Tag Archives: Kingston Action for Education

Common Core battle – based on emotion or fact?

The battle against Common Core is raging on and supporters of Common Core are trying to change tactics and use emotion to get people to support their side.

So, backed with fresh funding from philanthropic supporters, including a $10.3 million grant awarded in May from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, supporters are gearing up for a major reboot of the Common Core campaign.

“We’ve been fighting emotion with talking points, and it doesn’t work,” said Mike Petrilli, executive vice president of the Fordham Institute, a leading supporter of the standards. “There’s got to be a way to get more emotional with our arguments if we want to win this thing. That means we have a lot more work to do.”

Step one: Get Americans angry about the current state of public education.

To that end, expect to start hearing from frustrated college students who ended up in remedial classes even though they passed all their state tests and earned good grades in high school. “These kids should be as mad as hell” that the system failed them, Petrilli said.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2014/07/the-common-core-pr-war-109460.html#ixzz38yPd4ifW

I know it is hard work but please make sure you do the investigation for yourself and know the facts associated with the concerns regarding Common Core. I can point you to resources to get you started if you are overwhelmed.  I frequently read or hear people say that information shared against Common Core is ‘misleading or outright false’ (the article above states this) but I am never sure what information is being referred to since it is not clearly stated and the concerns I am aware of with regards to Common Core are all based in fact.

“The Common Core is so bad, you don’t have to lie,” said Erin Tuttle, co-founder of Hoosiers Against Common Core. “If you can’t prove what you’re saying, if you can’t back it up with a document or a source, you shouldn’t put it out there.”

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2014/07/the-common-core-pr-war-109460_Page2.html#ixzz38yW8ADZk

Captain America plant yourself

Also mark your calendar for the Common Core Forum with Dr. Peg Luksik on September 7, 2014 6:30pm in Kingston, New York hosted by Kingston Action For Education (KAFE). Dr. Luksik will be going through the New York documents and sharing the FACTS about the Common Core implementation in New York and its associated consequences.

August Kingston Board of Education meetings

Since many families will be away at different times during August, just wanted to post a reminder for the August BOE meeting dates before the month begins.  They are:

  • Wednesday August 6, 2014
  • Wednesday August 20, 2014

The full calendar of Board of Education meeting dates for the 2014-2015 school year can be found here on the KCSD website.

KAFE color logo

Also want to let you know that Kingston Action For Education (KAFE) has created a website to supplement the KAFE facebook page.  The address is kingstonactionforeducation.org and the KAFE Event calendar will include key KCSD events, such as Board of Education meetings.  You can check it out here.

New York parents facing unanticipated/more school hours for their children just as school ends for the year

Parents in ten New York school districts are facing more school hours or unanticipated schooling just as the school year is wrapping up for their students.

Some parents in the Middletown School District are upset at receiving notification during the last week of school that their children, including kindergartners, are expected to attend summer school starting on July 7.

Thursday was the last day of class for elementary school children in the Middletown School District, but some primary-grade parents are reeling from a last-minute surprise — their kids will have to attend a mandatory summer school intervention to go on to the next grade.

Many parents whose kids were identified for the summer intervention didn’t get notification until Wednesday.  – recordonlne.com

The Middletown superintendent apologized for the delay in notification but it still impacts vacation and other summer plans of the families who are now finding out that their students are expected to attend summer school.

The fact that kindergarten students are expected to attend summer school, especially at the rate indicated in the article (about 600 students in the K-2 program), is absolutely astounding!

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.

What is happening to our educational system that kindergartners can not even spend time playing during the summer?  I know that there are many who advocate for some amount of schooling during the summer but please take a look at this article titled ‘Why Free Play is the Best Summer School’ for a different perspective.  Young children might not be learning reading, writing and arithmetic when they are engaged in ‘free play’ but the research cited indicates that they miss out on important skill developments when they do not have that unscheduled, unsupervised playtime.  Dr. Peter Gray even goes so far as associating the dramatic decline in children’s freedom to play with other children, without adult direction, with the dramatic increase in anxiety, depression, feelings of helplessness, suicide, and narcissism in children and adolescents. – video here

On a local note, Kingston Action For Education has just learned that the Extended Learning Time grant winners were announced on June 26 (the last day of school for Kingston other than the high school!) and the new schedules are expected to be implemented in the 9 school districts awarded the grants in September.  View the list of winners here .

All awardees are adding time to the traditional school day, the state department official said. In addition, the Auburn district will also extend the school year by a week in August and the Utica district will also add time during the summer; and Yonkers will also hold some Saturday classes and add time during winter and spring breaks.

You may recall that many concerns were raised by Kingston parents regarding this grant earlier this school year when parents discovered that the Kingston school district had submitted an application.  Kingston parents were told that there would be an opportunity for discussion of the implementation, should the grant be awarded, but enough concerns were raised that the school district decided to withdraw the grant application.

Thank you to all the Kingston parents who expressed concerns and planned to participate in the extended learning time grant rally scheduled for March 19 which precipitated withdrawal of the grant.  Now we do not have to spend our summer months figuring out how to deal with upcoming schedule changes of potential concern to parents and students.

I am curious to learn how the schedule changes for the nine districts receiving the grants will impact the families within those school districts so I picked the Utica school district at random (one of the winning districts) and did a quick search for news articles related to the extended learning time grant.  I only found one article regarding the extended learning time grant for Utica, dated October 24, 2013, and there were parents both opposed to and in favor of the grant according to the article.  There was talk of a possible public forum being held for parents if the district was awarded the grant but of course at the time of the article, the winners were expected to be announced by January 2014.  I am rather surprised that there are no news articles since the announcement of the winners on Wednesday but since everyone was focused on finishing school, perhaps there might not have been time for anyone to think about the grant yet.  I hope that the required changes will prove positive for the families of the affected school districts.




Join KAFE in the 2014 Children’s Day Parade – July 11, 2014

Join Kingston Action For Education in the 2014 Children’s Day Parade on Friday July 11, 2014!

We will be celebrating our children as well as letting parents and community members know about upcoming KAFE events. Please let me know if you and your children can march with us in the parade. We will be ordering KAFE t-shirts (see below for prices) and would love to have marchers sporting a KAFE shirt.

We also would love to have help with designing a Dr. Seuss float for the parade – who would like to get in on the fun?

Order a KAFE t-shirt for $15.00 ($17.00 for sizes 2X and 3X) by Monday June 30, 2014. Make arrangements to get payment (cash) to KAFE co-founders Jolyn, Maria or Tory. Shirts will be available at the Children’s Parade on July 11. You may order a KAFE t-shirt even if you are not able to march in the parade.

(update) Here is the design for the KAFE t-shirts KAFE tshirt design  The KAFE logo will be on the front left (pocket area but of course there isn’t a pocket) of the t-shirt and the other words will be on the back of the t-shirt.

Proceeds from the shirts will be used to cover expenses for the Common Core Forum with Dr. Peg Luksik being hosted by KAFE on Septemer 7, 2014.

I am so excited by the prospect of having a group of parents and kids all marching together in support of having the best education possible for our kids right here in Kingston!

Board of Ed meeting tomorrow June 4, 2014 with report/parent concerns from May 21 meeting

The Kingston Board of Education will be meeting tomorrow June 4, 2014 at Kingston High School in the auditorium.

  • 5:45pm – public hearing for Kingston High School Jefferson Code
  • 6pm – district recognition/retirement & tenure ceremony followed by executive session
  • 7pm – public comment normally starts around 7pm (when executive session ends)

The superintendent’s report includes:  an update on the high school capital project, end-of-year activities and a middle school schedule update.

Other items of note on the agenda:

  • A classroom at GW is being leased to BOCES for next school year and Bailey is being leased to BOCES for the summer.
  • Subdivision of Sophie Finn property (from Kingston High School) so it can be sold.  Approval of sale of Sophie Finn property.
  • Some additional school volunteers are listed for approval by the board of education.
  • Adoption of Veteran’s Tax Exemption/Gold Star Parents.


I intended to distribute the following summary from the last board meeting last week but got distracted by a variety of education-related items.  I am including it for your reference since there were several items that I thought might be of interest to parents and very little of the information ended up in the newspaper.

Please pay particular attention to the concerns regarding Project Global and the move of 5th grade band/chorus/orchestra out of the regular school day and into the middle school club/activity period which is outside of what most parents/students consider to be the ‘regular school day’.


Jolyn’s summary from the May 21, 2014 Kingston Board of Education meeting

Attendance was fairly low at the first Board of Education meeting after the school budget/Board of Education vote. with about 20 people in attendance.

During public comment, I invited the Board of Education members, on behalf of Kingston Action for Education, to join local parents for Common Sense Education Lobby Day in Albany on June 17, 2014.

Art teacher for Project Global at Kingston High School, Amy VanKleeck, spoke about how thoroughly convinced the students, parents and teachers involved in Project Global are of the benefits of the program.  However “the life of the program is dependent upon you (the board) taking an interest in what we are dong”.  The students and the teachers are afraid again this year that the program will be displaced from the Carnegie Library next year.  The location is a vital part of the program.

2nd century project – steering committee met on May 21.  Will report to Master Plan Facilities committee on June 4.  All of the drawings and plans will be ready to share with the board and the community by the end of June.  Architects have been asked to provide a cost estimate for adding a/c to KHS auditorium.

Real estate updates:  Contracts have been signed for the sale of Zena and Tillson schools, closing dates will be scheduled.  Ulster county legislator has approved the sale of Sophie Finn.

Administrative staff searches:  All new positions including KHS principal were posted with closing date of May 23.  Dr. Padalino, Mr. Voerg and Mr. Olsen were going to go through applications upon closing.  KHS staff will be asked for input regarding KHS principal selection.  Job descriptions for the new administrative staff positions have still not been written.

Middle school schedule update:  8th grade advanced classes will be kept for next year, technology will be moved back to 8th grade, adding a business class in 8th grade to deal with too many study halls, enrichment/reteach periods being changed to allow teachers to figure out how to best provide (not separate period), will still have block scheduling next year – looking at reducing length of long blocks, 5th grade band/orchestra/chorus will be in 9th period

School lunch price will be increased for next year.

Resolution passed to put Cioni building up for sale.

Many school volunteers approved by the board.  One group of names was in the agenda and another group of names was “walked” into the meeting to be approved for upcoming field trips.

Coffee & Conversation is over until September.  Mrs. Bowers noted that no one has attended the last 2 events she hosted although she then clarified that one parent who did not yet have school-age children attended one event and had a lot of questions about education in Kingston.

Your vote counts on May 20, 2014!

Okay Kingston parents! This is your call to action!

The vote for the Kingston City School District Board of Education and Budget Vote is tomorrow Tuesday May 20, 2014.

I need YOUR vote tomorrow and I need you to contact at least 10 people and encourage them to vote for me as well.  Call/e-mail/facebook/stop on the street – whatever works to encourage your friends, neighbors and relatives to come out and vote tomorrow.

Sometimes large groups of voters will endorse candidates for school board but I am not aware of any local groups that are endorsing me. If you want me as your representative on the school board, there needs to be at least 2,000 parents at the polls voting for Jolyn Safron tomorrow! Every vote counts!!!

Thank you to those of you who have been working very hard already but we must not stop yet. Make those calls, send those e-mails, follow-up with calls, even bring people to the polls tomorrow. I know everyone is busy but we as parents must act now!


If you need additional information to help you decide who to vote for tomorrow May 20, 2014, here are the sources of information about the KCSD Board of Education candidates that I am aware of:

  • Board Candidate Profiles on school district website
  • Daily Freeman interview with each of the board of education candidates
  • The Kingston Times asked each of the seven board of education candidates a set of questions via e-mail and wrote a lengthy article which included information about Common Core.  Pictures were included from Meet the Candidates Night.  The article is only in this week’s print issue of the newspaper but it is a good article and I recommend a trip to the newsstand to purchase a copy.
  • The newspapers did not cover the questions asked by the audience at Meet the Candidates Night.  However Tory Lowe, co-founder of Kingston Action For Education, posted her summary of comments from Meet the Candidates Night on the KAFE facebook page for the benefit of those unable to attend.
  • Additional information about my campaign as well as posts that I have written on various issues may be found on my blog Jolyn’s Education Corner

Please be informed and make sure that the candidates whom you vote for are concerned about what YOU are concerned about and will represent YOU well on the Kingston board of education.

  Jolyn Safron for Kingston City School District Board of Education


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.

Extended Learning Day/Time from a Parent’s Perspective

The Extended Learning Day/Time discussion began for me back in December 2012 and has been fraught with unclear communication and lots of questions.

In December 2012 DWPC liaison Mrs. Bowers made brief mention of the possibility of an extended school day but when I followed up with her in an e-mail, she thought it would be for elementary school and was a long way off.  Later in the month Dr. Padalino mentioned the possibility of a mandatory 10th period at the middle schools at an Anna Devine/Robert Graves transition meeting.  This possibility raised a lot of concern in parents’ minds and was brought up for discussion at the DWPC January 3, 2013 meeting.

For anyone not familiar with middle school 10th period, it is an optional period at the end of the school day that students can use to get homework help, participate in clubs and do intramural activities among other things.  The regular buses take students home before 10th and the ‘late buses’ take students home who stay for 10th period.  Note that with the changes made to the middle school schedule this year ’10th period’ is now called either 19th period or activity period – at least those are the terms used at Bailey Middle School.

As a result of the discussion at the January 2013 DWPC meeting, a DWPC member was assigned to gather input from parents regarding thoughts on making 10th period mandatory.  Input from more than 40 parents was gathered in short order and presented at a Board of Education Coffee & Conversation on January 10 and e-mailed to all BOE members.  Read parent comments/concerns in Mandatory 10th period parent feedback .  Parents then planned to speak at the board of education meeting the following week.  However through several different conversations parents received the impression that a decision regarding the middle school scheduling and the mandatory 10th period might be made before the BOE meeting so DWPC felt compelled to request an immediate district-wide meeting for all parents to discuss the concerns at hand.  Read DWPC Middle School 10th period letter to Dr Padalino and BOE .  DWPC heard back immediately from Dr. Padalino via e-mail that the mandatory 10th period had merely been mentioned as a possibility in a scheduling committee meeting and there was not a large scale movement to implement a mandatory 10th period.  Upon further discussion at the February DWPC meeting, DWPC thought we had assurances that if a mandatory 10th period (or an extended school day) were to be considered, parents would be involved in the discussion.

Fast forward to the September 18, 2013 Board of Education meeting where we find that the Board of Education has as one of their goals ‘Continue to explore the development of an Extended Day Pilot Program for this school year to assist those students who need additional support’.  Dr. Padalino then mentioned applying for the Extended Learning Time grant at the BOE meeting on October 16, 2013 and reported that results from the grant were delayed until January at the November 20, 2013 BOE meeting as part of the Superintendent’s Quarterly Goals update.  At no point in any of these meetings did the board or Dr. Padalino make any mention of the concerns parents raised back in January regarding the possibility of extended the school day.  What happened?  Did the entire board simply forget the concerns submitted by parents?

In January 2014 I decided I could no longer wait for the BOE to ask about the grant and I presented questions regarding the Extended Learning Time Grant during public comment.  Another parent also raised her concerns.  Dr. Padalino responded that he would discuss the grant at the February DWPC meeting which ended up getting snowed out.

Parental concern over the thought of our children spending more time in school and less time with family has continued to grow and has developed into Kingston Action for Education which will be organizing a Rally Against Extended Learning Day program on Wednesday March 19, 2014 from 3:30-5pm at J.F. Kennedy Elementary School.

As a result of the Kingston Action for Education (KAFE) activity, we now have some additional information about the Extended Learning Time Grant as well.  A variety of questions and answers with regards to the grant were posted on the district website today which are helpful in moving the discussion forward.