BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda School Board voted unanimously Wednesday evening to drop a proposal to boycott State tests.
The district was faced with a big decision. A boycott may have resulted in the district losing up to $50 million in state aid. School Board President Bob Dana also says members would have been breaking the law.
Dana says a letter he recently received threatens loss of state aid and removal from office if the board actually went through with the boycott of state tests and assessments.
“I realize that they were out on a limb. I realize that our Board members faced incredible intimidation from the State Education Department, threats from the Governor’s Office” said Kenmore Teachers Association President Peter Stuhlmiller.
“I don’t think we ever had a doubt that we would be removed” said School Board President Bob Dana, but he says his bigger fear was losing $50 million in State aid, if the district didn’t administer next week’s State tests. “Our residents would’ve been sitting on pins and needles worrying about their taxes going up and it didn’t make any sense.”
Resident Ann Morelli thinks the whole plan was a waste of time and energy by the Board. “This was a lot of drama, unnecessary drama for the district at a time when we have consolidation, budget issues that haven’t been resolved yet.”
But the board did vote to continue the dialogue, by launching a one year lobbying effort with State Senator Marc Panepinto who voted against the State budget last week calling for better education.
“If we can unite the school boards in Western New York and then branch out into other areas around the State, maybe we can affect change” said Dana.
The State tests are scheduled to begin on Tuesday in public schools across New York. Last year, 60,000 students had the parents permission to opt out of taking the tests. This year, that opt-out number is expected to at least triple.
Some parents and teachers feel that too much emphasis is placed on teaching for those standardized tests and it takes away teachers’ ability to teach much of anything else. Opponents also feel that linking the tests with teacher evaluations is unfair because it doesn’t take into account other factors like the socio-economics in a given district.