For Immediate Release: November 17, 2016
More Information Contact:

Lisa Rudley (917) 414-9190;
NYS Allies for Public Education (NYSAPE)

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly – What Does It Mean for NYS Public Education and Our Country?

Considering last week’s historic election and ensuing reports of bullying, harassment, and intimidation, NYSAPE reaffirms its commitment to public schools where all children feel safe, no matter their race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, nationality, socio-economic status, disability, or immigration status. We remain committed to child-centered and equitable public education for all students and maintain that children thrive best in inclusive communities and schools where they feel that they and their families are not only safe, but valued and respected. This vision for inclusive and equitable public schools requires that each of us call out intolerance and injustice and stand with those most affected by the various forms of oppression.

The clear losers in this year’s election were the children. Both presidential candidates failed to make education a focus of their campaigns. As we learn more about the new administration’s agenda for public education, plans to invest heavily in voucher programs and expand charter schools will further defund public schools and lead to further segregation and inequitable educational opportunities. In New York State, private money won out as Republicans heavily backed by the charter industry swept many Senate races. Harmful education laws enacted as part of Democratic Governor Cuomo’s Education Transformation Act remain in effect and the threat of digital, “personalized learning”, computerized testing and the ever-increasing amount of personal data being collected loom large.

New York’s historic opt out movement is a clear example of how ordinary people can organize and push back against a system which harms children. Now, more than ever, we must continue to push back against harmful education policies and remain vigilant as ESSA, the federal education law that replaced No Child Left Behind, continues to be formalized. We must also stand in solidarity against all policies and laws that undermine basic human dignity and diminish us all.

Jamaal Bowman, Bronx principal and parent said, “To fulfill the ideals of our democracy, we need an inclusive, holistic, and vibrant public school system. Privatization is an act of segregation and continues America’s ugly legacy of separate and unequal. I call on New York State to be a leader in whole mind, whole child, whole community education reform that is human centered, and to greatly reduce our reliance on computer-based pedagogy. Innovation is about nurturing the genius of ALL children by placing great teachers in every school and implementing a dynamic curriculum.”

“The entrenched Republican Senators from Long Island were sent a very clear message. Senate Democrat Todd Kaminsky beat charter reformer backed Chris McGrath by a comfortable margin, while other long held Senate seats that were bought and paid for by corporate reformers won out only by slim margins against virtual unknown Democrats who campaigned through grassroots coalitions with parents, educators, and community members. Two more Senate seats are still too close to call as recounts are being conducted. Parents fighting for public education are all that stand between democracy and those who seek to profit off the backs of our children,” said Jeanette Deutermann, Founder of Long Island Opt Out, NYSAPE and Long Island public school parent.

Eileen Graham, Rochester City public school parent and founder of Black Student Leadership said, “It is extremely important we focus on enhancing student learning in effective ways, not inaccurately judging them through useless exams. As a parent, I’m angry that our “leaders” continue to make decisions that negatively impact our schools and districts. It is an injustice that Rochester is labeled as one of lowest performing districts in New York State based on a flawed testing system; because there are many parents, teachers, staff and community partners working diligently to educate and empower students. I believe the only way we will show our true success is to opt-out!”

“Multi-racial coalitions, made up of unions, elected school boards, and parent groups beat back privatization efforts in the states of Massachusetts and Georgia, proving that big money doesn’t always win. At the same time, the campaign to pack courts with pro-charter judges in the state Washington lost. We will need to replicate these grassroots efforts throughout the country to keep our public schools safe and secure from the hostile takeover by the Trump administration, Wall St. and Ed-tech interests. At the same time, we must work together to ensure that our public schools provide all children with a real opportunity to learn,” said Leonie Haimson, Executive Director of Class Size Matters.

Marla Kilfoyle, BATs Executive Director, Long Island Educator and public school parent, “As an educator and mother the only options I have is to dig in and continue the fight for public education and social justice. Our children are relying on us and watching what we do.”

Bianca Tanis, Ulster County parent and public school teacher said, “The role of educators and public schools is more important than ever. We will double down on our efforts to create safe and inclusive learning spaces for our students and their families while continuing the fight for equitable and child-centered public education. Until the state and our nation gets it right, this fight is here to stay.”

We will continue to encourage and empower community members to advocate for their children, by opting out of the state tests and focusing on the local level as the expansion of standardized computer learning and testing threatens the whole-child education our children deserve. Parents need to ask their school districts why money and resources are being spent on computerized learning and testing and what research these practices are based in.

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