Archives for category: Parents

More information contact:
Eric Mihelbergel (716) 553-1123;
Lisa Rudley (917) 414-9190;
NYS Allies for Public Education

Parents Outraged by APPR Albany Deal that Ignores the Children

The deal reached today by Governor Cuomo and the New York State Legislature regarding minimizing the impact of Common Core test scores on teacher evaluations is a slap in the face to parents across the state who have implored them to reduce the amount of testing that children are subjected to and to improve the quality of these exams and the learning standards.

“The deal does nothing to protect students or to address poorly constructed tests, abusive testing practices or concerns about the Common Core,” said Jeanette Deutermann, Nassau County public school parent and founder of Long Island Opt-Out.

“While protecting teachers, this does nothing to protect our children who will continue to be subjected to the stress and damage from inappropriate curriculum, standards and exams,” said Anna Shah, Dutchess County public school parent.

In light of this misstep, it is not surprising that Governor Cuomo and Commissioner of Education John King have lost the confidence of New Yorkers. The recent Siena poll shows that only 9% of respondents say they “completely trust” Governor Cuomo to act in the best interests of our students, and only 4% completely trust Commissioner King.

“Governor Cuomo and Commissioner King have made it clear they will not heed the concerns of millions of outraged parents across the state. Their arrogance is dangerous and will only continue to hurt our children, our teachers and our schools,” said Nancy Cauthen, NYC public school parent and member of Change the Stakes.

Many New Yorkers have expressed dismay that Governor Cuomo continues to ignore the growing number of unfunded mandates, insolvent schools, and increasing poverty that public schools face, while promoting excessive and developmentally inappropriate testing practices and flawed learning standards. He has also put the interests of his wealthy contributors who support charter schools that rob public schools of resources. “Neither testing nor the Common Core will help close the achievement gap or erase the inequitable funding and inadequate conditions that plague our public schools,” said Marla Kilfoyle, Long Island public school parent and General Manager of BAT.

“Let’s not forget that according to King and Cuomo, eight year old children will continue to sit for almost seven hours of testing over the course of six days, tests that no one can see or critique. Parents will not be fooled by token changes that do nothing to protect students from these abusive practices. Unless a moratorium directly reduces or suspends testing for students, our children will continue to suffer,” said Bianca Tanis, Ulster County public school parent.

Katie Zahedi, Dutchess County principal at Linden Avenue Middle School said, “As long as the NYSED and Cuomo’s education office are run by non-experts, beholden to forces bent on dismantling public education, our students will continue to be subjected to bad policies.”

“It’s time for a Governor that supports the priorities of parents, evidence-based teaching practices, and REAL learning for the students of New York,” said Eric Mihelbergel, Erie County public school parent and co-founder of NYSAPE.

NYS Allies for Public Education (NYSAPE) is a coalition of more than 50 parent and educator groups throughout the state.


Leonie Haimson of ClassSizeMatters calls on NYC parents and concerned citizens to attend public hearings about allocation of money.

Starting Tuesday of this week, the NYC Department of Education will hold mandated hearings in each borough on the use of more than $500 million in state Contracts for Excellence funds – which, according to state law, is supposed to include a plan to reduce class size.

Right now, class sizes in the early grades are the largest in 15 years, despite the fact that smaller classes are the top priority of parents in the DOE’s own surveys, and the constitutional right of NYC students, according to the state’s highest court.

Yet instead of allocating specific dollars for this purpose, the DOE has left it up to principals to decide which among five programs they would like to spend these funds. To make things worse, in an Orwellian bit of doublespeak, the DOE will allow principals to spend these funds not to lower class size – but if they merely claim that they will be used to minimize class size increases.

Please attend these hearings and speak out; more information and a schedule is here, and a petition you can sign is here.

Leonie Haimson
Executive Director
Class Size Matters
124 Waverly Pl.
New York, NY 10011

Stephanie Simon writes in about how parents organized, lobbied, agitated, and brought down inBloom.

Simon writes:

“You’ve heard of Big Oil and Big Tobacco. Now get ready for Big Parent.

“Moms and dads from across the political spectrum have mobilized into an unexpected political force in recent months to fight the data mining of their children. In a frenzy of activity, they’ve catapulted student privacy — an issue that was barely on anyone’s radar last spring — to prominence in statehouses from New York to Florida to Wyoming.”

Most shocking of all is that the Obama administration is prepared to spend $1 billion (half from the federal government, half from the states) to track the movements of every child:

“Now, parents are rallying against another perceived threat: huge state databases being built to track children for more than two decades, from as early as infancy through the start of their careers.

Promoted by the Obama administration, the databases are being built in nearly every state at a total cost of well over $1 billion. They are intended to store intimate details on tens of millions of children and young adults — identified by name, birth date, address and even, in some cases, Social Security number — to help officials pinpoint the education system’s strengths and weaknesses and craft public policy accordingly.

“The Education Department lists hundreds of questions that it urges states to answer about each child in the public school system: Did she make friends easily as a toddler? Was he disciplined for fighting as a teen? Did he take geometry? Does she suffer from mental illness? Did he go to college? Did he graduate? How much does he earn?

“Every parent I’ve talked to has been horrified,” said Leonie Haimson, a New York mother who is organizing a national Parent Coalition for Student Privacy. “We just don’t want our kids tracked from cradle to grave.”

Why does the Education Department want so much information about every child? What is the rationale for assembling Big Data about our children? Does Congress know about this? Is there any other government in the world that is data mining its children?

Will parents mobilize to stop the federal government from mining their children’s personal data?

Parents at the Luis Munoz Marin public school in Philadelphia voted overwhelmingly to oppose a charter takeover of their school.

“After a bitterly fought battle, parents at Luis Muñoz Marín Elementary have voted to keep their school a part of the Philadelphia public school system, rejecting a charter organization’s takeover proposal.

“According to results announced Thursday night by Philadelphia School District officials, 223 parents wanted Muñoz Marín to remain a traditional public school and 70 voted for ASPIRA of Pennsylvania to take control.

“In a separate vote, 11 members of the school’s advisory council wanted to remain with the district. None voted for ASPIRA.

“Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. has the final say on the fate of the struggling North Third Street school, which has 700 students in kindergarten through eighth grade. A decision is expected soon.”

This is the second Philadelphia school where parents rejected a charter takeover. “Steel, an elementary school with 540 students in Nicetown, faced possible conversion by Mastery Charter Schools, but its parents overwhelmingly said they did not want that affiliation. Hite approved the parents’ choice.”


Parents, there is one sure way to stop the testing mania that is devouring your child’s education: Say NO to the next round of field tests, scheduled for June 2 to June 11. Don’t let Pearson and the State Education Department steal more time from your child that should be spent learning, playing, dancing, singing, and studying.

Want to learn more about the campaign to Change the Stakes? Open this link to go to the webpage of Change the Stakes. You will find practical information about how to opt out of the field testing.

Opposition to the testing madness of the Bush-Obama administrations continues to escalate, as parents, teachers, and student react to excessive testing across the nation.

Here is the Fairtest update:

An increasing number of stories report criticism of Common Core tests and rising opposition to other high-stakes standardized exams. This week’s clips include updates from 20 states, several excellent commentaries and links to important reports.

The Gathering Resistance to Standardized Testing

State Political Rifts Sap Support for Common Core Exams

The Cost of Our Testing Obsession

Why a Common Core Testing Moratorium is Needed . . . Now!

Competitor Sues to Overturn Pearson’ s Common Core Testing Contract

Pearson’s History of Testing Problems

Test Expert: Most California Schools Not Ready for Common Core Exams

Tryout of New California Test Plagued by Computer Problems

Common Core Testing Raises Question About Who Is in Charge of Connecticut Education

Florida Governor Approves One-Year Pause on School Grading Consequences

Student Testing a Major Issue in Idaho School Chief Election

Illinois Suburbs Push Back Against Testing,0,478278.story

Louisiana Tax Dollars at Work: Training Teachers to Administer High-Stakes Tests Which Grade Their “Effectiveness”

Why Standardized Testing is Ruining Maine Schools, Hurting Our Kids

Massachusetts Teachers Union Elects Strong Foe of High-Stakes Testing as President

A Fairer Test Score Measure for Massachusetts

Common Core Field Testing Seen as Another Unfunded Massachusetts State Mandate

Parents Boycott New Jersey ASK Test

How to Refuse New Jersey Tests for Your Child

Student: Standardized Tests Taking a Toll in New Mexico Classrooms

A Conversation About Tests New York Teachers Can’t Have

The Pseudo-Science of New York’s Common Core Tests

Ohio Teachers Seek Three-Year Delay in High-Stakes Testing

Oklahoma Legislature Passes Bill Giving Parents a Voice in Overruling Grade Promotion Test

Testing Expert: Oregon’s Assessments Should Be Designed by Local Educators

Oregon Teachers Seek Common Core Testing Moratorium

They’ll Never Catch Pennsylvania’s Worst Test Cheating Culprits — Politicians Who Mandate High-Stakes Exams

Philadelphia “Culture of Cheating” Reflects Standardized Exam Misuse

Different Value-Added Systems Produce Wide-Range of Results in Pittsburgh Schools

Rhode Island School Board Resists Mounting Pressure to End Graduation Test

Nashville Tennessee to Take Up Anti-Testing Resolution

Another Test Cheating Probe in the Home of the “Texas Miracle” Which Begat “No Child Left Behind”

Texas Teacher Evaluation Earns a Failing Grade

Are Texas Children Allowed to Read for Pleasure Any More?

Virginia Parents Start Organizing Opt Out Campaign

How NCLB Waiver Revocation Will Hurt Washington State Schools

Obama-Duncan Testing Policies Contradict Their Own High-Sounding Statements

New Study Casts Doubt on Rating Teachers by Students’ Test Scores

Standardized Testing Focus is Part of 19th Century Model of Education

Bob Schaeffer, Public Education Director
FairTest: National Center for Fair & Open Testing
office- (239) 395-6773 fax- (239) 395-6779
mobile- (239) 696-0468

This New York parent decided the state tests were useless and worthless. She went to hearings and rallies and realized that state officials made only minor changes but that her children would continue to sit for 500 minutes of state testing in grades 3-8. She thought it made no sense. So she opted her children out of state testing. Here is her letter to the editor of her local newspaper.

She writes:

“I recognize that students have always taken some form of standardized testing and that testing has a value in education. I am not saying that students should never take tests or that teachers should not be held accountable. What I am saying is that we as a state and as a country have lost our focus. What I am saying is the rules have changed and these tests are different. When No Child Left Behind was introduced in 2002, our children were federally required to take state tests in 4th grade and 8th grade. In 2006, the federal requirement changed to all grades 3-8th. In 2012, the tests changed again increasing the time, the complexity and consequences.

“The single largest change at the center of this all is that teachers are now rated on the results of these tests. Teachers are not saying they shouldn’t be evaluated – in fact – most feel that a good evaluation makes them a better teacher. There are so many things wrong with the APPR process that I would have to write another letter on this topic. Basically, our children and our teachers work hard all year. They should not be reduced to a single score.

“The reasons my children have not taken the state tests the past 2 years is simple: they do not help my children in any way. While the test is given in April, the scores are not received until July. There is NO data or explanation of where my child had weaknesses or strengths for that matter. The teacher will see 25% of the questions but will not have ANY information on how MY child did on those questions or on how they may help future students. These tests lack quality, as evidenced by the numerous errors and poorly worded questions. These tests are not used to determine student promotion or grades and are not included in a child’s permanent school record. The children receive a score on a scale of 1-4 which becomes a statistic used to rate teachers and schools- minimizing their educational experience to just a number. What could that number mean to me as a parent? Commissioner King and the Board of Regents are repeatedly quoted in the media saying, “Why wouldn’t a parent want to know how their child is doing?” My response is simple. If I need to know how my children are doing, I will ask their teacher!

“Our children are athletes, musicians, singers, dancers, artists, scientists, and community volunteers, among other things, none of which can be measured by a single assessment. I am not sure when or why test scores became so important. It used to be that parents looking for a place to live chose Garden City, perhaps based on the colleges that our students attend. Our children’s test scores have become a metric by which we assess our property values. The tests have somehow become “practice” in preparation for the NYS Regents Exams, the SAT’s, and ACT’s. Why have we become a society that cares more about the test scores than the quality of our child’s educational experience?”

Tony L. Talbert, a professor of social/cultural studies education and qualitative research in the Baylor University School of Education, writes in the Waco News that we as a nation have failed to recognize “the reality that our students, our teachers and our entire system of pre-K-12 public school education has been significantly and negatively impacted by the very tests we allowed to be enacted over the past 30 years through a combination of hyperbolic fear-mongering and subsequent public detachment from deliberative discourse in matters of public education.”

In short, we–as citizens–dropped out from our responsibility to maintain a public school system that aimed for values more important and valuable than our current test-based system.

Ivy started with President Reagan’s “A Nation at Risk,” which “set off a chain of subsequent predictions, monographs and reports of dire consequences for our nation’s future that could only be resolved by imposing a system of high-stakes testing, narrowly defined curriculum content (i.e., reading and mathematics) and ultimately adoption of a punitive accountability system that had the effect of stymying resistance and silencing critical questioning by educators, parents and even students on the legitimacy of such a radical shift in public education philosophy and practices.”

“As a result, for the next 30 years the American public increasingly “opted out” of direct dialogue and engagement in local, state and national public education philosophy, policy and practice debates. The impact of “opting out” of informed engagement in public education debates has been the radical shift in the quality and value-orientation of public school curriculum from a Transformation-Based Education System to an Information-Based Education System.

“In a Transformation-Based Education System the core value is the education of the whole student through a broad and inclusive humanities, mathematics, science, technology, performing arts and physical education curriculum as measured by the quality outcomes of the improvement of the student’s individual mind and life for the betterment of the collective community. In contrast, an Information-Based Education System embraces the core value of information acquisition, consumption and regurgitation of a basic curriculum by all students as measured by the quality of outcomes on standardized test performance and school ranking.”

Can we change the vicious cycle in which we are now trapped?

Yes, he insists:

“Can we recover what we’ve lost in our education system as a result of “opting out” of our responsibility as guardians of our most valuable democratic institution of pre-K-12 public education? Absolutely! We can restore the fundamental values and quality of a Transformation-Based Education System by choosing to “opt in” to public discourse and democratic action. An obvious way an informed citizenry can express intent to change the high-stakes testing education philosophies, policies and practices is by holding local, state and national elected officials accountable for education legislation at the ballot box.”

In short, my friends, become politically active. Throw out the narrow-minded technocrats that see our children as data points. Elect only those who treasure education as human development, a process of becoming in which we all take part.

Do your part. Get engaged. Be the change.

Helen Gym sent the following report. The parents at Steel Elementary School voted to remain a public school, despite an aggressive campaign to turn the school over to a charter chain. But the school’s advisory council voted 9-8 to hand the school over to privatization. The final decision will be made by the city’s School Reform Commission.

“Happy news for Monday morning!

“On May 1, 176 parents at Steel Elementary School – the last public school in Nicetown – voted on whether to remain a District public school or be turned over to the city’s largest charter operator, Mastery Charter Network. More than 70 percent of parents – 121 vs. 55 – voted to keep the school public. Mastery Charter Network did not even muster one-third of the popular parent vote, despite an aggressive year-long effort to claim Steel for itself. A botched School Advisory Council vote resulted in a split 9-8 vote in favor of the charter. At least two grievances have been filed against this vote. The School Reform Commission will make a final determination on the school May 29.

“Parents statements are below. A video about Steel is also below that:″

Today I came across a letter from a Tennessee parent that went viral. The theme, quite simply, is: Parents know best.

In it, this parent explains why she is opting her child out of state testing. Please click on the link so that Alicia Maynard and other Tennessee parents know you support them in their determination to end the testing madness.


“Where did we ever get the crazy idea that in order to make children do better, first we have to make them feel worse? Think of the last time you felt humiliated or treated unfairly. Did you feel like cooperating or doing better?” – Jane Nelsen, author of the Positive Discipline Series

“Dear Gov. Haslam,

“I am writing to let you know that my fourth-grader will not be taking the TCAP test. This is unfortunate for her school because she scores in the advanced range every time.

“Auria is in fourth grade at Northfield elementary in Murfreesboro, TN. This is our fourth year at this school, and between her and her sister, I have fallen in love with numerous teachers there. Murfreesboro has the best school system in the state (according to Google), and I have been highly impressed with the people and their level of care for my children.

“Third grade changed, though. My highly-intelligent, confident kid became a wreck – early in the year – over the pressure associated with the TCAP. I was confused, as I took the TCAP every year as a child and have nothing but fond memories of bubbling in the little circles. I started to notice the growing intensity leading up to the test, and I became a little disgusted. That was last year. This year it was worse. The teachers I have had the pleasure of working with are so wound up that I feel sorry for them. The teachers, the staff, the administration…everybody.

“These are obviously brilliant and creative people, and this test has taken over like a life-sucking monster. Teaching isn’t an exact science, just like parenting. Every child is different, and this terrible system is stifling all the joy and creativity that is required to really make an impact.

“Now, if I love this school and staff so much, and I know her test scores would attribute to an average boost ($$$), why would I pull her from this? She wants to be a teacher when she grows up. These teachers are already being grossly underpaid for such an important role.

“Pearson is America’s largest corporate maker of standardized testing. It has a multiyear contract with our Department of Education: For creating and implementing the TCAP and the end-of-course tests for high schoolers, we pay more than $150 million. (That’s three times what it would have cost to give Tennessee teachers a 2 percent raise.) The deepest cut of all? Teachers aren’t able to preview the test. They are neither editor nor author of the single most influential test of the whole year. It’s the educational equivalent of a slap in the face.”

- David Cook (Times Free Press)

“Auria can already make better decisions than this.

“My child’s job is to learn. The teacher’s job is to teach. But my role as her parent is more complicated. I also have to teach her when standing up for something is necessary. This system is stupid and unfair. She will be accepting a 0 as 15% of her grade for the year. But she will also be standing up for teachers and students all over the state. She will be taking steps toward bettering her future right now, and I think that’s better than just a memory of all those bubbles.

“Thank you for your time reviewing this matter,

Alicia Maynard
Murfreesboro, TN”

The above letter has been shared on Facebook over 1,140 times in the past 48 hours. Here are some of the many comments on it:


“As a teacher in metro, I love you!

“Wow! Seems I’m not alone about my TCAP feelings! Kuddos to this mom!!!

“The pressure for students, teachers, and parents is so unfair. It makes me so sad.

“This is so beautiful. It’s a must read for all parents and students.

“Maybe more parents should jump on this bandwagon!!! I would love to shake her hand and meet her in person!

“Incredible parent and letter! Hope someone listens! Something to think about where we are heading for the future of education for the little ones. Lets put Common Sense back in Education and worry bout the little ones not which pocket is getting thicker!!!!

“How many letters like this will it take to change things?

“Simply the truth. I am forbidden by law from seeing, asking or being told what is on the test my kids take. Ever. We never see the old tests. We cannot challenge bad questions…and trust me, the practice tests have bad questions. Parents can also never see the tests. Just try and ask, even after it is given. I have yet to have a teacher’s edition grammar book that did not have a wrong answer or horribly confusing practices. It happens, but now who is double checking? My kids will do well…they always do me proud in a pinch, but this is beyond ridiculous. Pearson controls education in Tennessee. Get over the outrage over the feds/Common Core (for now) and ask why in the Hell a private company gets to determine kids’ grades and teachers’ fates with ZERO oversight.

“May do this next year. Zac is flipped out about TCAP.

“This sums up my feelings on standardized testing word for word!!!!!!!

“I love how you just stand up for things that are unjust without ANY hesitation and I respect the heck out of that! TCAP tests and the like are the reasons why I did not complete my certification as a secondary educator. It’s an unfair system that pigeon-holes children into measurable data. You, Alicia Maynard, are a beautiful soul and a wonderful mother. Thank you for standing up for teachers and for teaching your children to stand up for their generation of learners.

“I applaud this mother and think it would be awesome to boycott this stupid standardized testing

“There are many, many more comments just like these above. Parents are fed up, waking up, and speaking out.”


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