New York Opt Out Movement is Alive and Well and Thriving!

The New York Opt Out movement started in Bellmore, on Long Island. The parent leader there, Jeanette Deutermann, opposed the misuse and abuse of standardized tests, as well as Common Core.

Every year, state officials predict the demise of the movement, every year they offer bribes and threats, yet for three years in a row, large numbers of parents have refused their children’s participation in the state testing. The numbers for the state will not be released for weeks by the New York State Education Department, but individual districts have released their data. The Long Island newspaper Newsday called districts and concluded that 51% of students who were supposed to take the state tests did not take them. They opted out.

This sends a powerful message to the state. It is the only way that parents can make their voices heard, by saying NO.

In North Bellmore, three-quarters of students refused the tests.

The Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District again had among the highest percentages of students in Nassau County opting out of the state English Language Arts exams last week, with 73 percent of seventh- and eighth-grade students sitting out the exams.

According to Superintendent John DeTommaso, the district had the second-highest percentage of non-participating students.

At the same time, 70 percent of students in the Bellmore Elementary School District opted out of the exam over the three days that it was administered.

As reported by the Herald in 2014, the opt-out movement” began as a small, grass roots social-media campaign in North Bellmore and rapidly spread statewide, with parents demanding that the state scale back the number of exams and their difficulty. Many parents argued that the exams, based on the Common Core State Standards, are one to two grade levels above their children’s abilities.

North Bellmore mother Jeanette Deutermann founded the group Long Island Opt Out, which, along with the New York Alliance for Public Education, the Badass Teachers Association and United Opt Out, sparked much of the national movement, according to a Columbia University study.

Deutermann said this weekthat this year’s opt-out numbers show that parents “are not backing down.”

“It’s not just a test itself,” she said. “It’s what [Common Core] does the entire year. My son was in the grade where everything flooded in at the same time. We saw the changes in our kids. We saw their reactions to it. It was beyond frustration. It was complete shutdown. We watched them struggle through work that was completely grade-level inappropriate.

“The state has an option,” Deutermann added. “They make little tweaks to the tests here and there … but parents are really researching and following and learning what these tests are and what they’re not.”

On Monday, DeTommaso called the Central District’s — and Long Island’s — opt-out numbers “an incredible movement by parents,” and said that Central administrators don’t believe a single assessment can give “the full picture of how a kid is doing throughout the year.

To those who claim that Opt Out is a movement of “white suburban moms,” please don’t overlook Brentwood on Long Island. The district enrollment is 6% white, two-thirds on free-reduced lunch, and 60% of its students opted out.

from sarah


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