Tuesday, September 29, 2015

NY: Turning Screws on Opt Out

If you are a struggling school in New York, congratulations-- you've been drafted to fight against the state's burgeoning opt out movement.

As reported yesterday at Politico, one new requirement for struggling and persistently struggling schools to avoid a state takeover is to get their participation on the Big Standardized Test above 95%.

Those of you who are living above ground may recall that last year upwards of 200,000 New York students refused to take the BS Test. This prompted a variety of reactions. The feds made veiled threats. Governor Andrew Cuomo and chancellor Merryl Tisch reaffirmed their belief in a parent's right to choose. New education commissioner MaryEllen Elia was a bit more stern. 

But when life hands you lemons, say reformsters, you can always make one more mechanism for privatizing schools, and right now NY Ed department has figured out how to turn Opt Out into Win Win.

Elia's position remains that NY parents just don't understand how awesomely wonderful the tests are. Asked for a comment on the new takeover participation requirement, the department of ed told Politico:

We encourage and support the efforts of all schools and districts to explain to parents the benefits that parents, students, teachers, schools, and district and state policymakers derive from student participation in state assessments.

In other words, struggling school districts are welcome to get stuffed or start working for us in pushing the damn test.

It really is a win win-- either the school district really bears down on recalcitrant parents, squelches opt out, and gets the state (and its pet test manufacturers) the kind of test numbers they want, or the district fails to do so and the state gets to confiscate the school district and hand it over to the top privatizer do jour.

Meanwhile, Cuomo has announced his hot new commission to "review" Common Core, composed of well-placed amateurs, who, I predict, will determine that Common Core needs a serious rebranding with no meaningful change of substance.

It's a win-win-win-win-win for everybody except folks in New York who care about public education.


  1. I dunno. I don't think this is going to work out quite the way Tisch, Elia and Cuomo think it will. For instance, most of Long Island, especially the most upscale enclaves, had very high Opt Out rates. So they're going to put those schools in receivership? Just give me time to pop the popcorn first - this is a fight I want to see.

  2. It is a beautiful plan: privatize schools while shifting the blame to the parents! I will be watching for news of fistfights among the parents. Divide and conquer.

  3. The upscale enclaves probably won't be failing, so it won't apply to them, unless the ones that didn't opt out did particularly poorly. How are they going to even determine that if a school is "failing" if there's a high rate of opt out? Gee, what if last year a school had a high rate of opt out, and the ones who took the test all did well and the ones that didn't would have done poorly, how would you know anything really (if BS tests were valid methods of showing achievement.) But if you didn't have a high rate of opt out last year and (like most) your school is graded as in danger of failing, no more opt out for you.

    This is the most appalling, horrendous piece of news I've read in a long time. It makes no sense at all as far as fairness or trying to improve schools. It sounds like it's going to be even more discriminatory against low economic students than previous policy.