is restored, school districts regain local control, and test prep factories are driven from their children’s classrooms forever.
“We have seen the departure of the Commissioner of Education, Deputy Commissioner, numerous SED officials, a data collecting system, inBloom and now Pearson, the infamous testing company. This in the end does not change the foundational issues with education policies in New York or bring relief to students. Damaging laws, poorly designed education policies, a bullying governor, and an unresponsive Regents’ majority are the underlying problems.” said Lisa Rudley, Westchester County public school parent and founding member of NYSAPE.
“Parents across New York showed their force by opting out of harmful practices of high-stakes testing to reclaim their children’s classrooms and many were elected their school boards to advocate for their children. Parents will be showing up in droves to refuse high-stakes tests and deny the data this coming year and casting their ballots in 2016 only for legislators that are truly advocating for our children,” said Jeanette Deutermann, Nassau County public school parent and found of Long Island Opt Out.
“In the end, even the legislature did little to protect our kids. Despite all of their promises, nothing was done to reduce time spent on testing or the secrecy surrounding inappropriate test questions. Legislation enabling teachers to discuss already released test questions is absurd. It is the un-released questions that often hold the most egregious examples of inappropriate content,” said Bianca Tanis, Ulster County public school parent, educator, and founding member of NYSAPE.
Leonie Haimson, Executive Director of Class Size Matters added, “The Education Tax Credit, an unconstitutional backdoor voucher system, was stopped in its tracks despite the ‘big money’ lobbying and relentless efforts of ‘mega donors’. While the number of charter schools to be added in NYC doubled from 25 to 50, the Senate Republicans made sure that this would not affect their districts.”
“While six Board of Regent members took a bold stance in formulating a plan that would have provided some much needed relief from these harmful policies, they were defeated by the balance of the board who opted to maintain the status quo,” said Eric Mihelbergel, Erie County public school parent and founding member of NYSAPE.
NYSAPE, a grassroots organization with over 50 parent and educator groups across that state, are calling on parents to hand in their test refusal letters on the first day of school to reclaim their children’s classrooms and to stop the destruction of our public schools. Updated 2016 test refusal letter coming soon.
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