Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Press Conference: Brooklyn Parents Opt Out of State Tests



The press attacks on opt-outers as cop-outers don't go very far when 80% of the parents at one of the top performing schools in the city opt-out - and with the support of the principal and teachers. Now one of the attacks on opt-outers is that they are coddled middle class white parents. So having 80% of the parents from District 23’s PS 446/The Riverdale Avenue Community School (which is in Brownsville) and the Academy of Arts & Letters, located in Ft. Greene in District 13, also opt-out is turning into a game-changer.

As I reported earlier, Change the Stakes is committed to
CTS stalwart Janine Sopp, front left
reaching out to every community in the city over time -- by next year's tests we will see a true uprising which will drive the data munchers crazy -- really, how will they be able to even try to evaluate teachers when many of their kids won't take the test? The very concept throws the entire plan into disarray -- and the UFT should be supporting the opt-out movement like crazy - even with ads.

Here from the press conference this morning - pics from girlray are here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/girlray/sets/72157643269760184/

Good morning and welcome to Brooklyn!

My name is Kemala Karmen and I am the parent of a 4th grader at PS 146, the Brooklyn New School. In recent years, our borough has earned a reputation as a trendsetter in everything from Indie music to urban farming to participatory budgeting—pioneered in NYC by Council Member Brad Lander, who is here today to support us.

Now we can add one more way in which Brooklyn is blazing a trail: the parents of Brooklyn, outraged by the hijacking of our childrens’ educations, outraged by the assault on our public schools and on our public school teachers, we parents of Brooklyn are taking a stand. Whether we live in Brownsville or Cobble Hill, Ft. Greene or Greenpoint, we are saying ENOUGH! Stop using the blunt instrument of the state ELA and math tests to rank and sort our children, our teachers, and our schools.

Maybe it’s our city, state, and federal policy makers who need to take the ELA test! When we delivered petitions or wrote letters about the misuses of the tests, they didn’t seem to be able to read—or heed—our urgent concerns about our children.

Our policy makers also flat-out ignored experts in child development and test design, experts whose published research “warned against attaching severe consequences to performance on any test.” And, sadly, even the teachers’ union has been slow to protect its members from the stranglehold of testing.

So now, we parents are invoking the only tool we have left. In growing numbers, we are refusing to let our children take these tests. No test score means no data. No data on which to base teacher evaluations. No data on which to justify school closings. No sensitive, personal data that follows our children from year to year, from school to school.

This morning parents at our District 15 school stand together with parents at other Brooklyn schools to announce the explosive growth of test resistance in our borough, a movement that is gaining momentum elsewhere, too—in the city, and the state, and, really, anywhere in the country where parents see the joys of teaching and learning constrained, the spark of curiosity and creativity snuffed out.

At 3 Brooklyn schools that we know of—our school, District 23’s PS 446/The Riverdale Avenue Community School (which is in Brownsville) and the Academy of Arts & Letters, located in Ft. Greene in District 13—this year there will be far more children NOT taking the tests than taking them. What that means in stark numbers: at PS 446 48 out of 60 children will REFUSE THE TESTS. At Arts & Letters 44 out of 53 3rd graders will REFUSE THE TESTS. At PS 146, Brooklyn New School 243 out of 306 students will REFUSE THE TESTS.  

It may be April Fools Day, but these tests and, indeed, the whole edifice of corporate “education reform” built upon these tests is no joke.  It is no laughing matter when millions are diverted away from our children’s classrooms and into the hands of for-profit companies. It fails to amuse when our class sizes become so large that even our best teachers are hard pressed to know each child.

I am happy to report that at Riverdale Avenue Community, Arts & Letters, & BNS, our families will no longer blindly default to taking the tests.  We are fortunate, because the administration and teachers at our schools have supported us in exercising our rights as parents to make informed decisions about “opting in” or “opting out” of the tests. We hope that others will take heart from what is happening at our schools, that other parents will understand that they have the right to direct their children’s education—and not be afraid to exercise that right. And we hope more principals will not be afraid to stand up for their families.

I am going to pause now because Council Member Lander is on a tight schedule and we want to give him a chance to say a few words. After he has spoken, I will return to introduce you to the rest of our parent speakers, and to the representatives from other government offices who took time out to be here today to listen to our concerns. Thank you.

2 comments:

  1. This is so awesome. I almost teared up reading it. Thank you parents for protecting your children and your children's teachers. Most teachers are afraid if they speak up they may risk losing the jobs they love (Well, jobs they DID love before this testing insanity, common core, and new teacher evaluations kicked in). Parents like these give us hope that maybe teachers can go back to teaching the "whole child" again. To teach the children with love and joy and passion for the subjects we teach... that's where real learning takes place. Don't think teachers don't care, they do, which is why the morale is so low lately. We know we're not giving the children what they need to succeed in life but we feel like we have no choice but to "fall in line" and do what we're told. It's sad, really sad.

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  2. TeachmyclassMrMayor(andyoutooMrMulgrew)Tuesday, April 1, 2014 at 10:24:00 PM EDT

    Our policy makers also flat-out ignored experts in child development and test design, experts whose published research “warned against attaching severe consequences to performance on any test.” And, sadly, even the teachers’ union has been slow to protect its members from the stranglehold of testing.

    Did you see or hear that comment Mr Mulgrew/Ms. Weingarten?

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