NYS Parents Fight to Reclaim Student Education from Excessive Testing and Data Collection: 250,000 High-Stakes Test Boycotts Planned Statewide

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  September 18, 2014 (Revised from 9/17/14 & 10/7/14)
More information contact:
Eric Mihelbergel  nys.allies@gmail.com
Jeanette Deutermann  nys.allies@gmail.com
NYS Allies for Public Education (NYSAPE) – www.nysape.org

Parents throughout the Empire State demand valuable student classroom learning time be returned to their children and that elected state and federal representatives rein in Education Departments obsessed with vast expansion of testing and unauthorized data collection. New York parents have had enough and declare “No More!”

“In 2014 roughly 60,000 parents boycotted NYS testing.  We believe strongly in appropriate assessment of our children, but the high-stakes nature of testing and unauthorized data collection must stop. Our children are subjected to a one-size-fits-all system that focuses more on test scores and data collection than on student learning and overall growth. Parents are committed to a plan for 250,000 students to boycott NYS tests,” says Eric Mihelbergel, Erie County Public School parent and founding member of NYSAPE.

Accelerating dramatically over the past five years, public education is being stripped of quality student-centered learning in order to devote excessive time, money and focus on high-stakes tests that feed corporate and political interests.  

NYS parents demand that U.S. Congress, New York State Legislators, and President Obama act immediately to do the following:

1.  Significantly Roll-Back Federal/State Annual Testing Requirements with 100% Transparency:  We are demanding our federal officials reduce testing requirements back to only 4th and 8th grade for 90 minutes for both English Language Arts (ELA) and Math.  On a state level, we are demanding our state officials roll back from 9 hours to 3 hours for grades 3-8, as allowable within federal law.  Requiring more testing is simply a mandate to drive profits for technology and data storage companies and will not provide educational outcomes. Immediately halt plans to roll out PARCC testing. (Revised from 9/17/14 & 10/7/14)
2.  Pass Student Data Privacy Legislation that Requires Parental Consent: If elite private schools do not educate children through speculative collection of large volumes of student profile data into statewide and national databases shared with multiple government agencies, public school parents don’t want it either.
3.  Remove Student Test Scores From Teacher Evaluations: There is no evidence that massive student testing and data collection does anything to improve student learning.  Student-score based teacher evaluations are merely a flawed attempt to make shoddy firing practices stand up in court while meaningful student learning time is discarded.
4.  Stop Assaulting Students with Special Needs and English Language Learners: The U.S. Department of Education must be put in its rightful place and stop bullying states into educational practices that are inflexible and do not allow states to address the needs of Special Education and English Language Learner students in an appropriate and challenging way meeting their individual needs. (Revised 10/7/14)
5.  Cease and Desist from All Punitive Actions Against Parent Test Refusals:  Schools should not be punished for supporting the fundamental right of parents to support their child’s education.

“Parent permissions slips are required for a school trip to the police station next door, yet the government collects personal data on children and shares it with private companies and other government agencies without a parent’s knowledge or sign off?  Collection of the most personal student data in national and statewide databases without Parental Consent is an affront to all Americans and our liberty.  Our representatives in Congress need to stand up for parents and strike back against government agencies far too cozy with business interests and profiteers,”   said Lisa Rudley, Westchester County public school parent and founding member of NYSAPE.

“NYS Commissioner of Education John King’s failure to comply with the recent NYS privacy legislation passed in April is unacceptable. In August, NYSAPE along with Class Size Matters sent a letter (http://www.nysape.org/letter-to-king-and-regents-nysed-failed-to-implement-state-law.html) to the Commissioner, the Board of Regents, and elected officials demanding that the New York State Education Department comply with the law. John King’s casual and dismissive attitudes towards the law in NY only reinforces the need for strict parental consent legislation,” said Anna Shah, Dutchess County public school parent.

“Parent commitment to restoring quality education in our schools by removing the high-stakes nature of testing is never ending,” says Jeanette Deutermann, Nassau County public school parent and founder of Long Island Opt Out. “We won’t stop until our children’s education system returns to a focus on learning rather than test scores and data collection, and we have a plan to accomplish this.”

On its website, NYSAPE details actions that parents everywhere can participate in to help reach 250,000 boycotts.  These include:  1. Educating the public through continuous informational forums across New York State.  2. Coordinating regional parent liaisons in each school district across the state to lead parents in boycotts in that district.  3. Spreading the word through flyers, PTA groups, lawn signs, bumper stickers, book covers, and local events.

Chris Cerrone, Erie County public school parent, middle school educator, and school board member, says, “We intend to reach out to both state and federal legislators through a tactical campaign.  While we already have many legislators supporting us, we have a plan to help parents across the New York State reach out to legislators specifically asking for their assistance in removing the destructive high-stakes nature of testing from our classrooms.  As state and federal legislators see a substantial increase in test refusals, they will be forced to act or be voted out.”

NYS Allies for Public Education consists of over 50 parent and educator advocacy groups across New York State.  More details about our education positions and advocacy can be found at www.nysape.org.

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Parent Actions:  To help reach 250,000 boycotts there are many things you can do to help.

1.  Educate other parents through informational forums. Host an event in your home or at a local library. If you are not comfortable speaking yourself, contact NYSAPE at nys.allies@gmail.com to find a speaker in your area. Invite other parents to attend your forum by using social media, emails, phone calls, and flyers.  Introduce your forum with a short video created to help you http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=URkNzkADnIM  Find and print materials for your forum from this website http://www.nysape.org/refusing-the-test-resources.html

2.  Coordinate liaisons in your region so that each school district has a parent leader directing the boycott in that district.  Many school districts already have liaisons that have structured parent groups revolving around test boycotting.  If your school district has not yet organized a parent group please consider starting one.  You may contact us at nys.allies@gmail.com for assistance.

3.  Volunteer to spread the word. Pass out flyers when you pick-up your child at school or at sporting events. Distribute lawn signs and bumper stickers in your area. Organize purchasing and distribution of t-shirts, book covers, etc. Volunteer to organize a booth at a local fair in your area. Recruit a few other parents to chip-in for the cost of a booth, and spend a few hours passing out flyers to families that attend the fair. This is a great way to educate other parents.


Resources are available to help parents at http://www.nysape.org/refusing-the-test-resources.html




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