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Editorial 11/12/2013
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Common Core Testing
presented by Peter Kohler

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.

She said, “Whether it’s because the curriculum is too difficult or whether it’s because the teachers don’t have a good understanding of the curriculum because it has been pushed out so quickly and then they’re so frightened–How are the kids going to do on the test? How is this going to affect me?–It has created a chaos in schools.”

Recently King said he hears parents’ pain about excessive testing, saying he’ll seek federal permission to permit eighth graders studying algebra to avoid having to take both a Regents exam and the state’s usual math test.

Burris says state policies and federal programs mandate too many tests that take too long. All this is further complicated by a new teacher evaluation process partly tied to test results.

It’s no wonder that educators and teacher unions are urging a moratorium on high stakes testing in the Common Core roll out, insisting that student and teacher performance not be judged by the results of these challenging new exams.

Too much testing–with too many unintended consequences–should not be allowed to mar the introduction of the promising Common Core curriculum with its welcome emphasis on critical thinking.

Let’s slow things down so this valuable reform rolls out right.

Jeanette Deutermann
Bellmore, NY
I agree. NYSED has hurt our most valuable resource: our children. Through this corporate reform agenda, and the push to speed us through these changes, we have lost sight of what matters. Any experimental reform that has such extreme unintended and damaging consequences must be stopped and re-evaluated, before subjecting our children to them.

Janice Emm
Sag Harbor, NY
“Promising curriculum” and “valuable reform” are things I take issue with. None of this is “welcome.” Every last bit of this farmed out, Pearson-owned Common Core will be scrapped and replaced by a national curriculum created by Americans for Americans. Our children are not for sale. Big corporations will not control our education and make profit off of hard working taxpayers. You need to do a lot of homework. Come visit us in Setauket this evening and learn something useful.

Mary Calamia
Stony Brook, NY
Today’s editorial recommends that we put a moratorium on Common Core testing but refers to the Common Core as “promising” with its “welcome emphasis on critical thinking.” As a mental health professional, I agree wholeheartedly with the suggested moratorium, but I must emphasize that the Common Core is neither promising nor welcome. The young brain is simply not wired for critical thinking or abstract thought. That would require a fully developed pre-frontal cortex, a part of the brain that is not fully functional until the early 20s. Although it is completely outside of a child’s capabilities, the Common Core standards demand that they engage in critical thinking. To say that you can teach a child critical thinking is like saying you can teach a fish to fly. They will try repeatedly, but ultimately will blame themselves for failing to sprout wings. Since the implementation of the Common Core, I have had an inordinate number of children streaming into my practice complaining of anxiety, panic attacks, depression, school refusal, insomnia, bed wetting, self-mutilation, and even suicidal thoughts–all because they are losing confidence, can’t take the pressure and, to use their own words, “feel stupid.” Stop the testing? Yes, absolutely! But we must also eliminate the Common Core Standards in New York State and get back to the business of educating our children in a safe, healthy, and age-appropriate manner.

Christine Tamke Barbara
Islip, NY
It doesn’t need to “slow down”, it needs to stop entirely. Reform much needed? Maybe, but do some digging, do some intense research and you will find that this reform has no educational value whatsoever. This is the worst thing to ever happen to education.

Debbie Ryan
Ridge, NY
Common Core and data mining cannot continue. It is not in the best interest of our children. Education should not be for sale. Please call on our education chairman, Senator Flanagan, to change what is not working! Let NYSED and King know that parents will continue to fight for our “special interest” groups! Refuse the state tests! Common Core is not a valuable reform.

Diane Venezia
Sands Point, NY
I mostly agree but don’t agree that the Common Core roll out is good at all. Please look into how early childhood experts view “critical thinking” in little kids–it’s science, and it’s not appropriate. I don’t think standards that were created under secrecy without educators’ input and that are geared to get a kid into community college are what we want. End all testing! End Common Core! May I suggest you look at the list of scholars who think the standards are abysmal! http://dianeravitch.net/2013/11/11/catholic-scholars-blast-common-core/

Farmingville, NY
As an educator myself and a parent of three in the public schools now, I wholeheartedly agree. Massive numbers of parents and educators are seeing what not just Common Core, but high-stakes testing, high- stakes teacher/principal evaluations, and data sharing/mining are doing to their schools. I have two words for any top NY educational official when it comes to any, and all, of their new “reforms”: PROVE IT. Prove to us as parents and educators that ALL of these reforms will work. They can’t. Game over.
Presented by the New York State Education Department
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…”