Tag Archives: Assemblyman Kevin Cahill

Common Sense Education Lobby Day Report – June 17, 2014

Four Kingston parents, including representatives from Kingston Action for Education, traveled to Albany for Common Sense Education Lobby Day on Tuesday June 17, 2014.

Kingston parents in Albany

We met up with eight parents from the Onteora school district intending to meet with our legislators after attending the rally.

We did not attend the press conference before the rally and had to leave before the rally concluded to meet with Assemblyman Kevin Cahill but full videos of the press conference and rally are available here.

Mary Calamia opened the rally with the following (video here):

We are all here today because we are trying to fix something that is very, very broken.  We have joined in a battle to fix a broken educational system that has created a hostile learning environment for our children and a hostile working environment for those who teach them.

Mary then encouraged the attendees that we are not just parents but advocates and even lobbyists.  And I was very proud to wear those titles with approximately 200 other people standing for New York’s children in Albany yesterday.

Mary quoted Governor Cuomo as saying “too often government responds to the whispers of lobbies before the cries of the people”.  Her response:

This from a man who is completely deaf to the cries of the people!  So Governor Governor, I say this – we are the people, we are the lobbyists.  We are not crying and we are so NOT whispering!  Today as lobbyists, you are going to meet with legislators and do what any other lobbyist does, try to influence legislation on behalf of the special interest and what more special interest can we have than the children of New York State?

We, the people will go into more than 50 legislative meetings and tell them what we know, what we have experienced and what we need from them and we will follow up this summer and talk with them again and again until we can restore Common Sense in Albany and Common Sense to our schools.

Dr. Sandra Stotsky, who was a member of the original Common Core Validation Committee charged with reviewing and approving the Common Core standards but refused to endorse the standards, spoke about the havoc that Common Core is wreaking on our education system and what parents, students and school board members can do about it. (video here)

  • (mark 5:10) Dr. Stotsky pointed out that the four most important stakeholder groups in the education of our children – parents, teachers, state legislators and school board members – were generally left out in the draft stages/early development of the Common Core Standards.
  • Students were also left out of the development of Common Core.  Go to mark 6:10 in the video segment for how high students got involved in Massachusetts and how Kingston students might want to get involved if they, particularly our current 7th and 8th graders, want to make sure they have adequate math course availability when they get to grades 11 and 12.
  • (mark 8:45) Common Core is wreaking havoc in our high schools particularly in the area of the math standards.  The Common Core Standards do not require courses above a weak Algebra 2 which will not get students to needed STEM fields – will the courses be there when budgets continue to be cut?  We have already lost accelerated math for our KCSD middle school students.  7th graders did not have it this year and we have been told that it will not be offered for next year’s 7th graders either.  ‘unless there  if they are in grade 8 or 9 now, your children are going to be the victims of Common Core’  Recruit your children who are old enough to understand the academic issues.
  • What can parents do?  (mark 12:50)  Parents have the right to do what they feel is best for their children.  Parents can send in a note stating that their student will only take ‘teacher-made’ tests.  Parents do not need to ask for permission – they have always had these rights.  Parents can send a note and indicate that they want instruction, not testing, on the days of state sponsored tests.  Also parents can say that they want to see their student’s scores from the ‘teacher-made’ tests within a week so that they can see what those tests look like and what scores/grades their kids are getting.
  • “What the law does not explicitly forbid or explicitly require in a free country, you can do.”
  • (mark 17:55) importance of local self-government – Legally elected school board members still have almost all of the legal authority they have had for 100s of years in this country.  Board members have rights and responsibilities as locally elected officials. All states, save one, have the right for local school boards to set/adopt their own standards.  They might still be responsible to take the tests but they can reject Common Core Standards explicity, adopt a superior set of standards, ask their local superintendent/teaching staff to create superior standards.  Teachers and administrators are not in an enviable state.  They are doing what they think they have been ordered to do by a state board of education.  People need to start straightening out who is the master and who is the public servant?
  • (mark 24:00)The State Board of Regents did not ask the questions they should have asked before accepting Common Core.  No state board of educations asked for a cost benefit analysis.  No state boards of ed asked their higher education teaching faculty (people teaching at the college level in mathematics, science and engineering) to look at the Common Core college-readiness standards in high school to see if they were adequate (were they really college-level standards?) or at least no boards are on record as having asked these questions.  Dr. Stotsky recommends that parents ask teachers from our STEM colleges to look at standards and see if they are indeed adequately preparing students for entry into those college.

Conversation with Assemblyman Kevin Cahill

12 parents from Ulster County (from Kingston and Onteora school districts) met with Assemblyman Kevin Cahill outside the assembly floor at 1pm on June 17.

  • We told Assemblyman Cahill that we were very concerned about Common Core and asked for his support of bill A8844.  He asked if that was the Graf bill and when told ‘Yes’ responded that ‘the Graf bill politically can not pass’.  He went on to tell stories about his 8 year old granddaughter and her four and a half hours of homework and upset parents and how he understands that the Common Core implementation is not working but he believes that the Common Core Standards are good.  Cahill mentioned at one point that the Graf bill had “bad stuff” in it and I wanted to ask what that was but decided it wasn’t worth getting into an argument over at this time.
  • Parents brought up concerns with regards to special education and Common Core and Assemblyman Cahill affirmed that he understands that every child is unique.
  • Assemblyman Cahill stated dissatisfaction with Commissioner King.
  • He talked about the reappointment of Regents this year and how that he learned of a paper, from Regent Jackson himself, that Regent Jackson had written regarding high-stakes testing that stated the many problems with implementation.  In the interview process Cahill asked Jackson about the paper and why he hadn’t communicated the concerns to the other regents when and Jackson said that he hadn’t thought about it and probably should have (it sounds like Jackson forgot about the paper he had written during the discussion of Common Core) and Cahill decided he could not vote for Jackson for reappointment.  When I asked why he voted for someone (no one could remember Regent Josephine Finn’s name but I came home and looked it up) who did not know anything about Common Core instead, Cahill responded that the new regent was appointed because she was well respected and it was believed she would be someone who would ‘shake things up’.  Cahill stated that the Regents work in task forces and only the few Regents (5 he though) who are on the Common Core task force are actually responsible to know anything about Common Core.  He recommended, as had Assemblywoman Nolan on June 3, that we the parents speak to our regent who happens to be Regent Finn about our Common Core concerns.

Conversation with Senator Tkaczyk

We found out last minute that Senator Tkaczyk’s office had requested a maximum of six people to attend the meeting with her so 2 parents from Kingston and 2 parents from Onteora attended and I was not one of them as I have spoken with her previously.

Conversation with Senator Seward

Instead of speaking with Senator Tkaczyk, Madeline and I sat in on a meeting with Senator Seward who appeared to be very supportive of the educational concerns raised by the parents/teachers speaking with him.  The primary focus of the discussion was on the high school level and regarding students who tend to fall through the cracks both special education students and those who might not be special education but still struggle in school.  The 9th grade Common Core math test was shared with Senator Seward and the question raised about how was that test useful to be required for every student and would it really prove that every student was college ready?  The example was given of current college students in programs for television, to be a chef and something arts-related (can’t remember the specific field) where each student was excelling in college and the math test would have been no accurate indication of anything to do with their field of study yet if a student can not pass the test, they will not be able to graduate and go on to college.  Discussion of the RCT (Regent Competency Test) took place and in particular a student who had to take it 5 times and just managed to finally pass before aging out of high school.  Now students do not even have the RCT option and must pass 5 Regents tests in order to earn a diploma at all!

Note:  This report was written in June 2014 after Common Sense Education Lobby Day but never published.  I think there might have been more information that I wanted to include.  The information included is still relevant (and someone was just asking about Assemblyman Cahill’s stand on Common Core) so I am posting it on November 15, 2015.

Call Albany regarding Assembly bill A6777 – Parental right to REFUSE standardized tests

Please call your NYS Assemblyman now and ask them to amend assembly bill A6777 to include the requirement that school districts must notify parents of their right to refuse the state standardized tests.

UPDATE 5/28/15 9:15am  Vote did not happen last night and Assembly won’t return to the floor until 11:15am today.  Keep calling!

Parents currently have the right to refuse the state tests but many do not know that.  If they are not informed of the right, having the right codified is not terribly helpful.

Assemblyman Jim Tedisco’s bill has the necessary wording that can be referred to for what needs to be added to A6777.

Without including a provision for parental notification, the Assembly will pass a good bill that many parents will have no idea exists.

In a recent editorial, the Utica Observer-Dispatch called for the Majority’s bill to be amended to require that “school districts inform parents/guardians of their right to refuse these tests and the procedure necessary to do so.”

If your New York State assemblyman is Assemblyman Kevin Cahill, as mine is, his phone number is (518) 455-4436.

When you call, please thank Assemblyman Cahill for being a co-sponsor on A6777 and ask for the bill to be amended to include the requirement that school districts must notify parents of their right to REFUSE the state tests.

Election 2014 Wrap-up for the Kingston City School District

The November 4, 2014 election is over and before I put all my campaign posts to bed, I wanted to summarize regarding the various candidates and their educational stands.

For some reason I never posted this after writing it back in November 2014.  I am posting it now (May 2015) even though quite a bit of time has elapsed.  I thought it might be interesting to look back on what the various candidates had to say about education now that we are almost six months into their current term.

Some of the candidates who I have advocated for won and some did not.

Regardless of who won and who lost, our job as citizens is not done.  We must continue to interact with our elected officials and make sure that they are representing us properly in government.  We need to remember what they said during their campaigns; make sure they are sticking to the promises they made; work with them to determine if we can change their perspectives or come to satisfactory compromises if they have stands with which we do not agree.  We can not just wait until the next election and then vote.

New York State Governor – Andrew Cuomo defeated Rob Astorino but by a much smaller margin than many would have anticipated.  Rob Astorino actually ‘won’ the majority of the vote in Ulster County (46.6% for Astorino versus 41.7% for Cuomo according to politico.com) by a slight margin and the margin increases if the votes for Green party candidate Howie Hawkins (11%) are included.  These leads me to conclude that a number of people in Ulster County are not thrilled with Governor Cuomo and I like to think at least some of that discontent is due to his educational policies.  Governor Cuomo stated right before the election that he intends to ‘break the public school monopolty’ (read here) and his actions regarding education is an issue that we will need to keep an eye on in the upcoming months.  I personally liked many of the aspects of Rob Astorino’s education platform and will be keeping it in mind to see if there are ways they can be incorporated into New York’s educational policy even though Rob Astorino did not win the position of Governor.  Astorino-Moss Education Plan 2014

New York State Senator – 46th Senate District:  George Amedore defeated incumbent Senator Cecilia Tkaczyk.  Senator Tkaczyk made education a significant part of her focus during her time in office so George Amedore is going to have to step up and take a stand on the educational issues as he moves into his new position as Senator for the 46th Senate District.  He ran on the new StopCommonCore party line and will be held accountable in that area.  There are many areas of concern in education beyond Common Core that he will also need to address including school funding and unfunded mandates.

New York State Assembly – 103rd Assembly District:  Incumbent Assemblyman Kevin Cahill defeated challenger Kevin Roberts to retain his seat as representative for the Kingston City School District.  As with the governor position, I would like to see if there are ways that we can work with Mr. Cahill to change some of his perspectives on education to achieve the goals that Mr. Roberts would have taken with him to Albany had he won the assembly seat.  This  video provides a clear distinction between the two on their education stands.

U.S. Congressman New York State’s 19th Congressional District:  Incumbent Congressman Chris Gibson defeated newcomer Sean Eldridge and will be returning to Washington D.C. to represent the 19th Congressional District.

Smart Schools Bond Act (proposition 3):  The Smart Schools Bond Act passed and we will have to wait and see how Kingston City School District will use the money and how much it will cost the taxpayers.

StopCommonCore party line:  The new StopCommonCore party line received just over 50,000 votes and is therefore eligible to be its own party and to appear on the ballot as a party for the next four years.

Read here for a summary of campaign platforms and campaign videos about the various candidates.

This summary is focused on the Kingston City School District but I would like to highlight one other post that has Ulster County wide information regarding the Assembly candidates for four districts (assembly districts 101, 102, 103 and 104) since the candidates had such clear and differing stances regarding Common Core/education.  Click here to access the post.

Urgent! Call Albany NOW 3/31/15 to protect our children from testing tied to the budget!

If the information presented by the Cuomo official in this article as of 10pm Monday March 30 (here and at the end of this post) is accurate, this is very bad news for the children of New York.

Not only will the children continue to be tested in order to determine whether their teachers get to keep their jobs or not, a second test might be added to assist with this determination. BUT the extra test will not be mandated by NYSED so if a district decides to use it, the extra testing is on the district NOT NYSED (thanks a lot Governor Cuomo and legislators!) Regardless of how well the teacher does on the observation portion of the evaluation, if their students do not show growth based on the test scores, the teacher can NOT receive an effective or highly effective rating. Not in this article but from earlier reports (here and here), if teachers are rated ineffective for two or three years in a row, they can be fired (within 90 days unless they can justify not being fired for two years of ineffective ratings; mandatory firing in 30 days for three years of ineffective ratings unless the teacher can prove fraud).  That sounds like an awful lot of pressure to put on a child’s test score to me!

Have the people in power in Albany been listening that these tests are developmentally inappropriate; that they cause harm to children; that they are statistically invalid for evaluating teachers; that there are so many problems with these tests that they should NOT be used in any way shape or form (read here for a sampling if you are not familiar with the various testing issues) let alone be the gatekeeper on whether a teacher gets to keep their job?

Apparently the education portion of the budget bill is not yet available (as of 10pm Monday) so we do not know what the exact language is in the bill. Senator Amedore’s office reminded me of this when I spoke to them at 9pm tonight. However Governor Cuomo is willing to waive the three-day waiting period requirement so the budget bill can be passed on time, therefore once the bill hits the legislator’s hands, I expect that it will be voted on very quickly so we will not have the luxury of waiting to see what the bill actually says and then leisurely voicing concerns.

Several of the New York State senators’ offices have been insisting that school aid will not be linked to any of the education reforms but as of the publishing of this article at 7:30pm this evening Monday March 30, 2015, Ken Wagner, an official from NYSED is stating that the aid is indeed linked.

School funding and teacher evaluations are linked after all, a top official with the state education department said late Monday.
I regret the inconvenience this will cause to our legislators’ aides but the phones need to be ringing off the hooks so that our senators and assembly members know that inclusion of any of these items in the budget will be considered by parents as a failure to support what we want to see for the education of our children:
  • increased reliance on testing
  • setting teacher evaluations as part of the budget process
  • receivership for schools – I have not focused on this due to the testing concerns but it is a total destruction of local school control
  • anything tying school aid to Cuomo’s education reforms

Please call both your senator and your assembly member as well as the speaker of the house Assemblyman Heastie and senate majority leader Senator Skelos.  Senator Amedore and Assemblyman Cahill represent the majority of families in the Kingston City School District.

Senator George Amedore (518) 455-2350

Assemblyman Kevin Cahill (518) 455-4436

Budget hook

Regarding school funding, it looks like neither the senate or the assembly stuck to their guns and we will not get the $1.8 billion that the assembly was pushing for or the $1.9 billion that the senate put forward.  Reports seem to be settling around $1.3 or $1.4 billion with Senator Skelos being quoted here that schools would get half of the GEA back this year and the rest next year.  Senator Amedore also issued a statement regarding elimination of more than 50% of the GEA.  Please thank him for supporting elimination of the GEA when you call.

Schools also need the Foundation Aid formula to be updated and used each year because this is what will give the school districts a reliable revenue that they can count on from year to year.  Not sure what portion of the school aid will be considered foundation aid.

***

ALBANY—The final plan for a new statewide teacher evaluation system will require observations by an “independent” evaluator, a Cuomo administration official said during a briefing with reporters late Monday.
It’s hard to say definitively what will be in the bill, since it hasn’t been introduced, and leaders of the State Senate and Assembly did not immediately return a request for confirmation that they have agreed on specifics of the deal. But the administration official, speaking on background, presented the plan in great detail, some of which Capital has already reported, arguing the deal was solid.
According to the briefing, the evaluation system will have two components: observations and student performance on state tests.
There will be two required observations, from a teacher’s principal or administrator and an “independent” evaluator, who could be a principal, administrator or “highly effective” teacher from another school or district. As Cuomo originally proposed, a college professor or retired educator could also serve as the independent evaluator. A peer observation will be optional.
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The official argued against critics’ characterization of the “independent” evaluator as an unfunded mandate. If schools or districts agree to swap evaluators, neither would have to pay for the other’s services, the official said.
Student growth on state-administered, Common Core-aligned English and math exams in third through eighth grades and Regents exams in high school will be required components for the evaluation system.
Districts and local unions may choose to include an additional test, which would be designated by the State Education Department. Contrary to how the extra test was described before, it would not have to be designed by the state, which is a costly and time-consuming process.
The additional exam would address concerns about teachers being rated based on a student’s work on one day or over one test-administration period, the administration official said. But the test would be optional, so parents wouldn’t be able to blame the state for additional testing. the official said.
While the State Education Department will be charged with determining how performance indicators translate to “ineffective,” “developing,” “effective” or “highly effective” ratings, the budget will include certain rules that “trump” the outcome of the department’s calculation.
For example, if teachers are evaluated using only the traditional state exam and are rated “ineffective” based on student performance on that exam, they may not be rated “effective” overall; they may only be rated “ineffective” or “developing.” For teachers at districts that opt to use two tests, if teachers’ rating based on both tests combined is “ineffective,” they must be rated “ineffective” overall.
If teachers are “ineffective” based on observations, they can’t be “effective” or higher overall.
The budget will also include new requirements for continuing education or professional development. While teachers are already required to complete 100 hours of professional development annually, there will be stricter state guidelines for what constitutes professional development. Teachers will have to complete the state-approved development in order to retain their certification.
The budget will also include $20,000 bonuses for high-performing teachers.
MORE: ALBANY EDUCATION 2015 STATE BUDGET ANDREW CUOMO EDUCATION EDUCATION REFORM NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLY NEW YORK STATE SENATE STATE BUDGET TEACHER EVALUATIONS

Details begin to emerge on new teacher evaluation system capitalnewyork.com 10:07pm March 30, 2015

Candidates for New York State Assembly

New York State Assembly candidates from Assembly Districts 101, 102, 103 and 104 participated in a panel discussion hosted by the Ulster County Chamber of Commerce this morning.  I found the discussion to be very informative and hope that the Chamber hosts a similar event for its members next year.

The video below captures the views of the various candidates for NYS assembly representing portions of Ulster County regarding Common Core. I agree with some of the views and disagree with others but watch and see what you think.

***YOUTUBE–CAMPAIGN 2014— NYS Assembly candidates from Assembly Districts 101, 102, 103 and 104 attend a breakfast in Ulster County and share their views on Common Core.– October 21, 2014 – click for video

The candidates who participated were:

I have linked each of their names to the campaign website that I found for the candidate.

Copies of the League of Women Voters of New York State 2014 Voters Guide were distributed at the Chamber breakfast (the League helped with the panel).  The Voters Guide includes information on the state level races (Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General and Comptroller) as well as the three proposals that will be on the ballot.

I am going to end with some personal thoughts on the various candidates so stop reading now if you don’t want to hear my personal opinions.

I wanted to stand up and cheer many times during the breakfast as the different candidates spoke but everyone in the audience was being good and delaying applause so we could hear lots of questions and responses. Kevin Roberts, Sakima Green-Brown, Claudia Tenney and Peter Lopez were all very much in line with my personal views regarding Common Core and the need to get rid of it. Frank Skartados’ comment that he initially supported getting rid of Common Core but now thinks it can be fixed was disappointing. I knew that Kevin Cahill believes that the actions of the state legislature are in the right direction for fixing Common Core so was not surprised by his comments.

Sakima Green-Brown was the only candidate in attendance whom I was totally unfamiliar with.  I was very impressed by her stand regarding Common core and education in general. She has served as president of her school board and is now working as a parent advocate. Actually I liked what she said about every issue discussed not just education.  Assembly district 104 only includes a small portion of Ulster County, the towns of Lloyd and Marlboro, but I encourage all residents of those towns to check out Sakima Green-Brown’s platform.

Kevin Roberts made many statements that make me want to vote for him as the next Assemblyman for District 103 in addition to his stand against Common Core.  He stated that he has not voted to increase taxes in the county legislature and will not vote for tax increases in the state legislature.  Albany must work together for real property tax reform.  There is not going to be a Republican and a Democratic solution – must be bi-partisan and he has worked for bi-partisan solutions at the county level.  Start-up New York might look great on paper but someone (us) has to pick up the cost for those who move in and are not paying the taxes.  He will not support fracking in the state assembly.  New York needs to have 3 kinds of diplomas, STEM opportunities, full funding for special education.

Common Sense Education Lobby Day – June 17, 2014

Common Sense Education Lobby Day Ulster flyer

Please come to Albany with me on June 17 to participate in Common Sense Education Lobby Day.

Dr. Sandra Stotsky, Ed.D, NYS Assemblyman Ed Ra, NYS Assemblyman Al Graf and NYS Senator Lee Zeldin will be speaking at the 11am rally and then we will be meeting with our legislators Assemblyman Kevin Cahill and Senator Cecilia Tkaczyk to lobby for a withdrawal from Common Core State Standards, high stakes testing, and data mining; a restoration of control of curriculum to local school districts.

Albany Lobby Day press release  **see below**

Local radio celebrity, Richie Phillips, from 107.7 WGNA will entertain the crowd with a live performance of his original song, “Cure for the Common Core.” at Common Sense Education Lobby Day in Albany, NY 6/17/14.

Common Sense Education Lobby Day in spirit

Contact me for information on car pooling or more details about the local group traveling to Albany for Common Sense Education Lobby Day.

Related post here.

**UPDATE: The press release link above no longer works.  For an unknown reason, the press release was removed from the WNYT website ( events.wnyt.com ) the day after being posted.

ALBANY LOBBY DAY- NYS PARENTS DEMAND WITHDRAWAL FROM COMMON CORE STANDARDS

Tuesday, June 17, 2014, 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM

***FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE***
Parent Groups to Attend Albany Lobby Day; Demand NYS Withdraws from Common Core Standards

Dr. Sandra Stotsky, Assemblymen Ed Ra and Al Graf, and Senator Lee Zeldin to address crowd of parents, teachers, and grassroots organizers

Date: Tuesday June 17, 2014

Location: Legislative Office Building, 198 State Street, Albany, NY 12210

Press Conference:
10:00 am – 10:45 am; LCA Room, Room 130

Speakers:
11:00 am – 12 noon; “The Well”

CONTACT: Mary Calamia, 631-835-1824, UnitedAgainstCC@gmail.com
Nationally renowned Common Core expert, Sandra Stotsky, Ed.D., Professor Emerita at the University of Arkansas, will be addressing New York State parents and grassroots organizers in “The Well” at the Legislative Office Building, 198 State Street, Albany, NY 12210, on June 17th at 11:00 am. Dr. Stotsky’s speech will kick off “Common Sense Education Lobby Day,” during which the attendees will meet with NYS legislators to lobby for a withdrawal from Common Core State Standards, high stakes testing, and data mining; the group seeks to restore control of curriculum to local school districts.
Dr. Stotsky was a member of the original Common Core Validation Committee, which was charged with reviewing and approving the Common Core standards. She refused to endorse the Common Core standards as internationally benchmarked, rigorous, and research-based and is now an outspoken Common Core critic, advocating instead for internationally benchmarked academic standards for K-12 in mathematics and English language arts that will fulfill the goals intended for Common Core. Dr. Stotsky will be discussing educational reform and what she suggests we need to do to strengthen the American educational system.
Also addressing the crowd will be Lobby Day sponsor, NYS Assemblyman Ed Ra, along with Assemblyman Al Graf and Senator Lee Zeldin, who have sponsored legislation to halt the implementation of Common Core in New York State and create a multidisciplinary blue-ribbon panel to evaluate the standards and determine their appropriateness for New York State schools.
Local radio celebrity, Richie Phillips, from 107.7 WGNA will entertain the crowd with a live performance of his original song, “Cure for the Common Core.”

A press conference will be at 10:00 am in Room 130, prior to the event.

Join me for Common Sense Education Lobby Day – June 17, 2014

Common Sense Education Lobby Day Ulster flyer

Please come to Albany with me on Tuesday June 17, 2014 to lobby our legislators for a return to common sense education.  We will rally from 11am to Noon and then meet with legislators.

An appointment with Assemblyman Kevin Cahill is scheduled for Noon and an appointment with Senator Cecilia Tkaczyk is scheduled for 1pm.

You do NOT have to speak to the legislators if you are not comfortable doing so.  Just come and make your presence known.  Let’s show Albany that the parents of the Kingston City School District are NOT going to allow our children to continue to be harmed by education run amuck!

Action needed on Vote for Board of Regents today

Today the New York State Assembly and New York State Senate will be voting on four Board of Regents members. If you are satisfied with education in New York right now, do nothing. If you are NOT satisfied, call Assemblyman Kevin Cahill this morning and urge him to show up for the vote and vote NO on the incumbent regents.

Assemblyman Kevin Cahill contact information:
Albany office (518) 455-4436 Kingston office (845) 338-9610
cahillk@assembly.state.ny.us

Senator Cecilia Tkaczyk has indicated that she WILL be voting NO on the incumbent regents. We need to contact her to thank her for the stand she is taking for our students and for education.

Senator Tkaczyk contact information:
Albany office (518) 455-2470 Kingston office (845) 331-3810
tkaczyk@nysenate.gov

If you are like me and did not even know what/who the Board of Regents was prior to six months ago, here is some information .

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)