Tag Archives: Common Core

includes Common Core State Standards, high stakes testing, APPR and data collection/mining/privacy

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

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/  

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

 

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.”

Penalties for Refusing NYS Standardized Tests in 2016?

When parents refused the New York State standardized Common Core tests last spring, there were high hopes that change would be wrought and we wouldn’t have to be talking about refusing the state tests this year.

Unfortunately over 220,000 parents/students refused the tests and yet not much has changed in New York other than the name of the person who is in charge of the New York State Education Department. Commissioner Elia speaks of change but it is mostly in the future and not really in the areas that matter most to parents.

The students will still be taking developmentally inappropriate tests that are excessively long if they do not refuse the 2016 tests.  Even though a new testing company Questar has been hired, the 2016 tests were developed by Pearson.  Fifty percent (50%) of teachers’ evaluation will still be based on testing so testing will be the focus of the classrooms throughout the state.  The ‘official’ word is that a moratorium is being declared on the standardized tests and the results will not be used.  Seems to me like there is no need to administer the tests if the results are not being used.  In fact, for schools in receivership the test scores are being used to determine if the school can get out of receivership so there actually is no moratorium.

NYSAPE Nothing has changed 2016

The question is being asked, are there going to be financial penalties if too many parents/students refuse the state tests in 2016?

You would think we got this settled last year (here and here) but the question raised its ugly head again with a memo from the federal Department of Education in December 2015.  Note that the linked memo is actually an annotated version of the memo including a parental response from Jeanette Deutermann, founder of Long Island Opt-Out and NYSAPE.

According to analysis by FairTest, parents can safely refuse/opt-out/boycott standardized testing without fear of federal penalty to their schools.

In fact, the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) specifically authorizes states to allow parents to opt their children out of exams. ESSA does require 95% of students to be tested — but individual states have the power to decide what actions to take if too few students take an exam.

Some states have passed legislation protecting parental rights. Here’s the rub – New York State has not passed such legislation.

Assemblyman Jim Tedisco introduced the Common Core Parental Refusal Act in March 2015 which would have given New York State parents the needed protection as well as requiring that parents be notified of their right to refuse.  Unfortunately due to party bickering, the majority party decided to introduce their own version of the bill, that lacked the important parental notification requirement, and neither version was passed.

It is now incumbent upon the New York State legislature to pass the Common Core Parental Refusal Act protecting a parent’s right to refuse standardized testing without penalty to the student, teacher, school or school district.

Don’t believe the hype Cuomo and State Ed are spinning! The Common Core Tests are still around to rob children of their love of learning and teachers of their creatitvy. If the changes they are professing to make to Common Core and to the standards are not lived up to, parents need to have in their back pocket a safeguard to opt their children out of the tests without fear of reprisal. Today, I joined my colleagues to talk about education including moving forward with the opt-out movement and codifying into law with the Common Core Parental Refusal Act (A.6025/S.4161) the right of parents to refuse to have their children take the developmentally inappropriate standardized tests without fear of any penalty to the students, teachers or schools. Sign the petition today at www.refusecommoncore.com!

James Tedisco at New York State Capitol.

Support the Common Core Parental Refual Act by signing the petition here.

Also contact your legislators and tell them to demand that the Common Core Parental Refusal Act A.6025/S.4161 be moved out of the Education committee and voted into law!

“Concussion”

Over the Christmas holiday, I saw the movie “Concussion” and I highly recommend that parents see the movie.

Why am I recommending a movie about football and the NFL on an education blog?  I am not a sports fan and know very little about football.  In fact the last football game I watched was the Super Bowl 2015 and I normally only watch the Super Bowl and sometimes a game on Thanksgiving each year.

In fact “Concussion” is not just about football and the NFL but about the damage, the degenerative brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), that playing football can inflict upon football players and the determination of the forensic neuropathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu who discovered this disease and fought to bring the truth to light.

For me “Concussion” was well acted and enjoyable, or as enjoyable as any movie with a difficult subject can be, but more importantly it presents issues that Americans need to grapple with.  As parents do we want to allow our children to play football with the danger that we now know repeated head trauma can produce?  How will our schools keep our students who play football safe?  How many head bangs are too many?  If our students do not play football, who will fill the collegiate and professional football teams of the future? I found this response from the NFL claiming that they are working to make football safe but is enough being done to keep players safe?  And ultimately are Americans willing to give up the violence that has traditionally been part of football in order to make it safer for the players?  Let’s face it – professional football is about the money.  Fans have to be excited, wanting to attend games, buy merchandise, etc.  If football players are not rough or are worried about concussions and avoiding injuries, are fans going to attend the games or lose interest?

When Dr. Omalu finally gets to talk to Dr. Joseph Maroon, the NFL doctor who has claimed that there is no risk to players from head trauma, Omalu charges Maroon to “Tell the truth!”  “Concussion” is telling the truth on the big-screen so that the American public can know the truth and make informed decisions regarding head trauma and football.

No Common Core words

I have to admit that Dr. Omalu’s David vs. Goliath fight against the NFL also inspired me in “Concussion”.  As a parent fighting against Common Core for what seems like forever, the battle is discouraging at times.  However protecting our children is worth the fight and we must persevere.  While the pro-Common Core side doesn’t “own a day of the week” (Dr. Cyril Wecht) like the NFL does on TV, Common Core supporters/lobbyists are deeply funded while parents are not.  All we have is our determination to “tell the truth” and I will continue to do so in person and via this blog until Common Core is defeated.

 

 

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

 

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.