Tedisco, Graf, Ra Call for Special Session On Common Core Testing Crisis Before April 14th When Grades 3-8 State Tests Begin
Assembly members Tedisco, Graf, Ra say Assembly Majority more interested in “symbolism over substance” and covering backsides after voting for budget that’s outraged parents & teachers than informing parents of their rights to refuse to have their kids take tests
Assemblyman Jim Tedisco (R,C,I-Glenville), Assemblyman Al Graf (R,C,I-Holbrook) and Assemblyman Ed Ra (R-Franklin Square) today called on the Assembly Majority to get serious about the impending Common Core standardized testing crisis in our schools and convene a special session before the first round of tests begin on April 14th to ensure parents know about their rights to have their children refuse the tests.
Children in grades 3-8 across the state next week will begin to take state math and ELA tests that are leaving thousands of parents asking questions about how they can opt their kids out of the exams and what consequences and protections there are -- if any -- for them, their teachers and schools if they do so.
On April 2, two days after Assembly Education Committee Chair Catherine Nolan (D-Queens) spent over 6 hours defending a state budget bill that doubled-down on the state’s reliance on Common Core standardized testing to evaluate teachers and students, quietly introduced a one-house bill (A.6777) to allow parents to exempt their children from these tests. All the sponsors of Nolan’s bill, save for one, voted for the widely criticized state education budget bill.
The Legislature is not scheduled to return to session until April 21st. The first round of grade 3-8 state tests starts April 14th.
“Many children are in full-crisis-mode over the Common Core standardized tests yet the Assembly Majority is more interested in symbolism and covering their backsides from the wrath of parents and teachers then actually passing anything of substance to stop the testing madness in our schools,” said Tedisco, a former public school special education teacher.
“What Chairwoman Nolan and her Assembly Majority colleagues are doing is political cynicism at its worst. First, they defend and vote for legislation in the dark of night using messages of necessity to circumvent the required three-day waiting period so they can double-down on the over-utilization of Common Core standardized tests. And the next day, they quietly introduce a partisan, one-house bill that they know will never pass before children take the state tests this year. It’s shameful. Parents and children should be secure in the knowledge that a law exists that they legally can refuse to take the tests and that’s why we should return to session,” said Tedisco.
“Last week the majority had an opportunity to protect our schools, our teachers, and most importantly our students by rejecting the governor's deeply flawed education bill, but instead they voted for it. Now, they are advancing a one-house political bill that will never have an opportunity to become law. The people of this state are smarter than that. The majority should be ashamed that time after time they put politics before our children,” said Graf.
“By introducing legislation that promotes parental rights about decisions for their children’s education, our conference has shown that we understand the needs and concerns of residents across the state,” said Ra. “Following the passage of a highly-controversial budget, the Majority has proposed a bill similar to our own but unfortunately it is too little, too late. As students across the state prepare to take the English Language Arts test, parents should have already been given information about refusals and been assured that their child will not face any penalties because of their decision to refuse the test for their child.”
Tedisco, Graf and Ra, introduced their “Common Core Parental Refusal Act” (A.6025/S.4161) on March 11th to require that school districts notify parents of their rights to refuse without penalty to have their children in grades 3-8 participate in the Common Core standardized tests.
The Tedisco, Graf and Ra bill protects schools from having state aid withheld and teachers from being penalized due to a lack of student participation or performance on the exams. It also ensures students are not punished or rewarded for their participation or lack thereof in the exams and would set-aside alternate study activities for those who refuse the tests so they are not forced to “sit and stare” in the same room as their peers who are taking the tests.
The key difference between the two bills is Tedisco, Graf and Ra’s bill requires school districts notify parents of their rights to have their children refuse the test. Nolan’s bill has no such provision to ensure schools give accurate information to all parents. The Tedisco/Graf/Ra bill has a Senate sponsor and is bi-partisan with Democratic and Republican sponsors in both the Assembly and Senate. Their bill was circulated to Democrats and Republicans to sign on as sponsors. Nolan’s measure has no Senate companion and has yet to be circulated among Republican Assembly members for sponsoring.
In less than two weeks, more than 13,000 New Yorkers have signed a petition at RefuseCommonCore.com to make their voices heard that they want to stop the testing madness.