Okay parents and grandparents who are opposed to Common Core, it is time to speak up.

President-elect Trump has promised to STOP COMMON CORE.  Let’s make sure he understands the adverse impact Common Core has had on our children’s education and their everyday lives and why it is so important that he keeps his promise.  Let’s make sure he knows that WE are here, WE are strong, WE are vocal, WE are organized and WE are UNITED for OUR CHILDREN because they are OUR AGENDA!

Join other STOP COMMON CORE parents in sending a short message to President-elect Trump.

Common Core needs to go and the time for President-elect Trump to hear from us is NOW!

New Yorkers reject Common Core
New Yorkers reject Common Core

Here is the letter I sent to President-elect Trump:

Dear President-elect Trump,

Congratulations on winning a very hard fought election to become the next president of the United States of America.

I am the parent of two amazing daughters in New York State and I have been fighting to STOP COMMON CORE since I learned of the ugly beast back in 2012.

Common Core is not good for our children; it is not good for our teachers; it is not good for our schools and it is not good for our country no matter what anyone might try to tell you. Please take time to listen to the parents who have been fighting in the trenches for years. We are here, ready and willing to partner with you, to STOP COMMON CORE as you have promised and we are eager to help you save our schools for our children!

I am hearing distressing rumors that you might be considering Michelle Rhee or Eva Moskowitz for the Secretary of Education cabinet position. Please know that neither candidate is suitable. Michelle Rhee is a Common Core supporter and you have promised to get rid of Common Core. Eva Moskowitz is a very big advocate of high stakes testing which is harmful to our students and she has been accused of being extremely abusive with the discipline of her students in the charter schools she runs.

Please stick with Williamson Evers, who I believe was your initial candidate for the Secretary of Education position.

I look forward to continuing to work with you and the people you place in advisory positions around you as we work together to STOP COMMON CORE.

Sincerely, Jolyn Safron Hurley NY parent, co-founder of Kingston Action For Education

Next U.S. Education Secretary

We will soon be saying goodbye to John King as U.S. Education Secretary.  There seems to be a fair amount of confusion however regarding who President-elect Donald Trump is considering as possible candidates to fill the Education Secretary position.

Williamson Everson is on Trump’s transition team and has been listed on the short list of candidates for U.S. Education Secretary.  Dr. Ben Carson has also been suggested but Dr. Carson has withdrawn his name from consideration.

Several articles (herehere and here) indicate that Michelle Rhee and/or Eva Moskowitz are being considered for appointment as Education Secretary.  Speculation?  Rumor?  Fact?  Not sure, but many concerns are being raised at the thought of either Michelle Rhee or Eva Moskowitz as the next Education Secretary.  These two women are avid supports of Common Core and/or high stakes testing.  I can’t imagine how/why they would be considered for Education Secretary when Mr. Trump has promised to STOP COMMON CORE but perhaps he has not yet learned the full extent of their stands on the Common Core issue.  The Politico article included Moskowitz’s name with Rhee’s as long shots yesterday but Moskowitz’s name has been removed as of today (Nov 17).  Within the last hour I read that Eva Moskowitz has withdrawn her name from consideration which is a relief.  Now if Michelle Rhee would just do the same I could breathe more easily again.

With all the uncertainty regarding who is being considered, I encourage you to let your thoughts be heard regarding who you want to be the next U.S. Education Secretary.

You can share your thoughts with President-elect Trump regarding the next Education Secretary by submitting a letter using the instructions at the STOP COMMON CORE IN NEW YORK STATE website or you can sign a petition in support of Williamson Evers  #EversForED
Hopefully President-elect Trump will pay more attention to the voice of the parents in New York State in his selection of the next Education Secretary than the U.S. Senate did when they confirmed John King as Education Secretary.

Cybersafety Presentation

Parents – Mark your calendars to attend the presentation “Internet Awareness:  Tools for Keeping Youth Safe in Cyberspace” on Thursday December 1, 2016 from 6-8:30pm at UCCC’s Quimby Auditorium.


The event is hosted by the Safe Harbour Program.  Contact Jackie Arsenuk at (845) 340-3927 or with any questions.

New York State voter registration deadline – October 14, 2016

This year’s election on November 8, 2016 will have far reaching implications for education as well as many other issues.  If you are not yet registered to vote and you live in New York State, you have until October 14, 2016 to register.

You may register to vote online

KCSD BOE Resolution to withdraw recognition and support of District Wide Parents’ Council

The KCSD Board of Education presented resolution BOE34 at the September 7, 2016 meeting and the resolution also appears on the agenda for tonight’s meeting September 21, 2016.


WHEREAS, in 2002, the Board of Education approved a resolution recognizing and supporting the PTAs, PTOs and the District-Wide Parents’ Council; and

WHEREAS, the Board desires to modify its position with respect to such recognition and support;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Board of Education hereby withdraws it recognition and support of the District-Wide Parents’ Council and will no longer consider such organization to be a school-related organization.

If you believe in the mission of the District Wide Parents’ Council or have benefited from the organization, please attend the meeting to speak during public comment this evening.  Public comment will begin at 7pm.  If you can not attend, please email your comment to the KCSD BOE members.

Please share the value/benefit of District Wide Parents’ Council and any suggestions you have for increasing the value to parents and/or making it easier for parents to participate as part of the District Wide Parents’ Council.

Mission of District Wide Parents’ Council:
  • To provide an opportunity for the parents of the district to share ideas and mutual concerns.
  • To provide on-going communication among the parents of the Kingston City School District, Central Administration, and Board of Education, and further, to provide support for parents as effective communicators with clarification of proper channels when needed.
  • To keep all parents informed of school districts policies and issues.
  • To endorse, recommend, and collaborate upon initiatives which have been agreed upon by a majority present and voting at school parent group meetings.

Resolution BOE34 was discussed on Sept 7 and then the second was withdraw so a vote was not taken.  Two Board of Education members have indicated they will pull BOE34 from the consent agenda for discussion tonight.

Here is the September 7, 2016 BOE meeting video.   Discussion of BOE34 begins at 41:20 in the video and concludes at 1:03:31.

For anyone not familiar with how the consent agenda works, all resolutions on the consent agenda are voted on together.  If a board member wishes to discuss a resolution on the consent agenda, they must ask for the resolution to be ‘pulled’ from the consent agenda.  If BOE34 was not removed from the consent agenda, there would have been no discussion by the board and the resolution would have been passed along with all the other resolutions on the consent agenda.  To my knowledge, the only announcement of resolution BOE34 that was made was an article in the Daily Freeman on September 8, 2016.

In the interest of full disclosure, please be aware that I served for five years as co-chairwoman of District Wide Parents’ Council and have served as the DWPC representative for Edson Elementary School, Bailey Middle School and Kingston High School.  I believe very strongly in the value of District Wide Parents’ Council and want to see the organization continue as a part of the Kingston City School District.  I will be sharing further personal comments at the BOE meeting tonight.


N.Y. Regents question standardized test data comparisons

The Board of Regents actually did a LOT more than just question standardized test data comparisons at their September 2016 monthly meeting according to this article.

The board that sets education policy for New York questioned Monday why the State Education Department touted gains on standardized test scores this year when most agree the data can’t be compared against previous years.

The department released the results of the state’s 2016 reading and math tests in July, showing that statewide proficiency grew 6.6 percentage points in reading and 1 percentage point in math compared to last year.

Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia warned against making direct comparisons with results from prior years — a point she would reiterate in weeks to come — since the 2016 tests were shorter than previous years and untimed. But in their first public meeting since the announcement, the Regents expressed concern that comparisons were made at all.

“When we send out a package that says, you know, we’re moving up and charter schools did so much better, this goes to the press and then to the political people who make decisions on our behalf sometimes based upon data that can’t be compared,” said Regent Roger Tilles.

They questioned whether charter school test data is valid because charter schools do not have to follow the same rules as public schools so students might be receiving help with the tests. They also compared the tests to ‘child abuse’ for students new to the English language and Regent Tilles said “But I really don’t like giving those tests, even if we’re asked to do so. I would choose to opt out of them.”

KCSD 2016-2017 Calendar

Hard to believe that school starts next Tuesday September 6, 2016.

Note that the KCSD BOE posted a change to the school calendar being considered for November 8, 2016 (Superintendent’s Conference Day due to the elections on Nov 8).  Check it out and watch for a final decision after the September 7 Board of Education meeting.  The link also has a copy of the updated school calendar so you can check out other days off school.

Here is the link if you still need to find out bus schedule information or school start/end times.

A New Vision of Education

The following resolution from the Patchogue-Medford school board on Long Island, New York was reported by Diane Ravitch and is well worth a read through.

A New Vision of Education:  A Resolution Passed by the Patchogue-Medford School Board in New York

I will include the resolution as well in case you can not access the link.

WHEREAS, Learning standards must serve as a guide to what all children should develop toward and be based on developmental norms rather than systematic back-mapping of any given college and career readiness benchmark; and that such standards should be created by New York State classroom educators and content area specialists experienced in the grade level for which they are creating standards, with feedback from parents, community members, and where appropriate, students; and that such standards must specify at what level of difficulty a student is expected to demonstrate proficiency on state tests; and that such standards should be based on peer reviewed and evidence based research for each grade level, including lexile benchmarks; and that such standards should serve as a guide to what skills to what skills and concepts are taught at each grade level; and that such standards must be broad enough to allow local teachers, as professionals, to determine methodology, content, and instructional practices and assessments that will best suit the needs of the communities and students they serve; and that such standards must include fine and gross motor skills, including handwriting; and that such standards must broadly address play skills, a well researched and critical aspect of learning for students, to ensure that schools allocate instructional time for self-selected and guided play, particularly in the early grades; and that such standards in all grades must address cultural competencies;

WHEREAS, School districts must be given adequate funding to create or purchase culturally relevant curriculum that meets the needs of the communities and students they serve; and that all schools must have dedicated funding for curriculum-based field trips and project-based, experiential learning; and that music, art, physical education, and technology should be integrated into the curriculum for all students in grades K-12; and that all schools must offer at least one consistent foreign language in grades K-12; and that any state-wide digital learning platforms must be evidence based, piloted, and studied for both efficacy and safety before being implemented; and that all high schools must offer advanced mathematics and science courses as well as advanced electives in all disciplines; and that all schools’ curricula should offer significant opportunities for students to exercise choice and direct aspects of their own learning;

WHEREAS, Any federally mandated statewide assessments must be created by New York State classroom educators, including test question construction and reading passage selection; and that in a system that includes local assessment, classroom educators must have the primary role in constructing or selecting the assessments; and that tests must be criterion referenced rather than norm referenced and results must be given back within 4 weeks of administration; and that College and Career readiness benchmarks aligned with test proficiency must be aligned with strong indicators of post-high school success that have been vetted for racial, cultural, and socioeconomic bias; and that any federally mandated statewide assessments must be no longer than one day per subject with time limits established by a committee of classroom educators experienced in the grade level for which the assessment has been developed; and that time limits must be based on grade level expectations for time on task; and that the misuse of assessment data must stop; and that statewide exams must be decoupled from any high stakes including but not limited to teacher and principal evaluations, grounds for school takeover or closure, use as admittance criteria to selective schools, promotion, programs, and retention; and that on any statewide test, all test content, reading passages, and questions must align to the grade level benchmarks and lexile levels for the grade in which it is being administered; and that test scores and high stakes exit exams must not be the only pathway to graduation; and that students must have the opportunity to demonstrate proficiency in other ways such as portfolios and interviews; and that Regents exams must be scheduled in such a way so as to ensure that no student must take more than one Regent exam per day; and that assessments must be subject to full transparency, including the annual release of comprehensive technical reports that provide transparency on specific items; and that all parents and guardians must be notified of their right to refuse standardized tests for their child(ren), with notification must be provided in the parent or guardian’s native language;

WHEREAS, New York State must fully and equitably fund our public schools; and that reasonable class size caps (for example, 18 students in K-3, 23-25 in other grades) must be used in aid and funding formulas as the basis for school aid determination; and that all schools must have at least one full time nurse, social worker, and security guard/safety officer, with all security guard/safety officers receiving crisis intervention and cultural competency training; and that all schools must have a well-resourced library and a full time librarian; and that all schools must have adequate counseling support provided by a psychologist, as determined by the overall number of students, the number of students with special needs, and the level of poverty a school is experiencing; and that all schools must have up to date technological infrastructure and resources, where state aid and funds for these resources should not be contingent upon schools increasing their capacity to administer computer-based assessments; and that in conjunction with parents, educators, school board members, and community members, the Board of Regents should develop a framework for what every public school in NYS must have in order to ensure equity and student success, where this framework should help drive the State’s accountability system as well as its funding; and that in Pre-K and in grades K-6, all students must have at least 60 minutes of recess per day in addition to the federally mandated 120 minutes of physical education per week; and that all students must be guaranteed at least 30 minutes for lunch, and this time may not be used for instructional purposes; and that all teachers, administrators, and paraprofessionals must receive training in cultural competency, crisis intervention, and restorative justice practices; and that mandatory common planning time should be provided for general education, special education and ENL teachers, and intervention specialists who share students; and that New York State must prioritize the recruitment and retention of teachers from diverse backgrounds that reflect the students they serve, are trained in a fully accredited education program, and have completed a full course of student teaching with a trained mentor; and that all school districts must offer a strong teacher mentoring program to help new teachers navigate their first few years of service; and that schools must provide access to medical and dental services as well as high quality nutrition for ALL students who need them; and that all families must have access to fully funded, high quality Pre-Kindergarten;

WHEREAS, The role of the Individual Education Plan (IEP) must be restored and allowed to drive instruction for the individual student and should be guided by the needs, interests & development of each student; and that the needs of the student must inform IEP goals rather than alignment to learning standards that are currently in flux; and that all special education teachers must receive training in evidence-based methodologies for teaching math and reading to struggling learners; and that all co-taught models must have a full time special education teacher; and that students with disabilities must have access to pathways that lead to a diploma and provide access to vocational training that is aligned with student interest and strengths; and that special education teachers must have time set aside on a weekly or daily basis to engage in differentiated curriculum work, intervention planning, communication with parents, and fulfillment of IEP and special education mandates;

WHEREAS, The following five principles should be incorporated in any law or policy regarding the protection of personal student data in grades preK-12, and after students reach age 18, all these rights, including those related to notification and consent, should devolve to them:

Transparency: Parents must be notified by their children’s school or district in advance of any disclosure of personal student information to any persons, companies or organizations outside of the school or district. Once notified, parents to must be able to opt out of the disclosure of their child’s personal data. All disclosures to third parties should also require publicly available contracts and privacy policies that specify what types of data are to be disclosed for what purposes, and provide a date certain when the data will be destroyed.

No commercial uses: Selling of personal student data and/or use for marketing purposes should be banned. No advertising should be allowed on instructional software or websites assigned to students by their schools, since ads are a distraction from learning and serve no legitimate educational purpose.

Security protections: At minimum, there must be encryption of personal data at motion and at rest, required training for all individuals with access to personal student data, audit logs, and security audits by an independent auditor. Passwords should be protected in the same manner as all other personal student information. There must be notification to parents of all breaches, and indemnification of the same. No “anonymized” or “de-identified” student information should be disclosed without verifiable safeguards to ensure data cannot be easily re-identified.

Parental/ student rights: No re-disclosures by vendors or any other third parties to additional individuals, sub-contractors, or organizations should be allowed without parental notification and consent (or students, if they are 18 or older). Parents must be allowed to see any data collected directly from their child by a school or a vendor given access through the school, delete the data if it is in error or is nonessential to the child’s transcript, and opt out of further collection, unless that data is part of their child’s educational records at school. Any data-mining for purpose of creating student profiles, even for educational purposes, must be done with full parental knowledge. Parental consent must be required for disclosure of personal data, especially for highly sensitive information such as their child’s disabilities, health and disciplinary information.

Enforcement: The law should specify fines if the school, district or third party violates the law, their contracts and/or privacy policies; with parents able to sue on behalf of their children’s rights as well.


BE IT RESOLVED, that the Board of Education of the Patchogue-Medford School District, in agreement with the New York State Allies for Public Education, calls upon the Governor of New York State, the New York State Legislature, the New York State Commissioner of Education, and the New York State Board of Regents, to consider this outline as a new framework for public education in New York State, a framework that serves all students; an equitable public education system in which ALL students can succeed; a vision of public education that prioritizes child-centered and developmentally appropriate learning standards and assessments, research and evidence based practices and policies, equitable resources and opportunities, and an accountability system that supports rather than punishes; what all schools must have in order to foster creative, critically thinking, confident, well-rounded, independent, self-motivated, culturally competent, and well-prepared students who can work cooperatively and excel post-high school, whether they choose to attend college or pursue a vocation. Further, we call on all aspects of public education to be rooted in ethical practices and democratic decision making.

Ulster County Community Forum on the Opioid and Heroin Crisis

From the Kingston City School District website:

Parents and educators are encouraged to attend a countywide community event focused on the local opioid and heroin crisis. The event will be held at the Ulster BOCES Conference Center in New Paltz on Thursday, April 28 from 6-8 PM.

The event will introduce parents and educators to the realities of the local epidemic and provide tools necessary to help prevent abuse, recognize its signs, understand the consequences (from both the health and legal perspectives), get help, and find support to cope with an abuse problem or loss of a loved one.

Why Parents Need to Attend:
Deaths caused by opioid drugs, including prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, and heroin, are on a rapid rise across the nation. Locally, the epidemic is hitting hard in Ulster County, leaving families and communities devastated by the loss of loved ones and questioning, “How can this happen here?”
It’s important to understand that most addictions begin in the home. Those sleeping pills and pain killers that were prescribed for legitimate reasons and those over-the-counter cold drugs that seem to be sitting harmlessly on medicine cabinet shelves often open the gates to a heroin addiction.
And the abuse can start early, at age 12 or 13 for some children, as reported by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, although locally the data suggests highest risk is between ages 18-23.
“The more parents know, the more they can protect their children,” advises Wallkill Central School District Superintendent Kevin Castle. “We want to be proactive and make parents aware of the dangers and signs now so they can discuss this with their children and equip them with the tools needed to make appropriate decisions as young adults.”
About the Event:
A panel of experts from across the county will share information and answer questions. Representatives from various community organizations and agencies will be set up at tables throughout the room with additional resources.
The event is being coordinated by the Ulster County Interagency Task Force on Substance Abuse Prevention, which includes representatives from the Ulster County School Superintendents Council; the Ulster County Police Chiefs Association; the Ulster County Department of Health and Mental Health; the Ulster County Prevention Council; the Ulster County District Attorney’s Office; and the Greater New Paltz Community Partnership.
Ulster BOCES is located at 175 Route 32 North, New Paltz, New York.


Note to members of the KHS PA:  the monthly meeting scheduled for Thursday April 28, 2016 is canceled so that parents may attend the Opioid and Heroin Crisis forum.

Input on the KCSD Budget for 2016-2017

The Kingston City School District draft budget for 2016-2017 was presented to the Board of Education last Wednesday.  At the next Board of Education meeting on April 20, the board will be voting to approve the budget that will be presented to the voters on May 17, 2016.

You have between now and April 20 to examine the budget and ask questions and/or voice your opinion to the school board members regarding spending priorities and the key ingredients in a KCSD education.

The District Wide Parents Council (DWPC) is having an additional meeting next Friday 4/15, at the Cioni Building, 61 Crown Street 9:30am -11am to discuss questions and concerns about the draft budget.  A representative from the District Business Office has been invited to answer questions.  If you have specific questions about the budget, get them to me (Jolyn) by Tuesday April 12 and I will forward them to the DWPC corresponding secretary for inclusion with other questions being compiled in advance of the 4/15 meeting.

All are welcome to attend the DWPC meeting on April 15. UPDATE Meeting canceled.

Resources and events related to the KCSD budget:

  • Budget presentation/highlights on the KCSD web site including the draft version of the KCSD 2016-2017 budget, a summary and several presentations about the draft budget and video of the various community budget forums as well as the April 6 Board of Education meeting
  • Rescheduled digital budget forum – Tuesday April 12, 2016 11:15am -11:45am  Visit this page to learn how to participate in the digital budget forum
  • Coffee and Conversation with Board of Education members – Tuesday April 12, 2016 6pm New Progressive Baptist Church
  • Coffee and Conversation with Board of Education members – Thursday April 14, 2016 8:30am Uptown Coffee
  • DWPC questions/answer meeting about the 2016-17 draft budget – Friday April 15, 2016 9:30am – 11:00am
  • District wide Budget Vote – Tuesday May 17, 2016

Your voice matters

Helping parents navigate the ins and outs of public eductation in Kingston, New York