ALBANY - Standardized tests are making strange bedfellows.
Advocates and politicians on the left and right joined with teachers’ unions Monday to urge parents to have their children to “opt out” of upcoming exams as a way of upending not only the tests but also teacher evaluations.
The labor-backed Working Families Party, left-based Citizen Action of New York and Assemb. Dean Murray (R-East Patchogue), who don’t see eye-to-eye often, said standardized tests are becoming overused and overvalued. They urged students to boycott upcoming tests as a way of rejecting a new law championed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, a Democrat, that more closely links student test scores to teachers’ evaluations.
“Opting out sends a powerful message to the governor, the legislature, and the Board of Regents: that enough is enough when it comes to overtesting our kids, demonizing teachers, and undermining public education,” Working Families Party Director Bill Lipton said in a statement. “The parent-led movement is bringing pressure on politicians to change the teacher evaluation system to one that works for all of our kids, in high-income districts and low-income districts alike.”
Murray, who called Cuomo’s initiative “anti-teacher,” said parents should sign a petition called the “Common Core Parental Refusal Act.”
“The Common Core Parental Refusal Act ensures that our children are not subjected to ill-conceived, inappropriate tests and that our schools are not unfairly punished or threatened with the loss of services or funding,” Murray said in a statement.
Last week, Assemb. Cathy Nolan (D-Queens), chairwoman of the Assembly Education Committee, introduced a bill she said makes parents aware of their “right and authority to exempt their children from taking standardized assessments.”
Cuomo has called the previous teacher-evaluation process "baloney" because 98 percent were rated effective. He has pushed to more closely linking test results to teachers' ratings but said he's not calling for more tests - and said that critics are mischaracterizing his plan.
Don’t confuse a political tactic of the opponents to excite the parents with the truth," Cuomo said in a radio interview last week.