Feds propose punishing high opt-out schools
A looming deadline for public comment on proposed changes to federal education policy, including consequences to participation in opting out of testing, has sparked outcry from parents, legislators and education groups.
The new regulations, when adopted, would explain how states and school districts must implement the Every Student Succeeds Act, a federal law passed by Congress in December 2015 to replace the No Child Left Behind Law. The new law was aimed at relaxing federal control of education policy and giving more flexibility to the states.
The proposed amendment to ESSA, drafted by U.S. Secretary of Education John King, the former New York education commissioner, would punish schools with high opt-out rates by having school ratings lowered and require improvement strategies.
Since May 31, when the proposals were made public and days ahead of the Monday deadline, more than 15,800 comments have been submitted for the U.S. Department of Education's consideration.
Rye City Councilwoman Julie Killian, a Republican who is running for state Senate, and Phil Oliva, a Republican who is running for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, protested the amendment, which is proposed to start at the beginning of the 2017-18 school year, at a rally Friday in front of the Westchester County Center.
“This is the federal government and the Department of Education using local schools as sticks to bully parents away from exercising their legal rights,” said Oliva, who is an advisor to Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino.
About 20 percent of the area’s public school parents have opted their children out of the state’s grades 3-8 exams for math and English language arts over the last few years. The test refusal protest is largely against the exams’ alignment with the Feds propose punishing high opt-out schools: