Tag Archives: Common Core

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

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.

 

 

 

 

Data mining our children

Many parents are concerned about the multiple (400+) points of data that the New York State Education Department wants to collect on each student in their Statewide Longitudinal Data System* being created and managed by inBloom.  Others might wonder “What’s the big deal?  Why are parents so concerned?”

Here is a photo taken from a Pearson marketing video that might explain just a little bit of the concern.

https://fbcdn-sphotos-d-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-prn2/t1.0-9/p235x350/1958180_679983978721937_441059435_n.jpg

I am not good at judging ages so I can’t tell how old this boy is but the concept that a computer program can determine what his college major and/or career should be causes me great concern.  I started college convinced that I was going to get a double major in math and biology with a secondary education teaching certificate.  I graduated with a degree in computer science (still in 4 years mind you!)  Even if teachers and guidance counselors are contributing to the date being used, how is a parent to know with confidence that some colleges are not being more heavily favored because they have some ‘special arrangement’ with the vendor providing the software?

Here is the full video (photo is taken from about the 5:20 mark):

Vision for Personalized and Connected Living video

My daughter thought the tables that were giant computer screens where the students worked were really cool.  I was chilled by the ‘attendance’ being taken as the students walked through the school door!  Was there retina scanning going on or were the tablets each student was carrying being scanned?  The students collaborating on the train might be neat but what about students like me who get carsick if I try to read at all in a moving vehicle and what kind of wifi access are the students using on the train?  I sure hope they have been thoroughly briefed by the school on what is safe to share via ‘public networks’ versus ‘home networks’ (ie secure networks).

We are told as parents that we need to limit the amount of screen time our children have – looks like this boy is living his entire life by/on the computer!

As a parent, what do you think of Pearson’s “Vision for Personalized & Connected Living” for your student(s)?  Are you willing to allow the school district and New York State to provide the data on your child(ren) to make it happen?  Please post your thoughts so we can find out what parents from all around the school district think on this important topic.

 

 

*Statewide Longitudinal Data System – The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) included Race to the Top monies as part of the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund.  As a requirement for applying for the Race to the Top money, states had to assure the federal Government that they would establish a Longitudinal Data System.  The Federal Government defined the pieces of data, which would range from PreK through college (P-20) that the states had to include in the LDS as part of the America COMPETES Act.  New York State submitted their application for stabilization funds in April 2009 signed by Governor Patterson and Commissioner Mills.

The EngageNY Portal is the interface teachers, students and families will use to access the SLDS data managed by inBloom.

 

Jolyn Safron for Kingston City School District Board of Education

I am running for the KCSD Board of Education and am asking you to vote for me in the Board of Education Election/Budget Vote on May 20, 2014.

  • Born in Michigan and graduated from Michigan State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Natural Science, concentration in Computer Science
  • Resident of the Kingston City School District for the last 24 years
  • Worked as a computer programer at IBM for 11 years
  • Husband Sean works at IBM; 2 daughters – Mira in grade 10 at Kingston High School; Julia in grade 7 at J. W. Bailey Middle School
  • Active at Kingston Alliance Church as Church Board secretary, Christian Education director, Sunday School teacher, and co-director of several children’s ministries of the church
  • Past president of Hudson Valley Youth Chorale
  • Involved with school parent groups at Edson Elementary School, J. W. Bailey Middle School and Kingston High School
  • Served as Edson District Wide Parents’ Council representative; currently Bailey PTO Secretary (3 years) and KHS Parent Association president (2 years)
  • Current DWPC co-chair serving for a total of 5 years
  • Co-founder of Kingston Action For Education

Parent involvement is essential in the education of our children. Parents can be involved in many different ways and successful parent involvement looks different from family to family. My passion throughout the time I have been a part of the Kingston City School District has been focused on

  • how parents can be involved in the education of their children,
  • how parents can be informed,
  • how parents can confidently ask questions or raise concerns when they need to,
  • how parents can have a voice in the educational process.

Communication between home and school is vital and an area that can always be improved. With the additional layers of confusion and complexity added by the Common Core Agenda and the impact it has on our local school district, there is even more need for the board of education and administration to work with parents, teachers, and the community to find solutions that work for everyone and provide the best education possible for the children of the Kingston City School District. I am running for school board to help parents and caregivers be active partners in the education of their children and to get their needs and concerns successfully addressed by the school district.

Of course I will also dedicate myself fully to the many responsibilities of a school board member as I work with the other 8 members of the Kingston board of education to oversee and manage the school district’s affairs, personnel and properties.

Jolyn Safron Bio

Please plan to attend Meet the Candidates Night hosted annually by District Wide Parents’ Council on Tuesday May 13, 2014 6:30pm at Kingston High School to hear answers from all the candidates for school board to questions posed by members of the audience.

If you have any questions that you would like to pose to me personally before Meet the Candidates Night, please do not hesitate to contact me.  You may use the contact form below or obtain my e-mail and/or phone number from the attached Bio sheet.

April and High-Stakes Tests are just around the corner

April means the start of ‘test season’ especially since Common Core with the increased emphasis on high stakes testing via the New York State Tests and SLOs (Student Learning Objectives)  was implemented.  There are SLOs at the beginning of the year to set benchmarks and some high stakes testing throughout the year but things really kick in about now.

Upcoming spring testing was a topic of discussion at the March 6, 2014 District Wide Parents’ Council meeting and the DWPC Parent Calendar has been updated with known test dates K-12.  Regents tests and other tests that actually affect a student’s grades are not listed.

The Kingston City School District has clarified for parents that “[KCSD] does not have a practice of leaving students without exams to just sit and stare at their classroom walls.  [They] believe in treating all students with respect and compassion.”  The remainder of the response in Setting the Record Straight changed slightly since being initially posted this afternoon as to whether the students refusing the tests would be in a separate location or with the other students taking tests so that might vary from school to school but parents can be confident that their children will not ‘sit and stare’ during the time state tests are administered.  Be sure to get the written letter refusing the test submitted soon though if you believe that your student should not take the state tests.

New York State Allies for Public Education (NYSAPE) issued a statement today expressing concern that some districts might require students to give a verbal refusal of the test in addition to the written letter submitted by the parent.  However I believe that all Kingston students will indeed be treated with respect and compassion during the administration of the state tests and parents who have decided to refuse the test for their child can rest confident that their child will not be forced to give a verbal refusal.

Parents might be interested in checking out documents on the NYSED Office of State Assessment website such as school administrator’s manuels or teacher’s directions for the various New York State tests to see the extremes that our teachers and administrators are forced to go to to ensure that the tests are ‘secure’.  One could be excused for thinking they were entering a maximum-security facility on testing days rather than an educational building.

Test books and scoring materials must be kept secure. You are not to discuss the test, show it to anyone, or photocopy the materials, as the security of the test could be breached.   2014 Common Core English Language Arts Tests Teacher’s Directions p. IV

Teachers and administrators who engage in inappropriate conduct with respect to administering and scoring State assessments may be subject to disciplinary actions in accordance with Sections 3020 and 3020-a of Education Law or to action against their certification pursuant to Part 83 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education. – 2014 Common Core English Language Arts Test Teacher’s Direction p. 1

Pages 11-14 of “2014 Common Core English Language Arts Test Teacher’s Directions” contain the directions that the teacher administering the test must read word-for-word to the third grade students on Day 1 of the test and then make sure that the students totally understand.  Five pages of directions!!  Only four pages of directions for day 2 of testing and three pages of directions for day 3 so it gets a little better each day – whew!

Sad day regarding the Board of Regents

Our New York legislature voted on four Board of Regents seats today.  Unfortunately the outcome of the vote did not do the right thing for our children or our educational system in my opinion.  Many who are concerned over the Common Core Agenda have called for the four incumbents to not be re-elected.  However politics came into play rather than what is best for the kids and three of them returned to the Board of Regents.  Apparently Regent James Jackson, responsible for Ulster County, decided to resign last night – reason unknown.  Josephine Finn, who somehow became a candidate after the deadline for candidacy had passed, was selected to fill the seat vacated last night by Regent Jackson so now Ulster County will be represented for the next 5 years by someone who did not even go through the proper process to become a member of the Board of Regents!

Here are two articles that explain the details of what happened today in the legislature as well as some background information regarding the Board of Regents here and here .

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 .

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

WAITING WILL ONLY COST MORE LOST TIME IN OUR CHILDREN’S LIVES AND AFFECT THEIR AND OUR GREAT STATES’ FUTURE!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fix New York Schools petition

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

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

New York Revolts Against Common Core

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