Assembly Members Tedisco, Ra, Kearns & Senators Murphy, Griffo, Latimer & Colleagues Join Parents, Educators to Call For “Common Core Parental Refusal Act”

Legislators seek passage of bi-partisan bill to ensure schools notify parents they can refuse to have their children in grades 3-8 participate in controversial Common Core standardized tests


Assemblyman Jim Tedisco (R,C,I-Glenville), Senator Terrence Murphy (R,C,I-Jefferson Valley), Assemblyman Ed Ra (R-Franklin Square), Assemblyman Michael P. Kearns (D-Buffalo), Senator Joseph A. Griffo (R,C,I-Rome) and Senator George Latimer (D-Rye) today joined with parents, students and educators in Albany to call for passage of bi-partisan legislation they are sponsoring, the “Common Core Parental Refusal Act” (A.6025/S.4161) to require that school districts notify parents of their rights to refuse to have their children in grades 3-8 participate in the Common Core standardized tests.


The legislation has Republican and Democratic sponsors in both houses of the legislature. Tedisco is the prime sponsor of the bill in the Assembly and Murphy is the chief sponsor in the Senate.


            “The Common Core standardized high stakes tests are making too many children feel like they’re just another brick in the wall instead of empowering them to love learning. We need to bring common sense to Common Core because New York is wasting too much time and money stressing children out to prepare for these tests which are of questionable educational value instead of focusing on supporting teachers so they can do their job and teach children what’s really important,” said Assemblyman Jim Tedisco, a former public school special education teacher and guidance counselor. “The Common Core Parental Refusal Act protects the rights of parents to have their children refuse to take these high stakes tests and it ensures that students, teachers and schools are not penalized or rewarded for participation – or lack thereof – in the exams. By their refusal, parents can make themselves a part of the discussion as it relates to the future of education and their children in New York.”


“Having met with teachers, school administrators, parents and most importantly the children, it has become abundantly clear to me that legislative action is needed to address the abusive standardized exams associated with the Common Core curriculum. This bill will ensure the necessary information is shared with parents that gives them the ability to opt their children out of these exams. As a father of three, I see the stress this is putting on our kids every night at my kitchen table and will continue to fight for a fair and equitable education system,” said Senator Terrence Murphy.


            “An over-reliance on flawed testing is more problematic than productive in assessing a student’s intellectual capacity, and students are already being punished enough by making them take poorly designed tests,” said state Senator Joseph A. Griffo, who is co-sponsoring this legislation in the Senate. “We shouldn’t further punish these students, their teachers and their schools when they refuse to take these flawed tests.”


“I applaud Assemblyman Tedisco for introducing legislation to raise parental awareness regarding their rights when it comes to decisions for their children’s education,” said Assemblyman Ed Ra. “Unfortunately, many parents who are discontent with Common Core do not know they have the right to refuse the standardized tests for their children. For far too long these controversial standards have been pushed along without input from parents, and with the governor’s proposal to increase use of high-stakes testing in teacher evaluations, now is the time to return control back to them.”


            “We have spent millions of dollars of taxpayer money that has resulted in a failed implementation of the Common Core, a flawed policy with a lack of input from experts and most importantly—parents,” said Assemblyman Michael P. Kearns.


            “So much is being made of our 'Failing Schools' in our public dialogue lately. As some seek to demonize the role of teachers, we must now focus on the biggest influence on a student's education-PARENTS. This bill will rightfully empower a parent to decide if her child should be subject to the
newest fad in education. Standardized tests are taking over a crucial role in our education policy and every parent has a right to determine what is best for her child,” said Senator George Latimer.


Parents and teachers have expressed concern about the over-testing of children in New York related to how the new Common Core standards are being applied along with the high stakes associated with the results of such tests. Chief among those complaints is that teachers are being forced to spend too much class time “teaching to the test” instead of engaging students in true learning.


In 2014, parents of 60,000 students refused New York State Common Core tests.


The “Common Core Parental Refusal Act” provides a uniform notification for schools to send to parents informing them of their right to refuse to have their children take the Common Core tests along with a uniform response form that parents can complete and return to the schools.  These notices can be sent via email, letter or home with children in their school bags.


The legislation protects school districts and individual schools from having state aid withheld or any other punitive measures by the state.  The bill protects teachers from being penalized due to a lack of student participation or performance on the exams.  It also ensures that 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.


“This bill really addresses many of the problems that schools and parents are facing across our state.  There are many districts that realize that parents have the right to refuse these Common Core state tests and honor their letters of refusal.  However, there are other districts who do not respect a parent's decision to refuse the test for their children and resort to ‘sit and stare’ practices that may be deemed abusive.  Assemblyman Tedisco's bill would clarify how districts should respond to test refusals and would also eliminate the threat of loss of state aid for schools that do not meet the 95 percent participation rate due to a parental boycott of the testing,” said Tim Farley, Principal from Ichabod Crane Elementary and Middle School and a member of New York State Allies for Public Education (NYSAPE).


“Schools are concentrating so much on standardized testing that parents are concerned with what is being sacrificed in their children’s education to get the results they want.  These are flawed tests based on flawed Common Core standards which were forced on our schools.  By refusing the tests, parents are exercising their rights and voicing their concerns over the direction of education,” said Tricia Farmer, a parent from Burnt Hills.