Thursday, November 12, 2015

Is the Opt-Out Movement Bread and Butter Unionism or Social Justice - or Both?

...parents in Change the Stakes (CTS) will be out there agitating and also working with MORE teachers to push opt-out -- which MORE will also do in its UFT election campaign -- as a way to not only protect children from test abuse but teachers too.  

There has often been a false dichotomy within and outside MORE over what is termed "trade union bread and butter" and social justice unionism. Many of us have come to see them both under the same umbrella. The Opt-out movement is a perfect example of this fusion.

MORE chose Jia Lee, one of the leading teacher opt-out voices and a teacher once facing off with an abusive principal as its UFT presidential candidate and she is a symbol of the unity between what is so often mistakenly seen as 2 strands.

MORE people look at the entire range of issues facing teachers - salary, preps, class size, general working conditions, testing, race, teacher hiring practices, student welfare, parent interests, principal abuse, teacher workloads, common core, rating teachers based on test scores, ATRs as a creation of ed deform, etc. as interconnected.

Two leading bloggers, both ATRs and strong advocates of teacher rights - also strong advocates of the trade union side of things, recently posted opt-out pieces.
Chaz makes this important point:  75% of the parents "opted out" their child because of the teacher tie-in.

There is social justice meeting trade union head on.

James ties the relative weakness of the opt-out issue here in NYC to the lack of UFT support:
Opt-out supporters will not have an easy time meeting a goal I saw online of doubling this past spring's total of 220,000 students who refused to take exams. UFT support would certainly be welcomed. Opt-out is weaker in so called progressive NYC compared to much of the rest of the state.
New York City has now become in many ways the standard bearer for almost a kind of Status-quo unionism. The UFT leadership is enabling the people who are trying to destroy us by still trying to play the appeasement game. Our leadership continues to call only for modifications of the test and punish policies that are killing public education.
Being on the Change the Stakes steering committee I get a lot of info as to currents related to opt out in NYC schools and there is some movement, though the figures will not hit a crescendo for a while. But parents in CTS will be out there agitating and also working with MORE teachers to push opt-out -- which MORE will also do in its UFT election campaign -- as a way to not only protect children from test abuse but teachers too.

There was some chatter this morning about starting borough opt-out groups where we have resources.

I left this comment on the ICE blog:
Opt out is beginning to take root here in NYC. Don't even consider the UFT as a factor - this must be parent driven. MORE people have been involved from the beginning with Change the Stakes - which is where Jia Lee came from to MORE. Running the most prominent teacher leading opt out for UFT president will get the movement noticed beyond the union. We have principals now working with us - some behind the scenes. We started with 4 optouts just 3 years ago in the city -- look at the rate of growth. The DOE will do anything to can to kill the movement but it is something they can't stop because as long as there are these tests opt out will exist. When you look at the total assault on teachers, their unions and public education and the helplessness so many feel, the only thing that has the potential to protect people is the opt out movement.


  1. I beg to differ. The opt out movement is not a substitute for union activism and protects no one other than the opted out children.

    Abigail Shure

    1. The fact that so many parents are opting out due to the connection to teacher ratings should not be ignored. Opt out is the only weapon we have now given comatose unions. It is enough of a threat to make the deformers want to drive off a cliff - that's good enough for me.

    2. Standardized tests are how the corporate reformers rank and rate schools and students. This includes how they rate teachers. Using them this way depends on ignoring the social conditions of students taking the test and that there are multiple factors in student achievement other than what is measured a standardized test. Unions should be involved in the fight against this attack on the education of a generation of American students.

  2. Will the 5,000 teachers in Chicago slated to be laid off be protected?

    Abigail Shure

    1. Their only hope is if masses of parents stand up to support a strike. Joining on opt out is a major alliance. Difference from our union is that they have leadership supporting opt out. Deform depends on test data. Screw the data.

  3. A great video showing a call to "Opt Out"!


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