From the Morning Memo:

Democratic Senate hopeful Sara Niccoli on Wednesday defended the right to “opt out” of standardized tests, writing in a letter to the top official at the state Department of Education it’s “unrealistic” to force participation until changes are made to the Common Core standards.

In a letter to Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia, Niccoli pushed back against recent comments that it’s “unreasonable” for parents to have their children not take the examinations.

“By dismissing these families as ‘unreasonable,’ you are minimizing the legitimate concerns and real issues millions of New York families have with the botched roll-out and implementation of the Common Core standards,” Niccoli wrote in the letter.

The letter is a sign controversial issues surrounding education that have roiled Albany and school board meetings over the last several years will continue to be concerns raised in elections this fall.

Niccoli, the town supervisor of Palatine, is running against Republican Sen. George Amedore this fall in the 46th Senate district.

Education officials have defended the need for student participation in the tests, saying the scores are needed to understand student needs and aptitude in the classroom.

At the same time, state officials are reviewing potential changes to the Common Core standards.

“Until serious changes are made to the Common Core standards and the high-stakes tests, it is unrealistic and wasteful to force children to participate in the exams,” Niccoli wrote in the letter.

“I encourage you to instead partner with concerned parents and educators to develop standards and assessment tools that work. After all, we all have the same goal – high quality education that allows every child in New York to achieve her full potential.”

08.31.16 Niccoli Letter to Elia