Dissatisfaction with Cuomo common bond among local educators

Article from Kingston Times about the Ulster County Defends Public Education forum on February 23, 2015

With the refusal to supply school districts with aid runs, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s position on educational funding this year is unpopular with many people involved in public education. Cuomo has tied this year’s state funding for public schools to adoption of his “reform” package. Feb. 23’s education forum at the M. Clifford Miller Middle School in Kingston brought together often-disparate groups who seemed to realize that they’re in this together more than they might have previously thought. They all have in common the thought that the governor is trying to coerce them to get what he wants.

Bianca Tanis spoke at the forum.  She is a founding member of NYSAPE, NYS Allies for Public Education, who is co-hosting a forum with KAFE on March 16, 2015.

According to Tanis, the grassroots approach is what that may have the greatest chance of success. Herself a New Paltz parent of an elementary-school student with a learning disability, Tanis said she and her husband brought concerns about how standardized testing might emotionally impact their son to school officials. When that proved unsuccessful, she said, they attempted to move higher and higher up the hierarchy.

“I went down every avenue to every person in power I could for help, and I was told, We recognize it will probably be very traumatic for him, but it’s the law and there’s nothing we can do about it,” Tanis said. “What changed that was the mobilization of parents. It wasn’t lawyers, it wasn’t people in power. It was parents and grassroots activism that changed this. New York State still does not have a legal refusal provision, but it’s my right.”

Locally, groups like Kingston Action for Education (KAFE) are helping push back. Last November, the Ulster County Legislature voted 23-0 for a resolution supporting the discontinuation of common-core implementation until the standards can be evaluated and improved at the state level.

KAFE was very proud to work with Ulster County legislators to help pass this resolution and we are continuing to work to bring about changes in education needed for our children.

Padalino said the district will continue focusing its efforts internally on the academic success of its students, even as its administrators, teachers and parents continue their efforts to have their voices heard by the Cuomo administration. “This might not be a popular thing to say, but if we’re not doing our job we need to be held accountable for that,” Padalino said. “If there’s someone who can do it better, they should do it better. But if we’re doing our job and 100 percent of our kids are walking across that stage and graduating from high school, we’re not going to have those problems.”

Tanis said that her group will continue its push to have parents opt out of standardized tests on behalf of their children. “Focusing on high-stakes testing is hurting public education,” she said. “It narrows the curriculum and students are less engaged in their education. There’s absolutely no evidence or research that correlates increased academic achievement to standardized testing. Most of these reforms, they’re not really based on evidence. There’s nothing that proves that these reforms that governor Cuomo is putting out there will be in any way effective.”

NYSAPE and KAFE are co-hosting a forum about high-stakes testing and public education at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, March 16 at the Kingston Alliance Church at 90 Millers Lane in Kingston.

KAFE Demystifying Testing flyer

CDOS is NOT a diploma!

Parents, would you want your child to complete their academic “career” with only this?


It’s not a diploma.  It’s not a license.

It’s a piece of paper that says your child attended school but for whatever reason was not able to graduate.

What it also says is YOUR CHILD IS A DISABLED CHILD!

This violates their privacy rights.  This violates their medical information.

It’s difficult enough for folks with GED’s to get a more than minimum wage job or entry into community college or the military. What will this really do?  Community colleges have already stated it’s not a recognized document for acceptance/matriculation. So what’s then point?

This document explains the new certificates available to special Ed students.  The CDOS and SACC are NOT diplomas and in our opinion are a violation of FERPA, basically telling employers that this person has a disability.

Feedback from 2014 New York State ELA test grades 3-8

This document is from the School Administrator Association of New York State. It shows the ELA 3-8 assessments 2014 feedback from school districts in New York State.

Take a look at some of the heartbreaking responses some districts reported.  KCSD response-“The profile of students who opted out were the highest performers-those expected 3 or 4.” That’s all the feedback they could provide?

Scroll through the first few pages of opt out # and you will get to the district responses.

ELA 3-8 State Assessments 2014 -Feedback from Schools and Districts-

KAFE asks BOE to inform parents of their right to refuse state tests

At the Kingston Board of Education meeting on March 4, 2015, Maria Maritsas asked the board the following:

My name is Maria Maritsas from Kingston Action For Education. I am here tonight to ask the board to support the parents in this district. I am asking you to inform parents of their right to refuse or take the Common Core grades 3-8 assessments. Parents in this district are getting conflicting information as to what their rights are. Today, Assemblyman James Tedesco filed the Common Core Parental Refusal Act legislation in the Assembly. This bill will mandate that schools notify parents of their right to refuse. It has over 30 sponsors to this bill.

There is no doubt that the refusal numbers for testing will increase. Parents are fed up with the Governor’s systematic dismantling of our public schools. He is holding the budget hostage by tying aid to proposed changes, we are losing local control of our schools, he is proposing that 85% of the teacher evaluations be taken out of district hands-50% tied to out comes of testing, 35% by an outside evaluator, and a mere 15% by this district. With such an emphasis on testing it most definitely creates a teaching to the test atmosphere. We will be churning out good test takers that aren’t good at much else. The tests are developmentally inappropriate and abusive for our most needy students and we will be losing some of the best teacher with his proposed evaluations. Governor Cuomo is using our children to vilify their teachers.

Enough is enough. I will be refusing the tests for my daughters. I am tired of hearing about planes being built in the air while it’s flying. Our children’s education is not an experiment. The testing was created not to help my child but to evaluate their teacher. That is wrong. The only rabbit we as parents can pull out of a hat is refusal. We need to send a clear message to Albany that our children are not their guinea pigs to use. The tests do not lead to furthering their instruction that school year. Again I am asking the board to consider informing parents of their rights. Thank you.


The Freeman reported on the above statement in this article:

Members of watchdog group Kingston Action for Education have found an ally in school district Superintendent Paul Padalino regarding a possible loss of local control of teacher evaluations.

Padalino has avidly supported using tests to evaluate programs, but said he agreed with the parents group that the district should retain control over evaluations.

“What he (Cuomo) just did was really reinforced or helped the people who want to opt out gain more momentum,” he said.

“I think the tests have value and using the tests to assess what we do and how we do it and how we can do it better in the future is useful,” Padalino said. “I think assessing our students is something we need to do and 80 percent of that assessment is done here locally. That’s an appropriate proportion, but…having 80 percent controlled by someone else, that’s not.”

Parents Stand Together to Reject Governor Cuomo’s Education Reform Debacle

Kingston Action For Education is proud to be standing with NYSAPE and parents across the state to reject Governor Cuomo’s education debacle.

“Governor Cuomo and his controversial education agenda vows to bust public education.  However, we remain in control because Cuomo and his agenda place extreme weight on Common Core tests.  Seven of the eleven flawed education points in Cuomo’s State of the State address rely almost entirely on Common Core tests.  When parents refuse the tests in large numbers, we will stop Cuomo,” said Eric Mihelbergel, Erie County public school parent, founding member of NYSAPE.

Now, as the next round of excessive state testing approaches, it is time to stand together.  NYSAPE has several events and resources for parents to learn more about the flaws in Governor Cuomo’s Agenda and how they can fight back and reclaim classrooms of learning and inquiry for their children.  Now is the time to stand as one and reject, once and for all, classrooms that have become Governor Cuomo’s politically motivated compliance factories for testing. Parents and educators are coming out in droves to make their voices heard against reforms that harm children and denigrate our public schools. The refusal movement is on fire and has been set ablaze throughout the state. Here is how you can do your part. Attend a Forum: Learn More and Take Action!   – Thousands of Parents Stand Together to Reject Governor Cuomo’s Education Reform Debacle

Join us for the Demystifying Testing forum we are hosting with NYSAPE this coming Monday March 16, 2015 6:30pm to learn more about the testing and what you can do to take action!

KAFE Demystifying Testing flyer

Dr. Joseph Rella exposes the Common Core Reform Agenda

This is a superintendent from Long Island, Dr. Joseph Rella. He exposes the education reform and what it is really about, the dismantling of our public schools. He discusses many issues in our districts. I hope all BOE members, parents, concerned citizens take the time to listen to this presentation. He presents an entire picture of the problems currently at hand with this education reform. Parents are the key to help solve this problem. Refuse the tests!  – Maria

Common Core Parental Refusal Act

This is a bill being presented that makes it a LEGAL REQUIREMENT for school districts to notify parents/guardians that they have the LEGAL RIGHT TO REFUSE THE TEST!!!

Right to Refuse law
Contact your rep’s and ask them to sign on and support!!!

March 4, 2015

Jim Tedisco

Today, I filed the Common Core Parental Refusal Act legislation in the Assembly. I should have a bill number in a few days which I will share with you. Thanks to all your continued advocacy, calls, letters, emails, tweets and posts about this legislation to ensure all parents are informed of their rights to have their children refuse to take the Common Core standardized tests in grades 3-8. The bill provides a notification for schools to send to parents informing them of their right to refuse to have their children take the Common Core tests along with a response form that parents can complete and return to the schools. These notices can be sent via email, letter or home with children in their school bags.
The legislation protects school districts and individual schools from having state aid withheld or any other punitive measures by the state. The bill protects teachers from being penalized due to a lack of student participation or performance on the exams. It also ensures that students are not punished or rewarded for their participation or lack thereof in the exams and would set-aside alternate study activities for those who refuse the tests so they are not forced to “sit and stare” in the same room as their peers who are taking the tests.
Thanks to your efforts we have over 30 sponsors in the Assembly. Senator Terrence Murphy and Senator Rich Funke are carrying the bill in the state Senate. Here are a list of Assembly members who are co-sponsoring the Common Core Parental Refusal Act:Will Barclay, Charles Barron, Joe Borrelli, Karl Brabenec, Marc Butler, John D. Ceretto,Cliff Crouch, Assemblyman David DiPietro, Janet Duprey, Christopher Friend, Andrew Garbarino, Andy Goodell, Al Graf, Steve Hawley, Mark Johns, Stephen Katz, Michael Kearns, Kieran Michael Lalor, Peter Lawrence, Pete Lopez, Chad Lupinacci, Nicole Malliotakis, Dave McDonough, Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin, Dean Murray, Bill Nojay, Assemblyman Phil Palmesano, Edward Ra, Andrew Raia, Claudia Tenney, andRay Walter. If you don’t see your legislator on this list, please contact them and ask them to sign on and I will gladly sign them up. Thanks!

Ulster County Defends Public Education Forum Recap

KAFE attended the Ulster County Defends Public Education Forum held at Miller Middle School on February 23, 2015.

Ulster County Defends Public Education Tory

Video coverage by our friend Mert Melfa.  Please take the time to watch and listen. This is the first time you are going to be able to hear PUBLICALLY from our teachers. You will also hear straight from Dr. Padalino himself (from KCSD) his thoughts on Test Refusals and that he DOES NOT support informing parents of their legals rights and will NOT allow our teachers to have open dialogue with parents/guardians about such.

(Oh, and you’ll hear me, Tory, during the Q and A as well!)

Full video of the forum:


Video clips:

Kristina Flick, veteran teacher.   Broke my heart listening to her because this hit very close to home…especially when she talks about young children getting so upset and frustrated and depressed about their school work that they start talking about suicide!!! – Tory

Tory Lowe during Q&A.  Hear it for yourself. KCSD Dr. Paul Padalino refusing and denying parents information that they have a legal right to…  Tory

Kingston Times article about the forum – Dissatisfaction with Cuomo common bond among local educators – March 6, 2015

Test Refusal Resources

NYSAPE Refusal Letter 2015 English

NYSAPE Refusal Letter 2015 Spanish

NYSAPE BW Quick Fact Sheet