NYSUT condemns ‘sit and stare’ policies

This release was sent Monday, Feb. 3, 2014, to statewide print and broadcast media outlets.

For more information, contact:

NYSUT Media Relations
(518) 213-6000, ext. 6313
Email: mediarel@nysutmail.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NYSUT STRONGLY CONDEMNS ‘SIT AND STARE’ POLICIES

ALBANY, N.Y. Feb. 3, 2014 — New York State United Teachers President Richard C. Iannuzzi today called on school districts to abandon educationally unsound and unconscionable policies that force students whose parents have decided to opt them out of state testing to “sit and stare” instead of providing them with a constructive alternative.

At least 15 school districts on Long Island — and, reportedly, others statewide — have recently adopted or are considering such damaging policies ahead of April’s state standardized testing in English Language Arts and math, Iannuzzi said.

“NYSUT strongly condemns the policy of ‘sit and stare’,” Iannuzzi said. “This policy aimed at students whose parents elect to ‘opt out’ their children from state standardized testing is unconscionable. It would be spiteful and counter-productive for any school district to require an administrator or teacher to direct a child to ‘sit and stare’ at a blank desk while other students are taking exams because of a choice made by a parent.”

Iannuzzi added, “This is cruel to those students not taking the exam and a distraction and disservice to those who are attempting to complete it. Punishing or embarrassing children because their parents exercised their right to choose not to have their children participate in tests they consider inappropriate is, frankly, abusive.”

NYSUT Vice President Maria Neira called on the Regents and State Education Department to deliver to school districts clear guidance that protects children against detrimental and abusive testing policies. “This is an opportunity for the Regents and State Education Department to step in and protect students from harmful policies that result from parents exercising their right to decide what’s best for their child,” she said.

NYSUT strongly supports a parent’s right to “opt out” of state standardized tests if the parent believes state testing is inappropriate and may be harmful to his or her child.

Iannuzzi said the union would provide guidance and support to parents — or parent groups — unfairly singled out or harassed for advocating the right to opt out and added, “We will vigorously defend any NYSUT members who are subject to any negative employment considerations for choosing to opt out their own child or who advocate, to the extent permitted by law, for others who opt out of state standardized tests.”

New York State United Teachers is a statewide union with more than 600,000 members in education, human services and health care. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.

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About Betsy Bloom

Betsy is an Associate Professor of Education at Hartwick College in Oneonta NY. She is also a parent of two, a nine year veteran middle school social studies teacher and the current president of the NYS Foundations of Education Association, an organization dedicated to achieving social justice through public education.
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