Carol Burris, a leader in the Opt Out movement in New York and a respected high school principal, explains here who is responsible for the mass opting out in New York State and why the movement is not going away.


The State Education Department has thus far refused to release official numbers for opt outs, so parent organizations have been calling every district in the state and compiling the data. Funny that an organization that loves data so much would fail to release the data it has. The opt out groups now claim that more than 200,000 students in New York state refused to take the tests. This occurred despite threats that schools would lose federal funds or students would face some unspecified punishments.


Critics of opt out claim that the movement is a white-suburban-mom thing, as Arne Duncan did a while back. But Burris has the facts to prove them wrong:


It was evident that the state would be far below the 95 percent federal participation rate as soon as the 3-8 English Language Arts tests began. When math testing started, the numbers climbed higher still. In the Brentwood School District, a 49 percent opt-out rate for ELA rose to 57 percent during math tests. These rates defy the stereotype that the movement is a rebellion of petulant “white suburban moms.” Ninety-one percent of Brentwood students are black or Latino, and 81 percent are economically disadvantaged. Brentwood is not unique–Amityville (90 percent black or Latino, 77 percent economically disadvantaged) had an opt-out rate of 36.4 percent; Greenport (49 percent black or Latino, 56 percent economically disadvantaged) had an opt-out rate that exceeded 61 percent; and South Country opt outs (50 percent black or Latino and 51 percent economically disadvantaged) exceeded 64 percent. New York’s rejection of the Common Core tests crosses geographical, socio-economic and racial lines.


Given the obstinate denials by state and federal officials, it is to be expected that parents in New York and across the nation will double down on their efforts. By opting out, they are not only rejecting the tests, they are rejecting the hours and hours devoted to test preparation, the coupling of student test scores and teacher evaluations, school closings based on test scores, and the entire “reform” campaign to force our nation’s public schools to operate in a free market, instead of acting on behalf of their communities. The longer term goal of the opt out movement:de-emphasizing standardized testing, using tests for diagnostic purposes, equitable resources, public support for a public institution, restoring professional autonomy to educators, and respect for the daily work of educators.