As part of the Every Student Succeeds Act, the United States Department of Education is required to issue regulations associated with the new law. Of course U.S. Secretary of Education John King saw this as his big chance to make his national mark for his corporate education reform buddies, so he stuck with the accountability script and harsh rules about opt out of high-stakes tests. The New York Parent Teacher Organization wrote a letter to King as part of their public comment for the regulations.
Something to keep in mind is the National PTA’s bizarre stance on parent opt out. They are against it and don’t want the state PTA’s advocating it either. Last February, they threatened Delaware with severe sanctions if they continue to advocate for a parent’s right to opt out. This caused a complete shutdown with Delaware PTA on the issue.
Here is the letter the NY PTA sent to King:
There are a few other things readers need to be aware of when it comes to this issue. Sanctions against the NY PTA would not be as damaging as ones against Delaware PTA. If even ten percent of NY parents belong to their PTA, that is still at least ten times the amount of members as Delaware PTA. Which means they have a lot more cash and pull with National PTA. Plus, New Yorkers are a hell of a lot fiestier than Delawareans. That doesn’t mean I would seriously mess with the Dynamic Duo of Dr. Terri Hodges and Yvonne Johnson. I wrote a few articles about this issue last winter, as well as poking a bit at Johnson’s involvement with the Christina School District. I caught holy hell for that.
But I do wish Delaware would follow New York’s lead on this. They are basically telling John King AND National PTA “We don’t care what your stance on opt out is. We are going to tell parents what their rights are.” New York leads the way with opt outs, followed by New Jersey. Yes, Delaware’s PTA could get into a heck of a lot of trouble with National PTA if they get back on their opt out positions, but who cares? This a PARENT-TEACHER organization, not Laura Bay and Friends. If the former district testing coördinator wants to hate on opt out, let her. But she should not get a whole parent organization to stop doing what they feel is best for parents. It’s kind of what they are there for Ms. Bay!
In the meantime, the next few months will be very interesting, not only in Delaware, but across the country. As these regulations go forward, I predict a lot of pushback from many states, teacher unions, parents, schools, and advocates for public education. Hopefully, the members of Congress who like to call out John King on a monthly basis will continue to do so. If they don’t, John King gets his way, and the punitive mandates of Race To The Top will still be here.