Monday, August 1, 2016

Stronger Together, We Opt-Out

A recent Friday news dump by the New York State Education Department (NYSED) reported that more than 20% of public school parents are still refusing to subject their children to grades 3-8 standardized tests. You don't need Bill Gates to tell you how much thousands of blank answer sheets threaten a test's validity. This number does not even include those kids who finished the test in five minutes because their friends opted-out. Pencils without erasers worked just fine.  

It seems the "toolkit" distributed by the state to combat opt-outs contained only pulled nails and sawdust.   

Standardized tests also line the litter box of a teacher evaluation law (APPR) that was recently declared "arbitrary and capricious" by a state judge. Not to worry--in the newest, slimiest version of Governor Andy Cuomo's putrid law, tests will count even more. The thinking is that our kids will be much readier for community colleges and careers if we make it easier to fire their teachers. Paradoxically, with less job security than a blind barber, the one profession the Lobbyist for the Student's legislation will not prepare our kids for is teaching.            

In his proposed regulations to the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), U.S. Secretary of Education John "It's good to be the" King now seeks to smother opt-outs and tamp down an unprecedented act of civil disobedience. As education commissioner in New York, King only fed people's worst fears about the tests, callously implementing a system meant to close schools and shuffle students. Former New York City Mayor and aspiring horse jockey Michael Bloomberg recently noted that New Yorkers "know a con" when they see one, and the bullshit meter broke soon after King started spewing his dissonant hopes and dreams for kids.

Now King's act has gone national and he wants to punish even more schools for refusing the tests. Schools from Dover to Denver must come up with plans to deal with opt-outs, and the plans must be expensive and time-consuming. Because if there's anything public education needs, it's more mandates from distant dickheads who couldn't teach their way out of a wet paper bag.

If and when King's resolutions come to pass, his bluff must be vehemently called. For the federal government denying local resources all because of standardized tests goes against decency, democracy, and likely the Constitution itself.

And now is not the time for the leaders of New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) to bend over and say "we told you so" to members. Although their favorite presidential candidate Hillary Clinton called this a "war" which we "don't have time for", as long as the rights of students and teachers continue to diminish, a truce will not be at hand. Perhaps Hillary will appoint people who believe in a local community's ability to control who teaches their kids. Or perhaps not. We might have to elect her to find out, as Democratic Party insiders consider Common Core a "political third rail", while Hillary once bizarrely referred to public education as a "non-family enterprise." 

At the conclusion of the 1995 film Braveheart, the hero William Wallace is dead and jaded Scottish rebels have lost all will to fight. To the exasperation of many, however, and at the pleading of Robert the Bruce, the Scots quickly bounce back and continue their war against England, realizing they've won nothing. Dispirited and disenfranchised Americans must carry the same spirit today, and cannot drown in complacency and despair. Greedy demagogues are indeed waging war against our schools, and will stop at nothing until students and teachers are assessed into oblivion.              

1 comment:

  1. Randi Slimegarten admiring herself in the mirror wearing a faux John King goatee as we speak. Nice work Sull, thanks.