At an October 29 New York State Education Commissioner Public Forum hosted by 91st District Assemblyman Steve Otis, over a hundred educators, parents, and community members voiced their concerns about the Common Core Curriculum to Commissioner John B. King.
By Sarah Varney
At an October 29 New York State Education Commissioner Public Forum hosted by 91st District Assemblyman Steve Otis, over a hundred educators, parents, and community members voiced their concerns about the Common Core Curriculum to Commissioner John B. King. The forum took place at Port Chester Middle School.
Not surprisingly, King spoke in support of the new standards. “What I see in classrooms across the state is high-quality teaching in line with the Common Core,” he said. The Common Core standards were issued to participating states as part of the Race To The Top initiative. In many cases, the standards are steeper than those that were in place.
Speakers were allowed two minutes to comment and the catcalls, boos and interruptions from audience members began almost immediately. Parents, teachers and school administrators from towns as far away as Mahopac rose to express their concerns and anger at the curriculum changes the Common Core Standards have wrought.
Teachers decried shoddy core curriculum materials, the incompleteness of the modules to be taught, and the developmental inappropriateness of the curriculum materials in general. Parents spoke of primary level students reduced to tears over the difficulty of the curriculum. Many of the visibly upset speakers stressed the unfairness of the core’s imposition on their local schools, already beset with less money in the tax cap environment.
Rye City School District representatives who rose to speak to Commissioner King included Superintendent Dr. Frank Alvarez, Board of Education members Katy Keohane Glassberg and Karen Belanger, and Jen Fall, a teacher from the Rye School of Leadership.
“Change for the sake of change is not necessarily progress,” said Dr. Alvarez. He expressed his concerns about unfunded mandates, one of which requires school districts to use computers instead of paper and pencil to administer tests. Dr. Alvarez noted that the District has already spent more than $150,000 to meet the various requirements of the Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR).
Rye School parent Robert Zahm, who was in the audience, echoed Alvarez’ fiscal concerns but voiced dissatisfaction with the speed and incompleteness of the curriculum rollouts, particularly in school districts with “high need” students. “This is a case of the State having committed to the Feds to do something which requires New York State education to run before its even started walking,” said Zahm.
What’s worse, added Zahm, is that school districts do not receive the actual tests back so they can analyze ways to improve teacher training, course materials and actual teaching.