May - June Issue
May 09, 2014

Opt-out movement growing

Source: NYSUT United

Parents of more than 34,000 students chose to excuse their children from taking the state's grade 3-8 English language arts exams; nearly 500 districts had at least one student opt out, according to the New York State Allies for Public Education.

NYSAPE, which posted a spreadsheet listing individual district numbers at, reported in some districts more than one-third of the parents submitted letters informing principals their children would opt out. Districts with some of the largest numbers opting out included Middle Country (1,253), Sachem (1,403) and West Seneca (890). As NYSUT United went to press, activists reported even more parents were opting their children out of state math exams — in some places more than twice as many students.

Despite efforts by union activists and parents to convince districts to allow "opt out" students to take part in alternate educational activities, NYSAPE reported 72 districts continued to force students to "sit and stare" during testing. Another 93 districts allowed non-test-taking students to "sit and read," while 157 districts allowed students to engage in quiet educational or remedial activities in another room.

NYSUT is on record saying that "sit and stare" policies are abusive to students opting out and distracting to students taking the tests.

— Sylvia Saunders