Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Friday, August 21, 2015

NYSED Commissioner MaryEllen Elia Attacks Parents And Teachers Over Opt Out

Gates Foundation-funded MaryEllen Elia gave the keynote address to Gates Foundation-funded astroturf group Educators4Excellence and attacked parents and teachers who support the Opt Out movement (video below).

She was very "specific" (her word) that she opposes the Opt Out movement, thinks parents who opt their children out of state tests are "not reasonable," says educators who encourage or even just support the Opt Out movement are "unethical" and is doing everything she can to make sure opt out does not grow next year

Here is a partial transcript of her remarks on the Opt Out movement:

"I believe that people involved in the opt out movement are not aware of the use and support that assessments can give to what happens in a school and in a classroom and/or what happens in a district.

Let me give you an example. I was with a superintendent the other day and she said to me I had a very high opt out rate.  Right now I'm not getting information back that can help me on what I need to provide for my teachers, what particular schools are doing really well with something, what I need to do in terms of academic interventions for students, because if you didn't take that you don't have as much information about that. And she said, it's - we're at a disadvantage.

So let me say this very clearly. I think opt out is something that is not reasonable. I understand that it can about as a result of people wanting to become involved in what they thought was the political way to approach it. I am absolutely shocked if - and I don't know this happened but if any educator supported and encouraged opt outs, I think it's unethical.

I believe that we have a responsibility as teachers to support our students. The realities of taking assessments that number one are state law and federal law and give information for teachers on things that they may have done well or not and give information to principals about what they need to do to support their schools and their teachers and tell us how well we are doing in places across this state where we have large populations of students that we won't have information on.

I don't agree with opt out. I will, uh, and am moving forward to do everything I can so that we can make sure that we don't have our opt out in any way grow and in fact when people I think become more aware of the importance of having the assessments...

There are ramifications that can occur. I'm not saying what will occur, I'm just saying there are. The federal government has the ability to withdraw funds from districts and we have the ability as the state to say to any educator that's not an ethical thing you're doing. We have the ability to say to a superintendent, um, I just want you to know that you are an officer of the state and encouraging people to not follow the law is not acceptable.

So I'm pretty specific about opt outs, I hope you all heard that."


On the very day Elia took a bat to parents and teachers who support opting children out of state tests, Governor Andrew Cuomo said he thought parents were in charge of their own children and he didn't think there should be any sanctions against districts with high opt out rates and Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch announced that there would be no sanctions from either the federal or state government on districts/schools with high opt rates.

Tisch did reserve the right to hit districts/schools with sanctions next year if she thought educators at those schools or districts were encouraging the Opt Out movement.

So Elia's still talking tough, but her words are mockable given the "ramification" tool she threatened earlier this summer over opt out has been taken from her by Cuomo and Tisch.

In short, here's where Elia is today:


  1. Cuomo's, Tisch's, and now Elia's recent statements are suggesting how they will be approaching Opt Out.....3020A'ing any "educator," Admin or teacher, who in any way support or do not OPPOSE opt out. Cuomo and Tisch were putting the happy face on it to penalties! And Elia was very clear in saying that any educators who support opt out are "unethical." That suggests the "moral character" language of a 3020A.

    Their path forward cannot be penalizing parents, kids, or funding of schools...thats a political shit storm and they know it. The only thing left on the table are those that they are trying to destroy thats where the hammer will fall for opt out.

    Doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that writing on the wall. We've been warned. Hey NYSUT leadership...y'all listening? Nope, probably not.

  2. Keynote speaker for Quitters4Excellence...

    She has chosen her side, and it is not on the side of students, parents, and real teachers.

  3. To further what I was saying above, I think Cuomo/Tisch/Elia are betting that the Opt Out movement will, at some point, have limitations in regards to defending teachers. They are betting that Opt Out is mostly parents and parents' main concerns are their kids and school funding, and that they will reach their limit with a hardcore, to the barricades defense of teacher's and VAM and 3020A's and all that.

    Its the only real play they have.

  4. Don't forget! Randi Weingarten praised the appointment of MaryEllen Elia. If someone has a Gates connection Randi is all for them!

  5. Randi Weingarten should be the absolute focus of organized teachers. It should be our #1 priority to remove her, remove her loudly, and embarrassingly. She, along with NYSUT leadership, represent the absolute failure of our side to mount a vigorous defense of organized teachers. They are worse than the reformers. The reformers are all thinly veiled old-school, public-space plundering capitalists...absolutely nothing new about them and the antidote to them is well known (strong labor). However, sellout, idiot union leaders are something that deserve our wrath first and foremost. Destroying them is the key to winning. The reformers/capitalists are like herpes throughout American history....always coming back. But Weingarten and NYSUT leadership are a fully curable infection.

  6. Once again, it's classical projection. THEY are the ones who are unethical.

    Elia, you will be punished with the same executioner's sword.

    Obviously they are playing "good cop, bad cop".

  7. Ask most teachers and parents who or what Elia is and most will have no idea. Perhaps a new virus? Something worse? She obvisously doesn't know what Common Core is doing to kids, parents, and teachers. The Opt Out movement will double this year.

  8. The opt-out movement is very clearly a threat to NYS reformers. However we are seeing that they cannot immediately confront and threaten parents over it. Cuomo and Tisch will pay them lip service and play the good cop to Elia's bad cop. She will play the heavy and it seems try to target educators for their role in this.

    I hope teachers from around the state are taking notice. Supporting the opt-out movement, while effective, can't be the extent of what teachers are willing to do. It needs to be the beginning. The next year or two are going to call for greater acts of civil disobedience from teachers. Attending forums and opting our children out are nice. They are important. It feels good. But it really isn't enough. Several teachers last year refused to administer state tests. We need to start to see whole school boycotts from teachers. Or rolling one day strikes like they did in Washington State. We need to do more than just talk and preach. We need to disrupt.

    Weingarten and the Revive NYSUT hacks certainly aren't looking out for us. But I think it is a waste of time to spend too much time on them. AFT leadership can't be changed until next summer. NYSUT leadership can't be changed until 2017. Even then, the systems are so rigged that it will be nearly impossible to change either one of them. The best way to deal with sellout leadership is not to rant, rave, and post on blogs about how we need to vote them out. The best way to deal with them is to take action ourselves. Any power the unions have ultimately comes from the collective action of the rank and file. The reason why the unions are such a paper tiger is because teachers across the state have largely laid back, complained, and wanted somebody else to do the work for them. It is clear that union "leaders" are not willing to put their necks on the line for the benefit of their members. Now it is up to teachers to decide what they are willing to do, what they are willing to risk in order to save their profession.

  9. You should have voted Cuomo out last November.

  10. As a parent I opted out my child. What dissappoints me is the miserable turnout at the polls last November of Educator's I have spoken to here on Long Island who could have made a significant difference in getting Cuomo out of office. I do not know if this is heresay or fact, but several friends I know told me it was suggested to sit out on voting for anyone to teach Cuomo a lesson. I could not believe what I was hearing. 600,000 strong plus family and friends and they were told in not so directly not to vote at all? WTH? some of the most intelligent folks I know are educators...but the common sense train left the building when it comes to the NYSUT.

  11. Are they going to punish teachers who opt out their own children? I opted out my daughter, who does not attend the district I work in, the past two years and plan to opt her again this year. Are they going to punish teachers who are exercising their parental rights?

    1. What about parents/teachers who attend the same school as their children?

    2. I am in this boat. I did not allow my kids to fill out those surveys and was inferred to as "an idiot."

      I don't attend PTA meetings because I don't want to express my views to the six people who do attend. I fear that would be harassed & I'm well liked by students and parents at my school.

      I did not want to confront my principal about her comment because as I said I fear repercussions.

      I want to opt out my kids but would love to know how without fearing the end of my job which I know is rapidly approaching.

      Any advice? Thanks

  12. Maybe the kids can opt themselves out by not showing up for the test. By now, many of them have seen the news coverage. I had one student this spring that was whining to his mom, "but the other kids aren't taking it!"
    I'm not surprised that they are going to try to be clever by half in this situation. Same tactics, different day, yawns.
    We are going to be clever too Elia. You'll never know who is throwing the spit balls as they strike your ugly head in rapid succession.

  13. On what grounds will they pursue a 3020A regarding Opt Outs?

    That is a serious question. I can't see it having any real traction.

  14. We would only be liable to discover those elements if we really been able to produce exactly whats been emphasized with some due respects and elements.