NYSED and the Fear Machine

Recently this PDF was sent to all New York State school districts.

To summarize, the New York State Education Department is telling schools that students may not opt out of state assessments, and that if a school fails to reach a 95% participation rate, something bad will happen.

But what?  They don’t say.  What are the sanctions?  What are the consequences?  And furthermore, why did NYSED feel the need to circulate this memo?

I’ll tell you why!  They are scared because the opt-out movement is growing!  And they are playing the heavy-handed game of fear mongering in an attempt to nip our movement in the bud.

In almost every conversation I’ve had about opting out, the question arises, “If I opt out, what will that mean for my school?  Will my school be punished financially?”  And that seems to be New York State’s ace in their pocket.  But will they play it?  The fact is, we just don’t know.  It certainly is a big threat.

But for me personally, this is a risk I am willing to take.  Let’s imagine that 6% of students opt-out, causing a school to fail to reach its 95% participation rate.  What else can New York State take away?  All the good stuff in school is already being reduced or eliminated due to budget cuts because of the focus on tests and assessments.  Many schools are already missing recess, art, music, PE, and other valuable programs.  School has already been reduced to mindless hours of test prep and test taking.

NYSED has wagered its threat.  And now it is crucial that we do NOT back down.  Let’s make them play their card!  Many schools are far from seeing a 6% opt out rate.  But if they do, it will be big news.  And I believe that parents will win in the court of public and media opinion.  Let’s see NYSED cut our schools then.

NYSED’s memo makes it sound like this is law and any parent who dares question their policy will receive immediate sanctions.  It’s not law.  There is no law stating that parents can’t opt their children out.  NYSED governs schools, not parents.  In fact, here is NYSED’s disclaimer from their own website regarding the Commissioner of Education’s policies and regulations:

Disclaimer: These Rules of the Regents and Regulations of the Commissioner of Education (“regulations”) are unofficial, and are presented for general informational purposes as a public service. Although reasonable efforts have been made to ensure that these regulations are current, complete and accurate, the State Education Department does not warrant or represent that they are current, complete and accurate. These regulations are subject to change on a regular basis. Readers are advised to consult Title 8 of the Official Compilation of Codes, Rules and Regulations of the State of New York (8 NYCRR), published by the Department of State, and the State Registerexternal link icon for the official exposition of the text of these regulations, as well as for amendments and any subsequent changes or revisions thereto.

You see folks… they are “unofficial.”  Enough said.  Opt out now and spare your children the horror of sitting through another state-‘mandated’ test.  NYSED has puffed itself up to make its point.  Now it’s time to make ours.  If they believe that this memo will decrease the number of students opting out, let us prove them wrong.  Let us grow our numbers beyond their comprehension!


9 thoughts on “NYSED and the Fear Machine

  1. The worst part about that is that fear works. Parents are treading on new ground, and those brave enough to think about opting out their child may back down once they are told that “they can’t.” This article presents information that is so important, and should be shared with all parents. Since when does NYSED control the right of parents?

    • Fear is a strong disabler. That’s why we have to keep spreading the word and reassuring parents, let them know they’re not alone, that we support them, that they’re doing the right thing.

  2. They’ve also just snuck in a policy that says schools have to allow video recordings for use by anyone in the school seeking certification. This is a policy to demand compliance around the Pearson-Stanford edTPA–the teacher education version of high stakes testing and a money grab for Pearson. This comes with the bonus prize that videos of students get sent to Pearson for scoring. They tighten the screws at every turn–until we say no.

  3. Thank you for this statement, which I just came across. The testing program is a house of cards. The way the results are misused to reach high stakes decisions about students, teachers and schools is a disastrous sham. Lacking a solid educational base, coercion and uncertainty are used to delay its inevitable collapse.

  4. Pingback: NYSED and the Fear Machine, revisited « The Plain Satisfactions

  5. Pingback: NYSED and the Fear Machine, just one last post! | The Plain Satisfactions

  6. NYSED is treading on dangerous ground. Public education serves THE PUBLIC, and NYSED manages that service-not the served. Parents are the final say in decisions regarding what is in their child’s best interest, and if they were to come to the conclusion that NYSED is simply protecting and propping up the testing industry instead of respecting proven best practices in education (of other ed systems apparently outperforming us like Finland?)- then usurping parental rights could be more devastating to a governmental department’s reputation than a perceived invalid and coercive accountability assault. Put it on a memo with official letterhead, with claims of importance, and potential doom and gloom…but field tests, benchmark tests, SOL, LAT, State Tests, new tests, coming through-year tests, possibly PARCC tests but maybe not, state funds to industry insiders to develop security measures and data base storage for all student/family/teacher data…am I forgetting something? Anyway, these things can begin to concern those on the receiving end of all of that and such memos. Understandably it is the duty of public schools and their employees to follow through on policy like ADMINISTERING tests, but I have no right to override parental authority. Same as MY childrens school, teachers and NYSED cannot override mine.
    Regards to Rupert Murdoch. Please disregard any text message you tap on my phone that disparages you or questions why you should even be in sniffing distance of student data or involved in anything you claim is good for the public.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s