Category Archives: Class Size

KPCTA: Changes are a good step in the right direction, but not sufficient enough to remove the concerns surrounding the State tests.

The following was posted on the Kings Park Classroom Teachers Association’s Facebook Page.  Please consider sharing with your friends.

Over the last couple of years, parents have become increasingly aware of the high stakes associated with State standardized tests administered in 3rd through 8th grade in English Language Arts and Mathematics. Many parents are looking towards their child’s teacher for advice and guidance. First and foremost, it would be inappropriate for any individual teacher to advise you on whether or not to refuse the test for your child. As President of the Kings Park Classroom Teachers Association (KPCTA), however, it is my job on behalf of all our teachers to point out the difficulties with these exams.

NYS recently enacted some small changes for this year’s tests. It is our opinion that these changes are a good step in the right direction, but not sufficient enough to remove the concerns surrounding the State tests. Students who sit for the exams will still encounter tests that were made by a test vendor who has no idea who your child is, let alone their individual strengths or weaknesses. The State has said that the tests will be shorter, but as you look closely, in many cases the difference is only a few questions compared to the number in prior years. Students will still be spending many hours over multiple days taking these tests. Additionally, teachers continue to be under pressure to provide “test prep,” as the assessment data from these exams is still reportable to NYS. All of this translates to undue stress on the students and an unnecessary loss of instructional time. The KPCTA is strongly opposed to the usage of high stakes standardized tests to evaluate students and teachers.
If you determine that your child will not take these tests, it is imperative that they refuse the entire “battery” of the ELA, Math, and/or Science tests. If they take a portion of the test on one day and then refuse on the remaining day(s), their test will be scored on the portion of the test they completed, producing a lower than normal score which could have a detrimental effect.

As for the procedure to indicate a test refusal, I encourage you to notify your child’s teacher as soon as possible. The NYS Allies for Public Education (www.nysape.org) along with the Kings Park Advocates for Education (www.kpae.us) both have sample letters posted on their websites available for you to use in indicating a test refusal for your child.
Protecting the educational, social, and emotional wellbeing of all students is what brings individuals into the teaching profession. We will continue to be strong advocates for a safe, appropriate, and healthy learning environment for all of our students. It is our hope that in the future both the Federal and State Education departments leave curriculum and assessment decisions in the hands of the professionals in the field – your teachers!

Sincerely,
Christopher Philp, President

NYSAPE: No Relief in Sight; Parents Will Continue to Opt Out Until Fundamental Changes are Evident

The following is a press release from our friends at NYSAPE.  KPAE is a strong supporter of this organization.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  July 16, 2015
 More information contact:
Eric Mihelbergel (716) 553-1123; nys.allies@gmail.com
Lisa Rudley (917) 414-9190; nys.allies@gmail.com
NYS Allies for Public Education (NYSAPE) – www.nysape.org   

                                     No Relief in Sight; Parents Will Continue to Opt Out Until Fundamental Changes are Evident

The end of the Albany legislative session in June brought no relief for parents of New York seeking to reduce the most excessive testing regime and reverse the most destructive education policies in the nation.

However, parent efforts, while not sufficiently rewarded, nysapehave led to shifting winds of change in the Empire State.  For the first time in recent memory, massive spending by ‘Big Money’ donors were beaten back by the voices of the people and the Assembly, who resoundingly shut down Governor Cuomo’s unconstitutional attempt to illegally divert public dollars to fund private schools through his proposed Education Tax Credit based on model legislation from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).  Similarly, attempts to increase the cap on charter schools by the GOP-led Senate were rejected.

After the close of session, the independent Board of Regents, fired embattled school testing giant Pearson corporation.  That change coupled with several leadership departures at the State Education Department (NYSED) and an exodus of ‘Fellows’ in the privately funded Research Regent Fellows program offered glimpses of light for outraged parents.

Left untouched however, was Governor Cuomo’s unconstitutional education mandate to link his politically motivated teacher evaluation system to student test scores, a centerpiece of his ‘Big Money’ donor’s agenda.  A Siena poll this week shows that three out of four New York voters believe Cuomo’s education agenda is not working to help students.  Parents in this supermajority of New Yorkers will not rest until the harmful, inappropriate high-stakes testing linked to teacher evaluations is reversed and real fundamental changes are made to the educational landscape.

The Opt Out movement will continue to grow until parent control of student data privacy is restored, school districts regain local control, and test prep factories are driven from their children’s classrooms forever.

“We have seen the departure of the Commissioner of Education, Deputy Commissioner, numerous SED officials, a data collecting system, inBloom and now Pearson, the infamous testing company.  This in the end does not change the foundational issues with education policies in New York or bring relief to students.  Damaging laws, poorly designed education policies, a bullying governor, and an unresponsive Regents’ majority are the underlying problems.” said Lisa Rudley, Westchester County public school parent and founding member of NYSAPE.

“Parents across New York showed their force by opting out of harmful practices of high-stakes testing to reclaim their children’s classrooms and many were elected their school boards to advocate for their children.  Parents will be showing up in droves to refuse high-stakes tests and deny the data this coming year and casting their ballots in 2016 only for legislators that are truly advocating for our children,” said Jeanette Deutermann, Nassau County public school parent and found of Long Island Opt Out.

“In the end, even the legislature did little to protect our kids. Despite all of their promises, nothing was done to reduce time spent on testing or the secrecy surrounding inappropriate test questions. Legislation enabling teachers to discuss already released test questions is absurd. It is the un-released questions that often hold the most egregious examples of inappropriate content,” said Bianca Tanis, Ulster County public school parent, educator, and founding member of NYSAPE.

Leonie Haimson, Executive Director of Class Size Matters added, “The Education Tax Credit, an unconstitutional backdoor voucher system, was stopped in its tracks despite the ‘big money’ lobbying and relentless efforts of ‘mega donors’.  While the number of charter schools to be added in NYC doubled from 25 to 50, the Senate Republicans made sure that this would not affect their districts.”

“While six Board of Regent members took a bold stance in formulating a plan that would have provided some much needed relief from these harmful policies, they were defeated by the balance of the  board who opted to maintain the status quo,” said Eric Mihelbergel, Erie County public school parent and founding member of NYSAPE.

NYSAPE, a grassroots organization with over 50 parent and educator groups across that state, are calling on parents to hand in their test refusal letters on the first day of school to reclaim their children’s classrooms and to stop the destruction of our public schools.  Updated 2016 test refusal letter coming soon.

Kings Park Advocates for Education Announce BOE Candidate Endorsements

Dear Kings Park Community,

The Kings Park Advocates for Education (KPAE) Steering Committee is excited to announce our endorsement of Diane Nally and Kevin Johnston for the Kings Park Board of Education.

Diane Nally

Diane Nally – KPAE Endorsed Candidate for Kings Park BOE

We are in an era of an unprecedented power struggle, in which the Governor Andrew Cuomo, the New York State Department of Education (NYSED) and the New York State Board of Regents are on one side and local school boards, administrators, teachers and parents are on the other.  New York State has increased unfunded mandates, reduced local control of staffing decisions and instituted a 2% tax cap, all while reducing education funding to bridge state budget gaps.  This has left local districts scrambling to cut budgets and layoff staff which is causing the elimination of important programs and higher class sizes, especially for our most vulnerable children.  To make matters worse, local districts are currently being bullied into meeting unrealistic contract and budget deadlines under fear of losing even more funding.

Kevin-Johnston-2015w

Kevin Johnston – KPAE Endorsed Candidate for Kings Park BOE

This spring, 50% of Kings Park students were opted-out of grade 3-8 state testing by their parents.  Parents have clearly said,“enough is enough!”  We are confident that Diane Nally and Kevin Johnston represent the best candidates to advocate for our children, protect our schools from harmful policies, put education back into the hands of educators, and prevent our tax dollars from being squandered on unproven mandates.   We feel they are the best candidates to ensure an education system that is nurturing and focused on the whole child.

KPAE urges its network of students, parents, and community members to vote and advocate for Diane Nally and Kevin Johnston in the upcoming election.  Together we can begin the process of taking back local control of our schools and fight against the harmful “reforms” being foisted upon our children and our budgets.

Thank you for your anticipated support.

Yours Truly,

 

The Kings Park Advocates for Education Steering Committee
Katy Cardinale, Bill Claps, Debbie Danley, Shala Pascucci

KPAE

NYSAPE: NY Parents Have Spoken, Now It’s Time to Fix Cuomo’s Education Budget Debacle & Establish New Leadership for the Board of Regents

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  April 23, 2015
More information contact:
Eric Mihelbergel (716) 553-1123; nys.allies@gmail.com
Lisa Rudley (917) 414-9190; nys.allies@gmail.com
NYS Allies for Public Education (NYSAPE) – www.nysape.org

NY Parents Have Spoken, Now It’s Time to Fix Cuomo’s Education Budget Debacle & Establish New Leadership for the Board of Regents

For the past two years, New York State Allies for Public Education has warned elected and appointed officials about serious concerns related to excessive high-stakes state testing based on flawed and experimental learning standards, as well as the collection and sharing of private student data.

This past week, the national attention focused on the parent uprising taking place in New York State. Spurred to action by the refusal of both the Governor and the NYS Education Department’s failure to respond to legitimate concerns, thousands  of parents fought back to protect their children.

At this time, estimates indicate parents of close to 200,000 students this year have refused New York State’s Common Core testing agenda and the final figures are expected to be even higher.

The educational program of the state is in chaos.  Leadership is more important than ever. On Sunday, April 19th the Editorial Board of The Journal News declared, “The stunning success of the test-refusal movement in New York is a vote of no confidence in our state educational leadership” in calling for Chancellor Merryl Tisch to step aside.

New York State Allies for Public Education, a grassroots coalition of over fifty parent and educator advocacy organizations from all corners of the Empire State, stands with the Editorial Board of The Journal News.

Chancellor Tisch must step down. The only way for the Board of Regents, Assembly, and Senate to regain trust of their constituents is to call for the Regents to empower a new leader to fix within its authority, the Cuomo budget legislation fiasco and the misguided Regents Reform Agenda.

“Parents have been left with no choice. We will submit our refusal letters, which is our parental right, on day one of school, next year and every year and if those in power will not listen, we will free our children from a test driven, developmentally inappropriate education,” said Jeanette Deutermann, Nassau County public school parent and Long Island Opt Out founder.

“For the past two years Chancellor Tisch has repeatedly ignored parents at forums throughout the state. She is incapable of leading the state in a new direction because she believes what is happening is just fine and her latest plea for asking for more time is just a distraction from the real issues. Her repeated calls for critics to “calm down” indicates her unwillingness to change course.” said Lisa Rudley, Westchester County public school parent and NYSAPE founding member.

“On Chancellor Tisch’s watch, the work of the State Education Department has been outsourced to a privately funded ‘Regents Fellows’ think tank. It is not surprising that the reforms put forth by this think tank advance the agenda of the wealthy ‘yacht set’ and corporate-linked groups that fund the Regent Fellows: The Robin Hood Foundation, Gates Foundation, and even Chancellor Tisch herself.  When you replace a public service with a private organization that advances corporate agendas, New Yorkers know that is corruption,” said Anna Shah, Dutchess County public school parent and Schools of Thought Hudson Valley, NY founder.

“While the Governor has demonstrated blatant disregard for the will of the people by doubling down on the use of high stakes testing, the State Education Department and Chancellor Tisch similarly ignored parent concerns regarding inappropriate test content by forcing children to read passages on last week’s ELA tests that were up to four years above grade level followed by vague and confusing questions,” said Jessica McNair, Oneida County public school parent, Central NY Opt Out co-founder, and educator.

Fred Smith, testing specialist, NYC public schools retired administrative analyst, and Change the Stakes member said, “Instead of transparency and disclosure of complete and timely test data that would open the quality of the ELA and math exams to independent review, Tisch has ruled over an unaccountable testing program that flies at near-zero visibility–in a fog of flawed field testing procedures, age-inappropriate poorly written items, the covert removal of test questions after they have been scored, arbitrarily drawn cut off scores, and the misapplication of the results to reach unsupportable conclusions about students, teachers, and schools.”

“As seen with the budget debacle earlier this month, New Yorkers know when the ‘Albany Fix’ is in,” Eric Mihelbergel, Erie County public school parent and NYSAPE founding member. Mihelbergel went on to say, “We know that the opt out movement will ultimately invalidate the data and render these test scores useless. When some schools have opt outs as high as 70%, we know that any claims that opt out is “random” and that only a small sampling of test scores will yield usable data is illogical.”

To ensure clarity for all, NYSAPE calls for the following from the NYS Legislature & Board of Regents and will release a more comprehensive list in the near future:

1. A dramatic reduction of testing in grades 3rd – 8th, along with reasserting New York State’s authority to determine the education of its children by calling on the US Congress to reduce testing requirements and return to grade span testing. As former President Bill Clinton said we don’t need annual testing, “I think doing one [test] in elementary school, one in the end of middle school and one before the end of high school is quite enough if you do it right.”

2. Chancellor Tisch must immediately step down.

3. An independent review of the NYS career and college ready standards to ensure that standards are research based and appropriate. Establish a taskforce including parents, educators, and stakeholders to study the Common Core Learning Standards and make recommendations to adjust and adopt NYS standards.

4. Adhere to a public and transparent process for selecting a new NYS Commissioner of Education.

5. Fix the Cuomo budget legislation debacle by passing legislation that decouples student test scores and restores local board of education control over teacher evaluations.

6. Pass legislation that REQUIRES parental consent to share ANY identifiable student data beyond school district administrators.

We want to restore our classrooms with a well-rounded education and drive testing compliance factory reforms out of our classrooms forever.

Speaker Forum: Do You Have Questions or Concerns About The Future of Our Children’s Education?

On Tuesday, February 24th at the Christ Lutheran Church in East Northport, KPAE will be holding a public forum to discuss Common Core, High Stakes Testing, APPR and how it is impacting our children, our schools and teachers. Please spread the news and save the date!

Hosted by: Kings Park Advocates for Education, Smithtown Parents Advocacy Group, Uniting Commack for the Love of Learning, Half Hollow Hills Against Common Core, Hauppauge Parents Advocacy Group, Elwood Opt-Out, Common Core, and More

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John King Resigns: Parents & Educators Call for a New Direction from the Regents and Demand NO Interference from Governor Cuomo

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  December 11, 2014

More information contact:

Eric Mihelbergel (716) 553-1123; nys.allies@gmail.com

Lisa Rudley (917) 414-9190; nys.allies@gmail.com

NYS Allies for Public Education (NYSAPE) – www.nysape.org

Late Wednesday, the New York State Education Department announced that Commissioner John King is resigning effective the end of this year to accept a new post in Washington as an advisor to US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

Last year NYSAPE, parents, and educators from around the state called for Commissioner King to step down.  After many months of frustration and outrage from parents and educators across New York State, the chapter closes on an embattled commissioner who failed to address legitimate serious concerns.

Eyes from all corners of the Empire State now turn on Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch, the Board of Regents, and the legislature to ensure the next commissioner represents the substantial change in direction that public school parents demand from a responsive government that serves the people.  NYSAPE calls for the Regents to adopt an open, inclusive selection process and stresses the importance of input from parents, educators, and other stakeholder groups in appointing a commissioner who will be more accountable to the public at large.

Governor Andrew Cuomo will also be watched very closely to ensure he does not overstep the constitutional authority of the Regents and interfere in any manner with the selection of a new commissioner of education.  For innumerable reasons, New Yorkers are very glad to live within a NYS Constitution that does not grant Governor Andrew Cuomo authority when it comes to oversight of education in New York.  They will be watching very closely both Governor Cuomo, who called public schools a “monopoly” to be broken, and his private backers with financial interests in the privatization of our public schools.

Westchester County

“It is time for the Board of Regents to move in a very different direction.  The Regents dismal track record of refusing to heed warnings and address significant parental concerns with excessive testing, student data privacy, and school privatization leaves no room for error with the selection of the next commissioner and must not allow for any interference from Governor Andrew Cuomo or his backers,” said Lisa Rudley, founding member of NYSAPE and Westchester County public school parent.

New York City

“John King was the most unpopular commissioner in the history of NY State.  He showed no respect for parents, teachers or student privacy.  Ironically, he was intent on protecting his own privacy, and routinely withheld public documents; our Freedom of Information request of his communications with inBloom and the Gates foundation is more than 1 ½ years overdue.  His resignation is good news for New York state; hopefully he will be unable to do as much damage at the US Department of Education,” Leonie Haimson, Executive Director of Class Size Matters.

Long Island

“This is bittersweet news for the parents and educators of New York. For the past few years we have endured an education commissioner that has repeatedly ignored our pleas for help. He has heard our stories of our children suffering as a result of the Board of Regent’s corporate reform agenda, and replied, “full steam ahead”.  New York has seen the largest testing revolt and parent uprising in known history under his regime. This outrage and pushback from parents and educators will continue to grow until the Board of Regents and the State Education Department put their focus where it belongs: on our children. The future of education for the children of New York now rests with the selection process of his replacement, and parents demand to see educators on this search committee. Our hope is that his replacement will finally begin to listen to parents and educators, put our children first, and protect our NYS public education system,” stated Jeanette Deutermann, founder of Long Island Opt Out and Nassau County public school parent.

Dutchess County

“John King had many successes as commissioner of education. He was successful in creating a polarized, toxic situation and shutting down dialogue on important education policy matters such as common core, high stakes testing and student privacy. King earned a prestigious vote of “no confidence” from the state’s largest teachers union. King successfully hurled accusations and insults against parents, educators and concerned citizens and was able to deflect responsibility for his actions. King was successful in shortchanging the democratic process. King managed to avoid accountability to the Regents for demonstrated incompetence and lack of professionalism.  In his short reign as commissioner of education, King was successful in mobilizing and forcing parents, educators, and concerned citizens to call and write state politicians demanding the he resign or be removed. King provided great advice and leadership that advanced charter, corporate education and other interests at the expense of public school children,” said Anna Shah, Dutchess county public school parent.

Otsego County

“The news of Commissioner King’s resignation is a victory for everyone in NYS who has repeatedly called for this moment. I am hopeful that a replacement commissioner will be appointed who has enough integrity to heed the concerns of stakeholders rather than blatantly ignore them. We must insist on an educational leader who will represent the best interests of students, parents, teachers, and schools,” Danielle Boudet, founding member of NYSAPE and Oneonta Area for Public Education.

Oneida County

“The students, parents, and teachers of New York State must insist that Mr. King be replaced with a commissioner that will actually put the needs of students’ first.  Under John King’s watch, New York State embraced a reform agenda set forth by billionaires, a reform agenda designed to falsely label public schools as failing, widen the achievement gap, and portray hard working professional educators as the problem.  This trend will only continue unless the citizens of New York demand better for our children.  Mr. King’s departure provides the true stakeholders of public education-children-the hope that our next commissioner of education be courageous enough to defend our public schools by challenging the false narrative currently put forth by reformers,” said Jessica McNair, Oneida County public school parent and educator.

Erie County

Eric Mihelbergel, founding member of NYSAPE and Erie County public school parent stated, “On October 15 of 2013 we called for the resignation of NYS Education Commissioner John King after he proved his complete disregard for parents and the public by cancelling all scheduled Town Hall meetings across New York State.  Now, over a year later, he is leaving New York State education in far worse shape than he found it.  The New York State Board of Regents must step and do what they could not do before.  They must appoint a new commissioner that puts the needs of our children ahead of the agenda of corporate education reformers.”

“Considering the many problems from Common Core, testing, and the failing APPR educator evaluation system, it is time that New York State has an experienced educator who has worked as a public school classroom teacher, principal, and superintendent as its next commissioner,” Chris Cerrone, Erie County public school parent and board of education member.

Statewide

Marla Kilfoyle, General Manager of the BATS stated, “John King has disregarded the voice of the practitioners in the classroom which soundly told him that the policies he promoted were hurting children and destroying their education.”

New York State Allies for Public Education consists of over 50 parent and educator advocacy groups across New York State.  More details about our education positions and advocacy can be found at www.nysape.org.