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Tisch Opts Out Of Scarsdale Forum Talk, Venue Changed

Scarsdale Superintendent Thomas Hagerman will be joined by former Mount Vernon interim Superintendent Judith Johnson and Assemblywoman Amy Paulin at the membership meeting.
Scarsdale Superintendent Thomas Hagerman will be joined by former Mount Vernon interim Superintendent Judith Johnson and Assemblywoman Amy Paulin at the membership meeting. Photo Credit: Zak Failla

SCARSDALE, N.Y. – State Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch has opted out of being a featured speaker at the upcoming Scarsdale Forum membership meeting.

With education reform being a hotly contested issue throughout the state following the adoption of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s most recent budget, Tisch had been scheduled to join Scarsdale Superintendent Thomas Hagerman and Assemblywoman Amy Paulin as guest speakers at the meeting.

Instead, it will be Board of Regents member Judith Johnson, the former interim superintendent credited with beginning to reform Mount Vernon schools, on the panel. However, Tisch is still expected to attend the meeting as an audience member.

With a drove of parents and educators from nearby districts expected to attend the meeting, officials with the forum have moved the location of the meeting to the Scarsdale High School auditorium.

There now will be a reception honoring retiring Village Manager Al Gatta at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, followed by the membership meeting at 8 p.m. featuring the educators. Scarsdale school officials have asked those attending the meeting use the Brewster Road entrances where there will be plenty of parking.

Cuomo has come under fire in recent weeks after his budget included several items of education reform that stresses even further importance on state standardized testing, leading parents and educators to look into extreme measures, including opting out of testing, something that got Scarsdale in trouble in the past.

Under the reform, student state test scores count as 50 percent of teacher and principal evaluations, prompting Mary Beth Gose, Scarsdale Board of Education president, to note that “a single assessment cannot provide appropriate information about practice, and we encourage a system of evaluation that uses multiple points of data.”

Due to the emphasis on standardized testing, many parents have complained that it puts undue stress on students, who are forced to study intensely and intently if they hope to succeed, while teachers are forced to forego more creative ways of educating children and instead “teach to the tests.”

This emphasis has led to a statewide movement that has seen teachers, parents and administrators alike teaming up to “opt out” of the exams by keeping them home on testing days.

“Coming from (the previous opt-out efforts that failed), I’m going to keep an open mind,” Paulin said. “There is definitely a movement in Westchester County, and any reform we’ve seen is due to that efforts. There’s flexibility within the budget, we just need to educate ourselves on the law.”

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