There is so much going on in New York State around test refusals……rallies are being held everywhere it seems – except perhaps in Cattaraugus and Allegany Counties.
Last year, schools in these two counties had enormous numbers of refusals in proportion to their relatively small sizes. One school had a full ONE THIRD of students in grades 3-8 refuse the tests! You would think that the ball would be rolling faster and faster this year, with these schools’ Superintendents, Teachers and Parents leading the way. But, sadly that isn’t happening.
Shortly after the tests were given last year and refusal numbers came in – the BOCES Superintendent for CATT-ALLEGANY put out an urgent call to all school administrators in the districts in her region……… “WHY?” and “What are you going to do to reduce the number of refusals next year?” I may sound flip – but this was indeed the theme of her message – STOP the REFUSALS in 2015!! In fact, she (as rumor has it) demanded that districts give her “Plans for Reducing Refusals”.
It would do well for this writer to point out that this BOCES Superintendent is an experienced lawyer. She has NEVER been an educator, and in fact for many years was employed by BOCES to represent Districts in Contract Negotiations. For all I know, she is a lovely woman – more than likely she in fact IS a lovely woman. A lovely woman, a strong woman, an intelligent woman – doing her JOB. She is probably the kind of woman I’d like my daughter to be some day – working her way to a position that is to respected after many years of hard work. I have no personal grievance or even personal knowledge of her. From the outside looking in – she has “made it” through the glass ceiling in a sense – she is BOCES Superintendent for crying out loud! KUDOS!
What I see coming from our BOCES Center is a push to enlist parent help in eliminating the GEA, which is a noble cause. What I don’t see coming from our BOCES Center is even a breath about supporting a parent’s right (and in the dire straits we face currently) encouragement to REFUSE the FLAWED TESTING and EVALUATION PLAN. It saddens me, because I know in my heart of hearts if there is going to be a revolution, a FIX to the mess in NYS – it’s not coming from them.
Perhaps this “doing the job”. Perhaps local district Superintendents are afraid – but it was rightly pointed out that these local Superintendents have nothing more to lose than any other Superintendent in NY by speaking out, by supporting parents, by making the refusal of the test a KEY POINT in sending a message to Albany and King Andy. It hurts my heart. It makes me angry. It makes me wonder what the end game looks like for districts in this region. We are a region of many small districts, rapidly losing student population and cutting staff on a regular basis.
Look through the component school directory, and see if you can find one district administrator explaining how refusing the tests is the way to end the madness. I can’t and neither can the parents.
Not to simply say that it’s “all BOCES fault”……..check around the lists of districts signing on to petitions to support a parent’s right to refuse – you won’t find us there either. Our NYSUT office doesn’t like hold those rallies either. Our local districts don’t like to hold those rallies. We hold “informational” meetings – but we have been told that the meetings must be “balanced” – yes, even on our own time. With constant staff cuts, there are very few who are willing to be vocal, and the few that were vocal last year are worn out and spread out – we have no network. We will travel to Buffalo for a rally (maybe if the weather is good and we are sure we wont’ be found out), but travel to Albany – that becomes a 24 hour saga. Syracuse – a 12 hour saga, and Rochester – a 6 hour saga………..
Understand that many of us KNOW what needs to be done and we sit at our monitors and cheer you on! We wish we could be you. We wish our Superintendents could be the ones you have standing arm in arm supporting and encouraging test refusal – be we are already living in fear, and most of us want to hang on to what we have – even if we know in our hearts that it could all be taken from us anyway.