Teachers responsible for test opt-outs, says Saugerties School Board trustee

Trustee Angie Minew and daughters

Trustee Angie Minew and daughters

Saying it baffled her that parents are questioning testing, Trustee Angie Minew accused teachers’ unions of driving the increase in opt-outs of standardized tests, now in progress across the state. At the April 14 meeting of the Saugerties Board of Education, she said “the teachers’ unions are encouraging civil disobedience and shamelessly using children to fight this battle for them.” She made this accusation after receiving a robocall from New York State United Teachers’ President Karen Magee advocating test refusal. Minew said her children did take the test, and claimed it was easy.

After thanking teachers whom she said behaved “professionally,” Minew went on to address “those educators who feel manipulating young children to challenge parents, become civil disobedient, I urge you to take a look at what the word ‘federal mandate’ means.” She suggested “maybe take a look at your own contract, possibly take a new career path.”

Minew said “your fight isn’t here. Your fight is in Albany.”

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Minew, who also serves on the BOCES Board of Education , brought up her own visits to Albany, and closed her remarks with “you should be ashamed, not those of us who are doing our jobs.”

Read letter: Trustee: Opt-out comments misquoted on social media

Later in the meeting, Saugerties Teachers’ Association President Mary Garland responded to what she called “teacher bashing.” She pointed out that the robocall to which Minew referred was from state union, not the local union.

“I’ve told my teachers, just do what you’re told,” said Garland.

She said teachers don’t have a choice; they have to administer the tests. “Teachers in the district work hard every day for the benefit of the children…I commend the teachers because they deserve it.”

Parent Emily Trotter-Bodie agreed that the teachers had been working hard. She echoed Garland’s disappointment, saying “it’s very disheartening to me to see our teachers, who work incredibly hard, not be supported.”

Locally, test refusals increased sharply this year – Onteora reported 61 percent and Kingston 43 percent. Saugerties did not provide numbers.