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Editorial 4/15/2014
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Opt Out’s Next Act
presented by Peter Kohler

Long Island hasn’t seen anything like it.

This April thousands of parents–joined online through social media–protested testing aligned with Common Core standards by having their children opt out.

In the highly regarded Rockville Centre district, the Opt Out movement encouraged more than 30 percent of third-, fourth- and fifth-graders to sit out English language exams.

Newsday estimated that 9,500 students had opted out throughout Long Island. Last week, State Education Commissioner John King lamented their non-participation, agreeing that they made their voices heard.

Rockville Centre Superintendent Bill Johnson sympathized with those who didn’t take the tests, which he criticized as poorly constructed.

“The fault lines in this entire process run so deep,” he said, “that it’s uninterpretable, so troublesome, that it’s time to just put it on a shelf somewhere and say look, we made a mistake. Time to start over.”

Earlier, Suffolk school superintendents–some 60 strong–wrote Governor Cuomo, urging he put off this month’s Common Core testing for another year.

While Cuomo sympathized with parents’ concerns that the children were unprepared, he sensibly insisted that this Common Core testing not count against students for promotion. The Legislature agreed.

While we continue to value the state’s Common Core reforms, King blundered by rolling out testing before a new curriculum and effectively-trained teachers were fully in place. King now concedes that the Common Core rollout was “imperfect.”

It would be sad if the Opt Out protest evolved into a larger political movement. But with opposition from teachers, parents and administrators, we wouldn’t be surprised if it does.

Governor Cuomo Assessment Letter
Presented by the New York State Education Department
Mar 18, 2014
Governor Cuomo used a television commercial to reassure parents that the rocky rollout of the state’s Common Core standards won’t hurt their kids. “While the state’s new common core curriculum is heading in the right direction, testing on it is premature,” he states in the ad. “It creates anxiety and it’s just unfair. I won’t let our children’s scores be counted against them.” Yet with more testing against Common Core standards scheduled next month, parents are rightly worried that many students again will be unprepared…
Dec 17, 2013
State Senator John Flanagan had some encouraging words for parents worried about tests for tots. In a series of recommendations aimed at correcting the state’s flawed implementation of Common Core standards, Flanagan urged banning standardized testing in early grades–pre-k through second grade…
Dec 3, 2013
Recently, we received this e-mail from Beth Forrester, a retired first grade teacher: “I hope you’ll reconsider your strong support of the Common Core. I’m a recently retired first grade teacher, one of those teachers you’d have loved to teach your kids. Unfortunately, teachers like me can’t teach like we used to…”
Nov 26, 2013
At a recent hearing in Brentwood, a Levittown parent told state senators of her concerns that hackers could invade a state-sponsored computer cloud to access confidential data about her children. “I also feel that there are hackers out there that can break through those firewalls… and access this important private data,” said Marianne Adrian or Levittown. “It’s stored on a cloud system. I do not feel like that has the security that it needs to house my children’s data…”
Nov 19, 2013
Last week, Education Commissioner John King brought his Common Core forums to East Setauket and Mineola, generating more heat than light. At Ward Melville High School, one teacher told King that the new curriculum and teacher evaluation reforms were taking the joy out of learning. His plea for slowing down this rocky roll out brought cheers from a crowd angry at Common Core reforms…
Nov 15, 2013
We received dozens of calls and e-mails recently, when we suggested delaying Common Core education reforms that tie student performance and teacher performance to high-stakes tests…
Nov 12, 2013
As he resumes parent meetings on Long Island this week, state Education Commissioner John King is sure to hear many anxious questions about excessive testing after last spring’s chaotic roll out of Common Core reforms. One influential critic is Carol Burris, a Rockville Centre educator who was recently named New York’s principal of the year…
Oct 29, 2013
Questions are urgently being raised about Education Commissioner John King’s leadership, and the rocky rollout of the Regents’ Common Core reforms, leading some to urge King’s resignation. Facing a firestorm after canceling parent meetings after a tumultuous event in Poughkeepsie, King has sensibly reversed course, announcing a new series of parent meetings, including three on Long Island…
Aug 16, 2013
Back to school is likely to bring more pain than pencil boxes to thousands of Long Island students who are about to be told they aren’t making the grade. Letters from Nassau and Suffolk school districts will tell the parents of more than 126,000 elementary students that their children failed to score as proficient on math and English tests aligned with the state’s tough new Common Core standards. No wonder local educators are upset…
May 17, 2013
In a recent editorial supporting testing related to the new Common Core curriculum, we mentioned State Education Commissioner John King’s advice to worried parents: “It’s really important for parents to send a message of try your best,” he said. “I get that it’s hard. At the same time, I want my daughters to be people who try things that are hard.” Michele Trageser of Merrick responds…
Apr 19, 2013
When a mother asked how she could relieve her daughter’s fear of failing the state’s tough new tests, State Education Commissioner John King answered as a parent. “I think it’s really important for parents to send a message of try your best…”