Tag Archives: Common Core State Standards

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 Warrior Mom at 2014 Republican Convention

I met Yvonne Gasperino online just as “Stop Common Core in New York State” was getting started – can’t remember if it was March or April 2013.  She helped me with the first baby steps of understanding the big picture of Common Core and the impact it is having on our children; the problems with not just the Common Core State Standards but the testing, the teacher appraisal system, the data collection, the loss of local control of education.

Yvonne has continued to be right there, online at all hours and traveling around the state, helping me and so many others throughout New York State as we have become ‘Warrior Moms’, moms who would have preferred to just be moms but have felt compelled to stand and fight to protect not only our children but all of the children in New York State by starting grassroots efforts to get rid of the entire failed Common Core agenda.  Yvonne is so deserving of the honor of being asked by gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino to speak at the New York State 2014 Republican Convention AND she did an amazing job!

I will be supporting candidates in November who are standing with parents against Common Core and that includes Rob Astorino for Governor of New York State.


Disclaimer:  All opinions expressed on this page are the personal opinions of myself, Jolyn Safron, and have not been endorsed or approved by the parent groups of which I am a part unless explicitly stated.

PJSTA Approves Resolution to Oppose Common Core

How exciting that the Port Jefferson Station Teachers Association felt able to take the bold step to approve a resolution opposing the Common Core State Standards.

WHEREAS, the purpose of education is to educate a populace of critical thinkers who are capable of shaping a just and equitable society in order to lead good and purpose-filled lives, not solely preparation for college and career; and

WHEREAS, instructional and curricular decisions should be in the hands of classroom professionals who understand the context and interests of their students; and

WHEREAS, the education of children should be grounded in developmentally appropriate practice; and

WHEREAS, high quality education requires adequate resources to provide a rich and varied course of instruction, individual and small group attention, and wrap-around services for students; and

WHEREAS, the Common Core State Standards were developed by non-practitioners, such as test and curriculum publishers, as well as education reform foundations, such as the Gates and Broad Foundations, and as a result the CCSS better reflect the interests and priorities of corporate education reformers than the best interests and priorities of teachers and students; and

WHEREAS, the Common Core State Standards were piloted incorrectly, have been implemented too quickly, and as a result have produced numerous developmentally inappropriate expectations that do not reflect the learning needs of many students; and

WHEREAS, imposition of the Common Core State Standards adversely impacts students of highest need, including students of color, impoverished students, English language learners, and students with disabilities; and

WHEREAS, the Common Core State Standards emphasize pedagogical techniques, such as close reading, out of proportion to the actual value of these methods – and as a result distort instruction and remove instructional materials from their social context; and

WHEREAS, despite the efforts of our union to provide support to teachers, the significant time, effort, and expense associated with modifying curricula to the Common Core State Standards interferes and takes resources away from work developing appropriate and engaging courses of study; and

WHEREAS, the assessments that accompany the Common Core State Standards (PARCC and Smarter Balance) are not transparent in that – teachers and parents are not allowed to view the tests and item analysis will likely not be made available given the nature of computer adaptive tests; and

WHEREAS, Common Core assessments disrupt student learning, consuming tremendous amounts of time and resources for test preparation and administration; and

WHEREAS, the assessment practices that accompany Common Core State Standards – including the political manipulation of test scores – are used as justification to label and close schools, fail students, and evaluate educators; therefore be it

RESOLVED that the PJSTA opposes the Common Core State Standards (and the aligned tests) as a framework for teaching and learning;

Read the full resolution here directly from their website.

New York’s new standards sidelined by Common Core

New York was nearly ready to launch a new set of standards back in 2010, starting with English Language Arts, that sound like they were being put together the right way: local teacher input, public forums, better balance between literature and informational texts, support for English-language learners, de-emphasis on testing, and a lot of the decisions being left to the local schools.

Along comes CCSS and the dangled Race to the Top money and out goes New York’s new standards which would have been a better route.

“The board grabbed the money from ‘race to the bottom’ and tossed out all the work we had done,” said Cohen, a former president of Queens College who served as an at-large regent from 1993 until 2010. “I was very upset, because the national standards weren’t as good. Now we have this mess.”

Read how New York’s school reform was sidelined by Common Core here.

Urgent: Calls needed to end Federal Funding of Common Core

Kingston/Ulster County parents – If you are opposed to the Federal Government giving monetary incentives to ‘encourage’ states to go along with the Common Core standards, call Senators Schumer and Gillibrand  and U.S. Congressman Gibson (assuming you are in Ulster County – congressional district 19) and ask them to sign onto a letter to stop this funding.

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley and Iowa Representative Steve King are asking their colleagues to sign onto a letter to members of both Appropriations Committees, asking the committees to stop any federal funds from being used to incetivize the states to adopt – or keep – the Common Core.  Members of the House and Senate must sign onto these letters before 5pm on Thursday April 3, 2014 so calls must be made TODAY or TOMORROW.

Your message can be as simple as the following:

“I strongly oppose the Common Core standards, and do not want the federal government using federal funds to support this controversial program. Please sign onto the Grassley letter [if you are calling your senators] or Steve King letter [if you are calling your U.S. Representative] to members of the Appropriations Committee which urges Congress to end federal funds in support of the Common Core. States, not the federal government, should decide what is best for their education system.”


Contact information:

Senator Charles Schumer  (202) 224-6542

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (202) 224-4451

U.S. Congressman Chris Gibson (202) 225-5614


You can find additional information regarding the Grassley/King letters and the effort to stop federal funding of Common Core here.





What is the Common Core Agenda?

What do you think of when you hear someone say ‘Common Core’?

Do you think of the Common Core State Standards (or the Common Core State Standards Initiative CCSSI) which the states agreed to accept in exchange for Race to the Top money before they were even  written under the direction of two private nonprofit organizations, the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO)?

Maybe the Common Core tests come to mind – tests that were administered for the first time in New York this past spring and then the scores set to ensure that the expected percentage of student failures were achieved.

Or we have the teacher appraisal system (Annual Professional Performance Review or APPR) which uses the test scores as a big part of the rating but yet students are not supposed to worry/stress over the scores because they don’t impact the students in any way.

Perhaps you think of Common Core curriculum such as the EngageNY modules that are riddled with errors and causing children to cry at night when trying to do their homework.

And let us not forget the data being collected right and left about our children, without parental consent, that New York has agreed to share with a third party company called inBloom; over 400 data points – some data points associated with the standardized tests, some data points I have no idea why the state would need such as eye color, family voting status and bus stop times.

Some people mean one of these things when they say ‘Common Core'; some mean more than one.  I am joining a growing number of parents who are defining the horrible mess that we are fighting against as the COMMON CORE AGENDA.  I believe that the standards themselves have problems and they are an important part of the Common Core Agenda but not the only part.  The COMMON CORE AGENDA is the whole, ugly marriage of the standards, the data collection, the testing and the teacher appraisal system wrapped up into a package that is destroying our children, our teachers and our schools.  Hypothetically if the NGA and the CCSSO had written and released the Common Core Standards for everyone to use or not use as their school boards wished, WITHOUT penalties for NOT using it, WITHOUT using it to punish teachers and school districts, WITHOUT collecting our kids’ personal data and giving parents no say in the matter, none of the parents would be here fighting against Common Core; the standards would have failed or succeeded (I think failed) on their own merits.

This COMMON CORE AGENDA is why I don’t believe the standards will work (even if they were good standards) because truly they can not stand on their own and MAKE anything happen. If the intent is to force every state to achieve a certain level, the standards must have some teeth behind them to MAKE it happen. At the core, there is a philosophical battle over what is the purpose of education and who gets to make the educational decisions for children. And then you have to throw in issues like how to deal with poverty, dysfunctional families and students who don’t want to invest any effort in their own education.
The article New York should pull out of flawed Common Core was recently written by a New York parent Tricia Farmer and is a very good description of the various pieces of the Common Core Agenda that I have tried to describe in my post.  If I have lost you or you want further explanation, check out the article.  
Another parent Shelly Stevens has created the following videos that give further insight into the Common Core Agenda mess.  The words following the two video links are Shelly’s and not my own but she summarized my thoughts so well that I am going to let her close out my post.  Please give consideration to what she has to say and then consider what you are going to do with regards to the Common Core Agenda.

The Children’s Education Rights Movement

Why One NYS Mom Fights Common Core


So I leave you with one last statement that I wrote in a moment of passion recently:
Regarding Common Core, I’m not upset about “not understanding what my kids are bringing home”
I’m upset that the only 2 educators involved in the creation of these standards REJECTED them in a validation committee,
I’m upset that it was privately funded through lobbyist groups in DC,
I’m upset that this was not voted on in NYS (education without representation),
I’m upset that reading requirements include pornography, molestation, pedophilia, degrade the US military,
I’m upset that USA children are learning Singapore math with no evidence of its success,
I’m upset that over 400 personal points of data is being collected on my minor children and my family and fed to the state for them to do with as they see fit,
I’m upset that most public school teachers have a gag order on them to not be able to speak up without fear of loosing their jobs,
I’m upset that 70% of kids failed Common Core testing last year,
I’m upset that those failures hurt teachers in their evaluations,
I’m upset that our school districts will not be able to afford this new curriculum and neither will the tax payers in our district
…I’ve done my research and I want Common Core Standards, modules, and data mining ALL to STOP!

-Shelly Stevens

Welcome to Jolyn’s Education Corner

I am a parent in the Kingston City School District and I have a passion to help parents be informed regarding the many education issues and things to do as our children move from Kindergarten through Twelfth grade.

So many things to do and so little time!

  • Deciding what to discuss during teacher conferences
  • Helping our student with his/her homework
  • Deciding whether to opt-out/refuse the standardized tests (or why would anyone want to do that in the first place?)
  • Figuring out how Common Core State Standards might impact the education that students here in Kingston will receive
  • Dealing with bullying in our schools
  • and on the list goes!

My hope for the Education Corner is to pull information together from various places to make it easier for parents to access and also provide a place for parents to talk about topics important to our district.

Let’s make Kingston a place where parents come together and help our children receive the best possible education!

Let me know what you would like to discuss.