In a unanimous voice vote, the nearly 3,000 delegates also formally withdrew the union’s support for the Common Core standards as interpreted and implemented in New York state and, in a separate resolution, supported the rights of parents and guardians to opt their children out of high-stakes tests.
Delegates representing NYSUT’s 600,000 members noted that educators are fully committed to high standards and closing the achievement gap. But, delegates said King’s rushed implementation of the Common Core standards, a State Education Department agenda that puts more emphasis on testing and data than teaching and learning, and King’s failure to listen to classroom teachers on professional issues had evaporated all confidence in the commissioner’s policies and ability to lead.
The union has repeatedly called for a three-year delay in the high-stakes consequences for student and teachers from standardized tests in order to give the State Education Department and Regents time to make significant course corrections and for school districts to adjust to sea changes in state education policy. The recently adopted state budget took some small steps to protect students and roll back some standardized testing — a position NYSUT strongly supported and lobbied for — but unconscionably failed to remedy the state’s use of invalid test scores in teacher evaluations.
“There is a revolution under way. Parents and teachers, standing together on behalf of what’s best for students, have made it clear that ‘enough is enough,'” said NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi. “We have had it with top-down decision-making that ignores the voices of parents and teachers, and we’ve had it with a broken ideology that values obsessive testing and data collection over teaching and learning and meeting the needs of the whole child.”
NYSUT Vice President Maria Neira said, “NYSUT and our members have consistently done everything to convince SED to avoid the train wreck they have engineered. For three years, SED and the Regents have repeatedly rejected every significant recommendation teachers and parents made to correct the huge problems with Common Core and the Regents reform agenda.” She added, “Our message is loud and clear: Commissioner King has got to go.”
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.