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New York Mayor: Boycott Test & We'll Fail Your Kid

Mayor Bloomberg yesterday warned defiant parents who make their kids boycott today's third-grade reading exam that such a move will almost guarantee their children will be held back.

Asked about a small group of Bronx parents threatening to keep their youngsters home to miss the tests, the mayor said, "The kids are going to have to take the test if they want to graduate to the [fourth grade]."

He rebuked "parents that want to grandstand and get their picture in the paper by holding their child back."

Third-graders must pass today's reading test as well as a math test scheduled for next Tuesday to be promoted.

A chanting crowd of more than 150 people gathered outside a Department of Education meeting in Manhattan last night to protest the high-stakes testing and City Hall's push to end social promotion.

Some in the crowd claimed that the reading exam is racially biased against Hispanics and blacks. They based their charge on a Department of Education report on last year's test that said 20 of the questions "favored" whites over minorities.

But city testing director Lori Mei said the report had been misread and that its wording only referred to a gap in the performance of whites versus minorities on those questions, as opposed to a built-in bias.

Protesters included parents such as Marianette Cruz, who said her 8-year-old son, John, isn't ready to take the test today.

"I'm going to keep him home," Cruz said of her son, who attends PS 54 in The Bronx. "Then I'm going to take him to a psychologist. His mind is not there. He's too stressed."

Leonel Navas, whose daughter, Laura, attends the same school, said he also plans to boycott.

"She needs more time," Navas said of his child. "She's not prepared."

But education officials joined Bloomberg in issuing a stern warning to potential renegade parents.

"If a student misses a test because of an illness, he/she can take advantage of the makeup period," department spokeswoman Marge Feinberg said in a statement.

"If a student misses the test and makeup [exam], he/she will have failed to score . . . [what] is required for automatic promotion."

Most parents back the tougher promotional policy, although they admitted they have jitters about the tests.

Queens PS 152 parent Fehmida Begum said her 9-year-old son, Rehan, had been attending Saturday test-prep classes for the past five weeks.

"He's a good student, but teachers tell me he needs a little more practice to pass. I hope he does well," Begum said.

Heydie Tuxpan, 9, seemed relatively confident she would.

"I'm feeling nervous," she said, "but I've been studying every day with my mother."

— Carl Campanile
New York Post





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