Commissioner Pryor’s agency tells superintendents to mislead and lie to parents – and they are

Shelton Connecticut Superintendent of Schools Freeman Burr is sending a letter to parents who seek to opt their children out of Connecticut’s standardized testing scheme.  The letter, based on a model provided by Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor’s office, is misleading and could reasonably be called an outright lie.

When Governor Malloy was recently asked if parents could opt their children out of Connecticut’s standardized tests he said that he didn’t know.  When Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, was asked the same question he managed to provide a non-answer.

But as directed by a memo released by Commissioner Pryor’s office last December, Connecticut superintendents are being told to mislead, even lie, to any parents who seek to opt their children out of Connecticut’s misguided standardized testing fiasco.

In Shelton, public school parents who inform their school that they are opting out their children from the standardized testing are getting a letter from Superintendent Freeman explaining that, “Shelton Public Schools have no degrees of freedom in this matter.  Federal and State laws require that public school students be tested.”

Freeman goes on to explain;

“Both federal and state statutes are clear in their language – that all students enrolled in public schools must take this yearly state assessment.  Until such legislation changes, the Department of Education and each school district must comply with federal and state mandates.”

However, Freeman’s response to Shelton parents is certainly not the truth, the whole and nothing but the truth.

Rather than tell parents the whole truth, Superintendent Freeman and others are following Commissioner Pryor’s instructions and purposely misleading Connecticut public school parents.

A December 2013 memo released by Commissioner Pryor’s office reads as follows:

“There is no opt-out language in state or federal law governing assessment. Sec.10-14n of the Connecticut Education Laws states that “Each student enrolled…in any public school shall annually take a statewide mastery examination.”

However the memo goes on to explain;

 “….there are no legal/policy directions when parents seek to remove a child from statewide testing. Until recently, there have only been a handful of requests for exemptions each year. Districts are now reporting greater numbers of parents desiring to remove their child(ren) from participation in the statewide testing program.

The State Department of Education memo instructs Connecticut public school superintendents and other school administrators what they are to say to mislead, trick and lie to Connecticut parents.

Those instructions are as follows:

“If Parent(s) contact their public school district to request/inform the district that they want their child(ren) removed from statewide testing…

  • The school or district administrator explains to the parent that the district has no degrees of freedom in the matter. Federal and state law requires that public school students are to be tested.

If Parent calls the state to ask if they can opt-out of testing.

  • State informs parent that there is no opt-out language in the law. As long as the student is enrolled in a Connecticut public school, the district is required to test them on some form of the statewide exam. The state sends a copy of the statutory references to the parent.

If Parent informs the district that, regardless of the law, the district is not to test the student.

  • District is advised to get this statement of intent from the parent in writing so that the district can provide a written response. The CSDE’s legal office has provided a model letter…which districts may adapt, citing all pertinent laws and regulations and asking the parent to reconsider as it is a violation of the law not to comply.

If Parent writes back to the district a letter explaining that they have read and understood the district’s letter, but insist that the child not be tested.

  • In these cases, the district generally does not test the student and the student is counted as “absent” (for purposes of testing), which negatively impacts the participation rate for the district. The state, to date, has not done any follow-up on these cases.

Shelton’s superintendent of schools knows perfectly well that if parents “insist that the child not be testing” then “In these cases, the district generally does not test the student and the student is counted as “absent” (for purposes of testing).”

It is a truly shocking commentary about their obsession with standardized testing that Commissioner Pryor, the State Department of Education, Superintendent Freeman and others are intentionally misleading, even lying, to Connecticut parents.

Instead of starting with the truth and then explaining why they want parents to force their children to participate in the standardized testing program, Pryor and his entourage are trying to scare parents into compliance.

And as if that wasn’t bad enough, Shelton and almost every other Connecticut school district isn’t even using the Connecticut standardized mastery test this year.

Instead Shelton and those other districts are forcing their students to serve as guinea pigs or human test subjects for the Common Core Smarter Balanced Field Test (SBAC).

The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium is a corporate entity set up to develop the Common Core tests.  On their own website they admit that, “The Smarter Balanced Field Test will take place from March 18 – June 6, 2014. The Field Test is a trial run of the assessment system…”

The truth is that this year’s testing program is not even Connecticut’s mandated standardized test program.  It is nothing more than a “field test.”  As the Consortium goes on to reveal, “Each Smarter Balanced state individually determined how schools and students would be selected to take the Field Test. In some states, only a representative sample of students will participate—10 percent of students for each subject area. In others, the Field Test will be administered more broadly.”

Commissioner Pryor is claiming this test of a test is Connecticut’s Standardized Test and goes on to say that students MUST take the test and parents MAY NOT opt their children out of it.

But in reality, the Common Core Smarter Balanced Field Test is nothing more than an experiment and as Commissioner Pryor and the State Department of Education admit, if parents “insist that the child not be testing” then “in these cases, the district generally does not test the student and the student is counted as “absent” (for purposes of testing).

The whole Common Core standardized testing scheme is already a hoax, but to tell parents they’ve lost their parental rights is beyond contempt.

As stated earlier this week, it is time for Commissioner Pryor to resign and any superintendent or school administrator who intentionally misleads and lies to parents should be forced to head out the door right behind him.

  • mookalaboona

    Down with Pryor!

  • Rafael G

    Is this the same freeman Burr who was practically a dictator as vp of yellow house in work middle i wonder. But i love how they are willing to lie outright directly to parents and pray they aren’t informed of the truth of the matter

    • jonpelto

      How many freeman burrs can there be?

      Where is yellow house

      • Rafael G

        It WAS inside quirk middle school in Hartford which i believe is now global communications academy. They were quadrants of the school basically broken up by behavior and academics. Quirk had a vp for blue house, green house, yellow house and orange house.

  • JMC

    Another great resource for distribution, Jon! Thank you!
    The usual trolls seem to fall silent when OPT-OUT is mentioned here. Maybe if they are real quite, it’ll all go away – NOT!
    The brilliant Hitler Common Core Rant referenced here yesterday is going viral in CT even as we post. It is unanswerable. So is Colin McEnroe’s sparkling Courant takedown ot the digi-speak remarks the widget Pryor made in his interview on Where We Live last Monday.

  • ReTired

    Sounds like this Shelton Superintendent is running scared. So sad that as an “educator” he has no gumption and can stand up and tell his real feelings-provided he has any! The last bullet in the Q/A section of this post provides parents with all the ammunition they need when they make their demand.

    • guest

      So true. The only effective people anywhere – in business, at home, on the street – are ones who are willing to stand up and speak the truth and do what’s right. In life it really doesn’t matter what you do when things are easy. It matters most what you do when things get tough. It bothers me to see that a superintendent would put his livelihood ahead of what’s right for the hundreds? thousands? of students he is responsible for.
      Stuff like this really shows you who has got some character in reserve – like Colin McEnroe. Gets my hero of the day award!!

  • shade42morrow

    Funny, this four step opt-opt squashing protocol was on the SDE website until Tuesday.

    • JMC

      Interesting. The cowards. Good thing Jon and other posters made a screen grab of it. I’m putting my official copy of that chart, the State’s 4-step chart, with a new heading, i.e. “State of CT Dep’t of Education’s Official Parental Bullying Chart” on the back of my soon-to-be dispensed parental opt-out signature form. The Italics above will be the heading for it. Straddling the chart under it to the right and left will be the following:
      1. NO
      2. NO
      3. NO
      4. YES!
      YES! will be circled in red marker.

    • Linda174
      • JMC

        Great, got it L! You’re Awesome!

    • Linda174

      In these cases, the district generally does not test the student and the student is counted as “absent” (for purposes of testing), which negatively impacts the participation rate for the district.

      • JMC

        Hoorah for negative impacts!

    • Linda174

      Parent writes back to the district a letter explaining that they have read and understood the district’s letter, but insist that the child not be tested.

    • Linda174
      • JMC

        Wow! The Vanilla “Official (Name of State) Department of Education Parental Bullying Sheet”!

  • jschmidt2

    for those parents you opt out, how long will it take for the State to put DCS on their case to label them bad parents? I would not put it pass this admin to force compliance. I’m glad my children are adults now. They had enough experimentation done on them.

  • Gobsmacked133

    Wasn’t Freeman Burr in the HR department for Hartford Schools back around 2006 or so? If so, when did he earn an 093 superintendent certification?

    • Charlie Puffers

      Yes and I don’t know.

  • TestyParent

    Typical state BOE and reformer playbook. Let’s not forget that Burr also helped write the terrible SEED Plan, so he has friends in Hartford. The vote in Shelton was also not unanimous last time his contract was renewed. I think the vote was 5-3. Was this guy ever a teacher? Keep opt-ing out people!