Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Countering Arne Duncan Slander: Opt-Out movement grows into new communities in NYC

I may have a new career. I will be going to a PTA meeting at a Title I school in Brooklyn to rep CTS tomorrow. Parents at another Brooklyn Title I school asked CTS to send a rep this morning but I couldn't make it. The "only white middle class opt out" line is beginning to break.
I have been maintaining that it is only a matter of time before the opt-out color line is broken. Black and latino/a kids are even more messed up by high stakes tests. The middle class in those communities supposedly support tests. I think that may turn into a myth.

The hard work of parent-oriented groups like the state-wide NYSAPE and the NYC based Change the Stakes (CTS) is beginning to pay off. Arne Duncan slammed opt-outers as white suburbanites who didn't want their children to be subject to his test based mania - they see it as child abuse. While we have seen the opt-out movement strength in certain communities like Park Slope and Washington Heights, the organizing work of NYSAPE and CTS is beginning to reach into other parts of the city. CTS made a decision last year to do outreach into these communities.
Parents from Title 1 schools have been in touch asking for us to send representatives to their PTA meetings to inform them of their rights to opt-out and to demolish some of the mis-truths and distortions some school and district administrators are telling them.
In fact I've been drafted to cover one of these schools and bring information to a PTA meeting because many of the CTS ladies are tied up this week (though now I think some parents from Park Slope are joining me).

If this grows deeper into those communities, that will be a sea change. Even some of my colleagues in MORE seem to buy into the line that opting out is a white, middle class thing.

The other day I heard Republican NYS Assemblyman Jim Tedisco on NPR making a presentation on testing and common core that could come from Susan Ohanian. I almost choked when he said "follow the money" and mentioned Gates and Pearson. And here is the story on the bill he proposed on March 16:
Assemblyman Jim Tedisco, R-Glenville, who turned out to be the top contender in the Assembly on the "Stop Common Core" ballot line in 2014, announced new legislation he is drafting: the Common Core Parental Refusal Act. This legislation would require school districts to notify parents about their right to opt-out of Common Core standardized tests for students in grades 3 through 8.
Where are the Democrats? With their pals in NYSUT and the UFT I guess.

Leonie Haimson has been busy as usual:

Bookstore in Oneonta NY: books for kids to read while opting out of the state tests.  NYSAPE suggested the list and supplied the sign.
A CTS parent sent this regarding administrator obstructions:
I am so steamed today b/c at our school's meeting for parents getting ready for tests, admin. would not share the DOE Parent Guide. There should be copies available for parents. Though I asked beforehand. Luckily I prepped another parent to tell the other parents b/c I could not make it. And, this is after we all marched together around the school on Thurs. But more parents than before have asked for info about opt out and the fifth grade parents might be ready to try now.
She includes this letter.
To the City Council:
As a parent in a public school for the past six years, and as a strong proponent of refusing state ELA and math tests, I ask that you require specific information about opting out of state tests, steps detailing how to do so, and an outline of
consequences, be shared with parents at the start of each year in the Parents' Bill of Rights.

The Parent Guide at is difficult for parents and guardians to find and, to my knowledge, has not been widely shared. Families who want to make an informed decision about whether or not to allow their children to take the tests are unable to do so. At a time in which the DOE wants to engage parents more fully, and work together in partnership, every step should be taken to give us information that we are fully entitled to. It is every parent or guardian's right to determine what is best for their child, and not providing clear information to all parents, early in the school year, is unacceptable.

Schools ask permission to take our children's photos. to take them on field trips, and to participate in sports or dance classes. However, for the state tests, which have stakes that are higher than ever and cause tremendous disruption to the schools, the burden is upon parents and guardians to search for information in order to opt out or refuse.

Please pass this bill (Res. 577-2015), so that all parents have equal access to opt-out/refusal policies.
Add on: Opt-out is causing panic at the DOE
My sons teachers told me today I can't opt out for the state testing this year. They said the principal will require them to go to summer school and they will have to do a project. Is this true? Last year my son was able to opt out with no problem.
And then this:
I'm choosing to opt my son (8th Grade, NYC public school in Manhattan)out of the upcoming ELA exam.  I wrote a letter to his principal explaining my views and expressing my desire to opt him out.  Today I get a phone call from his school saying that due to new DOE policy, I need to have a meeting with the school administration to discuss the matter before they will exempt him.  Never heard of this policy, do you know if this is legal or legitimate?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Kids are opting out at my predominantly African American school in Newark.