Tag Archives: special education

Understanding your child’s IEP

The Kingston Special Education Parent Group will host a forum geared toward new parents/caregivers in the Special Education system or anyone needing a refresher regarding the IEP on Tuesday December 13, 2016.

iep-forum-december-2016

A second forum on January 10, 2017 will be a very informative lesson on how to read and interpret the test and assessment results. Learn what all those numbers mean so you can make informed decisions and make the data work for your child!

These forums are open to all Ulster County parents and caregivers.

Understanding Students with Autism Workshop

The Understanding Students with Autism Workshop on Tuesday January 10, 2017 is open to parents who are interested in learning more about autism.  Registration is required and the workshop costs $55.00.

Understanding Students with
Autism Spectrum Disorders
 
New York State Education Department approved coursework training in autism
 
   
 
 
Tuesday, January 10, 2017
4:00 – 7:00 ~ Registration: $55.00

Center for Spectrum Services
70 Kukuk Lane
Kingston, NY 12401
(845) 647-6464
presented by Cheryl N. Engel
 
This course will provide an overview of Autism Spectrum Disorders and effective treatment practices. A review of diagnostic categories, etiology, and current research will establish the foundation for this course. Key factors that impact individuals within an educational setting will be discussed (e.g. communication, social skills, executive functioning, sensory, and behavioral characteristics) and support strategies and evidence based teaching methodologies will be presented.  Participants will be introduced to functional behavior assessments and how they are used to develop positive behavioral support plans.

 
This Training is appropriate for:
*  Certified administrators newly assigned to special education position
*  Those applying for special education certification through the individual transcript
*  Those applying for a special education certificate through the SED TEACH system
* Parents, professionals or anyone else interested in
learning more about autism

 
Click Here For More Information and Register Online

       

To print and mail in or fax your registration, please click here.
 
Questions about registration, please contact:
Michelle Thomas at (845) 336-2616 ext. 110  mthomas@centerforspectrumservices.org

A New Vision of Education

The following resolution from the Patchogue-Medford school board on Long Island, New York was reported by Diane Ravitch and is well worth a read through.

A New Vision of Education:  A Resolution Passed by the Patchogue-Medford School Board in New York

I will include the resolution as well in case you can not access the link.

WHEREAS, Learning standards must serve as a guide to what all children should develop toward and be based on developmental norms rather than systematic back-mapping of any given college and career readiness benchmark; and that such standards should be created by New York State classroom educators and content area specialists experienced in the grade level for which they are creating standards, with feedback from parents, community members, and where appropriate, students; and that such standards must specify at what level of difficulty a student is expected to demonstrate proficiency on state tests; and that such standards should be based on peer reviewed and evidence based research for each grade level, including lexile benchmarks; and that such standards should serve as a guide to what skills to what skills and concepts are taught at each grade level; and that such standards must be broad enough to allow local teachers, as professionals, to determine methodology, content, and instructional practices and assessments that will best suit the needs of the communities and students they serve; and that such standards must include fine and gross motor skills, including handwriting; and that such standards must broadly address play skills, a well researched and critical aspect of learning for students, to ensure that schools allocate instructional time for self-selected and guided play, particularly in the early grades; and that such standards in all grades must address cultural competencies;

AND
WHEREAS, School districts must be given adequate funding to create or purchase culturally relevant curriculum that meets the needs of the communities and students they serve; and that all schools must have dedicated funding for curriculum-based field trips and project-based, experiential learning; and that music, art, physical education, and technology should be integrated into the curriculum for all students in grades K-12; and that all schools must offer at least one consistent foreign language in grades K-12; and that any state-wide digital learning platforms must be evidence based, piloted, and studied for both efficacy and safety before being implemented; and that all high schools must offer advanced mathematics and science courses as well as advanced electives in all disciplines; and that all schools’ curricula should offer significant opportunities for students to exercise choice and direct aspects of their own learning;

AND
WHEREAS, Any federally mandated statewide assessments must be created by New York State classroom educators, including test question construction and reading passage selection; and that in a system that includes local assessment, classroom educators must have the primary role in constructing or selecting the assessments; and that tests must be criterion referenced rather than norm referenced and results must be given back within 4 weeks of administration; and that College and Career readiness benchmarks aligned with test proficiency must be aligned with strong indicators of post-high school success that have been vetted for racial, cultural, and socioeconomic bias; and that any federally mandated statewide assessments must be no longer than one day per subject with time limits established by a committee of classroom educators experienced in the grade level for which the assessment has been developed; and that time limits must be based on grade level expectations for time on task; and that the misuse of assessment data must stop; and that statewide exams must be decoupled from any high stakes including but not limited to teacher and principal evaluations, grounds for school takeover or closure, use as admittance criteria to selective schools, promotion, programs, and retention; and that on any statewide test, all test content, reading passages, and questions must align to the grade level benchmarks and lexile levels for the grade in which it is being administered; and that test scores and high stakes exit exams must not be the only pathway to graduation; and that students must have the opportunity to demonstrate proficiency in other ways such as portfolios and interviews; and that Regents exams must be scheduled in such a way so as to ensure that no student must take more than one Regent exam per day; and that assessments must be subject to full transparency, including the annual release of comprehensive technical reports that provide transparency on specific items; and that all parents and guardians must be notified of their right to refuse standardized tests for their child(ren), with notification must be provided in the parent or guardian’s native language;

AND
WHEREAS, New York State must fully and equitably fund our public schools; and that reasonable class size caps (for example, 18 students in K-3, 23-25 in other grades) must be used in aid and funding formulas as the basis for school aid determination; and that all schools must have at least one full time nurse, social worker, and security guard/safety officer, with all security guard/safety officers receiving crisis intervention and cultural competency training; and that all schools must have a well-resourced library and a full time librarian; and that all schools must have adequate counseling support provided by a psychologist, as determined by the overall number of students, the number of students with special needs, and the level of poverty a school is experiencing; and that all schools must have up to date technological infrastructure and resources, where state aid and funds for these resources should not be contingent upon schools increasing their capacity to administer computer-based assessments; and that in conjunction with parents, educators, school board members, and community members, the Board of Regents should develop a framework for what every public school in NYS must have in order to ensure equity and student success, where this framework should help drive the State’s accountability system as well as its funding; and that in Pre-K and in grades K-6, all students must have at least 60 minutes of recess per day in addition to the federally mandated 120 minutes of physical education per week; and that all students must be guaranteed at least 30 minutes for lunch, and this time may not be used for instructional purposes; and that all teachers, administrators, and paraprofessionals must receive training in cultural competency, crisis intervention, and restorative justice practices; and that mandatory common planning time should be provided for general education, special education and ENL teachers, and intervention specialists who share students; and that New York State must prioritize the recruitment and retention of teachers from diverse backgrounds that reflect the students they serve, are trained in a fully accredited education program, and have completed a full course of student teaching with a trained mentor; and that all school districts must offer a strong teacher mentoring program to help new teachers navigate their first few years of service; and that schools must provide access to medical and dental services as well as high quality nutrition for ALL students who need them; and that all families must have access to fully funded, high quality Pre-Kindergarten;

AND
WHEREAS, The role of the Individual Education Plan (IEP) must be restored and allowed to drive instruction for the individual student and should be guided by the needs, interests & development of each student; and that the needs of the student must inform IEP goals rather than alignment to learning standards that are currently in flux; and that all special education teachers must receive training in evidence-based methodologies for teaching math and reading to struggling learners; and that all co-taught models must have a full time special education teacher; and that students with disabilities must have access to pathways that lead to a diploma and provide access to vocational training that is aligned with student interest and strengths; and that special education teachers must have time set aside on a weekly or daily basis to engage in differentiated curriculum work, intervention planning, communication with parents, and fulfillment of IEP and special education mandates;

AND
WHEREAS, The following five principles should be incorporated in any law or policy regarding the protection of personal student data in grades preK-12, and after students reach age 18, all these rights, including those related to notification and consent, should devolve to them:

Transparency: Parents must be notified by their children’s school or district in advance of any disclosure of personal student information to any persons, companies or organizations outside of the school or district. Once notified, parents to must be able to opt out of the disclosure of their child’s personal data. All disclosures to third parties should also require publicly available contracts and privacy policies that specify what types of data are to be disclosed for what purposes, and provide a date certain when the data will be destroyed.

No commercial uses: Selling of personal student data and/or use for marketing purposes should be banned. No advertising should be allowed on instructional software or websites assigned to students by their schools, since ads are a distraction from learning and serve no legitimate educational purpose.

Security protections: At minimum, there must be encryption of personal data at motion and at rest, required training for all individuals with access to personal student data, audit logs, and security audits by an independent auditor. Passwords should be protected in the same manner as all other personal student information. There must be notification to parents of all breaches, and indemnification of the same. No “anonymized” or “de-identified” student information should be disclosed without verifiable safeguards to ensure data cannot be easily re-identified.

Parental/ student rights: No re-disclosures by vendors or any other third parties to additional individuals, sub-contractors, or organizations should be allowed without parental notification and consent (or students, if they are 18 or older). Parents must be allowed to see any data collected directly from their child by a school or a vendor given access through the school, delete the data if it is in error or is nonessential to the child’s transcript, and opt out of further collection, unless that data is part of their child’s educational records at school. Any data-mining for purpose of creating student profiles, even for educational purposes, must be done with full parental knowledge. Parental consent must be required for disclosure of personal data, especially for highly sensitive information such as their child’s disabilities, health and disciplinary information.

Enforcement: The law should specify fines if the school, district or third party violates the law, their contracts and/or privacy policies; with parents able to sue on behalf of their children’s rights as well.

THEREFORE,

BE IT RESOLVED, that the Board of Education of the Patchogue-Medford School District, in agreement with the New York State Allies for Public Education, calls upon the Governor of New York State, the New York State Legislature, the New York State Commissioner of Education, and the New York State Board of Regents, to consider this outline as a new framework for public education in New York State, a framework that serves all students; an equitable public education system in which ALL students can succeed; a vision of public education that prioritizes child-centered and developmentally appropriate learning standards and assessments, research and evidence based practices and policies, equitable resources and opportunities, and an accountability system that supports rather than punishes; what all schools must have in order to foster creative, critically thinking, confident, well-rounded, independent, self-motivated, culturally competent, and well-prepared students who can work cooperatively and excel post-high school, whether they choose to attend college or pursue a vocation. Further, we call on all aspects of public education to be rooted in ethical practices and democratic decision making.

Transitioning to Life After High School

Parents/Caregivers of Middle School and High School students with an IEP or 504 plan: these forums on graduation requirements and transitioning are for you!

The first, Pathways To Graduation, on February 16th is very critical for you to learn the options that lead to a diploma or a certificate.

Kingston Transition Planning Parent Series 2016

Forum details:

Kingston City School District in collaboration with the Kingston Special Education Parent Group cordially invite you to attend a series of free information sessions on important topics affecting students who are planning for their transition to life after high school.

Held in the High School AUDION (Room 517) from 6:30pm-8:30pm

Session 1: Tuesday, February 16th (Snow Date: Wednesday, February 17th)  Pathways to Graduation
This presentation will offer parents an overview on the requirements that need to be met in order to graduate with a diploma as well as a review of the different types of diploma options available for students with disabilities. An introduction to a new exiting credential of work readiness will also be shared.

Session 2: Tuesday, March 15th (Snow Date: Wednesday, March 16th)  Understanding the NYS Career Development and Occupational Studies (CDOS) Commencement Credential
This presentation is especially recommended for parents of children with an IEP in 8th grade or higher, to learn about the requirements for an important exiting credential that students can earn upon exit from school which recognizes a student’s preparation skills and demonstration of knowledge and experience needed for entrylevel
employment opportunities. The Skills and Achievement Commencement Credential which is awarded only to students that have taken the NYS Alternate Assessment (NYSAA) will also be reviewed. (*Please note this session is not applicable to students with a 504 Plan.)

Session 3: Tuesday, April 12th (Snow Date: Wednesday, April 13) Preparing for the Transition to College
This presentation is designed to assist parents of young adults with an IEP or 504 Plan in understanding the differences that can be expected as students move from high school to a college setting. Topics include: laws which govern services at the college level; the process to access academic accommodations, disability documentation requirements; the changing role of parents; and tips on what students can do now to gain the
necessary skills needed for a successful college experience.

Session 4: Tuesday, May 17th  Transition Planning for Families – Preparing for Life after High School
This presentation will provide parents with information on the school to post-school transition planning process.  Families are essential partners with the school district and collaboration with the Committee on Special Education (CSE) team is extremely important to fully understand considerations for successful career development and transition to adulthood. The workshop will help parents to think about: your child today, your child in the future and the support required to help your child achieve his/her long-term goals.

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.”

Act now regarding Regents low pass waiver

I shared a post yesterday from One Mom’s Journey Through Education Reform regarding a new regulation to allow special education students to apply for a waiver if they have taken a Regents exam twice and failed it with a 52 to 54.

Today Christine has a specific action requesting everyone to help by submitting comments to NYSED regarding an amendment to the regulation.  Please take action as requested.

From One Mom’s Journey Through Education Reform:

Please take the time to cut and paste these comments and send to the email address:

 spedpubliccomment@mail.nysed.gov

Members of NY STOP GRAD HST respectfully request members of NYS Regents to vote Yes to amendment ID. NO.EDU-40-15-00007-P; Regarding Students With Disabilities Diploma Requirements.

Specifically we request a vote during the upcoming December 2015 meeting in order to allow year 2016 potential graduates additional safety nets to successfully meet their graduation requirements.

Currently there are three safety net options available to students to graduate with a local diploma;

  1. Low Pass Safety Net Option: 5 required Regents exams with a score of 55 or better.
  2. Regents Competency Test (RCT) Safety Net Option: This option, which is available to students who entered grade 9 prior to September 2011, allows a student with a disability to receive a local diploma based on a passing score on the RCT if student does not achieve a score of 55 or higher on the Regents examination.
  3. Compensatory Safety Net Option: For students not relying on RCTs, a student with a disability may receive a local diploma if he/she scores between 45-54 on one or more of the five required Regents exams, other than the English language arts (ELA) or mathematics, but achieves a score of 65 or higher on another required Regents exam which can compensate for the lower score. A score of 65 or higher on a single examination may not be used to compensate for more than one examination for which a score of 45-54 is earned.

We support and are seeking your support as well regarding approval of the below amendment which includes an additional safety net option for a score of less than 55 for a student with a disability to earn a local diploma;

(*Note: While this appeal option may be important for some students, data shows that in the 2010 cohort, there were only 258 students with disabilities who did not graduate who received a test score between 52 and 54 on any Regents exam; this statement requires clarification as students still had the RCT option in that cohort).

-score up to three points below a score of 55 on a Regents exam after at least two attempts, and attain at least a 65 course average in the subject area of the Regents examination under appeal;
– provide evidence that they have received academic intervention services by the school in the subject area of the Regents examination under appeal;
– have an attendance rate of at least 95 percent for the school year during which the student last took the required Regents examination under appeal;
– attain a course average in the subject area of the Regents examination under appeal that meets or exceeds the required passing grade by the school and is recorded on the student’s official transcript with grades achieved by the student in each quarter of the school year; and
– the student is recommended for an exemption to the passing score on the required Regents examination under appeal by his or her teacher or department chairperson in the subject area of such examination.  Appeals by students with disabilities of a score of less than 55 under the proposed amendment would be reviewed by the same committee that reviews all other Regents appeals.

The final average for the waived Regents exam may be excluded in the calculation for the final class average, if it will bring that score below a passing grade.

Crocodile Tears

“At 6 p.m. on a Thursday night, I come home from a meeting, my phone rings, and it’s Merryl Tisch,” Ms. De Vito said. “She said, ‘I received your letter,’ and she said, ‘It made me want to cry.’”

This is quoted from this NY Times Article that describes the new regulation to allow SPED students to apply for a waiver if they have taken a Regents exam twice and failed it with a 52 to 54.

Click here to read the rest of the post from One Mom’s Journey Through Education Reform.

The Regents tests and Common Core are failing our kids and actually increasing the number of students who do not graduate.  Crocodile tears and minor changes are not what is needed.

As Christine writes (I actually know the blogger from One Mom’s Journey Through Education Reform – she is an amazing advocate for changes needed regarding high school graduation requirements and the Regents tests and not just for special education students but for all students):

Tisch is throwing away a generation of New York State citizens with the punitive graduation requirements approved under her tenure.  It is time for a reinstatement of multiple pathways to a meaningful local diploma and end to high stakes testing as the sole path to a New York State High School diploma.

 

New York State Common Core Regents Exams Failing Students

New York State high school students sat for the Common Core ELA and Common Core Geometry Regents tests yesterday and reports are not sounding good.

I posted last week about the upcoming Common Core regents and that students needed to take the ELA and Algebra 1 Common Core regents because they are mandatory for earning a high school diploma.  This information is listed in the KHS student handbook and it is why I have been careful to talk about test REFUSAL specifically for grades 3-8.  The New York State Regents tests are most definitely high-stakes because graduation depends on them or at least on passing 1 math regent, 1 science regent, ELA regent, US History regent and Global History & Geography regent.  Click here to see the available diploma types and the credits/assessments required.  Note that the local diploma option is no longer available to general education students.

Some parents in other districts were shocked though when they received a letter informing them this weekend that the Common Core regents test was required for graduation since some parents had planned to refuse the Common Core regents tests.

According to letters from the New York State Education Department during transition periods to the new Common Core regents, the ‘old’ regents test and the new Common Core regents test will both be administered.  Students, depending upon when they began their high school course of study, may have the option to take both regents tests and take the higher grade but the clear expectation in the letters is that students will take both tests (pre-Common Core and Common Core version).

The Common Core regents tests have been problematic since they were introduced in June 2014 but haven’t gotten as much attention as the grade 3-8 state tests.  This year’s tests are seeming to continue the trend of problems and students/parents are wondering what to do?

This letter to the editor published on May 5, 2015 from Jose Rodriquez in Wappingers Falls reports his experience with the Algebra 1 Common Core regents introduced last June 2014.

When New York state first gave the Common Core math Regents, I was one of the students who had to take the exam. It was very difficult; even teachers were unhappy with it. Since it was the first time the state was administering the new test, the state made us take the regular algebra Regents exam. The state used us as test subjects to see how students would fare on the Common Core Regents. They used the old Regents exam as a fail-safe just in case a lot of students failed the Common Core, and whichever you scored highest on was the grade that counted.

I was one of many students who failed the Common Core Regents, but thankfully I passed the regular algebra Regents. Students have enough stress on them and this new curriculum is not helping. I know firsthand that students were dropping out because the Common Core Regents is really hard or they lacked confidence in their abilities. Dropout rates could continue to rise all across the state because of the governor’s education reform plan.

Comments after the second administration of the ELA Common Core regents in January 2015 were still generally negative about the test.

Comments I have seen posted on facebook about the Geometry Common Core regents (administered for the first time yesterday June 2) are resoundingly negative.  They report that students who were getting 90s in their Common Core Geometry class were devastated by the test.  It was really hard and included material that they had not learned in class.

Student Devin Vandermark gave permission to share his post:

Took the Common Core Geometry exam. I have a 98% in that class. In fact I help the other students in my class. This exam was a piece of work. I know I failed. I was not able to answer a lot of questions with 100% confidence or even sometimes answer anything at all. This exam made me upset, frustrated and really lowered how I feel going forward with these regents/state exams. I feel put down as a student in my geometry class.

A number of adults/parents attempted to reassure Devin with encouragement that he can take the upcoming ‘regular’ regents geometry test and take the higher of the two grades or that colleges will not look at the regents score.  However the general consensus seems to be that the Common Core regents tests are poorly worded and purposely confusing (sounds pretty much like the grade 3-8 tests) and designed to fail the majority of students.

If students, such as Devin, who would generally be considered to be ‘excelling’ in their classes can not pass the regents exams, how are our struggling students or the special education students going to pass?

I don’t know what ‘story’ NYSED is planning to tell as a result of this round of regents testing but the story emerging from a student/parent perspective is that the students are not failing the Common Core regents but the Common Core is failing the students.

CLASS goes to Albany

I recently joined CLASS, or Coalition for Legislative Action Supporting Students, to examine legislation presented by Senator Flanagan (bill S5124) and Assemblywoman Nolan (bill A7303A) in response to Governor Cuomo’s education reforms included in the state budget.  Our goal was to develop a list of parent education issues and suggested revisions to the legislation addressing the key concerns that parents throughout New York State are expressing.

Representatives of United to Counter the Core and CLASS headed to Albany yesterday May 27, 2015 to meet with members of the Senate and Assembly education committees to discuss current education policy.  We wanted to thank the committee members for moving in the right direction on various education issues and ask them to consider additional changes that would further address parental concerns as well as to consider parent issues that are not addressed at all by the proposed legislation.

The recommended changes and legislative initiatives presented by CLASS included:

  • Cease the use of VAM (value added model) in calculating students’ growth and for teacher evaluations
  • Decouple the school district funds from implementation of the education reforms proposed by Governor Cuomo
  • Ensure released test questions accurately and cost effectively reflect the nature of the test
  • Develop fair assessment methods for SPED/ELL teachers and students
  • Make changes to the appointment and terms of New York State Regents restoring local control and parent voice
  • Changes to the comprehensive review of the education standards being used in New York State (Common Core) particularly the make-up of the review committee
  • Support for the Common Core Parental Refusal Act
  • FERPA-HIPPA changes to protect student data privacy and restore parental control

I personally met with representatives from the offices of Assemblymembers Steve Englebright, William Magnarelli and Phil Ramos and Senators Betty Little and Hugh Farley.

  • The aides from Assemblyman Ramos and Senator Little’s offices just took notes and were not able to speak to the issues we raised.
  • In general the aides from the other offices indicated that the legislators were concerned about education issues but I did not get a strong sense that they were willing to act beyond what they have already done regarding education legislation.  I believe they will need to hear from additional constituents to generate legislative action.
  • Assemblyman Englebright voted against his majority party with a “No” vote for the state education budget (very few assemblymembers were willing to stand against Governor Cuomo and vote “No!” so this was a strong statement for the students on Assemblyman Englebright’s part) and he also is a co-sponsor on the Nolan parental test refusal bill A6777.  We asked that he consider an amendment requiring that school districts inform parents of their right to REFUSE the state tests.
  • Assemblyman Magnarelli’s aide indicated that Magnarelli voted to move both of Nolan bills A6777 and A7303A out of the education committee.  The aide has to consult with Asseblyman Magnarelli to determine if he is willing to take any further action on the items CLASS requested.
  • Senator Farley’s aide indicated that the senator is very opposed to Common Core and ran on the Stop Common Core ballot line last fall.  Parents need to continue to be vocal about our concerns – do not stop, “keep it up” the aide said.  In addition to contacting the education committee members, we also need to contact our own assemblymember and senator to share our education concerns and request that our representatives communicate our concerns to their colleagues including those on the education committee.

In total, parents met with 16 of the majority education committee members from the assembly and the senate including: Assemblymembers Cathy Nolan, Carmen Arroyo, Barbara Clark, Barbara Lifton, Shelley Mayer, Amy Paulin, Linda Rosenthal, Sean Ryan and Matthew Titone and Senators Kenneth Lavalle and Joseph Robach.

We ask that you now join CLASS in requesting legislative action to support our students.

Please contact the following legislators to let them know that you agree with the changes presented by CLASS.  Also contact your NYS Assembly member and NYS Senator, even if they are not on the education committee, and ask them to voice support for these educational issues with their colleagues.

Assembly Education Committee Majority Members:
Catherine Nolan – 518-455-4851
Carmen Arroyo – 518-455-5402
Michael Benedetto – 518-455-5296
James Brennan – 518-455-5377
Barbara Clark – 518-455-4711
Steve Englebright – 518-455-4804
Earlene Hooper – 518-455-5861
Ron Kim – 518-455-5411
Barbara Lifton – 518-455-5444
William B. Magnarelli – 518-455-4826
Shelley Mayer – 518 455 3662
Michael Miller – 518-455-4621
Walter Mosley -518-455-5325
Daniel O’Donnell – 518-455-5603
Amy Paulin – 518-455-5585
Phil Ramos – 518-455-5185
Linda Rosenthal – 518-455-5802
Sean Ryan – 518-455-4886
Matthew Titone – 518-455-4677
Michele Titus – 518-455-5668

Senate Education Committee Majority Members:
Hugh Farley – (518) 455-2181
Andrew Lanza – (518) 455-3215
Kenneth Lavalle – (518) 455-3121
Betty Little – (518) 455-2811
Carl Marcellino – (518) 455-2390
Michael Ranzenhofer – (518) 455-3161
Joseph Robach – (518) 455-2909
Sue Serino – (518) 455-2945
James Seward – (518) 455-3131

Understanding CDOS and Ending the Silence – May 14, 2015

Kingston City School District and the Kingston Special Education Parent Group will be hosting two presentations on Thursday evening May 14, 2015.

Understanding the NYS Career Development and Occupational Studies (CDOS) Commencement Credential

Thursday May 14, 2015  6-7:30pm

M. Clifford Miller Middle School room #130

NAMI Ending the Silence

A presentation by Tina Lee of NAMI, for parents of Middle School and High school students

M. Clifford Miller Middle School room #132

RSVP for either presentation to Kingstonsepg@gmail.com

Click sped flyer May 14 2015 for details.

 

Many parents and teachers have concerns regarding the CDOS.

  • Open letter to the Members of the Board of Regents on CDOS – June 2014
  • High school diploma options too narrow – lohud May 11, 2015
  • KCSD board members Robin Jacobowitz and Danielle Guido both spoke at Meet the Candidates Night tonight of the fact that the CDOS, as it currently exists, is NOT an adequate replacement for a diploma for special education students who are not able to earn the score they need to ‘pass’ the Regents tests (which has been made even harder to achieve now by Common Core).