Thursday, April 19, 2012

Tell Bully Principal How You Feel

This week in the Opt Out of Testing - New York group (there's a group for each state) one parent shared the response of her school's principal in regards to opting out of tests.  As you'll note in the email below the principal not only disregards this parent's decision to do what is best for her child, but he threatens to contact child protective services.  

Why on earth have administrators let it come to valuing test scores over the requests of parents and their children??? 


The principal disregarded this parent's request and forced her child to take the test.  
Join me in writing to this principal to tell him his actions are inappropriate and he should rescind his threat and issue a public apology. I wrote to him a couple days back. Not surprisingly, I have yet to receive a response. You can find the principal's email and information here: 

Here is the email he sent:
This letter is in response to your April 15, 2012 email and follows up today’s
telephone conversation. In your email, you requested that the Oceanside Union
Free School District (“District”) not administer the New York State English
Language Arts (“ELA”) and Math Assessments to your son, Joseph. During today’s
telephone conversation, you reiterated this request. Upon my informing you that
the State Assessments are not optional, you indicated that you planned to
either: (1) keep Joseph at home for the period during which the State
Assessments were administered, (2) keep Joseph at home for the portion of each
day during which the State Assessments were administered, or (3) send Joseph to
school with instructions not to take the State Assessments.

I remind you that, pursuant to the Regulations of the Commissioner of
Education, all public school students in grades three through six who have not
been deemed eligible by the CSE to take the Alternate Assessment, and are not
parentally placed on home instruction, must take the ELA and mathematics
elementary assessments. See 8 N.Y.C.R.R. §100.3(b)(2). As you know, Joseph
does not qualify for the Alternate Assessment. The Regulations contain no
“opt-out” provision, which would authorize a parent to have his or her child not
participate in the State Assessment. It is the District’s obligation to
determine all eligible students’ proficiency levels through the administration
of the State Assessments. As such, taking the State Assessments is mandatory
for Joseph.

If without medical justification, Joseph is absent from school on any day
during the Assessment period, the District will deem this absence as unexcused.
Further, if you keep Joseph home from school during the Assessment period,
without medical verification, it is within the District’s discretion to deem
these absences as indicia of educational neglect, which would leave the District
little choice but to contact Child Protective Services (“CPS”). Pursuant to the
New York State Education Department’s 2012 School Administrator’s Manual, a
student will receive a final score of “999″ and will be counted as “not tested”
if: (1) he is absent from the entire test; (2) he refuses the entire test; (3)
he is absent for any session; or (4) he is present for all sessions, but does
not respond to even one question on the test. Accordingly, if Joseph engages in
any one of these activities, he will receive a final score of 999, he will be
counted as not tested, he may receive an unexcused absence, and CPS may have to
be called.
 If Joseph does not participate in the State Assessments, the
District will use other formal or informal assessments to determine his
proficiency level. If Joseph participates in the State Assessments, he will of
course be provided with his IEP-mandated accommodations.

I hope the above has clarified any outstanding questions you have about
Joseph’s obligation to participate in the State-mandated Assessments and your
obligation to make him available for testing. We look forward to having Joseph
participate in the State Assessments.

Here is the email he was responding to sent from the parent:
(Note. Per reader request, the following was added on 4/20)

To: Thomas M. Capone
Subject: Opt Out

Please be advised that my son Joseph will not be taking the New York
State assessments on April 17-19 and April 25-27. After watching Joseph
struggle and listening to his concerns, we have decided to opt out of this
unnecessary testing.

I am requesting that Joseph be given an alternative real learning opportunity

Joseph, was tested against his and his mother's request and wrote this letter.
Joseph advises me that he was forced to take the assessment today against his wishes and mine in a separate location, thereby resulting in emotional and physical stress. He is now complaining of a headache and “knots in his back”.
Not only have you violated my parental rights, but now you are failing to implement my son’s IEP, which as you know is a legal document.

I specifically direct you to pages 11 and 12 of Joseph’s IEP (the testing accommodations section) wherein it states he is to begin exam in mainstream setting with significant proctor attention to reduce test anxiety.
While I do not feel the need to threaten you, I must advise you that should this situation occur again, I will be forced to contact the authorities.
Who else is writing about this?
Strictly Secondary: The Standardized-Testing 'Enforcer' Named Capone

Real Parent Empowerment is a Rebellion

American Principals in Action
Grumpy Educators
Schools Matter
Forget the Label
LI Families


  1. So basically he is reiterating that as a school administrator, he is expected to comply with the rules, regulations, and laws of the state. The letter seems very straightforward and clarifies under which law he is required to administer these tests and why the school has deemed these tests mandatory.

    The tone of the letter seems very straightforward. Was the bold on the CPS yours or his?

    "I have not received a reply" does not mean that he is blowing you off. Principals and other school administrators tend to be very busy; I've lost count the number of times I've had to email or talk to my principal more than once to get an answer to a question I had. In fact, I stood outside of his office for 20 minutes today before I could get a minute of his time.

    If a parent did something to his or her kid and the school posted that parent's email address saying they should email the parent and tell them how wrong they are, would you encourage people to do it?

    1. On your last point, first: This is a false analogy. The principal is a public figure and not protected by the same right to privacy in the execution of his office.

      On your first point: He does not know the laws and rules of the state of NY (and neither do you, as you later admit). NY does not have the same clarity on opting out that CA does. Does this then negate a parent's right (either to decide the educational course of his/her child or to challenge an administrator's interpretation of law)?

  2. Being expected to comply with rules is one thing. Threatening to call child protective services is something very different. However, if we know the rules imposed upon children are harmful to them do we just follow orders or do we stand up and do our best to protect our children?

    Public school officials know their emails are public property. Especially when they are emailing threats.

    I'm sorry but your analogy makes no sense. A parent is trying to protect her child and a school official is refusing to allow her to do so. The evidence against testing is mammoth. We all know it hurts children and we should not be bullying or threatening those who are attempting to exert their parental rights to protect children. This should be against the moral compass of those charged for overseeing our children.

    1. So do you want to go for the full Nazi comparison or should I?

      If this person is not compliant with laws that govern his building, he is putting quite a bit in jeopardy--his career, possible funding for his school. There are liability issues, there are negligence issues that work when a student is not in school for an extended period of time and very often, by law, a truancy or CPS officer is informed and if they are not, then the school might be found to be at fault.

      I am sure--and I'm sure he is sure--that CPS wouldn't charge that mother with anything; however, if the kid stayed out of school for the specific number of days and the proper procedure is to call CPS, then he has to call CPS because that is the law and if you found out that your child's school was not following state- and federally mandated regulations, wouldn't you consider that to be against the moral compass of those charged for overseeing our children?

      If the parent sued the school, she probably would not have a case because the school is doing what it is supposed to in this situation. If that parent wishes to opt out of the test that is mandated for public schools, then she can pay private school tuition or home school until the tests are removed from public schools.

      Or she can find a different avenue of protest; in fact, she might have had an ally within the public school system but this--your witch hunt that is a flagrant call to harrassment--is alienating what could have possibly been a supporter or even political ally.

    2. Just a reminder...neither the state nor the school are in charge of the welfare of the child esp. in relation to school The parent is. This is ridiculous and extreme and is intimidation.

    3. One more question related to this: what are the exact circumstances of the story? All I have seen presented here is one side, and I am wondering how this came up. How did the parent approach the school about opting out of the test? I see that the student in this case has an IEP--was opting out of the test brought up in an annual IEP meeting? Was the student's guidance counselor or sped case manager approached about this before going to the principal, or did the parent simply just say "He's not taking the test" on the day of the test? If you are going to place a call to action, you have the responsibility to show the whole story, lest you take action under false pretenses.

    4. Regulations and liability aside, it is interesting that you are so sure CPS would not charge this mother with anything after being called by the child's school. What makes you so sure of this? Do you have any proof that CPS will do nothing? Have you spoken to them about it? After all, one could then make the case that they would be REQUIRED to do something, since one would hope that a school would only call them in instances of actual neglect.

      You seem to think that the threat of calling CPS is no big deal. It is a big deal. I've had CPS called on me by an anonymous source who had an ax to grind; do you think CPS didn't show up at my door? The person who called them on me said we weren't feeding our daughter - CPS saw that we were and that she was not neglected and dropped the charges. Do you think it was any less stressful because I knew the charge was bogus? Why, then, do you think that a call to CPS for "educational neglect" - not an anonymous call but one put in by the child's school, would be a matter of no consequence? It's easy to tell when someone is being fed and cared for - how is educational neglect measured? If CPS goes by the actions of the school, the parents are screwed.

      The issue here, in my opinion, is that the principal simply stated the regulations & threatened the parent, instead of being compassionate and engaging in a real conversation. The outcome might have been the same, but casual threats in the form of CPS are uncalled for and only underscore the absurdity of the culture of testing.

    5. Did the parent engage the principal in a conversation prior to this? Did the principal engage the parent int a conversation prior to this? We don't know. We know what we are being shown.

      I'm not sure what CPS would do. I don't work for CPS, and I admit ignorance on that part. However, if calling CPS is considered an automatic next step in this case based on protocol, the parent should be made aware, especially since it seems that the parent has stated that the child is going to be willfully truant from school as defined by the school's policy.

      I find it ironic that the word bully is being used here since that is what is being advocated toward this principal ... ganging up on him based on one part of a story being presented.

    6. Darciann Samples, NBCTApril 19, 2012 at 11:50 PM

      Dear Anonymous,

      It saddens me to see that you are continuing to support a principal who is just following the rules. Should we mindlessly follow rules that are abusive and irrelevant? Principals around the nation are refusing to send these horrible missives, even though they work in the same district. Do these punishments fit the crime? These tests have no educational value and cause much emotional harm.

      Do you really believe that we should allow our children to be abused and poorly educated due to test preparation? Read the research, the facts are clear.

      I wonder how you would have responded if you were faced with voting restrictions due to your gender or color. Would you have sat in the back of the bus just because it was the law? I am teaching my children that we do not have to allow governmental abuses, nor do we have to withdraw from public school to get an appropriate education. Believe me, the opt out movement has made every effort to communicate with legislators to no avail. When we cannot be heard through traditional channels, we must find a way to communicate through methods that are potentially misunderstood by those who are not truly familiar with the issue.

    7. Threatening to call CPS on a parent who chooses to opt their child out of testing is WRONG WRONG WRONG!!! Standardardized testing under NCLB is child abuse. Parents should call the cops the schools.

    8. @ Cristy
      And these parents should inform the police "Officers! You must step in and prevent the schools from following the law!"

      If you're going to advocate for change, advocate for it where it belongs. Parents AND schools who believe that standardized tests are inappropriate need to advocate with the legislators who mandated them.

  3. Thanks to the principal's actions and your "law-and-order"-principled support for his actions, all the parents in NY state should be on notice: take your kids out of public school ASAP, because you have no rights to prevent things that will specifically harm your child, and you will be threatened with CPS.

    i'm certainly glad I don't live in NY!

    1. Oops, I guess I should've specified who I meant by the word "your": *Anonymous's* law-and-order principled support for the principal...

  4. I'm pretty sure that if this principal actually DID waste CPS's time and resources by sicking them on a kid who simply stayed home from school, but is otherwised adequately cared for in his home....that CPS would be pretty pissed off. There are kids out there being locked in closets, burned with cigarettes, and sexually abused...I should think that if this guy is fool enough to go that route and whine to CPS about some kids missing tests, that in the end he will be sorry he did.

    This is part of the reason I homeschool...I got completely fed up with the school staff behaving as though they owned my child.

    1. While your child is in school, the school is responsible for your child. If your child had been hurt and the school didn't do anything about it and they responded, "Well, we don't own your child," you probably wouldn't be happy with that either.

    2. So you basically gave up on the system, which is certainly one way to go. I suppose if you can live with the idea that your tax dollars are paying for this type of treatment then that's your business. I do, however, question that you would be critical of efforts of parents to try to fix an obvious problem within the system that they are engaged in.

      You are clearly unaware that there is an attitude amongst educators (administrators in particular) that does believe that the school "owns" the child. This is nothing new. If you read "The Underground History of American Education" by John Taylor Gatto you will see that schooling has a history of forcing a surrogate parental role upon children.

      This attitude is still present, and almost taken as a given. I can say this with some authority since I am an educator myself. In fact, it is implicit in the regulations of the Commissioner here in NY on the subject of homeschooling. You said earlier that you just took your kids out of the public schools and that was that. Here in NY, homeschooled kids still have to do the state tests, as do many of the private schools.

      Stop defending a system about which you have only marginal knowledge.

    3. I think you're confusing two different anonymous commenters.

    4. It does get confusing when people don't even create an alias.

    5. Maybe we're all going for an "I am Spartacus" moment?

  5. So, tell Joseph to fill in all the "A" bubbles and call it a day.

    The parent is right; a parent decides what is in the best interest of their children, not the state. Schools stand in for parents ONLY while the child is at school, and in most cases can only act without the parents permission in emergency situations and in the absence of parental contact. There is ample evidence that the battery of standardized tests being administered across the nation cause far more harm than good for students. Even in nations that rely heavily on test regimes students are not tested earlier than 16 and in the very best education systems on the planet, students are not tested at all.

    I certainly hope the principal requires medical verification from every parent whose children miss test days and intends to call CPS for every single parent whose child misses test days.

    1. How is the parent right? We never heard the parent's argument. We don't know how the parent presented opting-out to the school. All we know is the principal's response to ... something. For all we know, this is the end of a long line of communication and the district tried to be accommodating ... we don't know the complete story here, just what fits the meme.

    2. Parent says, "I don't want my kid to take the test. End of story." What more does he need to know?

  6. Obviously we don't have all the information to make judgments in this case.

    I don't know the rules in NY, but in CA parents are allowed to make a choice to have their children opt-out of taking The Test. I don't know the details, but I believe they have to fill out some papers and that's that. Most don't, but they have that right. I don't think the state/district/principal can force a child to take The Test; they're just lucky most parents don't make the choice to keep their children from completing The Test. The school personnel can set up SARB meetings for families that do not bring their children to school regularly. But since the kids can't be forced to take The Test against a parent's will, there is no need to keep them home during testing time.

    1. Thank you for the first sentence of that comment, which hasn't been addressed by anyone else who has commented here.

    2. You are correct, we don't know the story from its inception.

      Thank you for admitting that parents have the right. Please now argue correctly from that premise.

      If CA didn't give you such an easy way to opt out, you might very well be in the shoes of this NY parent. I find it ironic that you admit to not having all of the facts and yet you make such broad assumptions that all state educational law must be the same as yours. That's called a logical fallacy.

    3. I have all the information that I need to know that this principal made a mistake. Maybe he felt that he was doing his job, but it's a bad job if he did. "Just following orders," eh? He did the wrong thing, and if he was compelled to do so because of his job, he should have protested it. At some point we have to take ownership of what we do.

  7. I just added more information to enable you to make judgements.

    A school/government should never disregard the request of a parent to do what is best for her child. When they do, I judge and I hope others will too.

    1. Your adding information did not address the original question fully. Had she attempted to address this issue earlier this year, perhaps in an IEP meeting or with the special ed. case worker? Were there channels she could have gone through that she didn't?

      Furthermore, if the student is to be tested in a mainstream environment and he opts out of the test on the day of the test, the makeup environment might be relatively isolated because there aren't many who need to make up the test and therefore they are not violating the IEP.

      You continue to misconstrue, misrepresent, or underrepresent the facts here.

    2. Here are the facts.

      There is an overwhelming amount of undeniable evidence pointing to the fact that tests are harmful to children. They are one of the least effective assessment tools but most effective at yielding billions in profits for publishers.

      If a mother says, DO NOT DO THIS TO MY CHILD, then NO ONE should disregard her wishes. The parent, not a principal or government, has the right to determine what is best for her child when s/he is trying to keep him safe and protected.

    3. While I understand your argument re: protection from perceived harm, do we always automatically take a parent at his or her word? What about the time when the parents themselves are harming the children? Should we take their side then, too?

      As for the facts, the facts you present here are some facts but the facts I was referring to are specific to this particular case.

    4. Obviously, if the child didn't take the test, it's the school that would suffer. How can anyone be under the illusion that the CHILD would suffer from not taking the test? The principal is under pressure from his higher-ups to have a high percentage of test-takers. He laid that trip on the kid and the parents. He responded to pressure by making a stupid mistake.

    5. "If a mother says, DO NOT DO THIS TO MY CHILD, then NO ONE should disregard her wishes. The parent, not a principal or government, has the right to determine what is best for her child when s/he is trying to keep him safe and protected."
      Really, Lisa? I'm a little late to the bashing, but having a son with an IEP that attended Mr Capone's school and having been a child advocate, care provider, CPS worker, Boy and Girl Scout leader, and many other roles, let me assure you that the parent, however well intended, is not always right. I think we've all seen enough abuse and neglect in our day to day lives to know this is true.
      I will also assure you and all those posting here that, with my 10 years of personal experience with a child in the process of diagnosis, 504 plans, and IEP's, Mr Capone is not only one of the MOST patient, most appropriate people I've ever dealt with, but his INSISTENCE that his staff and teachers go over and beyond what is required for these special needs children has been noted by every parent who has the best interest of their children at heart.
      Then there are some parents who have children, whether they have special needs or not, that don't thing their kids should have to live up to educational standards and then become a burden on the system. Stress...if the parent brought the child up to know that there are rules to be followed to the best of the child's ability instead of constantly trying to get around the rules, we wouldn't be having this 'conversation'.
      Learn about the facts before bashing...another thing we should all be teaching our children.

    6. @Anonymous, perhaps the parent isn't always right but the word is out that tests are harming children. If you aren't aware take a look in the news or on this blog. Parents are speaking out. Teachers are speaking out. Principals are speaking out. This parent knows that is the case for her child. She has the right to make this decision for her child and the principal does not have the right to disregard her right as a parent to do what is best for her child.

      I'm glad that this principal insists his staff does what is required but he over stepped his rights when he forced a child to take a test against his mother's wishes.

      This parent is bringing her child up to stand up for what is right and not comply to someone who is forcing you to do something that is not good for you. The parent and her child are very well aware of all the research and data indicating that these tests are not good or necessary for a child's well being and they are exercising the freedom to learn in the way that is best.

      I have the facts @Anonymous. If there is one you are questioning in my article or responses, please point it out. I am happy to provide the evidence before every fact I have written and attached my name to.

    7. Herein lies your problem... Mr Capone is not "over stepping his rights"... he actually does all that is in his power to do the best for the children. He is not in charge of making nor does he have the ability to break the rules stated in his employment contract. The mother and you are going after the wrong people...and, as others have said not so delicately, it really does seem for the sake of media attention. I agree that testing needs to be revamped... I'm on your side with that opinion. However, just as with other causes, you're hurting the cause by your actions.

      This mother isn't doing anything to help her child stand up for what's right. This child doesn't know what is good or bad for him... that's why he can't make his own rules. This mother is actually doing harm to her child, the family's relationship with the school district, and their relationship with the community by going about her quest for what she feels is best for her child in an inappropriate way.

      Again I mention what we teach our children. Mine know that temper tantrums don't work in their favor. They know if Dad says no, don't come running to Mom. They know that if the teacher says do homework, they have to do homework. But...they also know that if they have a problem, I will go to the ends of the Earth for them.
      I guess I would have done things differently....I would have started talking with the teachers and then gone to the principal. I would have then taken Mr Capone's advice (as I know he would have given) and gone to others. Did this parent ever go to speak to Dr Brown? Did she bother speaking to Dr DeRosa? Even with the minor problems I had getting an IEP, I had contact with them. At least they are in positions to know how to change the rules! It seems she just decided to go to a person who was unable (not unwilling as you and the parent state) to accommodate her child and got in a tizzy.

    8. Forcing a child to take a test that causes him physical and emotional harm is NOT what is best for children. He does have the ability to honor the request of this parent. Principals all across New York are doing just that. The person we are addressing is the person who disregarded a parents wishes and forced her child to do something that was not in his best interest.

      My actions are simply sharing what he has done and responding to comments where people try to explain why he couldn't help doing it. You are wrong. You have been mislead. The principal did not have to take the actions that he did.

      Her child does know what is good and bad for him. He can read. He can listen. He knows that tests do not benefit him, are unnecessary for his well-being, and cause him unnecessary stress.

      This parent is doing what many others are doing. Please follow the news and you will learn that it is the brave, courageous parents like this that are leading the way to help children like her son and others out of this mess. These parents are making a difference. Politicians are listening. The media is listening. The ACLU has taken on the case.

      I am sorry for your children who you have taught to be blindly compliant. This mother's child will question authority when that authority is asking him to do something that is not in his best interest.

      This mother has spoken to teachers and the principal. Read the article. Her requests were dismissed and the principal forced the child to take the test.

      This mother is exercising her parental right to do what is best for her child. She and others are also working to get these inane policies changed.

  8. I have 3 questions, actually I have many questions, but I will ask only 3 at this time.

    1. Are you this child's parent?
    2. What information was provided at the end of the email from the principal to the parent?
    3. Why has it been decided recently that a blog post trumps affecting another person's digital footprint, as in this case, both the principal and the child.

    I ask #1 because only if you are the parent, will you be able to give a clear, concise, understood true representation of all that happened. Did you have a first sit-down with the principal where perhaps you felt you were not heard? Had this conversation started with phone calls? How did it escalate to CPS even being a part of the conversation?
    (That is an answer I would really like explained for I believe the principal was quite articulate in his explanation until CPS was mentioned.)

    2. Usually at the bottom of ANY pubic school email there is a disclaimer that says "Confidentiality Notice: This email is confidential and is for the intended recipient only. It may also contain privileged information and so be ..."
    So, again I ask, are you the parent of this child? The original recipient of the principal's letter?

    3. Unless you changed any names to pseudonyms, you just etched a kink into the principal and the student's digital footprint.
    There have been many talks about having our students, our children, being wise about protecting and maintaining their digital footprint yet I continually seeing the advisers violate their own teachings. Was this your child, that you had discussed writing this post, explaining what predicament he was put into? Because this blog post will get circulated on the campus, be certain of that.
    And I am speechless on how to explain my sadness at the idea you wish us to bully the principal? A call to action just because you did not get a response in what you felt was a timely manner?

    The main premise of this blog post might have been about testing but in the end it wandered far from that goal.

  9. Anonymous,

    You are confused. There are already laws that protect children from harm of parents. That clearly is not the case here. To answer your question, a parent, not the government, has the say in raising a child. If there is reason to believe there is harm, which there is not in this case, then the parent is investigated. In this case, the principal is saying opting out harms the child and warrants a call to CPS. However, anyone who knows anything about high stakes testing knows that is untrue and in fact the opposite is true. Testing harms children.

    I have the facts. The school has defied the wishes of a parent to protect her child and used threats and force to do so.

    1. The way the letter reads is that the school is saying that the child's unexcused absences from school may warrant a call based on established regulations and protocol. If this were a student simply missing school and not related to testing, the same protocol would be followed.

      I hear "testing harms children" from you and other people a lot, but do you have data from an objective source to back up your rhetoric? Standardized testing is pretty useless, but saying it is harmful is a pretty serious charge and I wonder if your rhetoric gets in the way of your argument.

    2. If there are so many days of testing that take away from real learning, the educational neglect is that of the school, not of the parent. Additionally the parent agreed to an alternate learning activity and the school refused.

      As far as standardized testing being harmful there is data and stories abound (including on this blog) stating that, but to me, it's quite simple. I'm in schools throughout the year. The teachers, students, principals, and parents are very consistent on the fact that testing gets in the way of learning. It also results in plenty of physical and mental harm to students to the point that proctors are given instructions on how to handle crying and vomiting children.

      Perhaps you are unaware that young people who don't speak the language are forced to take the test. Perhaps you are unaware that young people who can not read the tests are forced to take them. Perhaps you are unaware that a test is one of the most expensive yet least effective ways to assess people.

      Think about it. How often do we take tests in the world outside of school?
      Personally, I haven't taken a single test in the 21st century nor have most of the successful people I know.

    3. Well, aside from the Bar Exam, medical boards, etc.

      I'm quite aware of all of that and I'm quite aware of how testing does often get in the way of learning. I was just curious as to how you seek to present this in a way that sounds rational instead of allowing your rhetoric get in the way of your argument.

      One question not answered here is whether or not this student's mother had pursued this prior to the testing period. We know the student has an IEP (which is a case of the school protecting the child and helping him/her be successful, btw), so therefore the student has a case manager, who is usually a special education teacher whose job it is to make sure that students on his/her caseload are getting the proper education they deserve.

      A good case manager gets to know his or her students and can often be a great advocate for them.. If the parent was concerned about this, did she bring it up with the case manager earlier in the year, perhaps at an IEP meeting? Having been in countless IEP meetings myself, I know that is where the learning path is reviewed, goals are reviewed and refined, and accommodations are reviewed as well. That would have been a great time to voice a concern, and if it was voiced, was the parent shot down and why?

      Those are the facts I am not seeing here. When you have something like this that is likely to set off a firestorm of passioned comments, it is your responsibility to present both sides of the story as accurately as possible. What I have seen here leads me to believe there is something else to this that we don't know.

    4. In NY, students are not exempt from testing if they have an IEP. Try another argument.

    5. No, but if you are in an IEP meeting and the following people are present: case manager, guidance counselor, administrator, teacher, parent, student ... surely it would be a good time to bring up concerns with testing?

    6. They will tell you that your child still has to take the test.

    7. But ... when you inevitably bring that lawsuit against the school, evidence that this was addressed multiple times in front of multiple people might work to your advantage.

    8. Under IDEA, federal law, a parent has a right to discuss how their disabled child is evaluated and if they don't agree with the school's opinion, then they have a right to Due Process Complaint. If a school administers a standardized test and determine a student has failed, they have evaluated a child and have a record that the child qualifies for services which gives parents many more rights.

    9. If you can make it happen this way, then all power to you. I guess children without IEPs are out of luck.

  10. Doctors and lawyers will have plenty of time to learn and prepare for tests. It certainly doesn't need to begin with meaningless memorization and regurgitation in elementary school.

    I've written many anti-testing articles. Here is an article I wrote about the ills of standardized testing that was widely read and well received

    Re: your obsession with the potential that the request could have been made sooner, that doesn't matter. When a parent realizes his/her child may be harmed, the parent has the right to not have their child subjected to that which they believe is harmful whether it's a year before or a day before. It is NEVER okay for a school to disregard a parent's wishes to do what is best for their child.

    1. I'm not sure I understand how that does not matter. Parents have the responsibility to be aware of what goes on as far as their child's learning and would it not be more effective to raise such questions as early as possible so that various avenues can be explored, especially when there is an IEP in place to keep the child out of harm's way?

      Furthermore, would it not have been prudent to follow up the refusal by asking if it wasn't possible for this year, how could we make it possible for next year? It might not be possible, but was that question asked?

      I can't speak for every teacher out there and never would but I know that I try to be as accommodating as possible to any parent who has a concerned but I find that time can often be a factor in these things.

    2. And btw, my "obsession" with that point comes from the fact that you aren't answering the question.

    3. This parent is aware of what goes on with her child's learning and that is what lead to her decision. The parent has the right to decide what is best for her child at any point that she realizes it. As far as her asking about next year, that is irrelevant. She doesn't want her son tested this year. Why on earth would she subject or be forced to subject her child to something that she knows will harm him? She does not want to do that. The government DOES NOT own our children. A parent has the right to make decisions for her child and she also has the right for those decisions to be granted. As a result of the betrayal, her son suffered just like Anthony Herrera who I wrote about last year here and here She thought her son would be okay, but later learned he was actually just trying to make his mom feel better about things so she opted out among similar bullying tactics. Because she refused to subject her child to any more harm the school kicked him out and his mother has rearranged her life to home educate her son. This is one of the many cases going to the ACLU.

      It doesn't matter when a parent wants to remove a child from something she feels will cause harm. If a parent requests it, she should be able to trust that a school official won't disregard her wishes or threaten her and her family.

    4. But when the school is not legally allowed to fulfill those wishes ... ?

    5. It is not necessary in this case to prove that the test causes harm to all children. It is only necessary that the potential of harm be identified for this circumstance for the one child. The fact that the child had an IEP ( which recognized a potential of severe test anxiety should have been sufficient for the administrator to allow the parent to opt out.

      While I agree that all parents should have this option, in this case where the potential for undue stress is already identified, there should be no further questioning.

      The results of testing in an instance such as this would not demonstrate the best abilities of the child and is that not the purpose of the testing"

      When schools feel the need to prepare students for the testing with preparations such as pep rallies ( to help the children remember to persevere through the testing, then the possibility that the test is overwhelming to some students should never be questioned.

    6. @Anonymous,
      The principal did not need to threaten to call CPS. There are also many principals right here in NY ( who stand up and speak out against injustices like standardized testing. If a principal knows he is doing something that will harm a child, his common sense and morals must prevail. If we all just keep following orders that we know are wrong are society will be on the fast track to destruction.

    7. And we're back to the Nazi analogy. I don't think it's possible for anyone to have a rational discussion with you.

    8. Actually, you're the one who keeps making the Nazi reference (twice now). It's called the "association fallacy" and it definitely undermines your criticism of Ms. Nielsen's rationality.

      I've tried to address this after some of your earlier posts, but I'll simply restate it here. In NY, these options that you think we have simply don't exist in practice. While there is no clear requirement to take the test, there is also no clear ability to opt out of it. The discretion (and therefore legal interpretation) is left to administrators (either at the building or district level). We do not just "fill out some papers and that is that". If we homeschool, we still have to make our kids take the tests if the district requires us to (and they ALL do as a matter of policy). If the child has an IEP, they still must take the test. There are generally only two main accommodations made: extra time and having certain directions read aloud.

      As far as not having "all of the info", you are correct. We don't what happened prior to the principal's response. However, since I am an educator in NY I believe I have more insight into both public schooling in general as well as the specifics of testing in NY. My experience tells me to give her the benefit of the doubt.

    9. Anonymous, we need not go to the Nazi analogy, which you have brought up twice and, I believe, Lisa zero times. How about going to something right her in the good ole' U.S. of A.? I am remembering the very unjust voting laws and Jim Crow laws. There were laws on the books that were clearly unconstitutional and immoral. Do we hold people responsible for upholding such bad laws? Do we especially hold people responsible for going to extreme lengths to uphold such bad laws?

      Think about it: a police officer in the South might be called to remove a black person from a whites-only diner. Fearing for his job if he doesn't uphold the unjust segregation law, the officer could respectfully and as gently as possible try to remove the protestors. Or he could go in like gang-busters, gleeful at the excuse to use his billy-club, suggesting bringing out the high-pressure water hoses, heaping scathing words onto his victims as he uses his badge to physically assault them. Obviously, there is a difference between following orders and going above and beyond.

      I believe that calling CPS on a caring parent is extreme. Of course the principal can make his excuses to himself--that's the procedure, that's what he has to do. But CPS is nothing to mess around with. If he makes such a report, he probably cannot retract it if he sees to his horror that a case worker with something to prove uses it as an excuse to remove the child from his home.

      Perhaps you think that making an analogy of testing laws in NY state to Jim Crow laws of yesteryear is ridiculous. I think it's great that we have learned enough as a society that our rising zeitgeist means we can voice our concerns for lesser cases of bodily harm. There are almost no lynchings, thank goodness, so we can now tackle overzealous cops with pepper spray (not to even get into neighborhood watch volunteers with their guns!). Corporal punishment is illegal in NY schools, so now we can tackle the bodily harm caused by testing. Harm is still harm, and I think that this principal, with his CPS threat, is on the wrong side of this particular moral quandary.

    10. John-
      I am also a NY educator. I happen to teach in Oceanside at a different school than Mr. Capone works and this child attends. However, I know both Mr. Capone and the parent and I can tell you that giving her the benefit of the doubt is a mistake. I will tell you that fighting for what you believe in (standardized testing or anything else) does not involve posting e-mails, photos and name calling. I have never known an administrator to be more caring. Sometimes there is a history that people like you and others who condemn Mr. Capone, have no idea about. I truly feel bad for this child but not because of what Mr. Capone has done. Mr. Capone is the most dedicated family man and he will go on and live his life with honor and grace and continue to dedicate his life to the children at School #2. Anyone who has an issue with standardized testing should go fight the good fight.

    11. @Anonymous,
      Fighting for what you believe in always involves bringing it to a wider audience when alternatives don't work. You are right. I don't care about this man's history or how he is with HIS family. I care that he disregarded the civil rights of a mother and child.

  11. I think it would be wise for CPS to go ahead and investigate this family for educational neglect. Then once they see that opting out is not educational neglect by any stretch of the imagination, they can go ahead and slap school officials on the wrist for trying to clog up CPS resources just to get their testing numbers up. They should even go so far as to accuse the principal of potential abuse of social services. Principals will think twice before employing the CPS threat to opting out parents.

    1. Good point. Here's what the CPS site says about this:

      What can I do if someone has filed a false child abuse or maltreatment report against me with the Statewide Central Register?

      The New York State Office of Children and Family Services takes false reports of child abuse and maltreatment very seriously. Both the taking of the false report and the ensuing investigation are a misuse of valuable resources intended for the care and protection of New York State's vulnerable or at-risk children.

      According to Section 240.50 of the New York State Penal Law, falsely reporting an incident to the State Central Register is a Class A misdemeanor. If you are the victim of a false report, you should contact your local District Attorney's office to discuss what options are available.

    2. ... but this wouldn't be a false report. To also cite OCFS

      "... Educational Neglect is considered to be the failure of a parent to ensure that child's prompt and regular attendance in school or the keeping of a child out of school for impermissible reasons resulting in an adverse affect on the child's ecuational progress or imminent danger of such an adverse affect."

      Later in the document, it also mentions that a principal must warn a parent that CPS involvement if the absences occur/continue is a possibility.

      Now, before you make the argument that missing the mandated test isn't an adverse affect, consider that the mother not only said her child would miss the scheduled DAY of the test, but the ENTIRE TESTING WINDOW. Since schools are usually permitted several weeks in which to test students and complete makeup exams, this mother was threatening to remove her child from several weeks of non-testing class time, which would undeniably be considered Educational Neglect based on the OCFS regulations.

      Send your inflammatory emails where they belong: the legislators who mandated the tests. Be prepared to have a good alternative assessment suggestion, though. It's test scores that indicate that a system needs improving. I'm not a fan of the tests the way they are, or how the data is used... but without them, how would we know that teachers or districts need to improve? What superintendent would willingly admit his/her district is struggling and needs help if not for test scores highlighting it?

    3. >"but without them, how would we know that teachers or districts need to improve?"

      Improve by what and whose standards? And to what end? You assume that there is a "right way" to collect and use the data. What is your model?

    4. Well, plenty of people commenting on this post assume standardized tests are the wrong way to collect and use data. The question is -- how do we make the right data collected in the right way available to those with the power to influence educational policy? Do away with the tests and something will come along to replace them because you have to feed the beasts in Albany and Washington.

    5. I shared nine better ways to assess here

    6. Anonymous, you're begging the question (in the correct sense of the term). What is the "right data"? What is the "right way"? Why does something have to replace these tests? Why do we have to "feed the beasts"? Why do these policies have to be made in Albany or Washington? There are so many things in your statement that are presented as givens.

    7. Of course I'm begging the question, because the questions are never answered or realities rarely acknowledged. Would you not want to gain traction with people in actual power rather than have your movement be viewed at as fringe while TPTB sit back and laugh? Why stomp your feet and yell at the system when you can game the system?

    8. You assume that you have sway over TPTB. Your faith in the democratic process is admirable but in need of lesson on systems theory.

  12. I'm jumping back to this statement by Anonymous: "I hear "testing harms children" from you and other people a lot, but do you have data from an objective source to back up your rhetoric?"

    One of the most effective tools in the anti-education toolbox now is the misuse of data. Great teachers could care less about data. They are totally focused on the needs of the child, not numbers. But going forward, those magnificent people will be unwelcome in education.

    What do you do for a living, Anonymous? I'm sure I'm an expert at it. :)

    1. Correct, Dave. I have sat in on plenty of "Data Delves" (the new buzzword for trying to glean any kind of meaning from test scores). I can tell you with authority that educators don't have foggiest clue how to use this data in any practical way. It's a lack of intelligence on our part it's that we know our students better than Pearson does.

    2. Er, NOT a lack of intelligence

  13. Apparently, some who posted comments here did not read the parent's letter in which she cited existing U.S. Supreme Court decisions regarding parental rights. The excessive use of high stakes assessment has turned regulations into a "statist" style authority, and only through challenges, as with this parent, and thousands across the country right now that go underreported, will such state-based abuses be stopped.

    The country varies widely on opting out and working with parents. Some schools report they accept the request and move along. There is no CODE to fill out for reporting purposes, but they figure it out. The schools have the legal requirements to test pupils, individual elementary students are not legally ordered to be tested.

    There is an attorney who is working with parents nationally on a developing complaint against these actions that punish parents for requesting to opt out. The only recourse for parents nationally is to move this into court and challenge the federal and state over reach. Parents, community members, and taxpayers across the nation oppose expensive, experimental, unnecessary, and excessive testing on the nation's children starting at preschool.

    Finally, did these school officials do the right thing? NO

  14. Ms. Nielsen, You are fighting the wrong people. Your rights as a parent begin and end with the law. Let's suppose for the sake of argument that your position on standardized testing is correct. I am sympathetic to your position. The school, the principal, and the teachers are the wrong targets of your ire. They are only complying with laws and policies. If they don't, they will be fired. Your target should be the laws and policies, not the teachers and principals who have to administer them. Also, your claim that every parent has a right to decide in every case and every circumstance how a child is taught and what they are taught is logically absurd. It is a form of anarchy. If I teach Geometry, does every parent have a right to tell me how how and what to teach in each and every lesson? What if parents disagree? If you are opposed to the regime of standardized testing, change the lawmakers so they change the laws. In the case of policies, hold school boards accountable.

    1. >>"Your rights as a parent begin and end with the law."

      Incorrect. Rights are things which law can only protect (or violate). Law can neither afford nor deny rights. The three fundamental rights are life, liberty, and the fruits of our labors (which includes property). Some say these rights are God-given. Others say we have them by virtue of being human. In either case, they are natural (i.e. we are born with them). I suspect your confusion is simply based in the fact that people use the term "rights" inaccurately.

      >>"Also, your claim that every parent has a right to decide in every case and every circumstance how a child is taught and what they are taught is logically absurd."

      Not so. Your claim appears to be based on the faulty premise that education must happen within a government-run school system that is managed ultimately by policies at the federal level. The fact that the state (as in "the government") has deprived parents of being able to make these decisions does not mean that they (the parents) do not have the right.

      As far as the practicality of it, history proves you wrong on the claim of "anarchy" (unless you're using that term to mean "literacy", which was significantly higher prior to government-planned schools). Please read John Taylor Gatto's "Underground History of American Education", online at for perspective.

      I do agree with you that laws and policies must be changed. However, there is something missing in the logic of your argument regarding principals and teachers. Just because the laws are at fault, that doesn't preclude the effectiveness of operating at the local level. In fact, I would argue that trying to lobby the "educrats" in Washington would likely be the least effective way of making a change. Of course, I'm mostly saying that as a jaded teacher.

  15. In reading the account it seems that at this seems more about your standing up for "principle", no matter the consequences, than the welfare of your child. You have dialed up the rhetoric on a non-issue to such a degree that others are also reacting in over the top ways. You have also put your child in the middle of an unnecessary and frivolous battle. The principal should not have threatened CPS even if it is technically applicable. If you are interested in the welfare of your child, then you should have opened up a dialog with the school officials to see if your views can be accommodated *within* the law and policies of the school district. Your parental rights and freedoms are not unlimited. Your parental rights and freedoms don't trump the law and the don't trump school board policies. As a parent you don't get to decide unilaterally which policies and which laws you will abide by. If you believe standardized tests are bad, fight the good fight by changing the laws and board policies. Don't harass school officials who are trying to follow the law and the rules. The principal is not the bully, you are.

  16. Why don't you home school your kids since you seem to know everything about everything?

    1. I would if I could be reimbursed for my school taxes. I'd love to remove them from a system that teaches the kind of blind obedience to presumed authority with which you are arguing.

      Yes, there are limits to rights and freedoms. However, they do NOT end with the law. I suggest reading Bastiat's "The Law" to help educate you on the subject.

      As far as putting kids in the middle of this, you are incorrect. I didn't "choose" to put my kids in school. I put them there because people with badges and guns say I will go to jail if I don't. Or, my other option is to not have a job and teach them the way that I see fit. However, even then (in NY) they still must take these tests, or again I go to jail. (Also, I would need to have my curriculum approved by the local school district, so it's not as if I'd be completely out of the system.)

      The one ray of sunshine in NYSED's regulations is that my child will no longer need to attend any type of public school (or do any kind of testing) once she gets her GED. I'm hoping to satisfy that requirement by the time she's 13 or 14 so that she can move on to a better education.

    2. Of course, even if she could pass it at that age, I'm still obligated to wait until she's 16. Apparently meeting the standards are not as important as seat time.

  17. Am I the only one bothered that everyone in this argument is willing to take at least minimal ownership of their comments by using a name, presumably their own, but the singular or double anonymous are not?

    The the anonymous who commented that "schools are usually permitted several weeks in which to test students and complete makeup exams," you are mistaken. The testing windows are specified and narrow. The specific dates of the tests are mandated by the state of NY to ensure that no district or school gain an advantage by testing later, after specific questions have been bandied about. The same narrow window goes for make-up tests. Besides, the mother offered to send her child to school on testing days but after the testing period each day.

    By administering the exams to the child in the way they were given, the school administration broke federal law by not honoring the child's IEP, a federally and state enforced legally binding, document. There is no excuse for that no matter what the parent said, did or claimed she might do.

    Perhaps if many more parents kept their children from taking these tests, perhaps education officials might be forced to find other, less stressful and more creative ways of assessing student learning.

  18. What do you want the principal to do? Do you want him to get fired? He cited that he is following the law and the procedures of NY Department of Education. Parents have legitimate beliefs and kooky beliefs. It's not up to the administrator or to the teacher which parental beliefs they will comply with. If you don't like the laws of the land elect people who will change it, or if you believe the laws is not constitutional take it to court. Don't attack the principal for doing his job.

    1. I do believe you are missing the point here. As you will note in the principal's email he is stating that Child Protective Services MAY have to be called. The word MAY used in this form indicates possibility. He is not saying he WILL. Which leads me to believe that he is using this as a threat.

      With that said, my family just moved to NY from FL and unfortunately I was not aware until it was too late that I could opt out of these tests for my fourth grader. Last week during these tests my loving, caring, care free daughter turned mouthy, sleep deprived and completely shut down at home and in the middle of these tests all due to undo stress from these tests and the expecations put on her to do well on them. She is absolutely terrible at math even with all help offered and utilized and extreme effort on her part she is still borderline passing/failing. In no way is this her teachers fault and her teacher shouldn't be evaluted in a negative way because my child doesn't fit the "standard" according to some test that is written by the companies who sell the curriculum. Instead my daughter's strengths are history and science, both subjects that could offer her a plentiful career someday, but are being sacrificed to prepare her for a standardized test in a subject she will never excel at.

      You can bet that in the following years my daughter will NOT be participating in these tests. New York public schools are bound by state law to notify the state’s Office of Children and Family Services when a kid is chronically absent from school. Being that my children are in attendance everyday unless ill I highly doubt CPS would see my child missing 3-5 days of school as being truant. But if it does come to that I will welcome CPS into my home with a smile on my face. I am confident enough in my decisions as a parent, with my loving home, and my thriving children that CPS will be satisfied.

    2. Are you certain that he's following a proscribed procedure? Are you absolutely sure that he's not exercising some element of discretion? Are you sure that he's not taking a position that keeps him politically viable within the district administration? You're making assumptions.

    3. If "truancy" falls under the jurisdiction of CPS, then yes, if a child missed enough days of school (do they have to be consecutive days in NY?), he has to call CPS and that would be a proscribed procedure.

    4. If the school is causing truancy because they a robbing children of the freedom to learn effectively, you certainly can't call CPS on the child or the parent. It is the school/system, not the parents, that must come under scrutiny.

    5. It is not a proscribed procedure if truancy is not specifically defined by the law (which it isn't in NY). (Actually, it's the subset of truancy referred to as educational neglect.) It is up to the principal to decide if the neglect:
      1) Has been an excessive number of days
      2) Is negatively impacting education
      3) Is being done with the full knowledge of the parent

      The key is the second point. If I take my child out of school during testing and teach him at home for the two weeks of ELA and Math testing, how am I even remotely creating a negative impact on her education?

  19. To the other Anonymous: If you want to go to Nazis, I think you need to be reminded of all the people who did nothing while millions of Jews were murdered. The same is happening to the 'love of learning' and individualities for our nation's children as our public school systems are turned into for-profit organizations to create workers to earn more money for the rich.

  20. Comparing standardized testing in schools to Nazism? Give me a break. George Bush and the Republicans started the No Child Left Behind movement. Then Obama and company started Race to the Top. Agreed. Standardized testing has gone way to far. But it's sheer hyperbole at best and idiotic at worst to compare standardized testing to mass murder and the Holocaust. You guys are nuts.

    1. Which is why it's so ironic that you made that connection twice.

      On the other hand, our educational system is based upon the same Prussian model as the Nazis' was. So to say that there could be absolutely no comparison on the principle of blind obedience is rather foolish...something that Milgram proved.

  21. Our Principal Is Not A BullyApril 24, 2012 at 9:44 PM

    I am saddened by how quickly people are willing to join a witch hunt based on one person's account of events. Mr. Capone is a kind and caring Principal. When you enter the school there are photos of every single student lining the halls. His school is a family. He knows each and every student and family by name. He cares about his students and staff. The students love their school.
    I do not know much about "Opting Out"...however I do think that people need to realize that it is not in a principal's authority to say "Okay, don't take the test". That decision cannot come from him or any other principal. The parent made a last minute decision to try to opt seems that the school followed whatever protocol they are told to follow by the state. If this parent truly wants opting out options, than she should focus her energy on working with the NY State Department of Education to create guidelines.
    Through her internet posts, she has created a witch hunt and should be ashamed of herself. He is not the bully, she is! He is a mandated reporter as are all teachers. If her child was going to be illegally absent for an extended period of time, it is his responsibility to report.
    Please people,you only know one side of the story...hers... focus on the cause and STOP ATTACKING A GOOD MAN!

    1. While I appreciate your perspective and also consider it ironic that people who resort to bullying tactics are calling someone a bully, be prepared to have whatever you said get lost and shouted down. They don't want to hear that this bureaucrat who was just following orders is actually a human being and that the person they support in this argument might actually, possibly, not totally be right.

    2. I agree with "Our Principal" - The parent seems to be the bully in this case. The state tests are not new - the parent should be taking it up with the NY State Dept of Education - not the principal.

    3. The parent should, and is, taking it up with anyone who is causing her child harm.

      When a man disregards a mother's wishes to keep her child safe and healthy she has every right to call him out for what he has done.

      He has NO right to threaten with CPS. If you think he does, please find somewhere in writing that states these are actions he must take and check with CPS yourself to see if a mother opting a son who gets ill from tests is a valid CPS incident. If you want to save yourself the trouble, the answer is that it is not. Other principals and administrators have read his words and are horrified.

      It is so disheartening to hear from people who support this sort of mindless, take-no-responsibility leading and threatening. We should all know better. Do better. And stand up to the politicians, policy makers, and policy enforcers who are driven by the billions in profits that are made by subjecting our children to this insanity.

    4. Obviously the problem is bigger than this principal, but it is a problem. The principal himself was protecting the institution rather than doing the right thing by the child, per his parent's wishes. That is egregious, but the problem is above him. He should have taken a stand against testing, but he didn't. He chose to pass on to this child the pressure that comes down from above. Testing is a scourge on the education landscape and this principal made a decision to uphold it. (But Brutus is an honorable man.)

    5. So you say the principal has no right to threaten CPS...But its ok that the mother can threaten calling authorities on him? That makes sense...Please

  22. Yes. Your principal is bully. Many parents right here in New York opt out and they are not threatened in such a way. He DOES NOT need to call CPS. Please find me evidence that this is a required threat because I see it NO WHERE. Additionally, I called CPS and they said it was NOT a valid complaint. In fact, it overburdens their real complaints where children are actually being abused, not protected, by a caring mother.

    You can take a look at my blog tomorrow to see more principals who are speaking out and standing up for the rights of children.

    I am an educator, an administrator and a mandated reporter of abuse. Please, good lord, tell me that you, your principal and anyone with common sense can use some common sense and realize this is NOT child maltreatment.

    This is NOT a witch hunt. We see the bully right in front of us. No need to hunt him down. I and others did write several letters to him before publicly sharing this atrocity. He fails to respond. Please do NOT stand up for someone who does not put the protection of children first. We need administrators like me and all the other principals who value the rights of parents and students. Not those who just follow orders and defy parental wishes to protect their children.

    1. Yes, you claim to be an educator, an administrator and a mandated reporter of abuse - but do you know the principal in question? Do your children attend the school? According to your profile you work and live in Manhattan so I'm guessing not. But yet you are so quick to call him a bully - it was your second sentence. Forgive me if I choose to believe the poster who actually knows the principal and whose children actually attend the school.

      We need administrators like you? I don't think so - all your posts seem to be about you (or what you have written). You have an agenda much like the person who started this smear campaign against this principal.

    2. @Anonymous, please. I don't "claim" to be an educator and administrator. I have nothing to hide. That is what I do and it is clear as day to anyone who knows how to do a search in Google that I have done this work for many years.

      That includes working in the County where this principal works. Do I know the principal? Sadly, the answer is no. I reached out to him, as an educator and administrator before publishing this post. Not once, but twice. He choose not to acknowledge my outreach. I do know the mother of this child and I do know what he wrote. I also know his lack of responsiveness to this mother and his decision to disregard her wishes.

      You state I have an agenda. You are right! It is to restore back to mothers and fathers their parental rights and to restore to children the freedom to learn in relevant, meaningful, and effective ways.

      You go ahead and stick with standing up for the principal who follows orders that he knows (or should know) harms children. I will go ahead and continue celebrating all the administrators, teachers, parents, and others who find such actions reprehensible.

    3. For Brutus is an honorable man; So are they are all, all honorable men. - M. Antony (Act III, sc. ii, Julius Caesar)

      Yes, it must be rather discomfiting for a parent to see their administrator attacked. One wants to believe that the people in charge of one's children are totally worthy of the job. This isn't too difficult for most people because they were trained to be obedient by the very same system, and they have the same irrational acceptance of the authority of the state as represented by the principal. An attack on this authority is equal to an attack on their own belief system, so they respond uncritically.

      This might be a great principal otherwise. He might remember to give everyone a card on their birthday and fill the hallways with rainbows and unicorns. But, he is still representing a system that has a well-documented history of trying to take children away from the influence of their parents in order to make them more compliant to arbitrary "societal" concerns. (I use that word facetiously...the concerns are made by educational apparatchiks.) As long as he chooses to follow his district's wishes, he's not going to lose his job. He'll only be in trouble if he decides to think and act on his own, which it sounds like he's not about to do.

      So, don't be too concerned for him. Perhaps it isn't completely "fair" to put him in the middle, but neither was it "fair" for those administrators who were put in the middle of the first cases in the movement that led to desegregation in schools. (Would you have been defending them so resolutely? They were probably good people too and only following policy.)

    4. The reason Mr. Capone will NEVER reach out to you, Lisa, is because you are irrational.He will not respond because there are so many people out like you, who have tunnel vision. NONE of this has to do with your beliefs about standardized testing. I don't even think Mr. Capone would necessarily disagree. But if I hunt your picture down and start BLOGGING about you and name calling and talking about you and your life, let's see how people who know you; care about you would respond. It is disgraceful.

      And @ are correct to realize it may not be fair. How easy it is to forget that people have a right to privacy, and so does his family. Again, people speak withOUT knowing all the facts.

    5. @Anonymous,
      As I've shared previously, myself and others only brought public attention to this story after Mr. Cappone refused to respond to anyone who reached out to him.

      A man who violates the rights of a mother and child in a public job has NO right to privacy in the public work he is doing.

  23. Reading the above I came to one conclusion, few of you know both parties much, if at all. I know both Chris and Mr. Capone and happen to think highly of both so my perspective is unique.
    I think this matter took on an ugly life of it's own when it could have been handled in house and not on blogs that bash humans and yes BULLY them as well.
    Chris is a great mom who is an advocate for her son. Mr. Capone is a great principle who is also an advocate for our children. He followed rules set forth by people above him. A rule is a rule and even bad rules have to be followed or challenged properly not via ugly blog spots like this.
    I am disgusted with some of the reactions here on this blog and some of you should be ashamed at your behavior. You have become bullies whether you think so our not and if you think you're doing this for the "good fight" you're going about it all wrong. Name calling, bashing, harassing and passing false information is no way to advocate for ANYONE especially children.
    I pray that not a single child has read any of the rhetoric above. Chris has good intentions for her son. No one who knows her thinks any differently and most admire her for it but.....
    This whole blog has taken on a very ugly life of it's own and at this point it is serving no genuine good purpose for any child, parent or educator.
    You (and you know who you are LISA) should get to know a person before you attack them is such a purely ugly manner.

    1. Our Principal Is Not A BullyApril 25, 2012 at 4:45 PM

      I couldn't agree more! Your respect and concern for the mother, child, and Principal involved is what we need to focus on. Thank you for sharing your insight.

    2. It's OK to bully kids into taking tests, but not OK to "bully" or hold an adult responsible for taking a position that is damaging to a child and disrespectful of a parent's authority?

      He's an adult. He can take it. He's put himself into this position and has common sense at his disposal.

      But we seem to feel that kids can be subjected to anything that a seriously flawed institution throws at them.

      Welcome down the rabbit-hole, Alice.

  24. @Anonymous,
    You are wrong. First it could NOT be handled in house because the principal defied the wishes of this mother. He also made an unnecessary threat and when asked by several people to rescind it he was unresponsive. Those hired to serve and protect children have a moral and ethical obligation to stop following orders if it puts children in harms way. Child safety, and common sense, come first.

    People who stand up to bullies who are hurting children and threatening parents, are not bullies. We are people who are bringing attention to the matter of this principal and others like it who have lost their purpose.

    Fortunately, as I informed Mr. Capone, the ACLU is filing a lawsuit against bully principals like this and his name has been added to the suit. His actions are unconscionable, and no parent should listen to a man who forces children to do something against their parents wishes.

    I would be happy to get to know the principal,but he has refused to respond to the outreach of me and others prior to any of us writing about it.

    And, yes, I know who I am anonymous, but who are you?

    1. I am a concerned parent in Oceanside who thinks that all this ugliness is of no good use to anyone least of all children to whom you profess to advocate for. May they not learn to stand up for themselves by bashing others. This is the wrong lesson. There are better ways to help others and cyber bullying is not the proper or just way.
      I choose anonymity because you are so cruel and harsh with your chosen words I fear for my own well being given your vast internet knowledge and availability of personal information found via computers these days. Sadly my only course was to post anonymously for fear of your verbal backlashing and retribution. You seem to take pleasure in bashing anyone here who has an opinion that doesn't fit with your beliefs.
      Ironically whilst reading other posts on your bloodspot I saw you bash a radio station that did just that "sensor and bash" anyone that disagreed with their beliefs. Funny you seem to be doing just that here.
      I have no issue at all with the mom and her choice to avoid having her son take the test. I support her choice. I know she would support my choice to allow my child to go through with the test. However, I DO have a problem with your behavior and this crusade you have taken on with pitch fork and fire.
      Again I repeat my biggest concern here is that NO CHILD reads this ugliness.

    2. What one sees as ugliness, another sees as beauty. I think it is wonderful that more and more parents are opting out and more and more principals and teachers are supporting these parents because they are aware that these tests are harming their children.

      You accuse me of censoring and bashing? Really? I have never censored anything on this blog and even let people who are afraid to reveal their identity have a voice. As far as bashing, or being cruel, please cite where I have done that as it is difficult to refute vague and/or empty accusations. Am I harsh when it comes to administrators who don't respect the rights of parents? You betcha. This administrator made an inappropriate threat that not only is disturbing to parents everywhere but puts an unnecessary burden on an agency that doesn't need false reports of child maltreatment.

      As far as you choosing not to be comfortable standing behind your words and views, that is your character, but for me, I stand proudly behind what I say.

    3. Lisa and others:
      1) principals all over often defy the wishes of the parents. Mr Capone also defies the wishes of parents who choose to send soda in their lunch boxes, defend the right of their 4th grader who brought a knife to school, defend the right of their young daughter to wear very inappropriate dresses to school, defend the right of their child who says homework is too stressful and he won't do it....all personal experiences I've had at this school.
      2) Mr Capone did not make a threat to this parent... he merely stated the consequences of her actions. We don't threaten our children when we tell them that they will be grounded if they break the rules.
      3) This child was not put in harms way... he was made to follow the rules just like all the other students who receive standard adn special education.
      4) People who stand up to bullies are not are correct. HOWEVER... just as we should teach our children...HOW you stand up makes a difference. If you choose to name call, state assumed facts, and make false accusations, you have become the bully as well.
      5) And, just for the record, I have signed anonymous only because I haven't figured out how to use this forum. Maybe I should ask my IEP receiving son who, under the guidance of Mr Capone, is a 15 year old 10th grader who now takes college level music, math, and science courses. Mr Capone lead me and other parents through such difficult times. He is comforting when we stress about how to best help our children. He is firm...yes. He obeys the rules...yes. He does this because he has the experience that should be trusted.
      signed respectfully, Donna

    4. @Anonymous,
      1) Really? A parent wished for his/her child to have a knife in school? A knife, soda, etc. are things that can be harmful to children. In this case he is forcing a child to do something that this parents and many other parents and educators have said is harmful to children.
      2) CPS is not a consequence of opting out of tests. CPS doesn't believe it is and the ACLU doesn't believe it is. This is a threat.
      3) Many people who are made to follow rules are put in harms way. This is one such case and this is why along with many others this principal will be named in a lawsuit.
      4) I have not name called, stated assumed facts or false accusations. If you think something falls in that category I can give you evidence to the contrary.
      5) Good people make mistakes. This is one of those times. A parent should never follow, obey or trust a man that forces your child to do something against a parents wishes that causes harm. Fortunately more and more parents, principals, and teachers realize this truth and they are standing up for children and supporting the decision to opt them out of these tests that are of no value to children.

    5. 1) First of all... "HE" is not forcing this child to do anything. HE is only enforcing a rule set by his higher ups....just as any person employed by another would have to do.
      My opinion...As is the's all a matter of opinion. I don't believe knives should be allowed, but this parent believed that knives aren't harmful if the rules are followed. Mr Capone said no because the district had rules. Soda... depends on who you talk to/whose opinions you choose to believe. Mr Capone said no because the district said no. And, who does it harm if the girl wears a short skirt? That falls under obeying the rules, plain and simple. Not doing homework? If the parents says it's too stressful, shall we let the child out? Of course not. Again... there are rules. If you don't like the rules, be smart enough to be a part of a change instead of being an outspoken thorn in the side and causing an avoidable situation take much valuable time away from the children at this school.
      2) CPS is not a consequence of opting out of tests...CPS was offered as a consequence of keeping a child out of school. It wasn't a threat any more than me telling my child he'd be grounded if he broke a rule. Don't you have children? Don't they ever get mad that you enforce rules they don't like. Don't they ever feel like they're "gonna die" if they don't get there way? You must at least know children like this if you don't have your own? Children and parents don't always like or agree with the rules and don't always like or agree with what's best for their children... WE ALL KNOW THIS.
      4) stating that Mr Capone defied the wishes of this parent is a false accusation. Mr Capone did his job. He was not in a place of authority to even think about granting the wishes of this parent. She went to the wrong person and threw a fit. If I went to my manager to complain about my salary instead of the head honchos that actually decide my salary, and then sued my manager when he didn't give me a raise, wouldn't I be wrong? Be part of the solution, not the problem. Don't blame the man for following the rules.
      5) yes, good people make mistakes. However, following the rules is not a mistake. Again, if you want the rules changed, go to the people who make the rules, not those who are employed to enforce them.
      side note...these tests may not be perfect and need to be changed, but they'll never go away. There must be standardized testing or schools will be left to themselves to decide how to teach. We already have a huge education gap between states because the standardized tests are state wide and not nation wide. All things that need to be fixed and all things a principal of an elementary school is not qualified to fix.
      Just seems so simple.....

  25. First thank you for not correcting my spelling.
    But mostly let me repeat I DO NOT HAVE A PROBLEM WITH ANY PARENT'S CHOICE TO OPT OUT. Please do not put words in my mouth. I fully support their choice as I would hope they would support my choice(s).
    I only have a problem with the way you are behaving negatively towards people you do not know.
    I will end my participation in this conversation by agreeing to disagree as we will not meet eye to eye on how you are handling this. I can only hope you see there is a better way to resolve this.
    I would like to extend my best to the parents, teachers, students & staff that this is resolved with the least negative impact on all involved.

  26. First thank you for not correcting my spelling.
    But mostly let me repeat I DO NOT HAVE A PROBLEM WITH ANY PARENT'S CHOICE TO OPT OUT. Please do not put words in my mouth. I fully support their choice as I would hope they would support my choice(s).
    I only have a problem with the way you are behaving negatively towards people you do not know.
    I will end my participation in this conversation by agreeing to disagree as we will not meet eye to eye on how you are handling this. I can only hope you see there is a better way to resolve this.
    I would like to extend my best to the parents, teachers, students & staff that this is resolved with the least negative impact on all involved.

  27. I didn't put words in your Anonymous mouth. I do however, ask again that rather than vague accusations of me "behaving negatively," you point to specifics so I can respond accordingly.

    As far as me directing this at someone I don't know, that is this man's choice. As I said, I reached out to him prior to sharing "HIS" words and prior to his being added to the ACLU complaint. He choose not to be known. You should know that the ACLU agrees that this is definitely a case and that this principal acted unjustly.

    I will act negatively toward anyone who disrespects the rights of parents and forces children to do things against the will of both them and their mother/father/care giver.

    I'm sorry, but you haven't been clear about what you agree to disagree on. You also have not indicated a better way to handle this that hasn't been tried. The principal defied the mother's wishes when she tried to handle it at the school and refused to respond to me and the numerous other people who reached out to him directly. Before you criticize, you should provide an alternative solution. I'm open to other options but you have suggested none that haven't been tried.

    I extend my best to parents, teachers, children, and staff as well...UNLESS they do something to defy parental rights which results in the harming of children.

  28. For all the anonymous and those who question why I let folks post anonymously...

    I understand why they would not want their names associated with defending this man but I think it is important to hear what they are too ashamed to stand behind publicly.

  29. Our Principal Is Not A BullyApril 25, 2012 at 5:45 PM

    We are not afraid to associate our names with defending this man, as stated by another poster above, we are not comfortable with possibility of you attacking our names, families, and careers as well.

    I am concerned that the child involved has his name displayed in many of the blogs who are showing this story... including yours...I don't know if this was your choice or his mother's but I hope you will edit it out to protect his privacy.

  30. Well... This is a statewide test! Your kid isnt the only one taking these tests If you dont like it! Home school your kid! Crazy how someone would try to tarnish a mans reputation! Grow up

    1. Everyone is entitled to a public education. This does not mean that they must succumb to the demands backed by the the multi-billion dollar publishing industry and those who follow the orders handed down. This is especially true when it is well known, documented, and researched that this testing is a farce that does NOTHING to help children and in cases such as this one, actually causes harm.

      Do your research Anonymous. When you do I hope you would question why we would ever force a parent to do something that is not in the best interest of her child.

      Fortunately, as you can read in my blog today, principals, unlike this one are banning together to stand up to the ludicrousness and standing up for children.

      I work in schools. I see the horrors that are going on with these tests where teachers are forced to impose something upon children who are crying, vomiting and completely distraught. This is terrible for everyone involved.

  31. have an answer for everything huh? Learn the facts before you shoot your mouth off! You dont know this mother or Mr Capone! Maybe the mother is a nut

    1. Actually I do know the mother. The principal, and you, however, have chosen not to be known. I know my stuff. This mother is a caring and kind person. The principal over stepped his bounds and violated parental wishes. Those are the facts.

    2. This principal was given the choice to uphold an institution's rules that sustain a deeply flawed system, or abide by the express wishes of a parent concerned for her child. He opted to protect the institution. How nice. "Just following orders!" What a backbone this man must have.

  32. Nicole Hartley BradfordApril 25, 2012 at 6:45 PM

    All I know is what I feel, what my kids tell me and my experience. If my kids were really stressed about taking a test, and I could see it was affecting him in ways I didn't want, I would ask for him to be allowed to opt out too.

    If the people in charge said he couldn't opt out, I would have to evaluate. There are usually many possibel solutions to any given problem, but I might not think of them if I were under pressure. Under pressure a person's mind tenses up (one reason testing stresses kids out). So right now, while I'm not under pressure, I can think of these ideas:

    1. Suggest my kids just fills in the answers as best he can, emphasize that whatever grade he gets is a number that can't accurately reflect his knowledge (as he wrote under stress) and live with it. Trusting that even if school tells him he is sub par, my influence will show him that he is the amazing being he is and together we will find him a way to support himself as an adult regardless.

    2. If the environment of the school is so rigid, and works to give him what he needs so poorly, by such things as insisting on following the rules at the expense of kids' mental health, I might consider taking him out, finding a new learning environment.

    I personally don't want to try to "change the system", because while I wait for my efforts to bear results, my kid are is affected. If the school my kid is in is reasonably interested in listening to our concerns and working with us to find a solution, awesome.

    At the end of my kids school career, it is us who lives with whether their schooling was effective or not.

    If I saw consistent evidence that a school was invested in assessing their actual success rates, based on happiness as much as material success, I would be able to trust them more I think.

    I wonder if the test that would gage the actual success of a school would be one this principal would be comfortable taking?

    It all goes back to this core human thing...if we are being judged by the standards of others, and these standards are not our own, they make us feel rotten, less so if we do ok, but how many kids are being tested on being A, when they are made for B?

    1. The person in charge is the child's parent. She said no. Many parents are doing the same. Parents, not the government or a school staff member, are in charge of their children.

  33. Please remove the child's name from your blog...his privacy is being violated...

    1. @Caring Parent,
      You are not the child.
      You are not the parent.
      You have no say in this child's privacy.

      If that the parent or child had made that request, the child's name would not appear on my blog.

  34. This is disgusting!! Lisa you shoulkd be ashamed of yourself! You are looking to make a name for yourself!! You have zero intrest in this kid or their family!! You dont have me fooled!

    1. No, "Kim" who is chooses not to reveal his/her identity. I have a name and I'm not afraid to use it. It is Lisa Nielsen. I will help this family as I have others. Fortunately parents across the nation are doing what this mom has done and the ACLU is going after bully principals like this one.

    2. Lisa,,, I have no problem revealing my identity... What are we showing this child? When the tough get going run??

    3. I have a 3rd grader in Oceanside Schools who have been a nervous wreck about these state tests!! A straight A student too.... But if I said to my child..." Hey, youre too nervous to take a test?" Ill take care of it! So what happens when this child decides to take a med school exam or boards... Bar? Should I fight that too? Come on... This is stupid!

    4. How nice...a third grader who is a nervous wreck, and a parent who apparently believes in the Tough Love form of parenting. Let me clue you in...a third grader is 8 years old. A med school aspirant is an adult.

      I'm sorry, I know it's not done to criticize a parent, but honestly! If we take a step back and realize that the public school system doesn't always know best, and state standardized testing is killing our institutions, maybe you might reconsider and let your kid have the sniffles that day?

    5. Look Lisa! You dont know me! Dont you dare judge me! My daughter was nervous the first day..Then came home and told me how ridiculosly easy the test was! I know my child and she strive to do the best she can! I knew he was strong enough to get through it! Sometimes...we have to push our kids and have them face their fears no?

    6. Should we have kids skip Regents Exams too?

    7. == What happens when this child decides to take a med school exam or boards... Bar? Should I fight that too?==

      Your question brings up two very important issues.
      1) Children don't takes Bar exams and Boards. Adults do.
      2) Adults decide to take those tests. In this case children are being forced.

    8. ==What are we showing this child? When the tough get going run??==
      What we are showing this child is that when someone tries to force you to do something that could be harmful, you should exercise your right to just say no.

    9. Im not going to argue with you anymore! Point is the principal could not grant this wish..... Im done

    10. ==My daughter was nervous the first day..Then came home and told me how ridiculosly easy the test was!==

      What if your child didn't speak the language, but was forced to take a test s/he couldn't read? What if your got sick and vomited all over the test? What if your child suffered serious emotional anxiety as a result of these unnecessary tests?

      Your child found it easy. Good for you, but what about the others that are getting sick unnecessarily in the schools that I work with?

    11. Are you against Regents exams? What about SATs? ACTs?

    12. So tell them... Just give up... Dont do it! Dont even try

    13. ==So tell them... Just give up... Dont do it! Dont even try==
      You can't give up something you never choose to do. Humans have the right to say no when someone is trying to make them do something that you don't want to do, serves them no benefit, and in fact can cause harm.

      More and more knowledgeable parents are helping their children exercise this right.

    14. ==Im not going to argue with you anymore! Point is the principal could not grant this wish..... Im done==

      I'm sorry your principal has mislead you and other parents, but he could allow the child to opt out just like numerous others across the state have done. He also didn't have to threaten or defy this mother's wishes. His actions are inappropriate to the point that the ACLU is naming him in a lawsuit. What he did is not acceptable.

  35. "Further, if you keep Joseph home from school during the Assessment period,
    without medical verification, it is within the District’s discretion to deem
    these absences as indicia of educational neglect, which would leave the District
    little choice but to contact Child Protective Services (“CPS”)."

    Educational neglect? Because a parent wants her child not to take a test? EDUCATIONAL NEGLECT because a parent doesn't want her child to be subjected to the greatest failure perpetrated by the institution of public education?

    Nice guy, this principal. Maybe, but he made a bad mistake.

  36. ==Are you against Regents exams? What about SATs? ACTs?==

    I am for providing multiple assessment options. Tests such as the ones you mention only measure one type of learning/learner.

    As far as each go, here are my thoughts...

    Regents are very expensive and an ineffective measurement of skills and knowledge as it pertains to the real world. Historians will tell you this about the history regents, writers will tell you this about the English regents, etc. Additionally, you can skip the regents and still get into a top college with more relevant qualifications.

    When it comes to ACTs and SATs more and more colleges are catching on that they are missing out on some amazing students with such requirements. There are now numerous universities that realize that exams are “an unnecessary barrier” to access. You can find them at and you can read about the myths behind these tests at

  37. As a parent in the school district in the spotlight of this story and a parent who also has a child in a class which is a "Integrated Co-teaching Class" (for the last 3 years), most parents would "opt out" of these ridiculous standardized tests, whether your child has an IEP or not. These tests are stressful for all students to take and in my experience, are not a good measure of a child and their education or for that matter the teachers. The principal, school and district seem to be following state regulations and from the looks of the wording of that email, the districts legal counsel is also involved which lead me to believe that this is not the first and last experience the family involved and the school have had. The facts are the facts and they are simply but harshly stated. I am all for being your childs strongest advocate but there is no better (or worse) way to single your child out than this. Life is full of difficult and stressful situtations, for all children, the tests are stressful but I see that parents making a big deal out of them is the biggest part of the problem (admitting that I am, indeed, part of that problem.) I hope this child that is caught in the middle of this ugly tug of war does not suffer any more.

    What I do take offense to is using the term "bully." What this principal has done is not "bully" the family, he stated facts, cut and dry whether anyone likes them or not. When you use the term "bully" in this situation, you insult anyone who has really been "bullied." Just because you do not like something that has happened to you or your child, due to regulations that this man can not change, does not mean that you can throw that term around. You insult the victims that have been bullied and you take away their power to be taken seriously.

    The whole situation is sad and I hope everyone gets the resolution they are looking for but this is nost certainly not the way to do it.

    1. @Anonymous,
      Here is the definition of bully:
      Use superior strength or influence to intimidate (someone), typically to force him or her to do what one wants.
      This principal used his superior position to intimidate AND force a child to do what the principal wanted disregarding the request and rights of the parent. This IS bullying. You may not believe it is and all the other people who are uncomfortable revealing their identity in defense of this man may not believe it.

      Do you know who does believe he is being a bully beside the child and his parent? The ACLU believes it. Many other principals believe it. Educators believe it.

      No one has the right to defy a parent's wishes. This principal DID NOT need to threaten a call to CPS. This principal is a bully. Many people believe he is.

      Parents need to know their rights and stand up to anyone who forces their children to do something against their wishes. This is not okay and those who are hired to serve and protect are children should not be forcing them to do something that is harming them.

    2. ==Life is full of difficult and stressful situtations, for all children, the tests are stressful but I see that parents making a big deal out of them is the biggest part of the problem (admitting that I am, indeed, part of that problem.)==

      Really??? Do you think it is the job of schools to put children in unnecessarily stressful and difficult situation??? No! That is not what schools should be doing. That is NOT what children need.

      Parents are NOT a part of the problem. Parents are the only hope we have to end the madness of inflicting meaningless tests upon children that don't help them a big but make billions for publishing companies. This is sick and parents NEED to make a big deal about this.

    3. How about you take this up with the state...that is where the problem is.

      I am well aware of the definition of bully and you now fall under that category now too. You should be proud.

      You are turning this into a 3 Ring Circus and you should be ashamed of your behavior. The tone of your responses is deplorable, you are not an advocate for the children of families, you are spewing your own agenda.

      I do NOT agree with the way the testing is done and I do believe it should be a parents right to "opt out" but what you are doing here is counter productive.

      You are a hateful person, not an insightful one. You are making an already sad situation worse by your handling of it. I am sure you will be responding with your usual tone, part of that is because you feel that you are the only side with valid points but there is room in this town for two different thought processes. The other part is because you dictate this blog, you will always HAVE to have the last word.

      By the way life=stress and hardship, if we do not teach our children how to persevere now, they will never learn. Apparently a lesson you will never accept or embrace...

    4. @Anonymous
      A bully is someone who uses strength or influence to force someone to do something that they want them to do.
      If you believe that those of us who are exposing this story are using our influence to return rights back to parents and children, you are absolutely right, but who wouldn't want parents to have the right to protect their children? Using influence to help children who are being harmed is something most of us want.

      You are right. I am spewing my agenda. That agenda is to give children the freedom to learn and remove the power from the multi-billion dollar testing industry that does nothing beneficial for children. Fortunately, there are many other educators and parents with the same agenda and after much work from those of us who oppose this testing, the ACLU is taking on cases such as these as well.

      Bringing attention to this issue is very productive and the only people I have ill-will toward are those who disregard parental rights and impose force on children.

      As far as the last word, unlike the Facebook page, which I might add shows very little support for this principal, I do not censor comments. Anyone is welcome to have whatever word they want.

      We do NOT need to teach children to comply or persevere when it comes to trying to force them to do something unnecessary and that will only cause harm. More and more parents realize this and are helping their children exercise their right to learn without force.

      We don't need to teach children that others can unnecessarily impose something upon them. They can just say no. Learning to do so will lead to an empowered life filled with much less stress and hardship than those who blindly follow orders or stand behind those whose actions harm others.

    5. I do not know of the support or lack there of for a Facebook page for this issue but you should not be talking about lack of support. It does not appear that you have garnered a lot of support for your blog on this issue either.

      Your "copy and paste" responses certainly are not helping your stance on the issue at hand. That's all I have to say on this topic. Have a nice life and thanks for not censoring my opinion. :))))

    6. @Anonymous,
      There is a tremendous amount of support on this blog and elsewhere for this parent and others who are opting out.

      As far as my "copy and paste" responses, I have no idea what you are referring to.

      As far as censoring...
      I have never censored anyone. Not even all of you who are afraid to publicly associate your name with supporting a man who would defy parental rights and force children to do something that is harmful. The censoring has however happened on the page created to support this principal. Most do not and those comments in support of this mother were all deleted. Sad.

    7. Where was that? Do you have a link?

    8. I think I'm going to start logging in as Anonymous and showing how to make a logical counter-argument. Please, people, stop with the appeals to emotion, appeals to authority, ad hominems, and straw man fallacies. Here is why the Anonymous arguments fail:

      1) "We don't have all the facts" - Neither do you, but that doesn't mean that we can't apply reason to discuss the matter given what we do know.
      2) "We don't have all of the specific facts of this situation" - I can't speak for everyone, but I believe that the relativistic details are immaterial. We are talking about the objective principles involved. Perhaps you need to think bigger picture.
      3) "The principal is a really great guy" - Fine, but he has failed a test of character. If you want to turn a blind eye to his response then the rest of us have to step up our position to make up for your failing. I'm sure the administrators involved in Brown v. Board of Education were also really great guys and everybody loved them.
      4) "He's just following the law" - So what? Laws can be wrong and unjust. Some of you acknowledge that the law is wrong and yet you defend someone who carries them out. Is it possible to learn from history or are we always going to be at the mercy of arbitrary authority?
      5) "Attack the law not the person" - Yes, of course, the hope is to change the law, but if someone is going to wave it in our faces (or simply hide behind it), they are going to have to abide by the consequences of that choice. At the end of the day, we must all take responsibility for our actions.
      6) "He's not a bully, you're a bully" - This is juvenile and ignorant debate. Our application of the term bully is much more precise than you obviously understand. Please take the time to learn about the Non-Aggression Principle before you comment.
      7) "I don't like testing, but I don't like this approach" - Fine, but when you stand up for your rights (or your child's rights) and meet up with resistance from the system, think back to how you castigated the rest of us.

    9. Can you add something about the number of times the letters ACLU have come up in these comments? Belaboring a point much?

    10. Sure. Calculate that by taking a look at the number of times people have claimed what this principal did was okay and not a violation and you'll find an equal number of responses explaining why it is not okay and is considered a violation by the ACLU and Office of Civil Rights.

  38. Tom Capone is one of the kindest, most caring men I have ever known and he and his staff have created a warm, nurturing environment in which to educate our children. Parents in School No. 2 partner with Tom and his more than competent staff to do the best for our children and sometimes they, as professionals, know what is best for a student because as parents we allow our hearts to decide. We have to admit that we don't always know whats best. There is not a scintilla of doubt in my mind that To them had best interests of the child in mind when he took this action.
    Kim Kramer

    1. Here's the thing, Kim. It WASN'T in the best interests of the child. It was in the best interests of the institution. Assessments like this, even seen in the best possible light, tell the powers that be at a school how they are doing in teaching kids certain basics. It also tells the state department and the public how the schools are doing. These measurements are used ostensibly to improve school programs. so even in the most positive possible light, it's not the kids who benefit individually, it's the system. And if you have a few kids not taking the test, it is not going to skew the results so much as to hamper educators' ability to tell how the school is doing in the area of student achievement.

      But that is the best possible light. In reality, the test only tell administrators and politicians how schools are doing in teaching kids some very limited kinds of knowledge. And the tests are so important that the entire curriculum at every single public school is narrowed and constricted, sculpted not to educate kids but to make good little test-takers.

      It doesn't benefit kids. It doesn't benefit the system. It brings down both. And unfortunatly, it is a system that can turn people into automatons, doing the will of the Gods of Testing.

      This was not done in the best interests of the kids. There is no way to spin the situation so that it is justifiable. But to go from simply making the kid take the test to threatening the mother with CPS! That is what put this situation over the top, and put this principal squarely in the wrong.

  39. @Kim Kramer,
    While you may have had kind and caring experiences with Mr. Capone defying a parent's rights and forcing a child to do something that harms him is neither kind or caring. As I've shared previously in the responses, educators, principals, and parents agree that we should neither defy parents rights, threaten them, or force their children to do something against the wishes of a parent.

    You may feel that a school employee knows better than a mother when it comes to what is best for her child, but ultimately, the parent is the one who has the final say. This parent is one who has read a plethora of research from educators who are speaking out loud and speaking out proud to inform parents everywhere that these tests are harming our children. In this parent's state 1400 principals have banned together to speak out against these tests. Hundreds of thousands of parents across America are calling for an end to these tests. Perhaps this one man is right, but the parent of this child stands with thousands of other parents and educators in her belief that these tests are wrong and harmful.

    Fortunately his threats and force have been brought to the attention of both the ACLU and the Office of Civil Rights. Both deem his actions egregious.

    I know you want to believe good things about this principal, but these actions are neither kind or caring and violate the civil rights of the parent and child.

  40. Give me a B...Give me a U...Give me an L...Give me an L...Give me a Y...what does that spell???? Bully...get a life and focus your mission on the cause and not a truly good man who was following protocol. And for all of you who are comparing this to the Nazi's SHAME ON YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! How dare you compare an atrocity to this situation!

  41. For the FACTS about parents' rights to "opt out" in NY state, please see:

  42. Your truly good man violated the civil liberties of a young boy and the parental rights of his mother. The government and their employees have no right to cause children unnecessary harm or disregard the wishes of their parents.

    Fortunately the Office of Civil Rights and ACLU disagree with you and the government employees who overstep their bounds.

  43. Looks like your witch hunt was short lived!!

    1. @Kim,
      It's not a witch hunt. We very well know which administrators are violating the liberties of parents and children. No hunt required.

      What mislead you to believe this was short lived? All these bully principals have been named in civil liberty / rights suits and more and more parents are opting out. Additionally, more and more principals are speaking up and supporting these parents. As the public gets smarter, good, will ultimately win and our children will benefit.

  44. Just to clarify...

    - In NYS the schools act "in loco parentis" (in place of a parent) while the kids are in school.
    - Parents do not have opt-out abilities.
    - If students are willfully held out of school it is considered truancy and administrators or other school personnel are legally obligated to report it to CPS if the parents still choose not to bring their child in to school after being notified of the law.
    - Parents can not willfully hold their child home from being in school.
    - All students that have a state assessment for their grade level must take the assessment.
    - Students who are absent during the assessment period and makeup period OR who refuse to take the test are considered failures and will have to receive Academic Intervention Services (AIS).
    - Students that do not pass the NYS Assessments must receive additional academic assistance (AIS) throughout the following school year. Parents cannot deny this assistance as long as it is held during the school day.