Families & the Community

Winning School Board Candidates in New York Area Backed by Opt-Out Group

By Karla Scoon Reid — May 28, 2014 1 min read
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In New York’s Nassau and Suffolk counties, 21 school board candidates endorsed by a grassroots group that advocates for students’ rights to refuse state standardized testing won seats in the May 20 election.

Long Island Opt Out backed a total of 42 candidates across 26 districts, according to Newsday, giving the group a 50 percent success rate. The winning school board candidates even managed to unseat six incumbents.

A recent Newsday survey of more than half of Long Island’s school districts found that 10,765 children, or about 1 of 8 students, opted out of the latest round of state math tests this month. A growing number of New York parents have protested against standardized testing after the state realigned its assessment system to meet the more challenging Common Core State Standards. (Read more about the opt-out movement nationally here.)

“You have to be involved, you have to agitate,” Jeanette Deutermann, a co-founder of the parent advocacy group New York State Allies for Public Education and mother of two students in Bellmore, N.Y., said in the article. “When you talk about effecting changes across the Island, it really came down to dealing with boards of education that can make these decisions.”

Among the Long Island Opt Out-endorsed candidates who won school board seats are a social studies teacher, an attorney with New York State United Teachers, and a St. John’s University sophomore. The story cites that more than a third of the candidates have education-related career experience.

Could these local school board elections be a predictor of voter sentiments across the country?

“It’s clear that common core and other educational issues are going to be influential in the candidates’ pursuing suburban voters,” Lawrence Levy, executive dean of the National Center for Suburban Studies at Hofstra University, told Newsday.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the K-12 Parents and the Public blog.