Tuesday, March 3, 2015

NYC Principals Lie and Threaten Over Opt-Out Should be Reported to UFT and DOE

We had a staff meeting.  We were told that we would not be protected, (and in a roundabout way, we were told we would be reported) if we in any way encouraged parents to opt their kids out of the test.  The following reasons were given:

1. It's completely illegal.  It is against State law for students not to take NYS exams.
2.  We would be killing our own MOSLs, as the kids who tend to opt out of the test are those who are likely to get higher scores.
3.  We do not accept opt-out letters, as opting out doesn't exist.
This teacher cannot go to her union for help even if the principal makes it up.

Jia Lee:
It's very much a tipping point. Those who are fearful of losing their grip (trickling top down) will make false threats. Any teacher has first amendment rights to speak out as a concerned citizen. The teacher in another state whose principal is threatening her job is fighting back, and her lawyer made a statement to that effect. 

All over the state, different districts are sending out a range of messages depending on their level of support, just as there is a range of support amongst schools in our city. Two principals are coming to my school on Thursday to state that they will not even look at test scores for admissions. Several admins emailed me after my testimony to applaud my call to action. 

When the threats start, that's how we know this movement is having an impact. It's important to know that now is the time to develop a critical mass. Francesca, if you know of even one parent who you can connect me to, hit me up. I'll do the work. 
A teacher responds:
I simply want to point out that there are still many schools at which the administration will actively go after teachers for "misconduct" for speaking to parents directly about this. I agree that it shows fear in the face of an impactful movement. But as we know from the voting down of a resolution at our recent DA, even our own union will not actively support it, and I think that is unacceptable.
Janine Sopp:
Thank you for sharing the pulse of many of the schools out there. These are the lies we need to shine the light on.  The CTS FAQ is about ready to share and addresses every lie your admin is claiming to be true.  Your union is another story.  When enough parents turn the time and opt out, they will have to recognize it as a real movement to address.  What happened today in NJ is certainly going to ripple accross the river to NYC.  If you've not seen this yet, this is Governor Christie's alma mater:

Teacher letters are hitting the pages of the news and I hope you see this as a sign that the voices of teachers is getting out more than ever.  I hope many of you will attend the Opt Out forum on Wednesday in Brooklyn and will also attend forums in D6 if you are in upper Manhattan.  Attending forums with parents is the best way to solidify this relationship and bring these ideas back to your school.  Find a parent you CAN turn to with information.  Simply share with them CtS or NYC Opt Out.  There is a movement afoot and those in charge may not want to surrender.
Mike Schirtzer
NYSUT have said they will defend teachers who speak out, but the reality is we have been subject to years of unchecked power of principals to do as they may in NYC, making teachers' lives miserable. Most teachers will not go against their principals.

We recognize that many members have strong feelings about this issue. Teachers are trying to reconcile their own roles as public school educators, private citizens and as parents too. As an organization, NYSUT has been clear that students should not be subjected to over-testing or burdened with field tests that are conducted for the main purpose of benefitting test makers. We are on record supporting districts that choose to opt out of field tests. NYSUT fully supports a parents’ right to choose what is best for their child – including parents who are teachers. Additional action is recommended at the local level.
  •   Members should feel comfortable in exercising their right to speak out against the overemphasis and misuse of standardized tests.
  •   NYSUT will defend teachers against disciplinary action if a district pursues 3020-a charges.
  •   Students should not be subject to harmful ―sit and stare‖ policies. Encourage the district to work with stakeholders to develop appropriate policies for students who choose to opt out.
  •   Ensure that there are processes in place to track students who refuse part of an assessment and teachers of these students are notified.

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