Addressed My BOE Tonight

Thank you for the opportunity to address you this evening and for your service in our community.

My name is Danielle Boudet. My previous letter was mentioned during one of the last board meetings and it was oversimplified that I am a parent opposed to testing. I am not against testing and certainly not against authentic teacher-driven assessment. But I am opposed to high-stakes tests that are not reliable indicators of our children’s performance and are unfair judges of them, their teachers, and their schools. I am opposed to tests and mandates that drain away our local control over education and our precious budget.

The minutes from the March 21, 2013 Board meeting contain some misinformation I’d like to clarify. First, I did not ask the Board to “sign a letter of waiver against the students taking the state tests.” I realize you don’t have that authority. What I did propose was for the Board to consider passing a RESOLUTION against high-stakes testing, which a growing list of BOEs across the state have already done, so it was not an unreasonable request. I have an updated list with me tonight. I also provided good information and resources for you to understand my perspective about testing and about many other concerns.

Secondly, regarding the opt-out movement: Although the state tests are over making this is a moot point, the information in the minutes is false so I’ll correct it. Just ask the thousands of students across the state who refused the tests this year, their parents, and the schools that accommodated them and you will confirm that opting out does NOT give the student an automatic ‘1’ for their score. They will get NO score and this information is freely found in NYSED’s own SIRS manual. I never mentioned a “waiver” that parents could sign, but although it is true that schools must comply and administer these tests, there is no authority over whether students must take them or how parents may guide their own children. And I will continue to advocate for parents and students who choose to exercise their rights in this decision.

We might not agree on everything, and the rumors that have come back to me suggest that you don’t agree with my position. Multiple perspectives are good, and you owe it to the members of this community and to the students at this school to be open to positions that differ from yours. To launch, perpetuate, or believe a rumor that I am somehow (deviously) plotting to change education in New York State all by myself is either deeply naive or incredibly stupid. First of all, no lone citizen is that powerful. Secondly, when it comes to changing education in NY, the government is doing a fine job of that already. My goal is to preserve it, the integrity and love of learning for our students and our teachers, and our freedom to make decisions at the local level and not simply be ‘yes’ men.

Whether or not we agree, the future of our local school is not looking good. We’ve been threatened with insolvent budgets, program cuts, the loss of art and music, as well as athletics, and the possibility of our school closing its door as our children get bussed to some regional school. If this happens, faculty and staff will be laid off, administrative duties will be consolidated, and we will cease to be Morris Central anymore. And it will be our kids that suffer the most.

So take a hard look at where we’re forced to spend our money and all that is expected of us. How complex will this become once our RttT grant money runs out and we are forced to comply with even more tests and mandates. For the record, I voted in favor of the budget that just passed. But ask yourselves, how much longer will the public continue to support increasing budgets and tax hikes, when our money is being drained away for mandates, and while programs and activities that we as a community love are being stripped away?

Furthermore, while politicians and non-educators, who don’t listen to teachers or parents, make all of these decisions for our supposed best interests, their children are receiving the highest quality education in private schools that are not required to comply with all of this nonsense.

I’m not against high standards or accountability, but I am against curricula becoming developmentally inappropriate and I am against the Wal-martization of our education where it seems that school curricula has become the next big market opportunity for companies to cash in on.

In closing let me add that the energy at the NYSUT rally, One Voice United was palpable. To the teachers here that might feel like their voice is not heard and the guidance from their union is lacking, I say you are not alone. Over 10,000 of your brothers and sisters came together last Saturday along with many other parents and children to prove that. Every voice we add sends a more powerful message.

Thank you again for your time.

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