Category Archives: Common Core

Help STOP COMMON CORE

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

Refuse NYS testing because Common Core is broken

I have read many articles about why parents should refuse the New York State tests this year but this one by William Farmer is the one that I wish I would have written.

Will has captured my belief that the real problem is not the tests but the Common Core standards that the tests are designed to enforce as well as the refusal of many New York State officials, including Governor Cuomo, former NYS Commissioner John King and some members of the NYS Assembly, Senate and Board of Regents, to listen to the concerns raised about the Common Core standards, the tests and other associated educational changes.  There are problems with the NYS standardized tests themselves but just fixing the tests will not fix our education problems.

The key here isn’t that kids are spending too much time on “test prep” or the tests themselves. Rather, it’s that the standards upon which the tests are based are flawed and must be fixed.

It took a massive opt-out for the state to actually discuss correcting the problems they created.

New York state has admitted there are serious problems with the standards and it took four years to get to this point. The Education Department either lied to us or they were grossly negligent when rushing into Common Core.

Either option does not inspire parents to place our trust they will now do what is in the best interest of the students.

Like Will, I do not have much faith in the state officials who have discounted the voices of parents for the past four years.  Even now Commissioner Elia, while stating that parents do have the right to refuse the state tests, is still committed to the Common Core standards allowing for only minor adjustments as well as to the benefits of standardized testing.  I would like to believe that I can trust the promises for change that Commissioner Elia and Governor Cuomo have made but until I see real changes, codified in law, I believe that parents will need to continue to make their voices heard by opting-out/refusing the state tests.

 

Board of Education sees need for change

The Patchogue-Medford school district Board of Education passed the following resolution on February 4, 2016. What an awesome example that other school boards could follow!
 
Whereas, the current Chancellor of the New York State Board of Regents will be stepping-down in the Spring of 2016 and two positions on the Board of Regents will be subject to appointments beginning in April of 2016, and
Whereas, the members of the New York State Legislature are empowered with making appointments to the Board of Regents and the members of the Board of Regents are empowered with electing their Chancellor and Vice-Chancellor, and
Whereas, the Board of Education of the Patchogue-Medford Union Free School District sees the need for change in the way public education in New York State is managed, be it
Resolved, that the Board of Education calls upon those legislators who are responsible for said appointments and those regents who will be choosing their leaders to assure the people of the state that the entire Board of Regents, especially the new regents , chancellor and vice-chancellor:
1. Be aware of and sympathetic to the concerns of parents of children in grades K though 12.
2. Understand that the Common Core Standards are chronologically and developmentally inappropriate.
3. Understand that high stakes testing benefits no student or teacher.
4. Support the notion that local control of education is essential to providing quality education for the children of the State of New York.
5. Support multiple pathways for children to achieve a high school diploma.
6. Advocate for Special Needs students and make the evaluation process fairer by reinstating the Regents Competency Tests.
7. Advocate for English Language Learners, as the Common Core has no provisions for them.
8. Lead, by example, in support of the public education system and trained professional educators who know that a “one size fits all” educational system is not beneficial to any student.
9. Be willing to continue moving forward to appropriate changes to and removal of the flawed Annual Professional Performance Review system and the untested, never-piloted Common Core Standards.
10. Be leaders, open to new and diverse ways and means suggested by the people of New York State and willing implement these strategies, when proven meaningful.
11. Be accessible to the general public and willing to meet with diverse groups around the state, in dialogue, about current educational issues.
and be it further
Resolved, that the District Clerk is directed to send this Resolution to the members of the New York State Legislature and the members of the New York State Board of Regents.

Spackenkill Town Hall meeting with Commissioner John King – October 10, 2013

I wasn’t writing Jolyn’s Education Corner yet when the Spackenkill Town Hall meeting with New York State Commissioner of Education John King took place on October 10, 2013.  However I believe that information regarding this meeting is relevant now that John King is being considered for confirmation as the U.S. Secretary of Education.

I learned of the Town Hall Meeting on Common Core to be held at Spackenkill High School from a friend on facebook on October 3, 2013.  I readjusted my family’s schedule so I could attend because I was very concerned about Common Core and wanted to hear what Mr. King had to say and have the opportunity to ask a question or make a statement about my Common Core concerns.

I invited other local parents to attend and talked with friends about what questions to ask Mr. King in preparation for the meeting.  On October 10, I made the 45 minute drive to Spackenkill High School with another parent from the Kingston City School District arriving early in hopes of being able to sign up to speak at the end of the meeting.

The Town Hall meeting began and it quickly became apparent that it really was just a “ra ra” session to sell Common Core to the parents.

We got lots of “education” about Common Core and how wonderful it was and then questions that had been written on index cards when we arrived were addressed to Mr. King in groups but the answers were very generic and if the audience had any concerns or further questions about the “answers”, there was no opportunity to delve into the issues.

Here is the full video of the Town Hall Meeting as well as an edited version highlighting the frustration felt by the parents at the meeting.

If you are not able to watch the entire video, I have noted times for different segments:

0:0 Introductions by New York State PTA President Lana Ajemian
5:27 Welcome by Regent Lester Young
7:00 Commissioner King presents on Common Core
18:50 “Teaching is the CORE” promotional video about Common Core in the classroom
26:30 New York State 2013 Teacher of the Year Greg Ahlquist speaks
32:35 Question & Answers begin with PTA members reading pre-written questions for Commissioner King to answer
1:22:50 (the video notes that approximately 10 minutes of Q&A lost due to battery failure)
1:23:16 Audience statements  (I spoke at 1:43:04 and was the final speaker of the night)

Thirty minutes were supposed to be allocated for statements from the audience at the end of the meeting.  Fifteen (15) people should have been able to make statements (2 minutes each) but Commissioner King responded to several statements and time was not used efficiently so only seven (7) attendees ended up being able to speak.  If you listen to the end of the full-length video you will hear the frustration from the many parents who wanted to speak and did not get the opportunity.

Much to everyone’s surprise, the NYS PTA announced the next day that the remaining four Town Hall meetings were canceled.  I posted the following on facebook on October 12, 2013 in response to this announcement:

I am very sad that the New York PTA decided to cancel the remaining 4 Common Core Town Hall meetings based on Commissioner King’s conclusion that the ‘outcome was not constructive for those taking the time to attend’.

I was in attendance at the Spackenkill Town Hall meeting and came to a very different conclusion regarding the meeting. I wrote the following comments yesterday morning before the PTA decided to cancel the forum but had not posted them. I found it very constructive to learn that there were so many parents and teachers who are VERY concerned about different aspects of Common Core and am sad and concerned that many parents at Spackenkill and those around the state who were planning to attend the other forums will not have the opportunity to voice those concerns.

****

I appreciate that the New York State PTA recognized the many concerned parents and teachers with regards to Common Core and is hosting these Town Hall meetings. However I was disappointed with how the meeting last night, October 10, turned out and I have a couple suggestions that I hope you will consider for the remaining Town Hall meetings.

It very much felt like Commissioner King was a politician trying to ‘sell’ the audience on Common Core and not there to truly answer the questions being asked. Hopefully at the next forum, the questions can be answered directly as I am sure there were specific reasons why each decision has been made and each action taken with regards to the implementation and roll out of the Common Core Standards and supporting programs/materials. Also since the state department of education has now had the opportunity to present their ‘case for Common Core’ and answer a number of questions, perhaps the initial presentation time and question time can be shortened at the next forum (assuming the video from the Spackenkill forum is available for all to review) allowing more time for the audience statements.

Please consider asking all who are signed up to make statements to line up at the beginning of the statement time and then just approach the mic as their name is called so that time is not taken waiting for each speaker to struggle out of their seat after their name is called. Also please only allow the number of speakers who will actually be able to give statements to sign up and if something does occur to take time away from statements that is not the fault of the audience, like Commissioner King stopped the speakers to rebut the comment regarding the Montessori program, please extend the statement time so that the speakers do get the allotted time to make statements.
****

I have included the text of an article from the Poughkeepsie Journal about the Town Hall meeting below as well as various responses to cancellation of the Common Core forums for your reference.

The story didn’t end for me with the cancellation of the remaining four Town Hall Meetings however.  Commissioner King announced that the reason he would not continue with the meetings was because the forums were “co-opted by special interests whose stated goal is to ‘dominate’ the questions and manipulate the forum“.  Those of us who spoke at the Town Hall meeting did not appreciate being spoken of in such a way, particularly since it wasn’t true.  We managed to find each other, thanks to the wonders of social media, and put out a statement clarifying that we were NOT a ‘special interest group’ and our only possible special interest was our kids who were being harmed by Common Core.

Unfortunately communication with Commissioner King never got any better as you can read from the reactions when his resignation was announced in December 2014.

*****

Responses to cancellation of the remaining Town Hall Meetings:

Poughkeepsie Journal report on the Spackenkill Town Hall meeting (no longer available online)

Commissioner King addresses big, critical crowd on Common Core

Oct. 10, 2013 10:56 PM

Written by Craig Wolf Poughkeepsie Journal

State Education Commissioner John King faced a critical and often loud crowd Thursday evening as he defended the state’s Common Core curriculum initiative that all students, educators and parents are coping with and that has become increasingly controversial.

King was sponsored by the state PTA, which has been collaborating with King to spread the word statewide and answer questions.

The Spackenkill High School auditorium filled with a capacity crowd.

King said, “The Common Core is about college and career readiness.” He said a quarter of students entering high school don’t finish.

“The Common Core is not about assessment, although assessment must be a part of the work that we do,” King said.

The session was at Spackenkill High School in the Town of Poughkeepsie.

Participants filed questions in advance. At times, the audience grew loud and boisterous as parents and teachers complained about the new system.

Common Core is a set of standards adopted by many states to raise the education level in all grades. A key goal is to help students learn to think and reason more. The standards were developed by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers.

The standards come with a tougher set of tests.

One question that brought loud applause was, how can I protect my children’s data from vendors?

King said there is encryption and there are rules protecting such data.

Another prefiled question was, how can I help my children with homework when I don’t understand it? That was greeted with laughter and applause. King said there are portals on the Internet for the state Education Department that can help.

Some attendees held signs saying, “Students are more than a test score.”

Another prefiled question was, how will we know the Common Core is working overall?

King said we will need to ask, in five years, “Are employers still saying, we can’t find the workforce that we need?” If not, they will say, “We will take the work to other states or move overseas.”

One questioner asked how New York will attract good teachers when the career has been made less attractive by Common Core.

King cited progress made in Massachusetts when they raised standards beginning 20 years ago,”t took time to do that,” King said.

On the tougher tests, King said, “Let’s be clear: We don’t use student performance as the sole measure of student performance,” or of teacher or administrator performance.

Another theme from the audience was a feeling that so much emphasis is being placed on math and English that “other subjects like math and science have gone by the wayside.”

King said the other subjects are important, too, noting that research has found that students do better on English when they have a rich background of knowledge. “They have to build a rich background of knowledge,” he said.

The crowd grew boisterous after several public statements critical of Common Core.
One man pointed out that King’s children go to private Montessori schools.
King said those schools also have Common Core standards. He also said his kids are not fair game.

 

How the Grinches made Common Core

For all the parents and kids discouraged by the damage wrought by Common Core in New York State, read this poem, chuckle and be encouraged to keep up the fight.

This poem was written by H. Brooks, an 11-year-old student on Long Island, whose mother is active in the Opt Out movement.

How The Grinches Made Common Core

A poem by H. Brooks, Inspired by Dr. Seuss

In Honor of the Common Core push-back, and my mommy

There once lived some people,
on top of Mount Gov.
Their name was the Government,
and they sure did love
to make education
so wrong for the kids,
those kids down in Yorkville,
in the state of New Ziz.

The Yorks, however, felt something was strange,
so they traveled up
the whole mountain range,
just to get to the top, to go try and stop,
those nasty old grinches
at the top of Mount Gov.

But the grinches said NO! We’ll fight till you obey.
We won’t let up on Core and testing! We MUST get our way!
So the Yorks went down, feeling somewhat defeated.
And the very next weekend, the York council meeted.

They talked about art, about social studies, and trees,
They talked about awful buzz-stinging bees.
But most of all, they talked about testing and Core,
The Yorks wanted less; the Gov wanted more.
The Yorks asked the little Yorks what they thought of school.
The little Yorks said, “It used to be fun, but now it’s not cool.”
So the Yorks went to Albany, to see those old meanies,
But compared to the Government, the York protest seemed teeny!

The grinches said, “We won’t change a bit!
It simply won’t help, it will just cause more fits!”
The Yorks tried very hard to set the Gov straight,
But the Gov said, “Go home! It’s getting quite late.”

The Yorks fought for months and months and weeks and weeks and weeks,
and what do you think happened next at that peak,
the peak of Mt. Gov, where the Government sat?
Finally, the King was sent out. At last!

With less grinches left, maybe it would be easier,
to convince the grinches not to be so sleezy-er.
But then – oh no! – the head Grinch was re-elected,
four more long years – and he’s clearly ineffective!

But wait – what is this? What’s happening in York?
Forums and meetings and opt outs galore!
And all this because of some hopeful dads and moms
Who came together on Facebook to keep their kids calm.

Oh me, oh my, lots of depressing things went by,
for those hopeful parents who really did try.
For out of the blue, from behind closed doors,
a Gov to replace King – who also loves testing and Core.

Now this new Gov was infamous around town,
And she made sure that all of her thoughts got around.
She made speeches and interviews and told people things
that were about as true as monkeys with wings.

Then suddenly, all at once, Yorks started to see,
The Head Gov’s making speeches, about failing CC.
And all of a sudden, they say there’s a right to Opt Out,
Have these parents done their work right? We have no doubt!

Now parents from everywhere (except the South Pole)
are fighting back, with heart, and with soul.
Kids and teens, and in betweens,
are Opting Out by the thousands. Oops! REFUSING, I mean.

And maybe – just maybe, if the Gov took these tests,
They’d opt their kids out too, I bet.
But they’re too arrogant, too greedy, too yuck!
Maybe they’ll slightly agree, if the Yorks have some luck.

Could they come down to our schools? Could they see kids read and write?
Could they finally understand why the Yorks put up such a fight?
Could they put in some more science? Could ELA non-fiction be mashed?
Could they do good for our students? Or will they just waste our cash?

This story’s not finished, there’s more yet to come.
There’s still too much testing, and Core’s on the run.
So remember, dear people, as you read this story,
Have hope for the Yorks, that they’ll soon get their glory.

Deborah Abramson Brooks, Esq.

Co-founder, Port Washington Advocates for Public Education; https://www.facebook.com/groups/1596839960529301/

Member, New York State Allies for Public Education; http://www.nysape.org/

Member, National Parent Coalition for Student Privacy; http://www.studentprivacymatters.org/  

Parent meeting with Commissioner Elia

Commissioner Elia came to Ulster County on Tuesday December 8, 2015 and I was one of the three parents from the Kingston City School District invited to attend the parent meeting with her.  The meeting was arranged through BOCES and I know there were parents from both Ulster and Dutchess counties.  Not sure if Orange county was represented or not.

Commissioner Elia seemed to be a very nice lady and was definitely more successful at creating rapport with the parents than our previous commissioner, John King. Commissioner Elia spoke for more than half of the hour scheduled for our meeting with her and we didn’t actually start at 1:15pm so only 5 parents had opportunity to ask any questions.  I wasn’t one of those who asked a question this time around (I did get to address Commissioner King when he visited Spackenkill back in 2013).
Commissioner Elia took time to introduce herself and give her background in education.  She then gave a history of Common Core and explained how a lot of people categorize everything as “Common Core”.  She said that when talking about Common Core, we should just be talking about the standards and that there are four “buckets” of things people have issues with:
  • standards
  • curriculum
  • assessments
  • evaluation system

She also noted that we have had standards since 1647 and that the evaluation system has been changed four (4) times since Common Core was introduced.

Commissioner Elia is right that all of the above items/issues get lumped under “Common Core”.  In fact she missed including excessive data collection.  However I disagree with her that the standards are the only part that should be appropriately referred to as “Common Core”.  Each piece of this package is intricately woven together and can not function/succeed without the other pieces so it is indeed appropriate to refer to the package in its entirety as Common Core.

Commissioner Elia talked about the state department of education AimHighNY survey on the Common Core State Standards and reported that 71% of the 10,500 respondents were supportive of the standards.  I thought it was interesting though that she then proceeded to state that comments included statements that someone liked a standard but it should be in a different grade, for example it should be in grade 1 but it is in kindergarten.  My question is: how can the standard be liked/considered good if it is in the wrong grade?  The standard identifies what the children are supposed to know at the particular grade so if the standard is in the wrong grade then the standard is wrong/bad.  This is how some people defend the developmentally inappropriate Common Core State Standards – “they are okay if you just do them a little differently”.  The standards were written so that all states across the country would be teaching students the same things in the same grades and therefore students could move from state to state without missing out on pieces of their education.  If states can just move standards from one grade to another, we no longer have COMMON Core.
Commissioner Elia didn’t talk about it but I want to make sure everyone knows about another important survey.   New York Allies for Public Education (NYSAPE) conducted a survey on the Common Core State Standards for one week and received about 12,000 responses.  You can click to read full details about the survey but the key points are:
  • 70 percent oppose the Common Core standards
  • Over 80 percent of respondents indicated that they believe ELA and Math standards in grades K-3 are developmentally inappropriate for many students
  • 91 percent say that the Common Core exams in grades 3-8 are flawed
  • 54 percent indicated that high schools should use the previous NYS Regents exams rather than new exams aligned to the Common Core standards
  • 96 percent say that test scores should not be linked to principal or teacher evaluations
  • 86.5 percent say that the state should abandon the Common Core standards and return to the New York’s former standards until educators can create better ones
The first parent/teacher who spoke was from Ellenville and felt that students spend too many days taking the state tests.  One of the parent’s comments was that perhaps a fixed 90 minute testing time is not appropriate and that perhaps students who were engaged in taking the test should be allowed to finish their test if they desired to do so, even if it took longer than the ‘allowed’ testing period.  I interpreted the comment to be a suggestion that the testing time should not be so regimented.  Apparently Commissioner Elia interpreted it differently because she asked the audience to raise hands if we thought students should be allowed to take longer than 90 minutes to finish their test.
Dr. Robin Jacobowitz, parent and board of education member from Kingston, was in attendance at the parent meeting with me and shared the “Time on Test” report in response to the suggestion to allow children to spend even more time on the standardized tests. Her concern was that even more than the current 4 days of lost instruction time could be lost but Dr. Jacobowitz’s comment was after the hand vote was taken by Commissioner Elia.
I was surprised when Rev. Childs reported at the KCSD Board of Education meeting on December 9 that Commissioner Elia said the department was considering allowing students to take longer than 90 minutes on their tests because Commissioner Elia didn’t tell us the idea was already under consideration when the idea was proposed in the parent meeting.
Concerns regarding testing and special education were mentioned by most if not all of the parents who spoke.
This quote from a parent, who I believe was from Red Hook, summed up the parent comments pretty well – “Someone owes these kids an apology for what they have been through.  It’s really not fair.”

National Academic Standards

One of the original claims of Common Core, although you don’t hear it as much now with the Common Core Standards dropping like flies in state after state, was to give uniformity from state to state so that we could be sure students everywhere were learning up to par and that students in military families could move from state to state without missing out on important pieces of their education.  The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation even funded a brochure to make sure military families knew how wonderful Common Core was for their children.

Questions have been raised about whether it was actually possible to achieve this goal of uniformity from state to state and whether it was even truly desirable.

Steven Singer does an amazing job of exploring these questions in “National Academic Standards – Turning Public Education into McSchools”.  You may or may not agree with his final conclusion (spoiler – he thinks National Academic Standards are a terrible idea and I agree with him) but the really interesting part is what you might discover along the journey to his conclusion.

Be sure to check out as many of the hyperlinks as you can while you are reading Mr. Singer’s article.  I found the article from early 2014 about how private schools liked the Common Core Standards since they could pick bits and pieces, the parts that worked for them, particularly interesting.

NYSAPE Survey Shows New Yorkers Overwhelmingly Reject Common Core Standards, Tests & Evaluation Policies

In response to NYS Education Department’s AimHighNY survey on the Common Core that many parents and teachers found excessively complex and not open to general comments, New York State Allies for Public Education created a user-friendly survey and posted it online between November 23 and November 30. Close to 12,000 New Yorkers filled out our survey in just a week’s time. According to Commissioner Elia, only 5500 completed NYSED survey in three weeks’ time. Governor’s Common Core task force has received 1,798 submissions since December 2, according to Politico.

The respondents to the NYSAPE survey overwhelmingly reject the Common Core standards, believe the state exams and test-based teacher evaluation system are flawed, and that these reforms have worsened instruction in both English Language Arts and Math at the classroom level.

Read NYSAPE’s full press release below.

New Yorkers reject Common Core

New Yorkers reject Common Core

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 4, 2015
More information contact:
NYS Allies for Public Education www.nysape.org

NYSAPE Survey Shows New Yorkers Overwhelmingly Reject Common Core Standards, Tests & Evaluation Policies

In response to NYS Education Department’s AimHighNY survey on the Common Core that many parents and teachers found excessively complex and not open to general comments, New York State Allies for Public Education created a user-friendly survey and posted it online between November 23 and November 30. Close to 12,000 New Yorkers filled out our survey in just a week’s time. According to Commissioner Elia, only 5500 completed NYSED survey in three weeks’ time. Governor’s Common Core task force has received 1,798 submissions since December 2, according to Politico.

The respondents to the NYSAPE survey overwhelmingly reject the Common Core standards, believe the state exams and test-based teacher evaluation system are flawed, and that these reforms have worsened instruction in both English Language Arts and Math at the classroom level.

Parents, teachers, administrators, school board members and concerned NY residents all took part in the NYSAPE survey. Of special note, 11 percent of our survey respondents also completed NYSED’s survey and 32.9 percent attempted to complete NYSED’s survey but gave up.

Of those who responded to the NYSAPE survey, 70 percent oppose the Common Core standards, 4 percent support them, 23 percent have concerns with them, and 3 percent are undecided. An even higher percentage –83 percent — believe the Common Core standards in both ELA and Math have worsened instruction. 83 percent also disagree with the shift to close reading strategies.

Over 80 percent of respondents indicated that they believe ELA and Math standards in grades K-3 are developmentally inappropriate for many students. Fewer than 4 percent of respondents say that the ELA and Math standards for grades 4-8 are well designed.

For grades 9-12, only 2 percent of respondents approve of the ELA and Math Standards. Only 6.2 percent agree with the Common Core’s quota for informational text versus literary text.

An overwhelming number – 91 percent –say that the Common Core exams in grades 3-8 are flawed, while fewer than 1 percent believe they are valid or well-designed. Among those who find the tests to be flawed, many believe the tests are developmentally inappropriate, too long, not useful for assessing students with disabilities and/or English language learners and that reading passages and questions are too difficult and confusing.

Of our respondents, 54 percent indicated that high schools should use the previous NYS Regents exams rather than new exams aligned to the Common Core standards, while roughly 40 percent believe that students should not have to pass any high stakes exams to graduate.

Those who took the NYSAPE survey are nearly unanimous, at 96 percent, that test scores should not be linked to principal or teacher evaluations. 86.5 percent say that the state should abandon the Common Core standards and return to the New York’s former standards until educators can create better ones.

The full results of the survey are posted here: http://www.nysape.org/nysape-cc-survey-results.html

“NYSAPE’s findings are in line with the poll results and most of the testimony to the Governor’s Common Core Task Force. There is no way around this; the Governor and the legislature must eliminate these Standards, revamp the tests, and reverse the harmful education laws,” said Lisa Rudley, Westchester County public school parent and NYSAPE founding member.

One of the survey respondents said, “As a teacher who trained at Bank Street College of Education, I find the standards developmentally inappropriate. As a reading specialist, I find the kindergarten standards far too high in reading and writing. As a parent, I am very concerned because I have a child who hates reading because it was pushed so hard at his school.”

“The results of the survey confirm that the vast majority of parents and teachers do not approve of the Common Core, and oppose the rigid quotas for informational text and ‘close reading’ strategies that have straitjacketed instruction throughout the state. They want to abandon these standards, and return to our previous ones until educators can craft better ones. We hope that state policymakers, including the Commissioner, the Governor, the Board of Regents and our legislators, will listen,” said Leonie Haimson, Executive Director of Class Size Matters.

“The tremendous response to NYSAPE’s survey underscores that parents and educators are eager to be heard. The fact that the Commissioner Elia could not create an accessible survey only fuels concerns about her competence and willingness to truly engage parents and practitioners,” said Bianca Tanis, Ulster County public school parent, Rethinking Testing member and educator.

“Vice Chancellor Bottar attempted to portray the appointment of Commissioner Elia as a positive change, assuring the public that she would be able to communicate more effectively with parents and educators to find common ground. Vice Chancellor Bottar’s continued poor judgement and complicity with the failed reform agenda can no longer be tolerated; it is time for him to step down,” said Jessica McNair Oneida County public school parent, educator and Opt Out Central NY founder.

NYSAPE, a grassroots organization with over 50 parent and educator groups across the state, is calling on parents to continue to opt out by refusing high-stakes testing for the 2015-16 school year. Go to www.nysape.org for more details on how to affect changes in education policies.

###

 

Please complete NYSAPE Common Core Survey today

** UPDATE:  Survey results in –  NYSAPE Survey shows New Yorkers overwhelming REJECT Common Core Standards, tests & evaluation policies **  

From NYS Allies for Public Education:

If you haven’t already done so, please complete NYSAPE’s  Common Core survey today to have your voices heard regarding the common core standards, curriculum and testing.  Please share this survey widely.  For more details about this survey, please click here.

The results of this survey will be made public and presented to the Board of Regents, Education Commissioner Elia, Governor Cuomo’s Common Core Task Force, and NYS Legislature.

Together, let’s keep up the fight to ensure all children receive the education they deserve. We wish you and your family a happy and healthy Thanksgiving.

Very best,

NYS Allies for Public Education www.nysape.org

*****

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 23, 2015 

More information contact:
Lisa Rudley (917) 414-9190; nys.allies@gmail.com
NYS Allies for Public Education (NYSAPE) www.nysape.org

NYS Ed Commissioner Elia is Misleading Public with Deceptive Common Core Survey

Immediately following the release of NY Education Commissioner’s Maryellen Elia’s Common Core ‘AimHighNY’ survey a few weeks ago, critics sounded the alarm that the State Education Department was preventing the public from offering any comment on the standards that did not adhere to the survey’s arcane format –a complex maze of ‘click here’ boxes for each specific standard.

During this month’s Board of Regents meeting, Commissioner Elia claimed that the survey DID provide the opportunity for general public comment and that she never expected people to respond to each specific standard.

Calls to the NYS Education Department following that meeting revealed there was no opportunity for general public comment in the survey, and feedback NOT aligned with the lengthy and complex standard-by-standard format would NOT be included in the public record.

From the NYSED website, “This [survey] is not a referendum on the standards. Only comments tied to a specific standard will be considered.”
Experts, parents, and educators alike are outraged.  Not only is the survey fundamentally flawed, it is designed to silence legitimate criticism and exclude the views of most members of the public, who according to the polls, overwhelming oppose the Common Core standards.

Sandra Stotsky, a leading expert who designed the esteemed Massachusetts education standards, said, “A review of a set of standards, standard by standard, is a dishonest and deliberately unproductive method for the state to ask for because the organization of the standards is the key to their quality and effectiveness, whether in mathematics or English language arts.”

“Members of the public are not fooled.  When you ask for ‘Public Comment’ but prevent most parents and teachers who do not have the time to follow your complicated rules, we know that you are really not interested in what they have to say.  The survey is designed to block out dissenting voices,” said Jessica McNair, Central NY public school parent, educator, and Opt Out CNY founder.

“Elia has declared war on parents who are trying to protect their children from these harmful reforms.  This disingenuous survey along with Elia’s ‘fear mongering’ School Administrator Toolkit demonstrates a complete disregard for parents who are choosing not to participate in this failed system,” said Jeanette Deutermann, Long Island public school parent and Long Island Opt Out founder.

Alan Singer, Hofstra University professor and Huffington Post blogger, wrote in his recent post [link] “… the problem with this bogus survey is not each individual standard. No one is going to vote that we should not teach children to read, write, and think. However, nowhere can you vote that Common Core Standards aligned with high-stakes testing have undermined education in New York State, stressed out students and teachers, turned curriculum development over to test design companies, and transformed schools into test prep academies. These are the real reasons parents and teachers oppose the Common Core.”

Parents know the poorly designed survey is the reason why only 5500 people across the entire state have responded.  Elia also reported at the Board of Regents meeting that while most speakers at public hearings have been opposed to the Common Core, this controversial survey shows a different result that so far, 70% of teachers [less than 1% of NY Teachers responded] support the Common Core.

“The Albany Fix is already in.  Parents predict Commissioner Elia’s survey press release will likely declare that despite overwhelming opposition in statewide polls and at public hearings, a majority of respondents support the Common Core,” said Lisa Rudley, Hudson Valley public school parent and NYSAPE founding member.
Instead, NYSAPE just released a user-friendly survey to maximize public participation and input, and offer the results to the Board of Regents, Commissioner Elia and the Governor’s Common Core Task Force for their consideration.

NYS Allies for Public Education (NYSAPE) is a coalition of more than 50 parent and educator grassroots organizations throughout the state.

Your voice matters

 

AimHighNY survey is not reflective of public opinion

Commissioner Elia reported to the Board of Regents regarding the AimHighNY survey on Monday.   According to her report:

 So far, about 71.5 percent of the feedback elicited through the survey has been “supportive of the standards,” according to the department’s presentation. The remaining 28.5 percent was not supportive.

Remember, this is a survey that is geared towards supporters. You must respond to individual standards and are not allowed to give general comments about the standards or problems with the ‘common core package’. There is no place for opposing views. And just like the state standardized cut scores, the NYS education department can produce the outcome they want.  Many parents who are opposed to Common Core, including myself, have not bothered to fill out the survey because it is considered to be a farce.

The Common Core standards have been publicly blasted around the state during the Common Core Task Force listening tours and task force members have got an earful.

Various reports from the Common Core Task Force listening tours so far:

Thoughts from task force members after first public meeting on October 29, 2015:

Task force chairman Richard Parsons said the meeting was “useful.”

“It gives you some sense of the heat and the passion under various points. You get a sense of how people feel about it, so that was useful,” said Parsons, a senior adviser at Providence Equity Partners and former Citigroup board chairman who led the governor’s education reform commission in 2012. “At some point in time, you need to get outside of the silver realm of just the experts, the people who spend all day, every day doing this and hear what parents think, what teachers think, what other educators who aren’t in the process think.”

Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan, who chairs the chamber’s education committee, said she learned a lot from the meeting.

“There is certainly a lot of intensity around these changes here and clearly there were a lot of mistakes in the implementation and the rollout [of the Common Core standards], but also in the underlying concept,” Nolan said. “There was too much emphasis from the people who developed the Common Core on using testing as a sort and select mechanism.”

Nolan also questioned the amount of testing and “to link it so extensively to teacher evaluation.”

In addition to the task force, the state Education Department is reviewing the Common Core standards. Commissioner MaryEllen Elia, who also is on the task force, said the audience reaction Thursday showed how “involved and passionate” people are about the work that’s going on.

“We had some really great panelists tonight and I think they brought us a multiple set of views on various things,” Elia told POLITICO New York after the meeting. “I heard some things that I think we need to be looking at and those are many of the things I’ve been talking about, so I think we’re on the pathway.”

Parents, teachers at Common Core task force meeting bring the ‘heat’ – October 29, 2015

If Commissioner Elia can sit through the Common Core Task Force listening sessions and still retain the belief that the AimHighNY survey is giving a true picture of public sentiment, then she is really NOT listening to what the public is saying.  I also find it interesting that Commissioner Elia has her recommendations as a member of the Common Core Task Force ready before the listening tour is even completed.

The Commissioner is a member of all three work groups and this presentation outlines the anticipated recommendations from the Commissioner to the task force.

There is a public session tomorrow November 18, 2015 in Amherst New York.  How does Commissioner Elia know what is going to be said at that session before the listening session is held?  Is it not possible that some awesome testimony will reveal new perspectives about Common Core that will alter her thinking?

The AimHighNY survey, as it is being reported, is not an accurate indicator of public opinion regarding the Common Core State Standards.

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Notes:

  • You may provide public testimony to the Common Core Task Force via their website here through November 30, 2015.
  • The AimHighNY survey is available for input through the end of November.