DFER Clears Up Why Opting Out is Bad, Bad, Bad

You can read the whole article at USA Today about the huge number of opt-outs in New York State.  But this gem of a quote from the state director of Democrats for Education Reform - one Nicole Brisbane - reveals the REAL issue about opt-outs:

"Schools are one of the biggest differentiators of value in the suburbs," she said. "How valuable will a house be in Scarsdale when it isn't clear that Scarsdale schools are doing any better than the rest of Westchester or even the state? Opting out of tests only robs parents of that crucial data."

You can't make this stuff up.

For those of you who may not know, Scarsdale is a fairly upper-crust town in north of NYC.  The median income for a family there is about $290K.

Interestingly, here's what one superintendent in Cold Spring, NU had to say:

"Parents want to have a say in their child's education and this is one way they feel they can be heard," she said.


seattle citizen said…
I was raised in Northern Westchester and attended public schools in a town very similar to Scarsdale - Wealthy CEO'S and other highly paid executives, for the most part. Very, very white towns, yes indeedy.
My parents moved us to that town because of its schools. This is way, way....way before state tests of the sort we have now. While there were the NY Regents test, parents in my town didn't care about that in terms of land value (they cared only about their kid's score), nor do they, I'm sure, care about the current high-stakes test scores. They moved to the town for the schools because they knew that a) a large number of its students went to college (95%); b) all the people in the town, educators included, we're privy to an exclusionary "blue blood" club of networking (legacies at colleges, "knowing the right people", and jobs for junior at daddy's friend's business); c) the expectation of a homogenous and well-enriched group of well-prepared students who themselves were brought up with trips to the city, to nature, to museums, to plays....and could and would "play well with others" so as to mutually support each other in reaching for the expected gold ring; and d) the wealth and collaboration to hire great educators and pay for loads and loads of enriching extras at the schools - theaters, AV and other tech, field trips etc etc etc.
It was, and likely is, a self-perpetuating cycle of academic excellence for the benefit of the ruling class. And all public! Of course the taxes were high, but still cheaper than private, dontcha know. THOSE are the reasons people move to N. Westchester (and Scarsdale...Pshaw ; ) )
That DFER person knows not what they are talking about. The parents of Scarsdale and ________ would be scandalized to learn that someone thinks their property value goes up or down based on mere high-stakes test scores, because those scores are, of course wrong and hsve a whiff of mundaneness about them, and they're for the plebes.
(Now, if a 16 year old student one day happened to glance out the window of the New York Central as it rode, elevated, through Harlem, that student, upon seeing the capped out building of PS 108 amidst the poverty and hopelessness of that ghetto, that student might radically rethink the equity of public education, no, the equity of the United States, and realize that something had to be done because it just wasn't fair.
It's still not. And high-stakes test scores won't make things better.)
Anonymous said…
As a former educational consultant in Seattle I regularly heard parents ask about the 'test scores' in schools when they were working with real estate agents to locate and buy a house. It was incredible.

I'm not sure if parents just didn't get that scores are a fraction of what makes a school what it is--that the numbers reveal so little about a school's character. That the numbers often reveal how much unearned privilege and institutionalized racism is present in a building.

Maybe we need a new rubric on which to evaluate schools, that is accessible and informative. Like the 'walk scores' that were started a few years ago when you search for apts. and homes, know what I mean?

Eventually, if you give the deformers enough rope, they will hang themselves, just like this woman did in the article with her 'home value' statement.

Anonymous said…
Makes you want to be a Republican.

Ann D said…
Seattle Citizen - I was raised in Scarsdale and it wasn't like how you describe. I even present as evidence the following citation of Scarsdale's early and continued opposition to the high stakes and frequent testing that started with NCLB.

Start on page 116

The Test

FYI, most of my classmates had grandparents who were first generation Americans, not blue bloods. The town was 60% Jewish, 10% Asian, and the rest was split between Catholics and Protestants. Social justice was important in our town, as was community service. We were fortunate but we knew it, and our families valued education truly and were able to afford homes in the right zip code -- be they having careers as plumbers, building contractors, teachers, doctors, lawyers or architects.
seattle citizen said…
Ann D - yeah, maybe I was a bit harsh about my town....yes, it had lots of interest in social justice, lots of interesting and creative people....but there WAS a sort of culture of connectivity and networking....my town might actually have been more white collar, by comparison with your description of Scarsdale. I had finds in Scarsdale, but don't know much about its demographics.
My point was that high-stakes test scores were of little interest to the citizens of my town - they had other ways of assessing the quality of its schools.
I can only say that this is how the state director of DFER thinks of it.
Anonymous said…
Wow, I have to wonder what dimension DFER Nicole is living in the have concerns about the value of houses in Scarsdale. Or to think she'll get much sympathy from people by worrying about them. I'm from Westchester too (not Scarsdale), and Scarsdale has always been one of the more expensive towns in the area. Most of the schools in the county are excellent because you have a predominantly well-to-do, well-educated families who pay VERY high property taxes. I just saw a listing for my childhood home, at $700K, and the property taxes are well over $15K per year - far more than what you'd pay for a house assessed at that price in Seattle. As a side note, this is the house that my parents bought for $40k in 1975, and sold for $200K in 1990, so you can see what is going on with the cost of housing in the area. Like Ann D said, a generation ago much of Westchester was a mix of some wealthy and some middle class people, but not anymore. There are literally about 10 people from my high school class of 200+ that still live there - people could not afford to stay.

Mom of 4

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