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The One about Silencing Teachers, Retribution and the Smell of Fear from the Reformers...

I received the note below from a former student who is now a teacher. For obvious reasons, I won't identify her or where she teaches, but--shockingly--her story is becoming all too common... "We had a union meeting yesterday where they warned us that the governor is going after the certificates of teachers that opted out their kids (of the state tests). The governor says it breaks our contract agreeing to protect and follow educational laws. Is this legal?

Educators alarmed by some questions on N.Y. Common Core tests

I wrote a post yesterday saying education activists were reporting more than 175,000 New York students had opted out of Common Core English Language Arts exams given last week — and many more districts were still unheard from.

Chicago schools chief takes leave as feds probe no-bid contract

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s schools chief has taken leave from her job amid a federal investigation into the school system’s $20 million no-bid contract with her former employer, Chicago officials said Friday.

Tisch must step aside

The stunning success of the test-refusal movement in New York is a vote of no confidence in our state educational leadership.

Way out of touch and also out of their minds

New York politicians beware. A revolution is in progress. This past week angry and frustrated parents across the state kept their third- through eighth-graders in astounding numbers from taking required but despised standardized English tests.

On Witch Hunts

The Rochester City School District has made national headlines again. This time because Chief of Schools Beverly Burrell-Moore sent an email to the principals she supervises asking them to share names of teachers who have encouraged parents to refuse to allow their children to take state exams.

Fed-up parents revolt against state's standardized tests

The entire structure of high-stakes testing in New York crumbled Tuesday, as tens of thousands of fed-up public school parents rebelled against Albany’s fixation with standardized tests and refused to allow their children to take the annual English Language Arts state exam.

Common Core consequences: “What currently passes for reform’ has caused considerable collateral damage to schools and teachers”

Politicians from across the political spectrum have made public schools and schoolteachers the favored whipping post of the day.

RTA Files Grievance As New York State Standardized Tests Begin

As students in grades 3-8 across New York began taking state standardized tests, the Rochester Teacher's Association filed a grievance with the Rochester City School District after a high-ranking school official emailed principals asking for the names of teachers who encouraged students or families to opt out.

Adam Urbanski Defends Teachers’ Freedom of Speech

A letter was circulated to all principals in the Rochester, New York, school system, advising them to identify teachers who had encouraged parents or students to opt out and to report teachers who were absent on testing day.

Thousands "Opt Out" of State Tests Across Monroe County

You feel like you're not good enough because you don't know the answers to the questions," said Rochester City School Fifth Grader, Abby Cullinane. "I'm doing it because I love my kids. Nobody can dispute that, " added Ricardo Adams.


Democrat and Chronicle editors blame union leaders for opt-out debacle... they couldn't be more wrong... here is why... Wow, are the Democrat and Chronicle editors wrong. Very wrong. They blame teacher union leaders for the opt-out debacle.

Learn more…

More parents keeping kids from state tests

Third- through eighth-graders across New York will sit down for six days of math and English tests starting next week — unless they don't. The "opt-out" movement, now in its second year, is an unprecedented response to a bitter disagreement over how the state should go about making sure its students are learning what they're supposed to learn.


Recent Editorials

Standing Up For Public Education

View on YouTube

Bill Cala Keynote Address

Creative response from a Little Falls Teacher to Governor Cuomo

  1. Professional Teacher

  2. The Louder We Scream

  3. The Governor and the Wrecking Ball

Breaking: Rochester Teachers Oppose High-Stakes Testing, Support Opt Out

This resolution, drafted by RTA Treasurer Paul Hetland, should be a model for the AFT and the NEA and for their affiliates. Teachers do not oppose testing; they oppose the misuse of testing. Teachers do not oppose accountability; they oppose accountability that is contrary to research and experience, whose purpose is not to improve instruction but to punish teachers for low scores.

Is retirement around the corner?

If you are retiring or considering retirement in the next three years, you are invited to attend the NYSUT Member Benefits Pre-Retirement Workshop. This no-cost workshop held exclusively for NYSUT members is designed to highlight many of the subjects you will face in retirement. Please note that this is NOT a TRS or ERS-sponsored presentation, and neither retirement system will be in attendance at this workshop.

Learn more…


The Leader of the Resistance Diane Ravitch

She’s kinda our Obi-wan, ya know… our only hope. I had heard of Diane Ravitch prior to her apparent defection to the dark side of right- wing Conservative think tanks. These are the think tanks that became associated with shoddy research and ideological conclusions devoid of evidence (much of which continues today). The educational research community at the time was as perplexed by her leaving as some are now by her return (both of which she addresses in this article).

Learn more…


The attached email was sent to school principals by Beverly Burrell-Moore. Understandably, teachers find the tone and content of that email to be a blatant attempt at intimidation and an infringement on teachers’ rights and academic freedom. I have immediately brought this to the attention of Superintendent Vargas who said that he was unaware of the email but would communicate his position to teachers directly later today. 

Click here to see email…

As well they should, teachers feel a moral obligation to speak up when they witness harm being done to their students. The tests being now imposed on students are educational malpractice and should be objectionable to teachers, parents and all others who care about students. I applaud all parents who choose to refuse to subject their children to these meaningless and bad tests and commend teachers who insist on their right to respond to inquiries from parents and students.

Today we have filed a Class Action Grievance against the District for already taking disciplinary action against individual teachers. Please let us know if you or your colleagues suffer any reprisals as a result of speaking out against these tests. We will continue to defend the rights of teachers to speak out against harmful educational practices and to advocate for the best interest of their students.

Please feel free to share any of the attached information. And if you have questions or suggestions, please contact RTA’s Paul Hetland, who is coordinating our efforts on these and related challenges. Parents and teachers can reclaim our schools as places for teaching and learning - not testing and punishing. But we can only do that together.

  1. RTA response to RCSD

  2. RCSD letter to principals

  3. RTA's Anti Testing Resolution

  4. MLK Jr Flyer

  5. Did you Know

  6. Refusal FAQ

  7. Refusal letter


As you already know, RTA has taken a formal position to support the rights of parents to refuse their children from being subjected to testing that they consider unnecessary or harmful. The Rochester City School District, claiming that "there is no provision for opting out,” is urging parents to go along with the testing. But even if there were no such provision to opt out, there is also no question that parents have the right to refuse - the District’s semantics notwithstanding.

To help clarify this issue, please read carefully the fact sheet from the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT), our state union. Contact the RTA with any specific questions, concerns or need for assistance. 

Adam Urbanski, RTA President

Click here for fact sheet