Is self-immolation back in style?
Rather than urging members to reject high-stakes tests, New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) is pining for teachers to create the tests, even though the state fully controls how the results will be used. After all, Governor Andrew Cuomo's latest teacher evaluation law (APPR) gives Albany—not local school boards—the last word on how well students must perform for teachers to be rated "effective" and not subject to harassment and dismissal. Even if they were as flawless as diamonds, nothing is stopping the state from using the tests to saw into schools everywhere, as bogus benchmarks and HEDI bands will soon hum the tune of "failing" schools.
NYSUT's call for teachers to write high-stakes tests instead of shred them is an assault on reason. Though at last year's Representative Assembly (RA) the Union unanimously passed a resolution that members' children not take the tests, NYSUT has since done zero to spread this message. It seems a resolution passed by thousands of teachers to protect their own children doesn't deserve a billboard or a commercial during the NFL playoffs, for example.
The Union did, however, spend $2.4 million on a commercial that had nothing to do with junk science and everything to do with fiction. According to the 30-second ad (which yes, aired during the NFL playoffs), "progress" has been made to protect schools—even though Cuomo's ludicrous law remains unchanged. And NYSUT has no plans to challenge this law anytime soon, as it is conspicuously absent from both the ad and the Union's 2016 legislative agenda.
Perhaps NYSUT finds great dignity in teachers hastening their own demise, akin to Kamikaze pilots or Buddhist monks. Yet if NYSUT is ready to sacrifice members on the altar of privatization, its tool of choice should be a resolution meant to save schools and not shut them.
For given this choice, most teachers would rather go down shielding children from abusive tests instead of embracing new and equally abusive ones.