New York teacher's union chief to parents: Opt your kids out of standardized testing

Mar 31, 2015

The leader of the state's largest teachers union is boldly calling on parents to "opt out" of standardized testing.

Credit WBFO News File Photo

While appearing as a guest on Monday's The Capitol Pressroom, NYSUT President Karen Magee told host Susan Arbettor, "I am saying at this time that I would urge parents to opt out of testing...because they're not valid indicators of student progress."

Magee noted there are approximately 250,000 students statewide that have opted out of state testing. But outraged with the union leader's comments is Western New York's outgoing Regents Board Member Robert Bennett.

"I think it's very irresponsible for an official like that to say that," says Bennett. "It's using children to advance a political cause which is entirely the wrong approach.

Bennett notes testing is part of a federal requirement tied to funding. Bennett says he doesn't believe opting out accomplishes anything for a student. He disagrees with Magee's comment that it is not an indicator of student progress.
"I don't know what in the world will be accomplished if a child opts out of a test," noted Bennett. "I'm just extremely shocked and disappointed that a leader like that would do such a bad thing."

Magee was also asked about the Kenmore-Tonawanda School Board's vote to consider a possible boycott on state testing and the warning Ken-Ton received from the state education department.

"I think they should look at the policies that they put in place to ensure they're doing the right thing by all our students first before they go after punitive attacks on threats to school districts," Magee told Arbetter.

Bennett was highly irritated with the NYSUT leaders response.

"Our legal doesn't make mistakes. Believe me, they have the authority."

Bennett tells WBFO News Ken-Ton could immediately lose Title One money if it a boycott is approved. A final Ken-Ton School board vote will be held April 8. 

Bennett conducts his final day as a Regents member Tuesday. He has been replaced by new member Catherine Fisher Collins of Buffalo.