Teachers, Parents and Students Condemn Elia’s Threats Against NYC Schools

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For Immediate Release

August 14, 2015


MORE-UFT, a rank-and-file caucus within the NYC teachers union, stands with parents of Change the Stakes, NYCOPTOUT and NYCpublic in response to New York State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia’s statement indicating that schools may be subject to sanction and have federal Title I funding withheld for having high percentage of opt outs. These funds are intended to support the neediest students in the state. The tests have sparked controversy, both in regards to the content, which many parents and educators consider poorly designed and developmentally inappropriate, and to the high stakes attached to them, in particular, their unreliable use in the teacher evaluation system, a practice that is widely criticized and currently under review in an Albany court.

Charmaine Dixon, parent of a soon to be fourth grader at P.S. 203 in District 22, Brooklyn, states, “We opt out for justice. High stakes testing has only had horrible consequences for schools with disproportionate number of Black and Latino students. Show us one instance in which a school was asked what they needed. Being aware of this, I’m horrified at her (Elia’s) response to punish our schools and our students.”

“These tests are used to rate my teachers. But the tests don’t nearly begin to reflect what I learned from them. I think this is totally unfair. That’s why I opted out in 8th grade,” says Evan Cauthen-Brown, a new Brooklyn Tech student that graduated in June from PS/IS 187 in Washington Heights.

“It is vital that someone speak up in defense of the brave parents and students who are standing up for their rights, their educators and schools, and public education at large by refusing to participate in a testing regime they deem harmful for their children, since our union leadership has so stubbornly refused to do so,” said Dan Lupkin, a UFT Chapter Leader and Brooklyn elementary school teacher.

Jia Lee is a public school parent, teacher and UFT Chapter Leader at the Earth School in Manhattan where more than 100 students boycotted the exams. She states that the expanding opt out movement is a, “growing ground-up awareness by parents, teachers and students who don’t want to be evaluated based on an invalid metric.” Ms. Lee testified to a U.S. Senate committee on the negative consequences of the high stakes attached to flawed standardized tests.

The UFT leadership has shown hesitancy in supporting the opt out movement, refusing to endorse the I Refuse resolution introduced by MORE-UFT that is supported by nearly every local across New York State. MORE also called for a resolution of “No Confidence” in Elia at the UFT delegate assembly, only to be told by the union leadership that Elia was “a friend to teachers unions and someone we can work with.”

MORE-UFT is the Social Justice Caucus of the United Federation of Teachers. We are rank-and-file educators challenging the current leadership of the UFT in the 2016 union elections in order to fight for the public schools our children deserve.

Media Contact

Charmaine Dixon/ NYCOPTOUT/ Parent at P.S. 203, District 22

Nancy Cauthen/ Change the Stakes/ Parent of Brooklyn Technical H.S. Student

Dan Lupkin/ MORE/ Elementary School Teacher

Jia Lee/ MORE/ Special Education Teacher


3 thoughts on “Teachers, Parents and Students Condemn Elia’s Threats Against NYC Schools

  1. How come that Ms. Elia doesn’t talk about more stringent punishments for children who are disruptive in school? The system is the way it is because we refuse to admit that the problem exists. We skirt around it by blaming teachers for not motivating recalcitrant children. Let her and other so called experts go back to the classroom and attempt to teach. Let them work under the conditions they have created. E.M. Greenspan, retired.BRING BACK 600 SCHOOLS FOR CHRONICALLY DISRUPTIVE PUPILS AND EMPHASIZE VOCATIONAL TRAINING FOR THE STUDENTS NOT ACADEMICALLY ORIENTED.

    On Fri, Aug 14, 2015 at 07:31 AM, Movement of Rank and File Educators wrote:

    morecaucusnyc posted: ”                                

    For Immediate Release

    August 14, 2015   MORE-UFT, a rank-and-file caucus within the NYC teachers union, stands with parents of Change the Stakes, NYCOPTOUT and NYCpublic in response to New York State Education”

    1. Our vocational schools have been struggling for years because they’ve been used as a dumping ground for students who were not “academically oriented.” This is why many NYC vocational schools & programs have been shut down. You are showing your ignorance of human capabilities. If you can’t dance, does it automatically mean you can sing?
      Throughout the world, students must be shown to have a technical aptitude before being placed in such a program. Once we acknowledge this here, we’ll have successful students entering rewarding careers.

  2. Ms Elia’s threats against schools are nonsense and illegal. Schools have no control over the choices that families make, including whether to opt out their children from the tests. All schools can do is to make a good faith effort to offer the tests to all; beyond that they have as much to say about who opts out as they do about snow days and flooding. She is continuing in the bluster and bully tradition of her predecessor and our chief advocate for children. It’s even more important that we stay together, stay active, and just say no to the tests.

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