Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Friday, August 14, 2015

MaryEllen Elia Loses No Matter What She Does With The Opt Out "Problem"

NYSED Commissioner MaryEllen Elia has twice said there may be consequences for high opt out rates, last week saying there could be "ramifications" and this week saying she was working with the feds on a possible sanction plan for schools and/or districts with high opt out numbers.

The NY Times reports this morning that considering the politics around punishing schools/districts for parents who opt their children out from the state tests, she may just be talking empty threats.

The NY Times report notes that Elia tried to "walk a fine line" over the issue:

“I do think it’s good for kids to take the assessments,” she said. “I don’t think that it necessarily is good for kids to have resources taken away that should be supporting them in their classrooms.”

The Times also reports that Elia says she has no plan for what to do with districts with high opt rates:

Ms. Elia said that federal officials had asked her what her plan was for dealing with districts that had large numbers students opting out, and that she did not have one. But she said she would be speaking to superintendents and seeking to understand why districts with similar demographics had very different opt-out rates.

The truth is, if the feds force the state to impose sanctions or Elia herself decides to punish districts for high opt out rates, more fuel will be thrown onto the fire:

If state education officials “think parents are unhappy with them now, just wait until they take money away from school districts,” Loy Gross, co-founder of a test refusal group called United to Counter the Core, said.

Regardless of whether sanctions are imposed onto schools/districts for high opt out rates or not, parent leaders in the Opt Out movement are looking to expand the movement again next year:
Elaine Coleman, a parent in Yonkers who is active in opt-out and anti-Common Core groups, said she had already begun planning expanding the movement next year. “We’re hoping we’ll get double the number,” she said.

In 2014, 5% of students eligible to take the state tests opted out.

In 2015, 20% of students eligible to take the state tests opted out.

That's a clear trend line there, and state and federal officials are in a bind with what to do about it. 

The reality is, if they impose sanctions, they are going to increase the anger parents and teachers have toward the unelected educrats imposing an unpopular testing regime onto the children and schools of this state, but if they don't impose sanctions, the word is out - opt your children out next year because there's nothing they will do about it.

This problem could be solved if the federal and state educrats and the politicians who back them would come down off the Mount and stop dictating and imposing policies and instead legitimately consult with parents and teachers about education policy.

But in the oligarchy that is 2015 America, that kind of thing doesn't happen.

Instead educrats like Elia are tasked with carrying out the oligarchical agenda paid for by Bill Gates, Eli Broad, Michael Bloomberg and a whole host of Wall Street and hedge fund wealthy people irrespective of what parents or teachers think or feel about that agenda.

In effect, Elia loses no matter what she does here.

If she imposes sanctions, she will increase the anger toward her and NYSED exponentially and get some of what former NYSED Commissioner John King got at Poughkeepsie.

But if she doesn't impose sanctions, the message is plain for all to see - the state does not have the will to back up their threats over the state's testing regime.

I suspect she will look for a more middle course, where she says no sanctions will happen this year, in part because she wasn't around when the state tests were given, but next year, if opt out remains a problem, here is a specific and detailed plan for what will happen to schools/districts with high opt out rates.

But we'll see - that kind of approach is dangerous too, as it still risks fanning the flames of anger of parents who feel disenfranchised from their own children's education.

Frankly, I think it couldn't happen to a more deserving person that she be stuck between in a rock and a hard place with no good options.

That way, MaryEllen Elia gets to feel what many parents and teachers feel about the current education policies imposed upon them by educrats like herself.


  1. To MaryEllen Elia: start preparing your resumè

    This reminds me of what goes on in the schools when someone complains. No matter what you do they don't back down. The keep threatening. They come up with new ways to harass you. They lie, lie, lie. They come up with even more ridiculous ideas for how to solve the problem. But they don't give you what you want.

    The oligarchy is not going to back down. They are going to repackage the garbage and bring it back.

    Elia is there to get the kicks and pies thrown at her.

    It will be interesting to see how they respond.

    They really can't sanction the schools. Because they will be punishing students who are not part of opt out.

    In the end though, 55% of the schools' funding is paid for by local taxes. We should have way more control of the schools than we currently have.

    Also, the Lederman's case will factor into this at some point.

    Right now, parents are winning this power struggle.

  2. Dear Education Reformers:

    Rule #1- Don't screw with people's children, you will lose!

  3. Another thing to consider, is that it is very likely that NYC opt outs will be led by students.

    With all the recent news coverage kids' ears are starting to stand up as it starts to dawn on them that they don't need to self-flagellate themselves anymore.

  4. I so wish the educrats would stop distorting the meaning behind "participation." They seem either to have forgotten -- or are purposefully distorting -- the original purpose of the "95% participation rate" of NCLB. The legislative history is clear. "Participation" was intended to address, and redress, historic wrongdoing that was being perpetrated by SCHOOLS -- NOT PARENTS -- when it was discovered that SCHOOLS were "systematically excluding" children from taking the assessments -- whether by purposeful intent, or inadvertently. So, 1) 95% participation designed to eradicate the purposeful systematic exclusion (what I like to call "school hanky panky"), meaning designed to stop schools from the practice of hand picking those kids who they want to take the tests, i.e., high-scorers, and from the practice of discouraging those kids who they didn't want to take the tests, i.e., the low-scorers. And, 2) 95% participation designed to eradicate the inadvertent exclusion, meaning designed to ensure that schools have the necessary accommodations to test all students, i.e., for ELLs, SpecEd, IEPs, etc. That's it. NCLB was all about remedying the "systematic exclusion" that was being perpetrated throughout the country BY THE SCHOOLS after we became a test-based, test-obsessed education system. The sanction of withholding funding was possible when the schools themselves engaged in wrongdoing, i.e., engaged in hanky-panky or failed to provide necessary accommodations. The sanctions are NOT meant to punish schools for the actions of parents, and the participation rate has NEVER been about coercing or threatening parents and children. Let's make sure it stays that way.

  5. If a testing program had value and was viewed as strengthening our children's education parents would not opt out. Coercion cannot work. If they force all the kids into the tests parents will instruct the kids to sabotage these useless tests by giving intentionally incorrect answers. The state needs to change because the school are ours!.

  6. Typical big-government coercion on the part of Elia and her heavy handedness is the logical outcome of the move away from local control of the schools.
    Can't wait till her cronies in Albany set a limit on the number of children they will permit to be sick the day of each exam as one way to combat the actions of concerned parents.