Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

No Wonder Regents Chancellor Tisch Is So Terrified Of The Opt Out Movement

Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch threatened parents who opt their children out of the 3rd-8th grade state ELA and math tests yesterday:

ALBANY—If too many students "opt out" of Common Core-aligned state exams later this month, New York might be forced to administer national tests instead, Board of Regents chancellor Merryl Tisch said during a public radio interview on Tuesday.

“New York is in a unique position,” Tisch said on WNYC’s “The Brian Lehrer Show.” “Most other states in this country are being forced into two national tests. New York State took the opportunity over these last several years to build our own state tests, and that is exactly why I am particularly interested in curtailing this ‘opt out’ movement. Because in order for us to be able to have viable state test, we need a viable number of students in every district showing up to be tested. We need to have valid, reliable state assessments.

“In the absence of that critical number we will be forced, unfortunately—and I truly believe unfortunately—to adopt a national test,” she said.

Tisch is getting shriller by the day over parent and teacher pushback of her Endless Testing regime and there's a reason for that:

The opt out movement is growing and growing.

Take a look at some of the coverage in today's media from around New York:

From WSYR:  

Oneida (WSYR-TV) - Parents from all over Central New York will host different meetings across the area to inform other parents about opting their children out of New York State testing.

"Opt Out CNY" is a group formed after New York State implemented Common Core standards and has stepped up efforts this year. The renewed movement comes after Governor Andrew Cuomo's state budget plans to tie teacher evaluations to the same testing.

School districts are required to administer the exams, but individual parents have been sending letters to the schools that they're child won't be participating.

New York State is implementing new testing for English language arts and math for grades 3-8.

“Parents are often concerned that their refusal will result in a loss of funding to their school, harm the teacher’s evaluation, or prevent their child from participating in certain academic programs. Once we were armed with the facts that these fears are unfounded, it was easy for us to decide to refuse the tests,” added Dave Lupia, parent of three children who attend Harts Hill Elementary School in Whitesboro. “To me, my refusal is a vote of confidence in my children’s teachers and school, and a concrete way for me to express my concern about the laws recently enacted by our legislators.”

Parents who are unable to attend these forums can ask questions on social media at Opt Out CNY on Facebook, and sample refusal letters along with other information can be found at

From LoHud:

Parents of children with special needs say the state tests that measure progress in math and English in grades three through eight are setting them up for failure with a one-size-fits-all approach.

They say the tests are developmentally inappropriate and create anxiety and frustration for their children. They worry that test-prep is eating into the time spent working on social and life skills. They also don't like their children's performance on tests being tied to their teacher's evaluations.
Many are considering opting out of the controversial Common Core-aligned exams, according to NYS Allies for Public Education, a parent and educator advocacy group.


"We are telling our kids they are failures," said Cheryl Smith, who teaches science at Albert Leonard in a collaborative classroom, in which half the children have special needs. "Tests are supposed to tell you something, but we already know what the outcome will be for these kids..."

Mahopac Middle School English teacher Tom McMahon said he would never consider allowing his son with special needs, now a first grader, to take the exams.

"Michael will have enough struggles in school without being used as a statistic on an exam with no diagnostic value and no value to his education," he said. "The last thing Michael needs is another test where he cannot possibly achieve success."

McMahon, who also lives in Mahopac, said none of his children will be taking the tests.

Rubino, whose son, John, is now a fourth grader in a collaborative classroom, worries that teachers won't want to teach those classes anymore for fear of being rated low. Under the new law, teachers rated ineffective on two rounds of state tests are required to be rated "ineffective" overall. Two consecutive ineffective ratings can get a teacher fired.

"If the class does poorly on the test, the teachers would be rated ineffective," Rubino said. "John's teachers are anything but ineffective — they are phenomenal."

From the Democrat & Chronicle:

Add the Working Families Party to the list of groups urging parents to consider opting their children out of state exams.

The labor-backed political party sent an email to its members and supporters Monday with links to instructions for taking their kids out of the grade 3-8 math and English exams, which will be administered beginning April 14.

Some parent and teacher groups have encouraged opting out of the tests, which helped lead to thousands of opt outs last year. The push got a boost earlier this month from New York State United Teachers union president Karen Magee, who suggested parents should consider keeping their kids from taking the exams.

"Opting out sends a powerful message to the Governor, the legislature, and the Board of Regents: that enough is enough when it comes to overtesting our kids, demonizing teachers, and undermining public education," wrote Bill Lipton, state director of the Working Families Party. "The parent-led movement is bringing pressure on politicians to change the teacher evaluation system to one that works for all of our kids, in high-income districts and low-income districts alike."

The push appears to have caught on among some liberal-leaning groups, including Citizen Action of New York, which has also added step-by-step opt-out instructions to its website. (Karen Scharff, executive director of Citizen Action, is also the co-chair of the Working Families Party.

The latest round of testing comes two weeks after Gov. Andrew Cuomo and lawmakers agreed to change the state's system for evaluating teachers. While the state Education Department will put the final touches on the system by June, the new law requires that a teacher whose students perform poorly on state exams can't get an overall rating better than "developing," the second-lowest score.

 Tisch claimed anybody pushing children to opt out of state tests is "ignoring the needs of children":

"Those who call for 'opting out' really want New York to 'opt out' of information that can help parents and teachers understand how well students are doing," Tisch said. "We cannot go back to ignoring the needs of our children. It's time to stop making noise to protect the adults and start speaking up for the students."

It seems the Regents Chancellor knows what's good for your children and you don't.

Governor Cuomo sends a similar message when he says he cares about students but teachers only care about their jobs and pensions.

It is time to send a message to authoritarian politicians like Andrew Cuomo and the political functionaries like Merryl Tisch and the educrats at NYSED that parents and teachers know what is best for children, particularly when they work with kids all day long and see the damage that the Endless Testing regime is doing to the children and school life.

Tisch is obviously already getting that message, which is why she is growing shriller by the day in her pushback.

Cuomo's probably getting the message too, but as an elected official with already falling approval ratings, he's staying away from criticism of the opt out movement for now.

But make no mistake, he'll jump aboard the "Opt Out Is Harmful Express" if and when he sees the movement is putting a shiv into his beloved new teacher accountability system.

These politicians, political functionaries and educrats are seriously threatened by this parent-led movement to opt out of the state tests and starve the corporate education reform machine of its precious data.

They know they can unfairly smear teachers as self-interested and selfish (as they've been doing for decades now) and win a few PR battles over testing, but that sure does get harder when they have to fight the parents in this state too.


  1. I deeply apologize Ms Tisch but I just submitted my letter of REFUSAL to my child's principal. My child is in the 3rd grade and should not be tested on 6th grade and 7th grade reading passages, that is NOT a "valid, reliable state assessment". You are not an experience educator because if you were, you will be on the parents and teachers' side , advocating for the children in public school.

  2. REB, you have written a powerful post. It speaks to the beliefs of a growing group of parents and teachers. I really do think we are in a war; not a hot one, but one of ideas and philosophies.

    If every parent opted their child out of the state tests it would scare the living hell out of Cuomo, Skelos, Flanagan and Heastie. No politician dares to ignore a mass of public opinion. We should all be hoping that hundreds of thousands of students refuse to take these tests. I have concluded it is the only way to ever stop this madness.

    Unfortunately, there are parents that will always be easy foil for the government. John Flanagan said it is "irresponsible" for parents to opt their children out of these tests. Flanagan spoke at the winter conference of the NYS School Boards Assn. He claims to be opposed to over testing, but his definition of what constitutes too many tests if vastly different than ours. I believe that none of these tests are worthwhile.

    I am reminded of the Vietnam War. Despite the futility of it all becoming clearer with each passing day, a healthy percentage of Americans continued to be fooled with the nonsense spouted by our "leaders." In the end, the protestors were proven right, yet at a great cost.

    Teachers, students and parents are paying a great cost today for the foolishness of a few powerful individuals. But, I am convinced we are on the winning side and will be proven right before the charter school crowd completely destroys public education.

    Cuomo isn't fooling everyone. Here in Suffolk County, Astorino actually defeated Cuomo by about 4,000 votes. Cuomo was re-elected with just 54% of the vote. A no-name challenger got 37% of the vote against him in a primary.

    Even in a free society it isn't easy for a relatively unorganized group of citizens to fight government. But, little by little we are winning the war of ideas. The power play orchestrated by Cuomo last week could very well be the last big gasp against us. We know Cuomo's plan will inflict untold damage upon the careers of many of us and upon the lives of students and parents. But, the tide is turning. We even saw it with the dethronement of several Regents, including a former chancellor.

    I intend to keep up the good fight; keep speaking out in my district, community and to the politicians that betrayed us. Keep encouraging my family, friends and neighbors to vote against anyone that would make themselves our enemy.

  3. Tisch like Weingrovel likes to pretend she was once a teacher. Based on the way she tries to demean and intimidate parents and teachers can you imagine what a miserable shit teacher she would have been? Getting her away from kids was an addition by subtraction. Now that her possee of Old Bob Bennett and Lil John King are disappeared and her body guard Shelly Silver is going to be headed to Club Fed there's little left for her but to shriek and screech unti they come for her. She has passed over into self parody and she doesn't even know it yet.

  4. The woman is incoherent from the combined impact of too much Xanax and too much vodka. She is literally falling apart--but because she comes from an uber wealthy background no one has the courage to tell her that she is inflicting great harm on public education in NY State. Time to leave will be remembered for your failure and the great harm inflicted.

  5. "What was educationally significant and hard to measure has been replaced by what is educationally insignificant and easy to measure. So we measure how well we taught what isn't worth learning." Arthur Costa, Emeritus Professor Cal State

    Why every parent should opt out their children! OPT OUT!

  6. Anon 8:55am
    Your points are well taken, however, we are in a war. The education reform (deform) movement is part and parcel of a far greater picture. This is the takeover of a previously virtual democratic society that is transition to an oligarchy. The working masses are there solely to serve the interest and needs of the wealthy, ruling class.
    The relatively recently developed model is intended to provide the global economy with subservient, acquiescent, docile workers who work with their heads down and their mouths shut. This is the stuff that has lead to uprising throughout history.

  7. Every time Tisch opens her mouth, she fuels the opt out movement a little more.

  8. I listened to Tisch on the Brian Lehrer show yesterday while I was driving into the City. Among other lunacies, she openly admitted that it would take at least a decade for the State to figure out whether CC and the high-stakes testing regimen connected with it was "going to work," meaning improve student achievement.

    Truly, she knows that she is dead-woman walking in next year's Regent election. Truly, she knows that she has not one ally anywhere in the state beyond a few senile Regents. She is reduced to babbling and making-shit-up on the spot: untimed testing, releasing high-performing schools from testing, calling down the terrors of a PARCC national test upon the wee little children of the state....

    I was at an opt-out information and planning meeting last night in Tuckahoe with Dave Greene and Lisa Rudley sponsored by NYSAPE. Fifty people in the back room of a pizza joint. Even Westchester folks from Scarsdale and Bronxville have watched enough about what's going down in Long Island and upstate and have seen the education-wars up-close-and-personal during the state budget battle to figure out how rigged the whole thing is.

    Mothers from Hartsdale and fathers from Dobbs Ferry ready to commit what for them is the equivalent of "non-violent civil disobedience."

    Scarsdale matrons are starting to climb onto the barricades.

    Tisch says it will take a decade to figure out whether any of this monstrosity works?

    Tisch won't last the year and the whole rigged system will collapse in on itself, the governor and the Heavy Hearts Club members of the Legislature within two or three.

    I only hope teachers will watch what the parents of their students are doing and have the courage to engage in some NVCD of their own, Jia Lee-style.

    1. If by some miracle Cuomo is arrested, indicted and forced from office, watch all the Assembly Dem cowards and Senate GOP rats abandon ship on a whole host of Cuomo issues. Not one of these traitorous wimps has any philosophy or principles other than how much they can get away with misusing from their campaign accounts for personal reasons and how much they can sell their office for via outside employment. We are governed by scoundrels.

  9. We are big Harry Potter fans in our house and even my children refer to Tisch as Dolores Umbridge. If you haven't read or seen the movies, try to see Order of the Phoenix. The parallels are uncanny. I guess that would make Cuomo - "he who shall not be named" - Voldemort.

    I'll proudly keep my place in Dumbledore's army through this fight. As Harry says to his friends - "we have something Voldemort doesn't have...something worth fighting for."

  10. Tisch's ass is grass and the opt out movement is the lawn mower, as it were. Long Islanders start your lawn mowers and trim this petulant obnoxious plutocrat.