NYS Lifts Ban on Teachers Talking About Test Questions

Jan 5, 2017 by

Teachers are no longer gagged. No longer are they forbidden from expressing opinions about the  fitness of questions on standardized tests that have already been administered to students and released to the general public.

Only education professionals responsible for honing the skills of students and teaching the material on which the exams were based had been barred. Barbers, sandblasters, wealth managers and ambulance chasers and everybody else was free to discuss the questions and argue the merits of the exams.

Educators were sworn to secrecy and suffered severe penalties for breaching the confidentiality agreement they were coerced into signing. Remember that this ludicrous restriction applied to tests already given and in the public domain. Nobody ever contested the need to protect the security of tests in advance.

Can you imagine doctors being muzzled from weighing in on the efficacy of medicines taken by their patients while everyone else from all other walks of life could present their findings?  Or ideas for future research and development in any other particular field of expertise being open to all parties except those trained and practiced in that specialty?

Only in education, folks.

So what did it take for this screwball restriction to be lifted?  Did common sense prevail?  Did New York State repent its fatuous policy?

Of course not.  It was the teachers union that acted once again in the interest of students.

The New York State United Teachers filed suit in federal court almost three years ago and last week their victory was announced.  Scorers of tests are no longer kept in bondage. No more draconian documents to autograph. No more career dungeons for exposing tests that may be unsuitable for students for a variety of reasons.

The State has agreed not to follow through on those disciplinary cases already in the hopper against teachers and was ordered to pay the plaintiffs’ court costs. On the sprawling battlefield of education, this was a rare and isolated triumph of rationality over abject stupidity.

Ron Isaac

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