Tag Archives: Kingston Action for Education

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.

Support Test REFUSAL with KAFE at Academy Green – Monday 4:30pm – 6:30pm

Come on out tomorrow (Monday April 13, 2015) to the Academy Green in Kingston between 4:30pm – 6:30pm and join KAFE in protest of high stakes testing and in support of the “I Refuse” movement (read here and here).

Make and bring signs!  Wear KAFE shirts if you have them!  Protect our students and teachers! Support Public Education.  Refuse the Tests!

KAFE Reclaim your voice in education

If you have not yet submitted your REFUSAL letter, you still have time. Tomorrow (Monday) would be best to give your school administrators a bit of advance notice but you can send in your REFUSAL letter through Tuesday morning when the testing begins.

Find a template REFUSAL letter at nysape.org (click here) and send it in to your child’s principal.

Follow-up to make sure the letter was received and that it is clear what your child will be doing on test day while the state tests are being administered.  Will your child be in a location separate from students taking the test?  Some districts keep the refusing students in the test room but I believe Kingston will have the students in other locations – please confirm with your school though.  Will your child need to bring in reading materials or will school work be provided?  etc.

Help to protect our students and teachers by REFUSING the state tests!


Ulster County defends public education forum wrap-up

Several hundred parents, students, teachers and concerned community members attended the Ulster County Defends Public Education forum last Monday February 23, 2015 at Miller Middle School.  The forum was hosted by Kingston Teachers Federation, New York State Allies for Public Education, Alliance for Quality Education and Rondout Valley Federation of Teachers.

Dr. Paul Padalino, superintendent of Kingston City School District, and Billy Easton, executive director of Alliance for Quality Education, spoke regarding school funding and the problems with Governor Cuomo’s education budget proposal.  Mr. Easton asked audience members to call New York State legislators and demand that the legislators say “No” to Governor Cuomo’s education plan and put $2.2 billion in new school aid in the budget.  The state legislators CAN do this and we as constituents of New York State should accept NO excuses!  Alliance for Quality Education is coordinating a rally/lobby day in Albany on March 11, 2015.  20150311EDUParadeFlyer-color-1

Student Sam Longbotham, Rondout Valley, and teachers Kristina Flick, Rondout Valley Central School District, and Laura Harnden, Ulster BOCES, spoke regarding the impact of high-stakes testing on the classroom.  Bianca Tanis, co-founder of NYS Allies for Public Education, spoke regarding excessive testing and its adverse impacts, particularly on students living in poverty, students with disabilities and English Language Learners, and test refusal.

An opportunity was given for audience members to ask questions after all presenters concluded their remarks.

The Daily Freeman and Kingston Times wrote articles about the forum and NYSUT also published a write-up on their website.

Kingston Times article – Dissatisfaction with Cuomo common bond among local educators

Daily Freeman article – Forum participants say NY Gov. Cuomo hurting schools

NYSUT article – Ulster unites to demand fair funding and relief from testing

Video of the entire forum can be viewed here as well as videos of some of the individual segments.


If you would like an opportunity to talk further about high-stakes testing, plan to attend the upcoming Demystifying Testing forum hosted by Kingston Action For Education and NYS Allies for Public Education on March 16, 2015.

Everything you wanted to know about "the tests" hosted by Kingston Action For Education (KAFE)
Everything you wanted to know about “the tests” hosted by Kingston Action For Education (KAFE)

Please join the “I Refuse” Movement to oppose High Stakes Testing

Kingston Action For Education (KAFE) announced at the Kingston Board of Education meeting tonight that they are joining NYSAPE and other parent and teacher organizations from around New York State in support of the “I Refuse” Movement to oppose high stakes testing.  Read more here.

As a parent in the Kingston City School District and a member of KAFE, I will refuse the New York State standardized ELA and math tests in April for my 8th grader and I am asking other Kingston parents to refuse the tests for your grade 3-8 students as well.

Here is the KAFE resolution:

Kingston Action For Education (KAFE) Resolution to Support “The I Refuse Movement” to Oppose High Stakes Testing

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 prepare that populace 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 state assessments are not transparent in that–teachers and parents are not allowed to view the tests and item analysis will likely not be made available; 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 KAFE opposes standardized high stakes testing that is currently pushed by the Federal and State governments, because this testing is not being used to further instruction for children, to help children, or to support the educational needs of children; and be it further

RESOLVED, that KAFE advocates for an engaged and socially relevant curriculum that is student-based and supported by research; and be it further

RESOLVED, that KAFE joins NYSAPE in lobbying the NYS Board of Education to eliminate the use of high stakes testing; and be it further

RESOLVED, that KAFE will encourage all of Kingston City School District’s parents to have their own children refuse to take the Grade 3-8 assessments: and be it further

RESOLVED, that KAFE will encourage other parent groups in Ulster County to increase opposition to high stakes testing; and be it further

RESOLVED, that a copy of this resolution will be sent to the NY State Board of Education, the Governor of NYS, and all members of the NYS legislative branch.

Signed by Kingston Action For Education (KAFE) Co-founders Jolyn Safron, Maria Maritsas, Tory Lowe

January 21, 2015

See more at:http://www.nysape.org/resolution-to-support-the-ldquoi-refuserdquo-movement.html#sthash.ywEl61w4.dpuf

NYSAPE RefuseTheTests

KAFE speaks in support of repealing Common Core (Ulster County Resolution No. 350)

Kingston Action For Education (KAFE) co-founders Tory Lowe, Maria Maritsas and myself (Jolyn Safron) and KAFE member Madeline Hoetger spoke about a number of concerns related to Common Core before the Ulster County legislature at the monthly session on Tuesday October 21, 2014.  We urged the members of the legislature to vote in favor of Resolution No. 350 supporting the repeal of Common Core.

Resolution No. 350 – Supporting The Reintroduction and Passage Of New York State Assembly Bill 07994 and Senate Bill 06267, An Act To Amend The Education Law, In Relation To The Common Core State Standards Initiative And The Race To The Top Program

The Ulster County legislature website has video of the October 21 legislature session with KAFE comments beginning at approximately 6:15 into the video and ending around the 19:30 minute mark.

KAFE color logo

The Legislative Programs, Education and Community Services Committee discussed Resolution No. 350 at their meeting on November 5.  I spoke about the history of Common Core and some of the issues associated with the development of the standards.  Several other community members spoke including KAFE co-founder Maria Maritsas and the committee members discussed concerns they were familiar with about Common Core.  Audio of the committee meeting is available here.

KAFE members spoke again in support of Resolution No. 350 at the legislative session on November 18.  The Ulster County legislature unanimously approved Resolution No. 350 with a vote of 23-0 – video available here.

Press release for Resolution No. 350.

No Common Core words

The impact of High-Stakes Testing on Students and Families

I was probably like your average parent with regards to high-stakes testing until October 2012.  I knew that kids took some state tests but didn’t give it too much thought and figured they were good for the kids/schools.  At our October 2012 middle school PTO meeting, two teachers came to share a resolution from the Niagara Regional PTA to stop over-testing of students in New York State schools and as they discussed the resolution, they shared that our students would spend 14 days taking tests that school year!  That number struck me as huge!  14 days spent taking tests instead of receiving instruction – what a waste of time!  What was the point?  What benefit did this provide for the students?  As I started to investigate I learned that there was no benefit to the student and in fact there were actually many concerns associated with standardized testing/high-stakes testing.

Many, many articles have been written regarding the various problems with high-stakes testing.  Here are a few that I found when I first started investigating the issue:  Common Core tests are Not Good for Children or Other Living Things by Anthony Cody, What big drop in new standardized test scores really means by Valerie Strauss/Carol Burris, A Hero Principal:  Every Principal Should be this Honest by Diane Ravitch.  The various problems include:

  • stress placed on the children taking the tests
  • the fact that the tests are not an accurate measure of either teacher or student performance
  • parents and teachers do not have access to the tests and/or results in a timely fashion to use them as teaching tools
  • inappropriate levels of testing for special education and English Language Learner students
  • and more

Please read these articles and if you still don’t understand the problems with testing, google the various authors and you will find a wealth of other articles.

In addition to being an officer for the Bailey Middle School PTO in 2012, I was co-chairwoman of District Wide Parents’ Council.  DWPC began to discuss the issues associated with high-stakes testing and authored a resolution against high-stakes testing in March 2013 – DWPC High-Stakes Testing Resolution as well as hosted a high-stakes testing forum in March 2013 and invited parents/teachers from the various school districts in Ulster County.  Parents were concerned about high-stakes testing and there were groups encouraging parents to refuse the state tests.  However parents in Kingston were concerned as to what impact there would be on our title 1 funding if students did not take the state tests and our district is heavily dependent on our title 1 funding.  Also the parents who did want to refuse the tests received letters from the school district administration that felt ‘threatening’ and said that they, the parents, could not refuse the tests and there was nothing the school district could do to help them – the parent would have to take it to Albany.  I was provided with copies of the letters by a couple parents TestingLetterBailey TestingLetterMiller TestingLetterSophieFinnbut parents were so concerned about ‘getting in trouble’ that we had to cross out any identifying information in the letters.  There was a definite feeling of intimidation towards parents whether it was intended or not.

My daughter, who was in sixth grade, did not refuse the state tests in 2013 because we were concerned as a family about whether it would cause some adverse consequences for her and we did not want her singled out for scorn or punishment.  She however decided to begin a petition herself among her friends against the state tests and gathered several pages of signatures against the tests.  Some students even included why they did not like the tests.  She also heard about the Lace to the Top movement to wear green shoelaces in protest of the testing and purchased green shoelaces for her shoes and wore them for a year straight! Green Laces Our children really do understand for themselves that there are problems with the testing and we need to listen to their concerns and not think that only the adults understand what is going on.

Fast forward now to 2014 – parents have had a year to think about testing, read articles about it and more people have started to hear about the impact/consequences of high-stakes testing.  Many Kingston parents would like to have their student(s) refuse the state tests but there are a number of unanswered questions:

  • will the students be kept from taking honors courses if they do not take the state tests?
  • will the students be forced to ‘sit-and-stare’ during the test if they refuse the test?
  • will the student be required to verbally state that they are refusing the test or will a written refusal letter from the parent be accepted as the refusal?

DWPC requested answers for these questions and the Kingston school district responded with a ‘sit-and-stare’ policy (children would not be forced to sit-and-stare – see my blog post about the district response here) before the ELA test.  10.7% of the Kingston students in grades 3-8 refused the state ELA test even though there was no concerted effort by parents to make this happen in the Kingston school district.  My daughter was one of the refusals but we did not make the final decision until the day before the ELA test was scheduled to begin. As it turns out almost 200 students at my daughter’s middle school refused the test which caused her school to fall below the 95% participation rate.  The Kingston schools put students refusing the tests in separate locations so they did not have to ‘sit-and-stare’ but they still had to sit through the entire test time.  My daughter loves to read so she did not mind reading for 9 hours during the ELA test but it was still a long time away from regular instruction and she said that some students didn’t remember to bring books.  The students at her school had to sit for 9 hours (3 hours each of the 3 testing days) because there was no room for the students with double-time accommodations to go to alternate locations so everyone had to stay in the testing rooms until the full 3 hours were completed each testing day.  After the first day, students were limited to one bathroom pass as well because bored students were taking too many bathroom breaks.  The refusal students did not have a ‘sit-and-stare’ situation but it was still definitely less than ideal although I suspect that it was the best that could be done in a school that has been struggling with overcrowding for the entire year.  Kingston parents were happy to not be Saugerties school district parents however because Saugerties chose to enforce a sit-and-stare policy for students refusing the test!  Saugerties students whose parents refused the test for them had to sit in the same room with the students taking the test and do nothing but stare at the walls for the duration of the test period.

The honors course admission question was not answered until after the ELA state test.  The answer came back that a variety of criteria are used for honors courses with the state tests being just some of the options – see full answer in this blog post.  The Kingston school district seemed to be providing information to parents and allowing us to refuse as we deemed appropriate and then the KCSD Statement on Testing was issued prior to the math state test!  You can read the statement and my personal response to the statement here but it felt like another round of parental intimidation.  The district needed to tell the parents why they should make sure that their students took the state test regardless of how the parents felt about the tests.  Fortunately the KCSD statement didn’t seem to have a huge affect on parents since the superintendent reported to the Kingston board of education that 24% of Kingston students grades 3-8 refused the math state test.  The percentage was highest in the two middle schools with both middle schools having about a 30% refusal rate.  8 of the 9 Kingston schools fell below the 95% participation rate.  Parents tried to find out the actual number of students refusing the tests when the tests were being administered but were told that the information could not be given out – more parental intimidation?  Maybe not but definitely not good communication between parents and the school.  The sense of trust that parents should have in the school district has been lost thanks to all of this testing and the problems that have arisen associated with it.  There are even reports from parents that their students were forced to take the state test even though the parent sent in a note refusing the test.

Such reports have continued with the administering of the scantron/STAR test in Kingston since the state testing completed.  Some parents wanted their children to not take any standardized tests including the scantron/STAR tests and submitted letters stating such but have been told that these are local assessments and they are not allowed to refuse.  Where did the progress that was made between 2013 and 2014 with the state tests go?

There are two testing related issues in other school districts that I want to point out that have occurred very recently.  The first one is from the Middletown school district.  600 K-2 students and their parents learned the day before school ended that the students were being required to attend summer school based on their scores from the MAP test that the students took 3 times throughout the school year (see blog post here).  I personally spoke with a parent Lucy from the school district who was in touch with her 2 kindergarten students’ teacher throughout the entire year and constantly asked if they were doing okay, if there was any reason why they would not be ready for the next grade.  The teacher assured Lucy that the students were doing just fine and then Lucy received a letter on the day before school ended that her children would have to go to summer school in order to be allowed to go to first grade!  She felt betrayed!  Where had the communication gone awry from the district?  She is not opposed to summer school if her students are going to learn more sight words or something that will really benefit them but she believes they will just learn how to pass the MAP test.  She didn’t even know her students were taking the MAP test or she would have refused the test for them!  The Middletown superintendent said

The children in the summer program are identified based on local math and English language assessment tests administered three times a year, Eastwood said. He said the district is committed to addressing academic insufficiencies in grades K-2 to head off academic failure, and that’s where summer school money will be allocated.

We’ve never had standards like we do now, we have to get these kids ready for academic challenges, we have to do something significant.  – recordonline.com

The superintendent has apologized that the parents didn’t have more notice but is standing firm that the students have to go to the summer school based on the results of a computerized test taken by students who many parents feel have no understanding of the consequences of a “test’ that they took on the computer.  How can these tests really be reliable?  Why are teachers and parents not being allowed to make decisions based on teacher observation and things that we know are accurate indicators of student progress?

The other district of concern is the Utica school district where 5 schools (2 middle schools and 3 elementary schools) learned that they ‘won’ the Extended Learning Time grant the day before school ended.  Students in these schools will have their school day extended from 9am to 5pm starting in September and parents had no idea that this change was coming!

[The superintendent] says the purpose is to enhance academics and increase test scores.  He says that their mission is to educate students and to make certain that they are … learning, achieving, and scoring the best possible test scores that they can and that is our number one mission.” –  WIBX Exclusive

Kingston City School District applied for the Extended Learning Time grant but as a result of public outcry when parents learned of the grant application and its implications thanks to the efforts of Kingston Action For Education, the Kingston school district withdrew their application.  However, we are feeling very sad for Utica parents who are now facing such long days and drastic changes without parental input as a result of their school administration trying to achieve better test scores!  When will parents be consulted?  When will parents’ voices be heard regarding what is important in our children’s education?

People in leadership around the state are starting to speak out regarding high-stakes testing.  Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin challenged New York State parents to refuse the state tests in 2015! (blog post here)  Gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino and Congressman Chris Gibson refused the state tests for their children in 2014.  How do we encourage all New York parents to refuse the state tests in 2015 and break this pillar that is holding up Common Core?  How do we support parents who feel intimidated or don’t know that they have the right to refuse the tests?  We need to spend the upcoming school year talking about high-stakes testing, the problems associated with the tests and how we as parents can refuse the tests and stop this madness that has been brought upon our children in the name of Common Core!

I was honored to speak regarding High-Stakes Testing as part of a bi-partisan, grassroots Education Conversation in Schenectady on Saturday July 12, 2014.  I presented a lot of the information above – video here.  I didn’t have time to share it all.

Other presenters spoke about the history of Common Core and how it is manipulating our children/teachers/schools, how parents and mothers in particular are advocating for their children, the social-emotional impact of Common Core on children, special education, charter schools, annual professional performance review (APPR) and the cost of Common Core.  Candidate for governor Rob Astorino also spoke about his stand against Common Core.  Here is a link to the video playlist from the forum – Education Conversation video playlist and some pictures from the forum if you are on facebook.


Will you act to help Ulster County support the repeal of Common Core?

As residents of Ulster County, we have an exciting opportunity in the upcoming month.  We have the opportunity to come together in discussion of Common Core and its impact on our children and our schools and then ask our Ulster County legislature to move Resolution No. 350 in support of ending the implementation of Common Core in New York State.

This will not be easy or a trivial undertaking but I believe our children are worth it and we can do it!

Ulster County legislator Craig Lopez has drafted Resolution No. 350 in support of the New York State assembly and senate bills to end the implementation of Common core – read the current version of the resolution here – and will reintroduce the resolution to the Legislative Programs, Education and Community Services committee on November 5, 2014 before the resolution comes to the floor to be voted on by the full Ulster County legislature on November 18, 2014.  UPDATE 11/6/14:  Resolution No. 350 passed the committee and will be going to the full Ulster County legislature for a vote on November 18!

Kingston Action For Education co-founders and members Tory Lowe, Maria Maritsas, myself (Jolyn Safron) and Madeline Hoetger spoke about a number of concerns related to Common Core before the Ulster County legislature at the monthly session on Tuesday October 21, 2014.  Now we need you, the Ulster County community, to communicate with the members of the Legislative Programs committee and your county legislators regarding your personal concerns and stories related to the impact Common Core has had in Ulster County.  A few people will not be able to take the Common Core problem on alone.  The county will need to come together to make a stand against Common Core.  Just imagine if we can light the way for the rest of New York State to create similar resolutions and have a ground-swell coming to the state legislature that Common Core does indeed need to be repealed!

Here are some suggestions of what you can do:

  • E-mail your county legislator today with a brief description of why you are concerned about Common Core.
  • Adjust your calendar and plan to attend the legislative session on November 18, 2014 and speak during public comment or if you can not possibly speak before a group of people, at least be present to lend your support to those who are speaking.
  • Call your county legislator next week with another concern (if you have more than one).
  • Make an appointment for the following week (or switch the activities around if that works better – or do two weeks of e-mails – just make contacts).
  • Keep the communication informative and respectful.  Our legislators are residents of Ulster County just like we are and want the best for all of the residents of the county including our children.

No Common Core words

Here is a list of the Ulster County legislators with their contact information.

Here is contact information specifically for the members of the Legislative Programs, Education and Community Services committee:

Past discussion of Resolution No. 350 here, here and here.

Common Core Fact Forum with Dr. Peg Luksik in Kingston, New York – video and pictures – Sunday September 7, 2014

The Common Core Fact Forum with Dr. Peg Luksik hosted by Kingston Action For Education on September 7, 2014 was a big success!

We had a great turnout with people from multiple school districts, both local and across the state, in attendance.  We were also pleased to have three members of the Kingston City School District board of education in attendance.  As attendees left many commented about the depth and quantity of information that they had received from Dr. Luksik.

Dr Luksik Kingston Forum2 Dr Luksik Kingston Forum

Many Kingston residents expressed a desire to attend but were unable to do so for a variety of reasons.  Thanks to Mr. Mert Melfa, who has recorded countless events across the state on a volunteer basis in the last year and a half as parents and teachers continue to battle against Common Core, video is now available for those who wish to see what they missed at the forum.  The video includes both short videos of the opening comments shared by co-founders of Kingston Action For Education Tory Lowe, Maria Maritsas and Jolyn Safron as well as the full video of the forum with the opening comments and the presentation and Q&A by Dr. Luksik.

Dr. Luksik suggested a number of things that can be done by those concerned about Common Core:

  • get informed – watch the video of the forum.  Be sure you know the facts.  For even more detailed information, visit foundedontruth.com
  • get involved politically – VOTE!  “When you walk into the ballot box, you are making a political speech.  it is the only one they MUST listen to.”
  • “The worst thing you can do is nothing.  the best thing you can do is something!”
  • Stay involved with other parents – Kingston Action For Education (KAFE) is a group of parents who are advocating for their children and all the children of this school district.  Their goal is to unify and educate parents and caregivers presenting factual information about the state of their community’s educational system.  When the need arises, KAFE is willing to take the action necessary to reclaim their voice in education.  Find Kingston Action For Education on facebook or at kingstonactionforeducation.org
  • Q&A – When writing a letter to the editor, pick ‘the one thing that floats your boat’, a personal story or something you feel strongly about.  Pick one issue.  Quote real information/facts.  Keep the letter under 300 words; one issue and hit it three times in the same letter.



Common Core Fact Forum with Dr. Peg Luksik – Sunday September 7, 2014 – Kingston New York

I have been expressing concerns with regards to Common Core and the associated testing and data privacy issues for quite some time.  Now you can hear details and facts supporting these concerns from an expert in the education field, Dr. Peg Luksik, without having to travel any further than uptown Kingston!

Common Core Fact Forum

For Concerned Parents, Teachers, Students and Community Members

Sunday September 7, 2014  6:30 – 8:00 pm

Saint James United Methodist Church

35 Pearl Street, Kingston NY 12401


Hosted by Kingston Action For Education

  Common Core Forum event – September 7, 2014

or kingstonactionforeducation.org


Come and hear the important information that Dr. Luksik has to share and please consider bringing a friend with you.  There will also be time for Q&A after the presentation.

Common Core Forum 9/7/14 flyer

A Tale of Two Students

As the 2014-2015 school year begins, please read and consider this tale of two students.  Often times in the news, you will read that those opposed to ‘Common Core’ or ‘high-stakes testing’ are sharing incorrect information or are ‘mis-guided’ or ‘mis-informed’.  However I have personally met the author of this tale and can vouch for the two students it tells of.

Proponents of Common Core State Standards and the New York tests associated with them try to convince us they are necessary. They say the standards make students college and career ready, and the New York tests provide an accurate measure of progress. At each stage of the game, we can look at a student’s test score and be able to tell if that student is on track to be ready for college or career when s/he reaches 12th grade. But our tale of two students tells another story.

Continue the story here.

If you would like to get the real facts about Common Core, high-stakes testing and more, join Kingston Action For Education as we host Dr. Peg Luksik for the Common Core – Fact Forum this Sunday September 7, 2014 6:30pm at Saint James United Methodist Church.  See the flyer below for details and to RSVP.

Common Core Forum 9/7/14