Make More Noise!

When the NYS legislature passed the Education Transformation Act on April 1, 2015, a tight timeline for the implementation of education reforms was set into motion.  Several of the reforms require action by the Board of Regents and/or the NYS Education Department, specifically the oversight of a new teacher and principal evaluations system.

Regulations to execute the new evaluation system must be delivered by June 30th, 2015 and school districts must then update their Annual Teacher and Principal Evaluation plan by September 1, 2015 so that it can be reviewed and approved by NYSED by November 15, 2015.

According to a memo from NYSED’s Ken Wagner, “As requested by the Board of Regents, a Learning Summit on teacher and principal evaluation will be held at New York State Museum on Thursday, May 7, to include invited (emphasis added) participants from our statewide parent, teacher, principal, superintendent, and school board member organizations, as well as practitioners and experts in the fields of education, economics and psychometrics, with a specific focus on providing recommendations to the Department and the Board in the areas required by the new statute to be addressed through Commissioner’s Regulations…”

Over the course of the past several years, the voices of parents have been continually  ignored by Chancellor Tisch, and an “invite only” event to take place just weeks from nowMake More Noise 4-27-15signals that, once again, there is a desire to discount the parent voice.  It comes as no surprise that the Chancellor prefers to ignore reality following a historic movement in which hundreds of thousands of students refused to participate in NYS grade 3-8 tests signaling massive disapproval of changes to education that came about under her guidance.

The Chancellor is counting on parents to assume that they will once again be ignored and walk away from the most recent egregious reforms in defeat.

We will not simply walk away.  We will make more noise.  

First, we will demand that the Board of Regents restore our classrooms with a well-rounded education and drive testing compliance factory reforms out of our classrooms forever by taking advantage of the opportunity to provide public comments and by contacting our local Board of Regent Member.

Secondly, we will continue to contact our elected officials.  While many NYS legislators ignored constituents’ opinions shared in phone calls, emails, and during face to face conversations and voted in favor of Governor Cuomo’s deplorable reforms anyway, the Mohawk Valley is home to three champions of education with Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi (D, Utica), Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney, (R, C, I New Hartford) and Assemblyman Marc Butler (R, C, I) who voted against the budget and encapsulated reforms in response to the facts and personal stories we took the time to share.  The “no vote” from both Brindisi and Tenney, offer proof that our voices do matter, and that now is not the time to be silent.  

Opt Out CNY calls upon its members to make the following demands known by participating in the public comment period, contacting Chancellor Tisch, your local Regent, and your NYS Senator and Assembly member.  Make it known that parents want:

1. A dramatic reduction of testing in grades 3rd – 8th, along with reasserting New York State’s authority to determine the education of its children by calling on the US Congress to reduce testing requirements and return to grade span testing.

2. The immediate resignation of Chancellor Tisch.

3. An independent review of the NYS career and college ready standards to ensure that standards are research based and appropriate. The establishment of a taskforce including parents, educators, and stakeholders to study the Common Core Learning Standards and make recommendations to adjust and adopt NYS standards.

4. Adherence to a public and transparent process for selecting a new NYS Commissioner of Education.

5.  A fix of the Cuomo budget legislation debacle by passing legislation that decouples student test scores and restores local board of education control over teacher evaluations

6. Pass legislation that REQUIRES parental consent to share ANY identifiable student data beyond school district administrators.

To participate in the public comment period, email:

For information on how to contact your Regent, click here.

For information on how to contact your elected officials, click here.

Make More Noise!



Parents in local communities are hosting multiple events this week to raise awareness about parents’ rights to refuse the New York State grades 3 – 8 English Language Arts and Mathematics exams.  The forums, which were organized and being run by area parents, are just seven out of more than two dozen that have been held recently.  They are scheduled as follows:

Tuesday April 7 @ 6:00 – 7:30 pm Whitesboro Test Refusal Information Session, Whitestown Recreation Center, 1 Championship Dr, Whitesboro, NY 13492

– Tuesday April 7 @ 6:00 – 7:30
pm  Holland Patent Test Refusal Information Session, Stittville Firehouse, 9069 Main St, Stittville, NY

– Tuesday April 7 @ 6:00 – 7:30 pm  Oneida Test Refusal Information Session, Kallet Civic Center, Main Street, Oneida, NY

– Tuesday April 7 @ 6:00 – 7:30 pm  Central Square Test Refusal Information Session, West Monroe Town Hall 46 County Route 11, West Monroe, New York 13167

Wednesday April 8 @ 6:30 – 7:30 pm Waterville Test Refusal Information Session, Waterville Public Library 206 White St, Waterville, New York 13480

-Thursday April 9 @ 6:30 – 8:00 pm Central Valley Test Refusal Information Session, US Marine Corps Recruiting, 2nd Street, Ilion, NY

Jessica McNair, parent of two school aged children and co-founder of Opt Out CNY shared this, “With the passage of the most sweeping and destructive education budget in history, parents are rightly concerned about their children’s future and interest in the test refusal movement has only grown.  The vast majority of our elected officials chose to support a law that will steal local control, generate systemic instability in our schools, limit options available to students and force public schools to focus almost exclusively on flawed, high stakes, standardized tests.  Parents will respond by refusing to participate in this oppressive system”

Parents deserve to know the facts about these tests, and what their rights are,” said Kirstin Vivacqua, parent of three, and presenter at the Central Valley forum.  “The information session on Thursday in Ilion is just one of dozens of such events that have popped up in Central New York in the last month, and I think that speaks to the concern that parents have over what is happening to our schools,” added Vivacqua.

“Parents are often concerned that their refusal will result in a loss of funding to their school, harm the teacher’s evaluation, or prevent their child from participating in certain academic programs.  Once we were armed with the facts that these fears are unfounded, it was easy for us to decide to refuse the tests,” added Dave Lupia, parent of three children who attend Harts Hill Elementary School and organizer of the Whitestown forum.  “To me, my refusal is a vote of confidence in my children’s teachers and school, and a concrete way for me to express my concern about the laws recently enacted by our legislators.”

Across the region, a majority of school districts will accommodate students not participating in tests by (allowing) children to read quietly during the testing session or work in an alternate location.  “Such accommodations are totally permissible by the New York State Education Department and are the appropriate, child-centered policy that should be put in place,” said McNair.  “Unfortunately, a handful of local schools, including Oriskany Central School District, continue to threaten students and parents by indicating that they will be required to sit and do nothing during the entire length of testing, over an hour each day during the course of six days. Considering it is a parent’s right to oversee his child’s education, and that right has constitutional dimensions recognized by the Supreme Court of the United States for nearly 100 years, it is alarming that schools would not only ignore this right, but choose to punish children in an attempt to threaten parents for exercising this right.  Such bullying is shameful.”

Parents who are unable to attend these forums can still get their questions answered and find resources to help them with the refusal process.  There is a growing community of more than 3,100 parents on social media at Opt Out CNY on Facebook, and sample refusal letters along with other information can be found at