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..