UFT Solidarity provides services and support where where needed. We concentrate on UFT members, as we are a caucus within the United Federation of Teachers, but our goal is to bridge the gap between all stakeholders in the school community. We are now working on an initiative to make it easier for parents to opt-out their children from high-stakes tests.
In an effort to support the growing opt-out movement, and streamline the opt-out process, we have developed a web application that is accessible from any smartphone’s web browser. No downloading and installing is required. However, before officially launching this web app, we want your feedback. You can test this new streamlined process by visiting www.optthemout.com. Also, please comment below or on our Facebook page by visiting www.facebook.com/uftsolidarity.
The website works by asking for the parent/guardian’s name(s), the student’s name, the student’s grade,, the test(s) they want to opt-out from and finally, the school the child attends. Once they are selected from a list of NYC DOE schools, the principal’s name and email address are pulled in and an opt-out letter is created. Finally, the user can preview the opt-out letter before it is sent from their smart phone’s email app.
A great part of this system is that it abides by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and no personal information about the parent, student or school is stored or saved on the website. Once the parent/guardian sends the opt-out email, it is stored in their email’s “Sent Items” folder. Another great feature is that the website only records the number of times an opt-out refusal email is created. This way we can all keep track of how many have used this method. We hope to see that number grow.
Recently, New York State Education Department Commissioner MaryEllen Elia stated that it is “unethical” for teachers to encourage parents to opt-out, but we say it is “unethical” for us to administer tests to our students that do more harm than good. The Commissioner has also stated that parents do have the right to opt-out their children, but is convinced she can sway public opinion for parents to choose to opt in for the state tests.
Please let us know of any issues you find and especially if you use this website to opt-out your child. We anticipate that the DOE or NYSED will try and say they do not accept this electronic method, but in reality there is no official process, so this method should be accepted as it was accepted during the 2015 tests.