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    As I write this, parents in Scarsdale, New York, one of the most prestigious school systems in our state, are rebelling against the state tests that have come to take over the month of May in the lives of middle school students, teachers and parents. Many are keeping their kids home, ignoring the threats of the State Education Department, and vigorously protesting the assessment mania that has overtaken our Commissioner of Education and the education bureaucracy in Albany. Bravo to the parents of Scarsdale and to the growing numbers of parents like them throughout the nation who are fed up with a system of education that is driven by so-called high stakes tests. To the great shame of every superintendent in the state and, yes, NYSUT and NEA/New York the two state teacher unions, these parents are fighting alone.

    What an opportunity has been missed for unionists, parents and administrators to work together. Imagine the state unions using their organizing capacities to build a coalition that’s just waiting to be made against the stupidity that passes for policy in the State Education Department. Thus, we have higher standards that are really lower standards, high stakes tests that get in the way of the education of children, pointless barriers put in the paths of idealistic young people who wish to be teachers and laws which claim they will make schools safer but which at best will confirm the impression of far too many students that school looks and feels very much like jail.

    What an opportunity has been missed thus far to tell the Emperor of the New York State Education Department and the Regents that teachers, administrators and parents have all seen that they really do not have any serious policies to address the needs of New York’s schools, that they have perpetrated a sham on the citizens of this state that will take us years to overcome. Think of the political heat we could generate on behalf of the children of this state.

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