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Growing support to 'opt out'

WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

Support for opting out of standardized testing is mounting. WBFO's Focus on Education reporter Eileen Buckley says while the State Education Department and Cuomo Administration warn against it, others are urging parents to have their children opt out.

"I'm 100% supportive of parents if they chose to hold their kids home," says New York State Assemblyman Michael Kearns of Buffalo.

"We are putting these kids in a box. There's no innovation and the teachers are teaching to the test," said State Assemblyman Michael Kearns.

A week from Tuesday, April 7, 3rd through 8th graders are scheduled to take the English Language Arts exam. The following week, on April 22, those same students will be administered Mathematics. 

Assemblyman Kearns is a co-sponsor of a bill that would not penalized school districts if students opt out. Kearns says he firmly believes parents should have a choice of their child's learning.

"It really hinders the preparation of the kids for life. We are putting these kids in a box. There's no innovation and the teachers are teaching to the test," said Kearns.  "It's bad for the taxpayers, it's bad for the teachers and it's bad for the taxpayers because it cost a lot of money." 

Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul, who appeared in Lackawanna Monday for Dyngus Day, was asked by WBFO News about 'opt out'.

Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul weighed in on the opt out controversy during an appearance in Lackawanna Monday. Hohcul explained why the state is in favor of state testing.

"My concern and the governor's concern has always been that these are national standards and that our children, at some point in the near future, are going to be tested for their SAT's based on the Common Core Standards and the Common Core testing," responded Hochul.
Hochul's response follows the budget agreement that looks to the state education department to implement new teacher evaluation rules that still have many teachers up in arms.

"The governor has heard the message that we need to address the issue of overtesting, which is why he has asked the chancellor of SUNY system to come up with  recommendations by June 1 on how we can minimize testing in the classroom," said Hochul. "But also, we are competing not just nationally, but internationally.  We want make sure our children our as competitive as possible to take the jobs of the future, and that's what this is all about."

But now the Working Families Party has also joined in calling on parents to opt out. The party says the governor's plan "misuses" the testing to evaluate teachers.  

"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. 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," the party says.

"We can finally send a message to SED, State Education Department, that we need to rethink this," said Kearns.

Last year about 60,000 students opted out.

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