The final "official" numbers are in for last year's New York opt out, and they are huge-- in the Empire State, one out of five students did not take the Big Standardized Test.
Faced with that kind of massive revolt, one might expect that the Head Honcho of Education in NY might select any of the following strategies;
1) Take a good, hard look at the test and ask why it is seems to have alienated so many parents and families.
2) Reach out to the Opt-Out community to ask why, exactly, they have such a problem with the BS Test.
3) Go back to the drawing board and ask if the BS Test is really measuring any of the things it's supposedly measuring
4) Make a commitment to use information gathered to improve, alter or otherwise make less odious the BS Testing.
One might expect that the Head Honcho would even choose all three of those options. But it turns out that one would be wrong, because instead state education commissioner MaryEllen Elia selected
5) Ignore the opt-out parents and make threats against the schools that their children attend.
Yep. In a conference call with reporters, Elia said that "the state Education Department is in conversations with the U.S.
Department of Education working on a plan regarding possible sanctions
for districts with high opt-out rates."
Those sanctions could range from a phone call to the superintendent along the lines of, "What the hell happened and how do you plan to fix it next year" to withholding Title I funds.
There are several messages here. One is that, all PR noise to the contrary, the feds are still fully prepared to tell states exactly how to run their education business, local control and complaints about federal overreach be damned.
But the other, larger message is aimed directly at parents. It's only two words long, and the second word is "you."
Exactly how far Elia expects school districts to go in strong-arming, coercing, and otherwise dragging recalcitrant parents to the shores of the BS Testing ocean are as yet unexplained. How badly does Elia expect schools to punish parents and students in order to avoid being punished by the state (which is itself trying to avoid being punished by the feds).
This is what New York has come to-- in an article about Common Core, testing, and opt-out, chancellor Merryl Tisch ends up with one of the more reasonable-sounding quotes: “I can't imagine that anyone has any interest in withholding Title I
funds from school kids in New York State,” she said. “To me, it just
doesn’t make any sense whatsoever. I understand carrot-and-stick, but I
also understand inflaming an already tense situation.”
I suppose it could actually get worse, and by test time we may be treated to images of Elia holding a gun to the head of a cute puppy and announcing, "Parents, if too many of you opt out, I will kill your principal's pets." Or maybe she'll aim her appeal directly at the children by telling them, "Every time a child doesn't take the state test, an angel loses its wings and plunges straight to earth."
But until things get that ugly, we'll just have to settle for vague threats against schools, indicating that local districts will suffer if New York parents insist on exercising their legal rights.