FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  December 13, 2013

Senator Flanagan’s Proposed Legislation Insult to the People of New York

During the past few months, Senator John Flanagan of Long Island held a series of hearings across the state entitled, “The Regents Reform Agenda: Assessing our Progress”.   Senator Flanagan, his colleagues and members of the State Education Department listened to a steady stream of concerned citizens express their grave concerns regarding the implementation of Common Core, high stakes testing, APPR, and student data sharing.  The overwhelming majority of speakers were very critical of the performance of the New York State Education Department, and the leadership of Commissioner John King and Chancellor Merryl Tisch.

On Thursday, December 12, 2013, Senator Flanagan released his findings along with proposed legislation: ( Unfortunately, the four bills fall completely short of addressing parent concerns.

Bianca Tanis, New Paltz public school parent and Founding Member of NYS Allies for Public Education says, “These bills fall short of the mark. I am sorely disappointed by the lack of protection afforded to students. The bills do not address the concerns of nearly all who took the time to attend, speak out, and testify.”

According to Carol Burris, Ed.D. principal of South Side High School in Rockville Centre New York, “The P-2 Senate bill S6006 appears to be an attempt to blame schools for the extra testing caused by the teacher evaluation system mandated by the legislature. It allows schools to re-write APPR plans to exclude pre-tests, but such pre-tests were given in the fall. Its passage this spring would have little to no impact on students. Second, it does not relieve schools of the obligation to incorporate student achievement in teacher evaluations and provides no valid or reliable alternative measure.”

The Unnecessary Testing Senate bill S6008 also does not address the serious concerns raised by parents regarding standardized testing and young children. The bill allows schools to test pre-K to grade 2 students, using “BOCES or regionally developed assessments that are rigorous and comparable across classrooms.” Such tests, as described, meet the definition of a standardized tests. “Ironically, S6008 both bans and encourages standardized testing at the same time,” says Jeanette Deutermann, Bellmore public school parent and Founder of Long Island Opt-Out (of testing) group. Deutermann further states, “There will be an explosion the number parent refusing the state tests.”

Lisa Rudley, Ossining public school parent and Founding Member of NYS Allies for Public Education says, “The Privacy Protection Senate bill S6007 would not stop the state from sending students’ sensitive data to inBloom, nor does it allow for parents the option of “opting out” – even though 78% of the New York school board members in a recent survey said parents should have that right.  It does however, add another level of bureaucracy by calling for a “Chief Privacy Officer” under the control of the Commissioner – who has shown he has no respect for parent rights or student privacy – and calls for penalties to be issued, but only after data breaches have occurred. The Senator missed the mark on parental rights.” Rudley further says, “Making the Commissioner of Education essentially responsible for the “Parents Bill of Rights” further indicates that our explicit concerns in trusting Commissioner King were ignored.”

We applaud a serious review of the testing system in the Truth-In-Testing Senate bill S6009, however, until an objective, in-depth audit is conducted, Common Core testing should be suspended.  “Parents do not need an audit to know that their young children are being subjected to too much testing and test preparation. The audit could be conducted using 2013 testing conditions, items and results” said, Tim Farley, a parent and a principal of the Ichabod Crane School in Kinderhook, New York.

NYS Allies for Public Education are deeply disappointed that the Senator did not propose meaningful legislation that addresses the problems created by the hastily enacted Regents Reform Agenda.  Parental trust in our New York State leaders is rapidly eroding.

 New York State Allies for Public Education represents forty-five grassroots parent groups from every corner of the Empire State. The organizations are proud to stand with the parents, community members and fellow educators in NYSAPE to call for a change in direction and policy beginning with new leadership at the New York State Education Department.

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