Saturday, October 12, 2013

NY parents react in fury to Common Core and testing; Commissioner John King disengages. Watch the OTHER video to see why.

So the fury of parents and teachers with the state's botched implementation of the Common Core, testing and data collection was vented full blast on Thursday night, at a Town Hall meeting in Poughkeepsie, in which parents practically booed Commissioner King off the stage.  That much-watched video is here, with more than 8500 views as of Saturday afternoon.

One point to help explain the vocal anger expressed: parents had been required to sit quietly for almost two hours and listen quietly to a lengthy presentation by John King about how the Common Core is absolutely necessary for their kids to be college and career ready.  They had be given only 20 minutes at the end of a two hour meeting to express their views, which helps to explain their frustration when he kept interrupting their minimal speaking time.

Moreover, these Westchester [and Dutchess County] parents  have elected school boards, and are used to having their voices heard.  Their schools are generally well-resourced and run, and more than 90% of their students graduate from high school in four years, go on to college and do quite well there.

Now they feel their children's lives and education being severely disrupted  by all the stressful and constricting testing, test prep and scripted modules coming down from the state, and they deeply resent how their children's personal information is being shared with vendors without their consent.

At the same time, their schools have suffered increased class sizes and loss of valuable programs, due to Cuomo's budget cuts and tax cap. To add insult to injury, Commissioner King justifies that all these expensive and time-consuming mandates are necessary to ensure that students will be college- and career-ready, as his one-size-fits-all rationale, when they know that their children were doing just fine before all these policies were imposed from above.

After Thursday night's explosive meeting in Westchester, sponsored by the NYS PTA, the Commissioner cancelled the four remaining PTA meetings around the state, including next Tuesday's town hall that was to take place at  Garden City HS on Long Island. The State PTA explained, "While our goal was to provide an opportunity to learn and share, based on review of the initial October 10 meeting, the Commissioner concluded the outcome was not constructive for those taking the time to attend."

These cancellations have  provoked even more  anger and resentment, with parents saying that while King won't allow their schools or children to opt out of the Common Core, standardized testing or data sharing with vendors, he is opting out of an important dialogue with parents.  As of Saturday afternoon, however, there is still a town hall meeting with King scheduled for Oyster Bay HS on Long Island, at 3 PM on Tuesday afternoon, October 15; co-sponsored by Senator Marcellino.  More information here.

Thursday's Town Hall followed yet an earlier one that occurred Wednesday night, co-sponsored by Senator Griffo in Oneida County, which also featured an appearance by Commissioner King.  This town hall allowed more time for parents, teachers and students to express their views. Without all the yelling and interruptions, this meeting included even more eloquent explanations from these essential stakeholders, explaining how the state's Common Core testing and instructional mandates were wrecking their schools.  Take a look.


Pete Zucker said...

Poughkeepsie is in Dutchess County, not Westchester County.

Pat said...

There is no outrage on King's part to anything he heard! He kept giving the same roundabout answers and blaming the local districts for whatever mistakes or misinterpretation they have made with the CCLS. He was not listening to the parents,teachers and students who told of how the CCLS are not engaging students but hurting them. He made a teacher like me who has taught for 30 years feel inadeguate. Does he think I have not engaged my students; that I have not challenged them to be critical thinkers; that I have never asked questions that had children think deeply; that I have not taught children, including my own, how to read, write and do mathematics; that I have never had high standards for myself, my students and my own children? What have I as an educator and parent done in 30 years? Nothing? What an insult! I agree this person needs to be replaced with a genuine educator and yes, we need to get back to basics and real local community control. Lets let teachers teach, make class sizes smaller even if that means building more schools and let's fund our public schools equitably. this is just my gut response to watching this town hall. It does not even touch upon all the major questions of poverty and schools being run on the business model as well as the privatization of education...all things that our federal, state and local governments need to deal with.

Anonymous said...

The problem isn't just the common core, but also the high stakes testing that comes with it. This is what co-ops instruction, and takes the life out of education. Since teachers, principals, schools, and districts, are all evaluated based on the reading and math scores, low performing schools and districts are compelled to narrow instruction and teach to the test. Low income districts struggled before the standards were ramped up. Using the common core to fix this makes no sense. Rather than providing support where its really needed they spend hundreds of millions of tax dollars to change up the whole system.

Anonymous said...

To be fair, if you look at the second grade standards, they are reasonable. The Common Core does not tell you how to teach the standards. It's the curriculum materials that we're to use, including asessment for such curriculum that I have greater concerns. Plus, the state testing reading lexiles are higher than the grade level tested. Lastly, follow the money trail: Pearson makes the tests and Cuomo received lots of 'support ' from Pearson!

GeoKaro said...

Anonymous of 11:10 AM, you are probably teaching in a school or a district that has compassionate leadership.
The rest of us live in fear that the supervisors will fail us for short-comings in executing the Common Core. If the standards are incomplete, then we are told, you are smart, go look on the Internet.

I agree with Pat, that this is all very patronizing, and it is evident that the policy-makers have no experience with day to day classroom teaching experience.

Citizens of New York, arise and sign the petition to terminate John King.

Anonymous said...

Geo--in no way do I teach in a district with compassionate leadership. I have colleagues that I'd be honored to teach my own children. The new curriculum materials in both ELA and Math that we'really using are supposedly aligned to the standards. They are to a degree, but the materials assume a lot of prior knowledge to be there in place. It's inconsistent as well. The math for the first ten days of 2nd grade is highly unreasonable with students expected to add/ subtract with regrouping afterONLY 10 days into the school year as a 2nd grader. You are welcome to look up engageny to see what I mean. According to the standards, I have the school year to teach these standards, not 10 days. Plus, there are a lot ways to do math computation, not just the way engageny wants. (Their way is expected, due to the assessment at the end of the first module.) Furthermore, the ELA has high level vocabulary, which I like, but the assessment for the ela domain takes place a long while later if we take the time to really teach the material. And, yes, there's more... the students are to circle either a Smiley face or a sad face when answering some high level vocabulary use type of question instead of a yes or no. What a juxtaposition! Finally, the state tests are way above their grade level. A very helful colleague went through the number of words and lexile and found the passages to be above grade level, I believe. Where I work, we are under great pressure and stress as well. I like high standards, but they have to be age appropriate and attainable to a degree. Not all students are the same. There will be late bloomers like myself. I could go on, but enough for now.

Anonymous said...

I have watched King speak.

This where the money came from:

Anonymous said...

I heard King say that there's no mandated state-wide curriculum in NY! King needs to resign.

"In New York’s successful Race to the Top application, the State committed to a statewide curriculum and formative and interim assessments tools that are aligned to the Common Core Standards."

Anonymous said...

How much did King pay Hirsch using tax funds for "curriculum" that's not state mandated according to King?

Hirsch's for-profit curriculum is written through scripts based on his personal ideology. All parents need to read these scripted lessons. There are worksheets and coloring pages that are busy work causing children to believe there's only one right answer. Hirsch's common knowledge tells teachers what to teach, how to teach it, when to teach it and for how long. These modules are not related to authentic early literacy, creativity and learning. Young children who are forced to complete meaningless worksheets will demonstrate behavior problems and teachers will have classroom management issues. Learning is now a prescription prescribed by Hirsch and his cheerleaders at the department of education without parental input.

"He has won a prestigious education award. Curriculums developed by the Core Knowledge Foundation, which Mr. Hirsch created to disseminate his ideas, have recently been adopted by hundreds of schools in 25 states and recommended by the New York City Department of Education for teachers to use in their classrooms."