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.