Even as UFT leadership breaks out the champagne over NY State's largely meaningless Common Core recommendations, Governor Cuomo ought to keep worrying. Because the fact is UFT leadership has played virtually no part in opt-out. They've delayed and prevented meaningful resolutions, and backed up reformy claims that aid would be withheld if not enough kids took tests that Cuomo himself called meaningless, except for rating teachers.
Even if these tests are temporarily decoupled from rating teachers, and even if they change the name of Common Core, opt-out activists will not simply fold their tents and agree to Governor Cuomo's sleight of hand. Not everyone is willing to declare victory every time a demagogue offers lip service. I have no idea why UFT leadership is so anxious to do so, but their need to label absolutely everything and anything as a Great Victory limits their repertoire of responses.
While UFT is willfully and chronically out of touch, our brothers and sisters in PJSTA keep their eyes open all the time and offer a much different interpretation of the task force recommendations. Their President, Beth Dimino, is a tireless advocate for children. She's been an active participant in opt-out, and had no problem whatsoever speaking truth to John King, even as myopic UFT leadership scrambled for that ever-elusive "seat at the table."
You'd better believe, if Cuomo hasn't fooled Beth Dimino, he hasn't fooled parent leaders of opt-out either. Opt-out claimed 20% of New York's children last year, is spreading by leaps and bounds, and aims to get closer to 50% next year. The fact is Cuomo's committee recommended that state test-based junk science be placed on hold for a few years, but allowed the testing to continue anyway. There's not a whole lot of motivation for parents to allow their kids to sit for tests that have no meaning for anyone whatsoever.
A big argument UFT leadership trots out as to why we need this testing is that civil rights groups endorse it. If that is the case (and I'm not completely persuaded it is), then the remedy is to educate said groups as to what these tests actually do. If we wish to correct societal inequality, we certainly won't do so by ignoring poverty and scapegoating teachers and schools. As long as UFT leadership accepts this preposterous assumption, we are part of the problem. We need to stop buying into false reformy assumptions so that Andy Pallotta can buy tables at Cuomo fundraisers.
We need to take a stand with the opt-out movement, a true grassroots movement fueled by truth, passion and a desire to do what's right for our children. If Michael Mulgrew and his loyalty-oath signing sycophants are unwilling or unable to do the right thing, they should move over and endorse opt-out activist Jia Lee for UFT President.
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