Members of the North Country Alliance for Public Education want parents to refuse to allow their children to take the upcoming Common Core tests in New York State.
New York lawmakers are considering placing a moratorium on the controversial Common Core as part of the state budget. But tests under the standardized system begin April 1st.
New York’s Common Core tests not only measure student progress, but are also markers for school and teacher progress.
Dr. Margarita Garcia-Notario is president of Stafford Middle School Family School Organization. She is also active with the North Country Alliance for Public Education, which is calling on parents to refuse to allow their children to take the tests.
Garcia-Notario explains that while the results do not affect education funding, if a parent aborts tests mid-stride, it would negatively affect teachers and school scores. She says if a child makes any mark on a test form, it is too late for parents to pull their child out of the tests. “If our children start an exam, officially that counts. Even if the child does not finish one more question, even if they don’t finish their full name, that test counts. So that will affect the teacher’s score. It is going affect the school’s score.”
Margarita Garcia-Notario emphasizes that under the state’s education law, there is a difference between refusing to take the test vs. opting out. The Alliance, she says, is urging parents to participate in a civil disobedience movement by refusing to allow their children to take the tests. “There’s no opting out provision, but there is a recognition that parents can refuse. That has no affect on the children’s score, on the school or on the teachers.”
SUNY Plattsburgh Associate Professor of Education Mark Beatham is a parent of middle and high school children. He notes that while some teachers find some positives in the concept of Common Core, he says most feel it de-professionalizes educators and was not created with due process. “We also add to that there are some really odious parts of it, which is what might be called the stealth aspect to it. And that is the inBloom, the data sharing, data mining piece.”
According to published reports, the state Senate budget negotiations would include a provision to end the contact with inBloom. Professor Beatham adds that the “stealth” aspect of the Common Core is most frightening. “This data will then be uploaded and be a permanent record. All that information, including infractions of any sort and character scores, will be uploaded and made part of the permanent record. And then sold off to third party vendors.”
While the legislature may act on inBloom, Beatham remains cynical. “If you look at the Commission’s report what they want to do is distance themselves from inBloom itself, but they have not eliminated the system’s analytics. So they still believe in the idea of gathering this data, sharing it with third party vendors, all the rest. They just don’t want to have inBloom. So it’s kind-of like getting rid of the pariah. But we have not seen a clear indication of a separation from anything like data mining.”
Beatham believes the civil disobedience reflects a growing frustration that local control is being lost. “We have been exasperated and frustrated by the lack of responsiveness by the educational leadership. The fact that parents have been saying this for over a year. These are the problems and they’ve been placated with statements like ‘You’re just confused.’”
New York Education Commissioner John King has not veered from his support of the implementation of Common Core. At a November forum in Plattsburgh, King said local districts retain some control. “The Common Core is about a set of standards that are designed to improve instruction. And there’s work that we’re trying to do to support local districts in making the best possible decisions about assessment.”
Calls to the NYS Education Department were not returned.
The North Country Alliance for Public Education is offering lawn signs to promote parental refusal of Common Core exams.