Wednesday, August 12, 2015


The New York State Education Department released the test scores for the grades 3-8 Common Core English Language Arts and Math exams today.  The big news is not the results, which mean next to nothing, but that the number of students opting out was way up across the state compared to last year. The opt-out rate even rose in NYC.

From NY State of Politics:
...the opt-out movement did show a spike in the number of students not taking the test.  In 2014, only about 5 percent did not take the test.  This year the percentage grew to 20 percent, with some districts reporting opt-out rates as high as 89 percent.

I am not a math expert but that looks like the opt-out rate quadrupled. 20% means 225,000 opt-outs.

As for NYC, we are way behind much of the state in terms of students opting out but even here, without UFT backing, the opt out rate tripled.

For those interested in the scores, again we go to NY State of Politics:
The results, released earlier this morning, showed 31.3 percent of students had "proficient" scores on the ELA examinations, while 38.1 percent had proficient results on the math tests.

Those numbers are up slightly from last year's results.

Expect some ridiculous spin from Mayor Bill de Blasio and the Chancellor Carmen Farina when we hear their reactions.

Something like this is possible: "We beat Buffalo and other upstate cities again and we are closing the achievement gap."

Do you think de Blasio and Farina will boast that 4.4% of English Language Learners were proficient this year compared to only 3.6% a year ago on the reading tests? This clearly shows our ELL scores are growing.

This blog would like to congratulate the people from Change the Stakes and all of the other parent, student groups, administrators and unions who stood behind opt-out.  You did a great job and it looks like 2016 is going to be just as difficult with Governor Andrew Cuomo, Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch and Elia pushing their test and punish snake oil harder than ever.

Here is an interesting comment on opt-out from the State Education Department press release:
Department data show that students who did not take the 2015 Grades 3-8 ELA and Math Tests and did not have a recognized, valid reason for not doing so were more likely to be White, more likely to be from a low or average need district, and slightly more likely to have scored at Levels 1 or 2 in 2014.  Students who did not take the test in 2015 and did not have a recognized, valid reason for doing so were less likely to be economically disadvantaged and less likely to be an ELL

Is the State Education Department going after the suburbanites who oppose Common Core? It is interesting that they put this paragraph in their press release.  Remember, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan stated that opponents of Common Core tended to be "white suburban moms who - all of a sudden - their child isn't as brilliant as they thought they were, and their school isn't quite as good as they they thought they were."

UPDATE--From Politico NY: "Individual schools could lose funding if large numbers of students opt out of state standardized tests in April, state education commissioner Mary Ellen Elia said on Wednesday."

Answer from Port Jefferson Station Teachers Association Vice President Brian St Pierre via Twitter from Perdido Street School: @MaryEllenElia should know that ramifications 4 civil disobedience will only be met with greater acts of civil disobedience.

Fasten those seat-belts. This could be a very bumpy road ahead.


Anonymous said...

Just wait and see the opt out rate for NYC teachers once the Supreme Court gives us the green light to dump this do nothing union.

Anonymous said...

And how will that help us when everyone opts out of the union?

Anonymous said...

What have you done to help the union?

Anonymous said...

Maybe you don't mind paying Meathead Mike and his cronies $100 every month for NOTHING.

Anonymous said...

I want to opt out of the UFT because they don't want oppossition, they don't support teachers, they make huge salaries(should NEVER be more than a top teacher), they raped us with a horrible contract, I am waiting until 2020 to get my full "restructured bonus payments" they are silent as we are abused. I don't want to destroy the UFT, I know opting out will not. The UFT has huge investments and income. They will be fine for quite a while. I want to make the UFT work. I want to make the UFT, Mulgrew, Richard Mantell, Leroy Barr, etc. feel we matter. i want to wake them up and scare the shit out of them...maybe fire them and find better leaders. We don't matter right now to them, they don't care what we think or what's happening in our schools...this will wake them up! And they will have to campaign and fight for each teachers dues and constantly fear making decisions which are not supported.

In the event the UFT doesn't wake up, or they destroyed the members so badly with the 2014 contract that a majority of people stop paying dues, then so be it! The UFT either gets us contracts like the FDNY and NYPD and fights for us like they do for their members, or it should die! The UFT sold out 10's of thousands of members with the 2014 contract, all those memebrs who left or leave never see any other unoin would sell their members out like that. Does that make you want to pay dues? Become something we value, become indispensable, or die UFT!

Anonymous said...

I agree. The UFT is in bed with the city administration. Does anyone feel secure in their positions anymore? Quite the contrary, The UFT, through their sheer stupidity, put it's senior members into the position of feeling like a financial burden as they climb the pay scale.
They have created a whole class of second citizens with the ATR pool, those poor souls are demoralized like lepers, all the while still paying their $100 dues every month. I could go on and on. Since it is likely that this union is too corrupt and it's membership too ignorant to change leadership, I say OPT OUT. Send Meathead Mike back to the woodshop.

Anonymous said...

I agree on opting out of union dues.

I would love to see many reps in the UFT borough offices lose their jobs.


Anonymous said...

75% of teachers voted for that 2014 contract. Aren't we as much to blame as Mulgrew? We fell for it. How will having a tiny union help?

Anonymous said...

We will be cutting off our noses to spite our faces by opting out of the union. You think it will be better without a union? Name one place where it is?

Anonymous said...

how do things get worse from here?
maybe it provides a kick in the pants
or a greater call for militancy in regards to teachers being abused by admins.

Anonymous said...

You still didn't answer my question of where working people are better off without any kind of union?

Anonymous said...

If you stop paying union dues you don't end the union, you don't even leave the union. They must represent you still and they will be around. My freedom of speech is absolutely isolated, infinged and subjugated by being forced to be part and parcel of the UFT. Constitutionally I strongly believe that the UFT and many other unions engage in constant political action and magnifies "its" views with our money. For that reason alone we must be allowed a choice to pay into the UFT or not.

The UFT will also finally become a democracy. If it is true that 74% of teachers love their contract and love the UFT, then they will get 75% of dues. If they go against the people, if the people are unhappy their contributions will fall. Unions are great, absoultly have done a lot for middle class people, but not all are equal. I have said it over and over, NYPD, FDNY will have no problem getting their members to pay dues. The UFT and Mulgrew have decimated our union, they'll be lucky to keep 50%! And maybe the ruling party will change, maybe they'll wakeup and fight for us and not their quarter million dollar salaries! If not, then the UFT should die.

Bronx ATR said...

If the SC rules in favor of optional dues, the UFT will loose 80% of its members. We, as teachers, must start thinking for ourselves and not trust everything that the UFT tells us. What other union would have passed this contract? None, but it passed us with 77%. What other union would allow an entire segment of their membership to become disjointed and inconsequential, and then solidify that action via contract? None. What other union would deny a group that's over a decade old, saying we are temporary, their own chapter? None. They tell us we are lucky to have a job and they are responsible for it. That's complete bullshit. If they could have laid us off, they would have agreed to it - that much is evident from the diminished due process in the last contract. What's saving us is LIFO. If that's attacked, the other unions would attack. Logically we need a union and shouldn't leave it, but the fact is we don't currently have a functioning union. The UFT should now be in overdrive, but it's sitting back as usual.

Anonymous said...

Then stop whining on here and fix the union.

Anonymous said...

7:44: When the UFT dies, we go down with them. My problem is with the leadership, not the union. Denying a union of money only help ed reform.

Bronx ATR said...

People are saying they are going to leave the UFT en masse and are giving the reasons why. That's not whining - its a death knoll for the union. And how would you fix something that is rigged?

Anonymous said...

Tell us how to fix it, oh UFT stooge. You'll be doing alot of whining very soon!

James Eterno said...

"If you stop paying union dues you don't end the union, you don't even leave the union."

Point of clarification: You do leave the union if you stop paying union dues but the union still has to negotiate for you.

Bronx ATR, I understand what you are saying about the union being rigged but I have spent 20 years of my life trying to repair it and not kill it off. I fear for the future of public education without a union. I agree that the lure of saving dues money will be too great for many people who will leave if we lose the Friedrich case but a union without funds will be even worse than the one we have.

I guess I would be considered a union stooge then by some of the people commenting even though this blog is often critical of UFT leadership but not the concept of a union.

Bronx ATR said...

i certainly would not consider you a union stooge. I believe you should be the union president. Instead you are an ATR. That one fact is a devastating indictment of the UFT. Trying to fix the union is like trying to win at 3 card monte. I do agree with you about needing a union. We need to equal the contributions the privatizers make to the politicians, or we are finished.