Saturday, April 11, 2015

A SUMMARY OF SOME OF THE LATEST ON OPT OUT (Updated with link to Magee Robocall)

We get a weekly report from the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT). We have noted previously how NYSUT President Karen Magee has taken a little bit more of a vocal stance recently in support of parents opting their kids out of state exams which are scheduled to be administered when we return to school for grades 3-8.

This is from Karen's notes from this week's NYSUT Leader Briefing: "This is a crucial time. With tests looming next week, NYSUT wants all K-12 members to be aware of your rights and responsibilities regarding testing. For details, go to NYSUT's Q&A."  Magee also noted how Governor Andrew Cuomo now owns his "test and punish agenda."  While not emphasizing opt out, at least there is some lip service coming from the state union.

In comparison, UFT President Michael Mulgrew has been silent recently on the opt out issue.  A quick glance through the latest city edition of The NY Teacher shows not one specific article on opting out. I could not even find a reference. This is not a surprise to anyone.  (There is, however, a feature on Middle College High School, the school I am teaching at this year, that everyone should read.)

Meanwhile, there is an editorial in Lo Hud Press that is actually sympathetic to opt out.  It says this about the opt out controversy: "The whole thing is nuts," and concludes this way:

It is a sad fact that local students – from little third-graders to eighth-graders – have picked up on the anxiety in their schools over the upcoming tests (Tuesday to Thursday for ELA and April 22 to 24 for math). Some are coming home to ask their parents about the meaning of "opting out." What an education for students – and parents. 

We also hear from Fairport, a district in the Rochester area, about a majority of students opting out of state exams.  In addition, our friend Brian from Port Jefferson Station says this about his district in the comment section over at Perdido Street School: "I can tell you that in Comsewogue, out on Long Island, about 80% have opted out already."

The predictable response from the New York State Education Department is to threaten districts.

The movement to starve the data beast is national and looks to be spreading. It is being led by parents which is great. It is not at all surprising to see the UFT sit on the sidelines while NYSUT is playing only a small supporting role.  Trying to figure out the position of the national American Federation's President Randi Weingarten on this issue is not exactly easy but the AFT has done very little in public in support of opt out as far as I know.  All of this makes any editorials or news stories from the corporate press saying the big unions are leading the opt out movement look all the more foolish.

Here is some information on how to opt out.


Why are NYSUT members outside of NYC getting this robo-call from NYSUT President Karen Magee on opting out?  How about us in NYC?  Nobody inside the city has informed us of receiving this call.  This is all very strange for sure..



Bronx ATR said...

What are the unions afraid of? Everything that can has already been thrown at us. Wouldn't it be better to be seen openly helping students, parents and teachers? In my child's school district there is a gag order on all teachers.

Anonymous said...

Randi Weingarten posted to her Facebook page and tweeted: "I have been in NY alot fighting shoulder to shoulder with educators and parents against Cuomo’s wrongheaded actions. I was asked the question abt opt out today and this is what I tweeted out.

We believe parents have right to opt-out & tchrs shld be able to advise parents how. We’ve said it repeatedly, are fighting for it in ESEA."

Sounds like a bold statement to me.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if the UFT is waiting until the testing craze, in the upcoming weeks, ends and then they'll feign concerns about the harmful testing mania. Then they'll take action and do an OPT OUT in July when everyone's on vacation. It'll be a victorious summer for the UFT leadership.

Mulgrew cannot wag his tails until Randi gives him a treat.

Harris L. said...

It must be very frustrating for Michael Mulgrew to have mounted his "Revive NYSUT" campaign to depose Richard Iannuzzi and Lee Cutler from NYSUT only to find out that he plucked from obscurity in Harrison, NY the wrong puppet to replace Iannuzzi as President.

Now, a real NYSUT president would know that she takes orders from Mulgrew and UNITY. I'm guessing that Mulgrew forgot to make her take the UNITY oath before putting her on the slate. She's acting like Mulgrew and Andy Pallotta aren't pulling every one of her strings.

Then again, it wouldn't take much paranoia or conspiratorial thinking to believe that it's all a very smart and strategic ploy to give the puppet the appearance that she has room for independent thought or action on something like opt-out so that Mulgrew/UNITY can cut the strings to the puppet in two years if coming out in support of opt-out for some reason turns out badly.

Anonymous said...

To 12:01,
Again Weingarten is playing both sides against the middle. She says she would opt out if she had a child. She doesn't, but she is head of the AFT and won't take an official stand as president against it. She is and has always been completely useless.

James Eterno said...

A Facebook post and a Tweet. That is what constitutes bold action from a union leader these days. No wonder we are in the position we are in 12:01 pm.