Tag Archives: Apple Plan

Achieving Pupil Preparedness and Learning Excellence (APPLE) Plan to halt Common Core. Bill A8844 in 2014 and Bill A3656 in 2015.

Our kids need reform in Albany

Assemblyman Marc Butler wrote a really good article last year about reform needed in the New York State Assembly specifically in the area of Assembly committees.

The Assembly Majority wields strong control over the committees where legislation is vetted. In those committees, bills are either released to come to the floor for a vote, or, as is often the case with legislation sponsored by the Assembly Minority, the bills never leave the committee. We have a term for this practice – killing a bill.

I (Jolyn) saw “killing a bill’ in committee in action when I went to Albany on June 3, 2014 in support of the first bill to halt Common Core A8844-2013.  I stood with 15-20 other parents squeezed around the edges of the committee room as the assembly majority voted to ‘hold’ the bill and prevent the full assembly from discussing and voting on the Common Core issue.  The majority legislators would not even look at us as they voted against the children.

Albany A8844 bill killed
Parents line NYS Assembly Education Committee room in support of A8844 (Halt Common Core) but bill still killed


This week [week of April 20, 2015], numerous bills were killed, and it happened to much-needed legislation. The Committee on Education met and the Assembly Majority refused to release an education reform bill [A3656] that would have put a moratorium on high-stakes Common Core testing. Three bills that would have bolstered Second Amendment rights by repealing all or portions of the governor’s so-called SAFE Act also were killed in committee. Additional legislation that would have increased the safety of our communities from sex offenders and child predators also was stopped in its tracks.

The Halt Common Core bill was reintroduced in the 2014-2015 legislative session as A3656 and the education committee killed it again!  Parents did not hear that the bill was on the assembly education committee agenda before the vote so no one was there to see how the vote went.  This committee vote occurred just after more than 200,000 parents/students REFUSED the New York State ELA test on April 14-16, 2015.  A bill that would not only help students but strived to fix the problems experienced by students suffering under the burden of high-stakes testing and Common Core was killed because it wore the wrong party label!

This important part of the legislative process is never seen by the public. Elected officials can hide behind the fact that these meetings, although open to the public, are difficult to attend. Many people are unaware they can attend these meetings. I would venture to say very few. Additionally, legislators’ votes in these committee meetings are never made public. Being cloistered away without having to answer to the people allows the Majority to say one thing but never follow through.

I still advocate for the changes I proposed in the past – that committee meetings be recorded and made available online and all votes be recorded and made public. Making these simple changes would mean more legislation could reach the floor of the Assembly for a vote.

NYS Senate committee meetings and the votes are recorded or at least some of them are since I saw a recording of the June 2, 2015 Senate education committee meeting.  NYS Assembly committee meetings should also be recorded and the voting made public.

The committees need to stop suppressing/rejecting legislation just because it is written by the ‘other party’ but if that can’t be achieved, the Spirit of ’76 bill would give legislators outside the committee a way to influence legislation and get bills onto the floor for a vote if they can garner the support of a majority of the rank-and-file legislators.

Assemblyman Butler recently wrote about his support of the Spirt of ’76 bill:

The structure of the Legislature allows leaders to wield a great amount of power over which legislation can come to the floor for a vote. If legislation does not fit the agenda of the majority, despite popular support, it will never see the light of day – this must change,” said Butler. “There has been an outpouring from the public – they want reform, they want a state government that is more democratic, less about partisan politics and more about the people. Passing the Spirit of ’76 legislation will help us get that much closer to the government the people deserve.

Albany A8844 Parent Group
Parents supporting A8844 in the Assembly Education Committee – June 3, 2014


Bill A.3656 to halt Common Core introduced in New York State Assembly

Assemblymen Ed Ra and Al Graf are continuing to spearhead the fight for the children of New York with bill A.3656 to halt Common Core.  A press conference to announce the bill was held on February 3, 2015.

For those who have been following the Common Core legislation in New York State, this bill is the reintroduction of legislation from last year (bill A.8844 that was killed in the education committee in June 2014 – read here) with a few minor modifications. Two of our local assemblymembers representing portions of Ulster County,  Claudia Tenney and Peter Lopez, are co-sponsors of the new bill.  The legislation is also called the Apple Plan or the “Achieving Pupil Preparedness and Learning Excellence” Plan.

A3656 press conference

Watch the press conference here.

“As we head into the 2015-16 Legislative Session, the fight to restore local control to New York’s education system is far from over,” said Ra, Ranking Minority Member on the Education Committee. “I am proud to reintroduce legislation that would improve education in our state. To ensure that we are providing a world-class education for our children, we must start at the root of the problem and halt the implementation of Common Core. My colleagues and I are encouraging the new leadership of both the state Assembly and the education department to take a serious look at our proposal and move forward with measures that will allow our students and teachers to succeed.”
The bill (A.3656) will halt the implementation of Common Core until a Blue Ribbon Commission can hold hearings, study and make recommendations regarding education in the state. The commission will be empowered to restart the process to create a set of New York State Educational standards. Members of the Assembly Minority Conference developed solutions to fix New York’s education system by hosting 14 forums across the state. Members heard from parents, teachers, community leaders and education experts about how to address education in New York.
“Common Core Standards have brought drastic changes to our classrooms that have caused a great deal of stress for our children and educators. It needs to be fixed,” said Graf, member of the Assembly Education Committee. “Today we are reintroducing legislation that will provide a comprehensive reform package to begin solving these issues. Educating our children and providing teachers and students the opportunity to succeed in the classroom is the most important thing we can do.” – Long Island Exchange

Tea and Conversation with Assemblywoman Pat Fahy – Guilderland Library – June 6, 2014

Monica Kennedy Kounter and I attended a “Tea and Conversation” with Assemblywoman Fahy in Guilderland on Friday June 6, 2014. Assemblywoman Fahy is not my assemblywoman but I have seen her at an event or two because she has worked with Senator Cecilia Tkaczyk and I found it very interesting to hear her thoughts on a variety of topics.

Assemblywoman Fahy said that education is very near and dear to her heart and she talked quite a bit about education funding. She said that she believes the Assembly did not go far enough with regards to dealing with over-testing. She seems to be okay with the Common Core standards however.

When Monica and I asked her before the group discussion started ‘What can parents do?’ (with regards to Common Core), her suggestions were:

  • Get to NYSUT (to get the union to support/work with parents)
  • try to get pieces of the bill A8844 that was held through the assembly
  • Fahy was not familiar with Dr. Stotsky when told about Common Sense Education Lobby Day but when she heard Dr. Stotsky was from Massachusetts, she suggested the following: King refers to Massachusetts as his model all the time – have Dr. Stotsky write an invitation to Commissioner King, since she wrote the Massachusetts standards, to attend the rally on June 17/her presentation and then publicize the invitation
  • King keeps playing the race card – Fahy thinks we need to make our group (those speaking against Common Core) more diverse, get into the urban areas more

Notes from audience group discussion with Assemblywoman Fahy:

  • education investment tax credit – she has worked a lot to fight this, Cardinal Dolan supports – $675 million tax credit to private schools and charter schools; she isn’t necessarily opposed to charter schools and she is Catholic but doesn’t support up to a 90% tax credit for someone making up to a million dollars – shifting their tax into a foundation, Cuomo has this as a top priority (to pass) for this year
  • Fahy has a bill to give superintendents flexibility to assign community service (instead of other punishment) to students. It has passed the senate but stuck in committee in the Assembly. She believes she is being punished for standing up on other issues.
  • Do e-mails/letters make a difference? YES! faxes are a pain in the neck – don’t send. e-mails are good, mass e-mails are effective, mail is very slow at the federal level due to anthrax checking/calls are better, no anthrax checking at state level, numbers really do matter, 13,000(Stop Common Core in New York number of members) isn’t enough for the Common Core issue.
  • Monica’s question – bill regarding assessment piece doesn’t help youngest students. what would you like to see if partisan problem was gone? answer: immediate need is dealing with teacher evaluation. need to take growth rate provision out, reduce the number of tests tied to teacher evaluations (including SLOs) Guilderland superintendent said their school wants way to lift burden of the assessments. Fahy says dealing with teacher evaluation helps students because teachers are testing the very young kids (SLOs are being administered even in kindergarten). superintendent suggestion – rather than having teacher growth targets for each teacher/class, have school growth targets. says they believe student progress in grade 3 is connected to how they did in earlier grades so school growth goals are appropriate.
  • New York over-relies on property taxes to fund local government and education. Have not seen mandate relief that was talked about with tax cap introduction. Fahy does not believe that tax cap will go away because property owners like the relief and the rebate will probably stay as well because they will like getting the check.
  • discussion of confidential managers (not even exactly sure what that is but seems to be a particular group of state employees not being treated very fairly) who have received no pay increase for 6 years. the only reason I include this is because Fahy said it is hard to get any action on this because most of the managers are concentrated in the Albany area so only about 3 Assembly people affected so hard to get any support for bills to deal with the situation. This seems very unfair to a segment of the state employees (who can not even unionize) and is similar to the minority who lost out on bill A8844 in education committee. My personal question for us to think about: How do we stop having things have to be treated as ‘pet projects’ in Albany and really take care of what needs to be dealt with?


After I posted my summary of Assemblywoman Fahy’s comments and my assessment that she seemed to be okay with the Common Core Standards, Anna Shah, administrator of Hudson Valley Against Common Core, shared that

In Fall, I spoke to her and she informed me that she was staunchly opposed to CC bc it had an adverse impact on ELL and special needs students among other things. In deed, she also said the same remarks in a radio interview – that she is against CC completely.

Anna posted the following recordings of interviews from Assemblywoman Fahy.  I do not want to inaccurately represent Assemblywoman Fahy’s views and my statement above that ‘she seems to be okay with the Common Core Standards’ is my inference rather than something she specifically said so I leave it to the readers to draw their own conclusions unless anyone can find a more definitive statement from Assemblywoman Fahy.

Assemblywoman Fahy speaks starting about 39 minutes into this recording.

Here is Pat Fahy’s radio appearance from October 2013 where she states CCSS are rife with problems and she believes they are not conducive to ELL, special needs et al. Concededly, she discusses “implementation” problems w CC; she doesnt state that she is against CC per se, but she doesnt sound like she supports them either. – Anna Shah



Common Core Action needed today – June 2, 2014

For those of you concerned about Common Core, action is needed today – Monday June 2, 2014.

Assemblywoman Nolan, chairwoman of the New York State Assembly education committee, will be asking the committee to take a vote tomorrow (June 3) to ‘hold’ Ed Ra and Al Graf’s bill A8844 to stop common core.  This bill is the bill that we need as parents to stop common core and a vote to ‘hold’ it will kill the bill.

Task #1:  Call the education committee members today and tell them “Don’t hold Bill A8844“.

Assembly Members on Education Committee:
Catherine Nolan (Chair): 518-455-4851; (718) 784-3194
Carmen Arroyo: 518-455-5402; (718) 292-2901
Michael Benedetto: 518-455-5296; (718) 320-2220
James Brennan: 518-455-5377; (718) 788-7221
Karim Camara: 518-455-5262; (718) 771-3105
Barbara Clark: 518-455-4711; (718) 479-2333
Jane Corwin: 518-455-4601; (716) 839-4691
Steve Englebright: 518-455-4804; (631) 751-3094
Do not call as he is a supporter of A8844 – Al Graf: 518-455-5937; (631) 585-0230
Carl Heastie: 518-455-4800; (718) 654-6539
Earlene Hooper: 518-455-5861; (516) 489-6610
Ron Kim: 518-455-5411; (718)-939-0195
Kieran Michael Lalor: 518-455-5725; (845) 221-2201
Barbara Lifton: 518-455-5444; (607)-277-8030
Peter Lopez: 518-455-5363; (518) 943-1371
William Magnarelli: 518-455-4826; (315) 428 9651
Shelley Mayer: 518 455 3662; (914) 779-8805
David McDonough: 518-455-4633; (516) 409-2070
Steven McLaughlin: 518-455-5777; (518) 272-6149
Michael Miller: 518-455-4621; (718) 805-0950
Joan Millman: 518-455-5426; (718) 246-4889
Daniel O’Donnell: 518-455-5603; (212) 866-3970
Amy Paulin: 518-455-5585; (914) 723-1115
Do not call as he is a supporter of A8844 – Edward Ra: 518-455-4627; (516) 535-4095
Phil Ramos: 518-455-5185; (631) 435-3214
Robert Sweeney: 518-455-5787; (631) 957-2087
Claudia Tenney: 518-455-5334; (315) 736-3879
Fred Thiele, Jr.: 518-455-5997; (631) 537-2583
Matthew Titone: 518-455-4677; (718) 442-9932
Michele Titus: 518-455-5668; (718) 327-1845
Harvey Weisenberg 518-455-3028; (516) 431-0500


UPDATE:  Ulster county residents – we have 2 members on the education committee Peter Lopez and Claudia Tenney who are both listed as co-sponsors of bill A8844. I just spoke with Assemblyman Lopez’s office and they said that he is going to definitely vote to not hold the bill and will be trying to get the bill out of committee so it can come to a vote. We need to be making those calls to show support particularly if you are in these districts. Also the calls to the other education committee chairs are very important to let them know that there are ‘real people’ out there who care about this issue. Please make the calls, send the e-mails! I don’t know where Assemblywoman Tenney stands currently regarding A8844 as the person I spoke to in her office said they were not allowed to give that information out.


Task #2:  Please e-mail the following letter (or feel free to write your own) to members of the Assembly education committee to stop the assembly from shooting down the Halt Common Core bill (bill A8844) that we need.

Make sure to include your name and address at the end

TO: nolanc@assembly.state.ny.us, arroyoc@assembly.state.ny.us, benedettom@assembly.state.ny.us, brennanj@assembly.state.ny.us, camarak@assembly.state.ny.us, clarkb@assembly.state.ny.us, corwinj@assembly.state.ny.us, engles@assembly.state.ny.us, heastiec@assembly.state.ny.us, hoopere@assembly.state.ny.us, kimr@assembly.state.ny.us, lalork@assembly.state.ny.us, liftonb@assembly.state.ny.us, lopezp@assembly.state.ny.us, magnarelliw@assembly.state.ny.us, mayers@assembly.state.ny.us, mcdonod@assembly.state.ny.us, mclaughlins@assembly.state.ny.us, millermg@assembly.state.ny.us, millmanj@assembly.state.ny.us, odonnelld@assembly.state.ny.us, paulina@assembly.state.ny.us, ramosp@assembly.state.ny.us, sweeneyr@assembly.state.ny.us, tenneyc@assembly.state.ny.us, thielef@assembly.state.ny.us, titonem@assembly.state.ny.us, titusm@assembly.state.ny.us, weisenbergh@assembly.state.ny.us, speaker@assembly.state.ny.us

SUBJECT: Please vote NO on June 3rd to holding A8844.
Dear members of the Assembly Education Committee,

As a registered voter, the following are reasons why I support the bill presented by Assemblyman Al Graf and Assemblyman Ed Ra. They did their homework before writing this bill. Please vote NO on June 3rd to holding A8844.

*This is why I support A8844…It was carefully crafted by individuals who traveled the state, genuinely listening to the pitfalls and travails of those who are being forced to use these standards, tests, and curriculum.

*This is why I support A8844…It establishes the procedures for appointing a 23 person panel to review the standards, including classroom educators who were previously left out of the discussion.

*This is why I support A8844…It provides a full 3 years to review for age and content appropriateness for standards. Something that was not done when they were created and something other bills do not address. One year is not enough time to fully investigate the effects of this reform initiative.

*This is why I support A8844…It halts Common Core testing and goes back to 2009-2010 standardized testing, effectively eliminating APPR and VAM which will halt teaching to the tests and will immediately bring back real learning to the classrooms.

*This is why I support A8844… because the elimination of on-line tests will save districts millions of dollars in the addition of infrastructure to support the PARCC testing.

*This is why I support A8844… It stops a one size, cookie cutter approach to education, allowing students to be individuals and ELL students and students with IEPs to be treated fairly and with dignity.

*This is why I support A8844…because childhood only happens once and the joy of learning has been corrupted by RttT and CCSS.
Please consider carefully the repercussions of your actions on Tuesday. The fate of our children is in your hands. Lets be true leaders in NYS and show the rest of the country that we are capable of thinking and doing for ourselves without federal oversight. Our schools were not broken, they are breaking now. Return the control of education to where it belongs, out of the hands of businessmen and politicians and back into the hands of educators, parents, and local Board of Educations.


(your name and address here)


Task #3:  If you can possibly come to Albany with me tomorrow (Tuesday June 3 9am) morning, let me know!

On Tuesday at 10am we have an education committee meeting in room 835 of the legislative building. Chairwoman Nolan will take a vote to hold Ed Ra’s and my bill A8844 to stop common core. These are open meetings. Holding the bill will kill it. It would be great to see a bunch of familiar faces standing in the hallway wearing t-shirts showing their opposition to not letting the bill out of committee. If I were interested in going I would be in the hallway by 9:30. Just a thought.  – Assemblyman Al Graf

Action needed again regarding Common Core and New York Assembly bills A8929/A8844!

I apologize for such frequent legislative action requests (3 in 5 days).  Unfortunately some of our legislators in the New York State Assembly have decided they need to rush through bill A8929 when bill A8844, which has been worked on for months, has also been presented for consideration.  More on the politics of this when things settle down – for now I will just state that politics should NOT be driving the education of our children!

Bill A8929 was introduced to the education committee on Friday, voted on by the committee today (Tuesday) and is expected to show up for a vote on the floor of the assembly tomorrow (Wednesday) when the session begins at 9:45am.  If you are new to this saga of the two Common Core bills, you can read more details in my BLOG post from Monday.

What you need to do before Wednesday 9:45am:

  • Contact Assemblyman Kevin Cahill  cahillk@assembly.state.ny.us  (518) 455-4436
  • Contact Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver  speaker@assembly.state.ny.us  (518) 455-3791
  • Contact Assembly Education Committee chair Catherine Nolan  nolanc@assembly.state.ny.us  (518) 455-4851
  • Contact any other assembly members whom you feel you can influence
This is what you NEED to say when you make those calls/send e-mails VERBATIM:
The Edward Ra/Al Graf Bill (A8844) is going up as an addition to the Nolan bill (A8929), we expect YOU to support it.  We want A8844 to pass as an amendment to A8929.

The instructions above regarding what to say to the assembly members come directly from Assemblymember Al Graf.  This gets bill A8844 out of the education committee and onto the floor for a vote to determine whether A8844 (Ed Ra/Al Graf bill) is germane to the purposes of A8929 (Catherine Nolan bill).  (Germane definition:  relevant to A8929).

Assemblyman Al Graf discusses the Apple Plan upon which bill A8844 was based in this video .

Action needed Monday 3/3/14 regarding Common Core and New York Assembly bill A8929!

If you are at all concerned about the state of the educational system right now in New York and particularly Common Core and can possibly spare 5-10 minutes, your urgent action is needed.
The New York State assembly introduced a bill A8929 on Friday that appears to ‘fix Common Core’ but in fact that is not the case.  You can read more about the situation in my BLOG post from the weekend.  Basically the bill presented on Friday leaves us stuck with the way things are right now BUT there is another bill A8844 which will actually provide some relief from Common Core and is a much better bill.
What you need to do:
  • Contact Assemblyman Cahill and tell him to drop support of the bill A8929 introduced on Friday and instead support bill A8844.
  • Contact Assembly Speaker Silver and tell him to drop support of A8929 and to support A8844 instead.
  • Contact Assembly Education Committee chair Cathy Nolan who introduced bill A8929 and ask her to support A8844 instead.
Contact information for the legislators:
UPDATE 3/3/14 5pm:  The assembly education committee is scheduled to vote on bill A8929 tomorrow (Tuesday 3/4/14) so there is still time to contact the legislators if you have not been able to do so yet today.
I am including the e-mail I sent to Assemblyman Cahill if you would like to use it as a template but feel free to write your own version instead – it will have even more impact if it is in your own words.  When I called, I left a very simple message asking the legislators to drop support of A8929 and to instead sponsor A8844.
Dear Assemblyman Cahill,
I have just learned that you have signed on to sponsor assembly bill A8929.  I am actively working to enact changes to the Common Core Agenda in New York State, however bill A8929 does not make the changes that are needed for our children.  This bill does not deal with the problems regarding testing for our special education and ELL students.  It does NOT stop the error-filled Common Core curriculum or tests.  It does not provide support for our advanced learners (of which my daughter is one).  In the end this bill adopts the federal standards and leaves our local teachers, parents and communities with the same problems we are facing right now and no way of fixing them. 
You MUST remove your name from bill A8929 and instead support bill A8844 which provides relief in all of the areas I have listed.  I am looking forward to hearing a response from you as soon as possible.
Jolyn Safron
(include your address here)

Don’t be fooled by NYS Assembly bill A8929! It will NOT fix Common Core!

A bill has just been introduced to the New York State assembly that looks like a fix for Common Core but please don’t be fooled! The bill A8929, sponsored by Kingston’s Assemblyman Kevin Cahill, simply takes away the consequences for the Common Core tests for 2 years and adds more Common Core teacher training (not sure where the funding for it is coming from!) This bill does NOT stop the curriculum or the tests, nor does it stop the teacher evaluations without the waivers from the federal government. It does not deal with children with disabilities, nor does it deal with children who are advanced learners. In the end it adopts the federal standards, and attempts to get the sponsors past the next election.

Assembly bill A8844 DOES address the problems listed above and has a companion senate bill. Please contact Assemblyman Kevin Cahill and tell him to remove himself as a sponsor from bill A8929(bad bill) and add his name to A8844(good bill)!

Assemblyman Kevin Cahill  cahillk@assembly.state.ny.us  (518)455-4436

A Rochester NY station reported on the new bill yesterday but did NOT point out the problems with the bill.

You may read bill A8929 here (the one that will NOT fix our Common Core problems).

Read bill A8844 here that WILL slam the breaks on the Common Core Agenda and sign a petition in support of bill A8844.

Fix New York Schools – Slam the Brakes on Common Core!

I am very concerned about the Common Core Agenda and the impact it is having on schools throughout New York State and right here in the Kingston City School District.  If you are also concerned, please sign the petition below to tell Governor Cuomo that we want to slam the brakes on Common Core, that the state is hurting our children, and that we expect the Governor to act!

Fix New York Schools petition

As part of the petition you will find links to legislation that has been introduced by Assemblymen Ra and Graf (bill A8844) and Senators Ball and Zeldin (bill S6604) to stop Common Core and then give New York three years to fix it or scrap it (my personal vote but more on that another day).

The legislation … would impose a three-year moratorium on the standards. It would also create a committee with all relevant stakeholders, who would study the issue and then come up with recommendations: Either ditch Common Core entirely, or create new state standards that would conform to the national scheme pushed by Washington. “For now, it stops the abuse of our children,” explained [Graf].

New York Revolts Against Common Core

Read further details about the 11 state-wide forums leading to this legislation and the feedback received by the legislators at those forums regarding the Common Core Agenda here