Archives For opt out

Dear NYC Opt Out allies,

We signed petitions. Wrote letters. Got on the bus to Albany. All to no avail.

Boycott/refusal/opt out—however you phrase it—remains the ONLY tactic that we have to force change so that ALL our children have the enriching, citizen-building public education they deserve.

The 2018 NYS ELA test is less than 4 weeks away! For opt out to be effective, we need families refusing the tests in every district and in numbers. That can only happen if we all pull together to organize and get the word out. Seriously, this is an all-hands-on-deck situation.

Can we count on you commit to one or more of the following?

1) Distribute postcards. We are especially trying to reach parents who have less access to information (whether due to language barriers or other disempowering factors) and so may not know their rights. We have 2 flavors of postcard this year, one of which is in both English & Spanish. Hand them out in person at schools, playgrounds, etc or leave a stack at a café, laundromat, library, etc. If you can do this, email janinesopp@gmail.com and write Postcard Distribution in the subject line. Indicate in your message how many cards you want and which design or designs.

2) Help organize a press conference. The Department of Education has been pressuring administrators and feeding the public flat-out lies in a deliberate effort to squelch opt out. So we’re joining with students to push back and to demand that the city respect parent and student rights. Our student-centered press conference is tentatively scheduled for 4 PM on either Thurs March 22 or Tues March 27 (depending on availability of the City Hall steps). Please email  kemala@nycpublic.org (Subject: Press Conference) right away if you can help with this.

Who we need:

  • Spanish speakers. More and more Spanish-speaking parents are interested in opt out. If you are able to help organize or translate, please contact us.
  • kid speakers (possible topics: what opt out has meant to them, learning in a test-prep-heavy environment, learning in a non-test-prep-heavy environment, attending a school where test score-based closure is imminent, the experience of testing days, how their family found out about opt out, etc)
  • point person to be a liaison with student organizers
  • elected officials point person (getting quotes, requesting and facilitating their appearance at presser)
  • press release/media alert (writing and sending)
  • social media pushers (do any or all: create memes, FB event, social media blasts—in conjunction with students)
  • day-of media (shooting video, taking photographs, etc)
  • your body! (check NYC Opt Out on Facebook or optoutnyc.com/events for details once we confirm a date)

3) Be a speaker/presenter at community meetings. We are being asked to send speakers to various parent meetings throughout the city.  Some of you have lead meetings before. Others have not, but you can learn! (If at all possible, we would try to have you buddy up with someone who is more experienced.) If you are willing and able to assist as a parent speaker, please email janinesopp@gmail.com (Subject: Parent Speaker)

Please do your best to pitch in to the full extent you’re able. In the meantime, if you haven’t already, join our Facebook group and use (and share!) our newly redesigned website, optoutnyc.com. Both are incredible resources!

Special thanks to Amy Gropp Forbes for all her hard work on the website redesign and to Ilana Greenberg for another attention-grabbing postcard design.

Advertisements

by Jia Lee, Chapter Leader, The Earth School

MORE/New Action 2016 Candidate for President of the UFT

The Ensure Success for All Students Act retains the requirement for 95% of students to be subject to annual testing in grades 3-8, threatening funding if districts don’t comply or parents opt out.

Here is the disturbing email that all UFT members received on Tuesday, December 1, a day before the Federal HELP Senate Committee was to vote on the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), called Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). UFT President Michael Mulgrew urges us to contact our senators to “Vote Yes” and I can only stare in shock at the screen.
Continue Reading…

 

Dear UFT Leadership

By Jia Lee

There have been several points along my 14 years as a public school special education teacher when I felt I’d had enough. Many teachers across the country are fleeing the profession, retiring as soon as possible and publicly stating why. When I presented my reasons for becoming a conscientious objector to high stakes testing before the US Senate, some may have viewed it as a risky step, but for me, it was a moment of absolute clarity. The “I Refuse” Resolution reclaims our pedagogical and professional rights and values. It is why over forty locals across New York State have passed this exact resolution. It supports the values of Teachers of Conscience and initiates a means of directly countering Governor Cuomo’s education proposals with the moral force of teachers acting as individuals and collectively in the interests of their students and themselves.

We are at an unprecedented time of policy-making in education that is being driven by those who have very little or no experience teaching. Some of us have joined grassroots groups to organize forums to educate the public about our work and why their children are more than a test score. Sadly, we must also educate the leadership of the largest and most influential local teachers union in the world. At the United Federation of Teachers Delegate Assembly on February 11, 2015, Sterling Roberson, the Vice President of Career and Technical Education stated, in opposition to the resolution, “… the union is against over-testing, but testing is important for parents to know where their child is compared to other children.” The goal and purpose of education in this day and age, we would hope, is to prepare our students to collaborate with each other to solve the immense problems our world faces. We work with beautifully diverse student populations, whose strengths and talents should never be used to compare, rank, sort and place labels based on faulty, opaque metrics.

Mr. Roberson used the term “diagnostic,” as if these tests are being used to provide some kind of useful information that would inform our instruction, or as he put it, “Tell parents where their children are.”  Where has he been? Teachers no longer have access to the tests, and scores arrive at the end of the year. We no longer have the ability to know how our students answered, let alone have the ability to engage in any kind of meaningful dialogue around the items. They are useless for the purposes of teaching and learning. That is because they are not meant to be diagnostic. The sole purpose of the tests is to evaluate teachers. There is ample research which demonstrates that these tests are not indicators of school, teacher or student success or failure. In fact, they are indicators of students’ socioeconomic status, access to resources and other outside-of-school factors. High stakes tests are not diagnostic: they are tools for profit and managing the teaching workforce, made possible by alignment with the Common Core and a climate of rigid enforcement that is taking over our public schools.

Diagnostic exams in schools can be thought of as akin to those used in medicine. Various tools are used to assess a patient’s condition, and physicians often use more than one tool to synthesize the outcomes, in order to provide a comprehensive diagnosis that suggests a path for treatment. The information is immediate and informs professional judgement about the patient’s condition and possible ways of treating them. Imagine if the results of X-rays were not made available to doctors or their patients until months later, and the results came in the form of a 4, 3, 2 or 1. I’d hope that Sterling Roberson himself would say this type of practice is medically useless, if not dangerous.

To continue with this analogy, imagine the X-rays were then viewed by a minimally-trained temp hired by a major corporation with other financial interests in this field, which then determines the score as an indicator of the doctor’s ability to practice medicine. It is absurd, and a danger to both patient and doctor. How out of touch from what is happening in schools and classrooms has our leadership become that they refuse to acknowledge the obvious faults in their own arguments?

It is time for our union leadership to acknowledge that hundreds of thousands of teachers are in fight or flight mode. The moment of clarity for me came two years ago, when one of my most creative and hard working students suddenly scratched into her test booklet, “Dear Testing People, I hate writing because of this test.” Before she could let out another painful word, I gently pulled away her test booklet. When the extended testing time was up, I showed her the notebooks filled with stories she had written and responses to her reading that led to her typing book reviews on several major online platforms. Her test form indicated the “999” refusal. This beautiful little girl is more than a test score and always will be.

We need our union leadership to be an integral part of educating the public, so that the promise of public education, which we all know is still an aspiration, can be realized. However, it seems that they first need a lesson on the intended purposes, workings and consequences of these tests for students and teachers.

If they’re unwilling to learn, then they should step aside and let rank and file teachers speak and act for themselves and their students.

 

TestingTomorrow, April 1st, students across NY State will take the second year of Common Core aligned tests.  Last year’s test administration was a disaster, but continue rollout this year of the standards revealed what a deeply flawed project they are. The resistance, however, is growing: parents are opting their children out of the tests in large numbers, and some teachers are refusing to administer them.*

MORE adds its voice with the following statement about why we oppose the common core:

MORE is opposed to the Common Core standards because they are inextricably linked to a reform package that includes punitive high-stakes testing, unproven and unreliable measurements of student and teacher performance and scripted curriculum produced not by teachers, but by corporations. After 30 years of manufactured crises and failed solutions, the elements of this package, including the standards, are being used as ideological battering rams to attack the very concept of public education, replacing it with a profit-making privatization scheme.

The Common Core standards are undemocratic. They were written without meaningful teacher input, and educators do not have the freedom to use them as they see fit.   Continue Reading…

Change the Stakes
Changethestakes.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 26, 2014

CONTACT:
Janine Sopp, 917-541-6062, janinesopp@gmail.com
Nancy Cauthen, 646-438-1233, nkcauthen@earthlink.net

Number of NYC Parents Refusing State Tests Expected to Triple in 2014

New York City –What began two years ago as a small pocket of resistance has burgeoned into a full-blown protest movement: public school parents are demanding an end to the excessive use of standardized tests and top-down, corporate-backed reforms.  Change the Stakes estimates that three times as many NYC school children as last year – perhaps exceeding 1,000 – will refuse to take the annual English Language Arts (ELA) and math exams that begin next week.

At the Brooklyn New School, well over 200 students – nearly 80% of students in testing grades – will not take this year’s exams; last year only 4 BNS students opted out of the tests. The estimated test refusal rate at the Earth School in Manhattan is 50%, compared with 30% last year. At P.S. 446 in Brownsville, as many as 25 3rd grade parents have submitted refusal letters. At the Academy of Arts and Letters in Fort Greene, the number is 40, representing 75% of the 3rd grade. Principals say they expect the numbers to continue to rise until the exams begin April 1st.

Although children not taking the tests span the full range from 3rd to 8th grade, parents of younger children often refuse the tests because of changes in their child’s attitude toward school as a result of the testing.

Roseanne Cuffy-Scott, parent of a 3rd grader in the East Village said, “My son used to love going to school until his evenings were filled with homework assignments that confused him with complicated and poorly written math and reading questions. His assignments are stressful for both him and myself. I have to spend hours explaining concepts that he’s not ready for developmentally.” As for the tests, she said her son is nervous and “is fearful he will have to attend summer school or repeat third grade.”

Many parents refusing to have their children tested encounter supportive principals and teachers, while others are not so fortunate. Samantha De Los Santos, parent of a 3rd grader with special needs in Queens’ District 25, wants to opt her son out but says administrators and staff are pressuring her to allow her son to be tested. “They’re telling me he’ll be scored as failing if he doesn’t take the test and that he might not be promoted. They’re really scaring me.”

The lack of direction from the NYC Department of Education has led to uncertainty among administrators about how to respond to families refusing the tests; parents are still seeking guidance from the DOE. Although the new Chancellor, Carmen Fariña, has made clear her intent to be more responsive to parents, her department’s efforts have been hampered by the transition falling in the middle of the school year and pressure to tackle a multitude of issues at once.

The information vacuum has fostered misinformation, with students being threatened with various punishments – being forced to attend summer school or denied promotion as well as being excluded from graduation ceremonies and other school celebrations – for opting out of the tests.

But many parents refuse to be dissuaded from protecting their children from a public education system gone wrong. Dawn Babbush, a 3rd grade parent in Brooklyn’s District 13, asks “What has happened to our schools? How did it get this bad? The voices of trusted educators and caring parents have been completely disregarded.  Our children are being subjected to a curriculum that lacks joy and life – it’s scripted and standardized and full of test prep. Test scores are used to sort students and rank teachers, creating a climate of competition and fear. It’s no wonder teachers feel pressure to teach to the test.”

Ms. Babbush added, “This is not the education we want for our children and we will not stand for it any longer. Parents have a voice, and our elected officials need to recognize us. We’ll be paying attention come November.”

###

Change the Stakes (changethestakes.org) is a group of New York City parents and educators promoting alternatives to high stakes-testing.

Support the Opt-Out Movement & Learn How to Organize Your Chapter

THURSDAY 2/27: ORGANIZING WORKSHOP

A LABOR NOTES TROUBLEMAKERS SCHOOL

strengthinnumbersOverwhelmed by the challenges of organizing in your school? Want to share ideas with other dedicated, creative chapter leaders and activists?

Come to a workshop on organizing your members to create a more active, involved union chapter. Discuss organizing challenges with other chapter leaders and strategize creative solutions to build teacher and para power in your school!

What challenges are you facing in your school? – Take our Chapter Leader Survey

Thursday, February 27, 5:00pm

TWU Local 100 Offices

195 Montague St., 3rd Fl., Rm C, Brooklyn

FRIDAY 2/28: MEET WITH PARENTS WHO ARE SAYING NO!

Sponsored by Change the Stakes    

 

(Please Share Widely with your friends, PTAs, SLTs, Parent Lists, teachers)

 
As children and teachers enter the spring “testing season,” parents must decide if we will continue to allow our children to support high-stakes testing. There are many ways to resist the tests and demand social justice for all public school students.

Meet with others who choose to refuse and are organizing others to do the same.  
•    Learn what is at stake, ways you can resist and how.  
•    Help educate your school community, organize, mobilize and possibly opt out. 
•    Even if you feel like a lone voice, you are not alone! 
•    It is time for parents to protect their children and resist by saying NO!

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 28
5:30 to 7:30pm
CUNY Graduate Center
365 Fifth Ave, Rm 5409
[corner of 5th Ave & 34th St; entrance on 5th]
Bring photo ID to enter

 
 
For more info, visit www.changethestakes.org or email changethestakes@gmail.com

Flyer1-1

RALLY 042613 4 pm


Whether or not your children took the state tests, please join a rally in front of Tweed on FRIDAY 4/26 at 4pm to protest the ways that high-stakes testing is robbing our children of a decent education!
  BRING THE KIDS!

RALLY 


CLEANING UP the MESS of HIGH STAKES TESTING and 

Putting Back the ‘PUBLIC’ in Public Education


Our children are NOT a test score!


WHEN:  Friday, April 26 at 4 pm*


WHERE:  TWEED NYC Department of Education

52 Chambers Street (4, 5, 6 to Brooklyn Bridge.  N, R to City Hall.  J to Chambers Street)


WHO:  Families, Teachers, Children and Supporters of Educational Justice


WHY:  Because private schools already said “NO!” to high stakes testing!

Because WE demand 180 days of learning!

Because schools should foster a love for life long learning.

Because positive relationships between schools and families are at the core of learning.


BRING SIGNS with YOUR VISION and DEMANDS for the SCHOOLS 

we want OUR CHILDREN to be in.  

Bring Mops, Brooms, Scrub brushes, 

Buckets and cleaning supplies to Mop UP the MESS!  

Bring #2 Pencils for us to transform them into a new vision of Public Education


JOIN Change The Stakes (www.changethestakes.organd Time Out From Testing (www.timeoutfromtesting.org)

*Rain Date:  Tuesday, April 30 @ 4 pm

Like this on facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/events/121996241329636/?notif_t=plan_edited