With Long Island remaining the hub of the state’s opt-out movement (As of this writing 71,496 refusals have been reported.), it’s not surprising that one of our local politicians has nervously introduced legislation clearly aimed at mollifying the anti-testing electorate in in his district. Senator Jack Martins has introduced a bill that would exempt 20 percent of the state’s highest performing districts from the newly adopted Annual Professional Performance Review measures adopted by Albany.
While his legislation has a surface appeal to those who live and work in school districts that are some of the best in our nation and as good as most in the world, a little thought reveals the ethical absurdity of the proposal. We know beyond doubt that high test scores correlate with family income. Parents of rich kids can and do provide them with opportunities ranging from the obvious to the more subtle and immeasurable that get reflected on standardized tests from the third grade ELA test to the SAT. That said, are we then to increase the stakes on examinations for the economically and socially disadvantaged, judging their teachers by a dubious standard while those from more affluent and advantaged communities are exempt? Does such a move make any sense other than as an obvious attempt to quiet the opt-out movement by state politicians who grow increasingly fearful that their support for the new teacher evaluation system could seriously jeopardize their chances for re-election?
Suggestions like this one from Senator Martins should serve to heighten our determination to see to it that we are better represented in Albany by people whose motivations are deeper than political expediency. Senator Martins and those who voted with him to double down on testing had a chance to stand up for public education and the quality schools in his district. He muffed to opportunity to stand for something worthwhile. Our movement to end the scourge of high stake stesting has an ethical depth that people like him simply can’t understand. We won’t be divided and conquered.