Change the Stakes joins forces with NYS Allies for Public Education

Video by Howie Ratem at youtube.com

For Immediate Release: August 23, 2013

For more information contact:
Eric Mihelbergel; nys.allies@gmail.com OR Lisa Rudley; nys.allies@gmail.com

Education Advocacy Groups from across New York Unite to form NYS Allies for Public Education  and plan protest  at Commissioner King’s Visit to Rochester

New York Education Commissioner John King will be visiting Rochester’s School of the Arts on August 28th. Although his visit is not open to the public, members of a newly formed coalition of parents, educators and students called New York State Allies for Public Education [NYSAPE] plan to make their opposition to excessive tests and data sharing known by protesting outside of the school at 1pm.

NYSAPE includes groups from the following regions:

NYC: Movement of Rank and File Educators (MORE), Save Our SchoolsStop Common Core in NYS, Change the Stakes, Class Size Matters, ParentVoicesNY, Time Out From Testing, Edu4.

Long Island: Long Island Opt Out Info, Long Island Parents for Education

Western New York: Western New Yorkers for Public Education, Concerned Teachers of Chautauqua County, East Aurora Supporters of Public Education, Hamburg Parents for QUALITY Public EducationKen-Ton Parents Against Excessive TestingLancaster Central School District Info on Standardized TestingNYS Stop TestingO.P. Parents Against Excessive TestingPartnership for Smarter Schools Rush Henrietta Parents Against Excessive Standardized TestingWilliamsville Parents for Meaningful Assessment

Central New York: New York State Foundations of Education Association Opt Out of State Standardized Tests – New York (Opt Out NY) 

Oneonta Area for Public Education 

Adirondack Region: Opt Out StaabSaranac Lake Parent Faculty Education Alliance 

Hudson Valley: Heads Down-Thumbs UpOssining Citizens For SchoolsParents For Change – Warwick, NYRe-Thinking Testing Mid-Hudson Region

Student test scores on the state standardized exams plummeted this year: only 31% of students passed these tests.  Parents throughout the state are outraged and convinced that Commissioner King set the passing scores on these exams to convince them that their children and schools are failing to help him impose his damaging agenda.   Last weekend, nearly 2,000 parents and teachers, including members of NYSAPE, attended a protest rally in Long Island, expressing their opposition to these unfair and invalid exams.

Organizations from every region of the state have now joined forces to oppose these exams, the time and money spent preparing, giving and scoring them, and the invalid results, which one Long Island superintendent recently said were so unreliable he would ignore them.

According to Long Island Principal Carol Burris, author of the New York Principal’s Letter and recent recipient of New York’s 2013 High School Principal of the Year award, “Excessive testing is the wrong strategy to improve schools and bring all students to college and career readiness.  This year’s tests, which caused the achievement gap to widen, and the percentage of students labeled “below basic” to balloon, will only discourage our students and push them into remedial services that they do not need, at taxpayer expense. It’s time to end these wrong-headed strategies before we lose a generation of students.”

“High-stakes tests are resulting in substantial negative educational and fiscal impacts: School districts are diverting money to pay for systems of testing and scoring, a cost burden that is pushed to local taxpayers as the portion of school budgets funded by the state continues to be well below historical levels.” Says KT Tobin, a former vice president of the New Paltz School board and a founding  member of NYSAPE ally ReThinking Testing, Mid Hudson Region.

Chris Cerrone an educator, parent and member of NYSAPE ally Western New Yorkers for Public Education says, “Parents have the power to prevent damage to our children’s education from high-stakes assessments. By uniting grassroots groups from around New York we can fight the impact of over-testing.” According to Tim Farley, an Albany parent and school principal, “Now is the time to take our schools back from corporate interests!” and as Dr. Joseph Rella, Superintendent of Comsewogue School District says, “Stop it, fix it, or scrap it!”

According to Nancy Cauthen of the NYC based parent and educator group Change the Stakes, “The efforts of Change the Stakes (CTS) have been greatly strengthened by learning from and with like-minded groups across the state. Last spring, the opt-out movements in Western New York and Long Island exploded with activity, and groups across the state benefited from the research they did as well as the excitement and energy they generated. CTS is thrilled to formalize this kind of collaboration by being part of NYS Allies for Public Education.”

Lisa Rudley, President of Ossining Citizens For Schools said, “The state is overreaching and our rights are being trampled on and now there is a divisive campaign to “contain” parents, educators and community members.  We are joining forces across the state to protect authentic public education and our children’s privacy. Together NYSAPE Allies are a strong block of very concerned stakeholders committed to informing parents of excessive testing and inappropriate sharing of student data to third party vendors without parental consent.  “

Leonie Haimson, Executive Director of Class Size Matters in NYC said, “Parents throughout the state were outraged when they learned last year that their children’s most sensitive, personal information would be shared with a corporation called inBloom Inc. and for-profit vendors, without their consent.  Thousands of them contacted Commissioner King to protest and asking to opt out, but he refused to acknowledge their wishes.  Two bills that would have prevented the state’s plan were passed by the Assembly in June.  Five states have now pulled out of inBloom because of the risk to student privacy.  Working together with NYSAPE and other parents throughout the state, we are intent on fighting to make sure that the State Education Department respects our rights and protects our children’s privacy and safety, by pulling out of inBloom as well.”

Bianca Tanis, a Hudson Valley parent said, “As a parent of a child with special needs, I am distressed by the state’s plan to share sensitive educational data, data that may include information pertaining to a student’s disability. This is a violation of a child’s dignity and right to privacy and may cause harm to our children. As parents, we insist on the right to say no.”

“Our teachers and schools are misrepresented as failing. We demand that the Commissioner, Chancellor and Regents support educators and communities in the hard work of creating and implementing meaningful curricula and assessments.” said David Hursh, a member of NYSAPE and a Professor at the University of Rochester. Eric Mihelbergel, a parent from Rochester NY says, “Public education is about teaching our children, not about teaching a test to our children. We must spend our time and money on our children, not on corporate and political interests.”

NYSAPE urges parents and concerned community members to become an ally, join them on Facebook, and sign the NYSAPE petition against excessive testing and data collection. Parents and educator members of NYSAPE will raise their voices in support of public education at 1pm at the School of the Arts, 45 Prince Street, Rochester, NY 14607. Please visit www.nysape.org for complete details.