‘Refuse the test’ fundraiser is misguided

Scores for Long Island students in grades three through eight who took the Common Core state exams in the spring of 2015 rose modestly this year compared to last, according to the New York State Education Department. Look up scores by district here. But that only tells part of the story. Long Island also had more than 46 percent of eligible students refuse to take state tests -- far higher than the state average -- according to Newsday's reporting. Look up opt-out rates for local districts here Photo Credit: NEWSDAY / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

For the second year in a row, organizers are hoping to pay for calls that would encourage parents to opt their children out of this year’s state tests, which begin April 5.

Scores for Long Island students in grades three through eight who took the Common Core state exams in the spring of 2015 rose modestly this year compared to last, according to the New York State Education Department. Look up scores by district <a href=here. But that only tells part of the story. Long Island also had more than 46 percent of eligible students refuse to take state tests — far higher than the state average — according to Newsday’s reporting. Look up opt-out rates for local districts here” class=”wp-image-111271947″/>
Scores for Long Island students in grades three through eight who took the Common Core state exams in the spring of 2015 rose modestly this year compared to last, according to the New York State Education Department. Look up scores by district here. But that only tells part of the story. Long Island also had more than 46 percent of eligible students refuse to take state tests — far higher than the state average — according to Newsday’s reporting. Look up opt-out rates for local districts here Photo Credit: Ecco

To help schools, parent-teacher associations often raise money online for arts or foreign language programs, supplies, field trips and more.

Now, advocates are asking parents and others to donate to a new fundraiser … for a “refuse the test robocall.”

For the second year in a row, organizers are hoping to pay for calls that would encourage parents to opt their children out of this year’s state tests, which begin April 5. Last year’s campaign raised about $17,000 in 10 days for a similar robocall, according to organizer and retired teacher Deb Escobar of Schenectady. This year’s effort, hosted by fundraising website Crowdrise, has brought in $1,730 since Monday, she said. Each dollar raised will pay for up to 25 calls, which are scheduled for April 3.

Last year’s opt-out movement led to more than 200,000 students refusing to take the tests. Since then, the state has instituted a four-year moratorium on linking test results to teacher evaluations and shortened the exam. But that’s not enough for Escobar, who wants more permanent changes to the tests.

“We need to not only move the mountain, but bring it tumbling down,” the campaign’s website introduction says.

Parents and teachers who’ve donated said in online comments that they’re doing so in honor of their children. But is this really about the children? We couldn’t help but wonder about the other ways $17,000 could be spent on our kids’ education. Think of how many pencils, books, paintbrushes or laptops a similarly successful fundraiser could buy.

This was first featured in The Point, the editorial board’s daily newsletter for insiders. To subscribe, click here.

Randi F. Marshall