Updated – Please note the correct location for the meeting to instruct superintendents on how to prevent parents from opting out. It is not at the LOB, but it is taking place at the Department of Education, State Office Building, 165 Capitol Avenue, Hartford, CT. on Monday, February 29, 2016 from 3:00pm to 4:30pm
Look Out Connecticut!
The forces behind the corporate education reform industry and their effort to turn public schools into little more than testing factories are getting even more mean-spirited and out-of-control.
On Friday afternoon – February 19, 2016 – Governor Dannel Malloy and Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman’s Commissioner of Education wrote to Connecticut school superintendents who failed to follow the Malloy administration’s directive and “allowed” too many parents to opt their children out of the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) testing scheme last spring.
Put aside, for a moment, the reality that there is no federal or state law, regulation or legal policy that prevents a parent from refusing to have their child participate in a standardized testing scam that is intentionally designed to fail a significant number, if not a majority, of all public school students.
Because – when it comes to the “MY WAY OR NO WAY” Malloy administration, nothing is going to stand in the way of their ongoing effort to push forward with their irresponsible standardized testing program, all while undermining a parent’s fundamental and inalienable right to protect their children from the destructive SBAC tests.
Writing on behalf of state government, the head of the Connecticut Department of Education has now informed local school superintendents that they must STOP parents from opting their children out of the SBAC tests or else!
And the “or else” is that the state will punish the students, teachers and taxpayers of any school district in which more than five percent of parents opt their children out of that district’s SBAC testing program.
Commissioner of Education Dianna Wentzell informed districts with high opt-out rates that school administrators must attend a mandatory meeting at the Legislative Office Building on February 29, 2016 and that those same districts must submit a “Corrective Action Plan” to the Department of Education by March 11, 2016 on how they intend to stop parents from opting out.
The Commissioner begins her latest tirade by dismissing the legitimate concerns that parents, teachers and education experts have raised about the absurd SBAC testing program by opining;
“We understand that your 2014-15 district participation is likely an aberration.”
No Commissioner Wentzell, as a parent who has opted a child out of the testing farce and a resident of a school district that is being targeted for punishment by the State Department of Education, I assure you that our concerns are not an “aberration” in any way whatsoever.
In fact, not only does a parent have a Constitutionally guaranteed and inalienable right to refuse to have their child participate in the standardized testing frenzy, the decision to do so is a thoughtful, appropriate and understandable response after assessing the impact that the Common Core standardized testing mania is having on our students, teachers, public schools and taxpayers.
Then Commissioner Wentzell goes on to tell the targeted superintendents;
However, since participation in 2014-15 was substantially below the standard, please submit a detailed action plan by March 11, 2016 as to the steps the district is taking/will take to more fully engage teachers, students, parents, and the entire school community around the purpose and nature of the state assessment. As stated in our approved plan with the USED, federal funds will be withheld if all participation rates are not at or above 90 percent in 2015-16.
To support you in this endeavor, the Connecticut State Department of Education is hosting a roundtable discussion on family and community engagement strategies on Monday, February 29, 2016 from 3:00 – 4:30 at the State Office Building in Hartford. We ask that you and at least two other individuals from the district office attend this meeting. Please email Mary Anne Butler at [email protected] the names of the attendees so that we may arrange for parking.
We remain confident that your positive efforts will help to ensure that the 95 percent participation rate standard is achieved in 2015-16.
The Malloy administration’s edict is certainly direct, albeit unethical and abusive.
If local school leaders are not successful in stopping parents from utilizing their right to opt their children out of the SBAC testing, the Malloy administration will “withhold” funds from that school district, thereby reducing the amount of money that schools need to provide their students with the education that they deserve, and are entitled to, under the Connecticut Constitution.
Connecticut citizens should take special note of the deceitful way in which the Department of Education fails to reveal just what “funds” they intend to withhold from the “bad” school districts.
According to memos sent to superintendents, but not yet released to the public, Malloy and Wyman’s Education Department will be withholding what are called Title 1 Federal Funds – those are the dollars that come through a fifty year-old federal program that provides states with extra money to help poor children succeed in school.
Yup, you read that right
If local superintendents don’t stop at least 95% of their parents from opting their children out of the inappropriate SBAC testing program, the state of Connecticut will withhold funds intended to provide poor children with the extra support they need to overcome the significant and systemic challenges that they face.
Even in these troubling times, it is a stark commentary on the mindset of our state’s elected officials.
Their policy, strategies and tactics must not go unchallenged.
Malloy, Wyman and every Connecticut state senator and state representative should be required to step forward and defend their actions.
Parents should also consider attending Commissioner Wentzell’s “mandatory meeting” on February 29, 2016 to dispel any notion that elected and appointed officials will not be held accountable for this outrage.
Wentzell’s Mandatory Meeting for Targeted School Districts:
State Office Building – Department of Education
Monday, February 29, 2016
3:00pm – 4:30pm
For more about this issue read;
“My daughter will not be taking the “state mandated” NEW SAT on March 2nd 2016.” (Wait, What? Blog 1/28/2016)
Some CT superintendents continue to violate parents’ civil rights and their own Code of Responsibility (Wait, What? Blog 2/15/2016)
LOOK OUT! If parents opt their children out, the Malloy administration will cut funding for poor children (Wait, What? Blog 2/10/16)
Other Wait, What? Blog Posts about the SBAC and opt-out issue including articles written by Wendy Lecker, Sarah Darer Littman, John Bestor and others can be found by searching on Wait, What?