Parental Rights and Public Schools

With the “opt out” of state testing that has been discussed in the media, some parents may begin to think that it’s possible to “opt out” of other testing, curriculum or programs that they dislike in our public schools. I’d like to address the question “Do parents have the right to direct the public schools on what their children will and will not be taught, on what tests they will and will not be given, and on what books they read?”

While parents have the right to direct the education and upbringing of their children, it doesn’t mean they have the right to dictate what the public school district teaches (our curriculum) or on what programs we use for instruction or for remediation (ex. iReady).  According to NYS Education law and Commissioner’s regulations, as a public school district we are required to follow the state mandated learning standards.  New York State has adopted the national P-12 Common Core standards. These learning standards apply to all public elementary and secondary school students.

The NYS learning standards also apply to students with disabilities and those students who are at a risk of not achieving the learning standards must be provided and must participate in academic intervention services. The New York State Education Department has provided resources for schools and parents on the website  Don’t believe everything you read on websites from across the country, please cross reference your information with the NYS education laws and regulations.

Parents do not have a right to tell the school what their children will and will not be taught and as public school administrators and teachers we cannot follow parent directives. We are required to follow the directives of the NYS Department of Education. When parents advise their children to refuse all testing or to opt out of parts of the curriculum, it puts the child in a difficult position. Students are actually insubordinate if they refuse to participate in all testing or in our use of the instructional program iReady/Ready which we use in our Math and ELA programs, just as is the case with students who refuse to participate in physical education class or any other part of our academic programs.

Please know that we very much want to work with you in the education of your children.  As a public school district, we have more rules and regulations that we are required to follow than you can imagine—but we do want to hear from you, to talk with you about your concerns, to be flexible in the areas in which we can be. If you have any questions about the many changes that we’ve had in the past few years in education, or about anything, please contact your building administrator or me at any time.

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One Comment
  1. I hope that readers will read this post carefully and realize as I point out in the first sentence, “With the “opt out” of state testing that has been discussed in the media, some parents may begin to think that it’s possible to “opt out” of other testing,”–that this is written about ALL OTHER TESTING AND CURRICULUM in our classes. I’m not referring to the NYS assessments, I know NYSED has provided guidance on how we need handle the opting out of state tests–but to the daily classroom instruction and tests. I know this issue has been confusing to many of us–this post is about parents who would instruct a child to say “no” to testing done on a regular basis, to formative testing, to curriculum (of which we are required to follow the NYS curriculum which is common core) and to academic intervention services. MUCH is being blamed on the common core standards that is in fact much more to do with the regulations around the Annual Professional Performance Review of educators.

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