Written by: Swapna Venugopal Ramaswamy
CARMEL — Denise Kness, a mother of two from the Lakeland school district, recounted how a friend’s 12-year-old son had to be monitored for 24 hours after he complained that his heart was racing.
Doctors told the boy’s mother that he’d just had a panic attack.
The reason: The stress caused by the new Common Core standards, said Kness.
Kness was among more than 100 parents, teachers, students and administrators who voiced their concerns about the state’s new Common Core Learning Standards and its implementation at a forum organized by state Sen. Greg Ball.
The Patterson Republican told those assembled at Town Hall on Thursday night that he was working on a bill calling for an immediate three-year moratorium on the controversial new standards until the issues can be resolved.
“We don’t want to use children as guinea pigs in an untested field experiment,” Ball said. “Common Core has become an uncommon disaster. I started feeling the angst of the community months ago. It has become the most compelling issue.”
Common Core is a state-led effort that seeks to provide consistent standards and appropriate benchmarks for all students and prepare them for college and the workforce. It has been adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia.
The forum had echoes of the 16 forums state Education Commissioner John King held across the state, with almost all attendees critical of the implementation and the resultant stress on teachers and students.
Brewster Board of Education President Stephen Jambor said the standards had not been field-tested.
“I am all in favor of accountability, but what we need to find out is what works for the kids,” Jambor said. “Is this the right stuff?”
Jambor said he supported a three-year moratorium on testing and teacher evaluation.
Olivia Vataj, a fifth-grade student at Austin Road Elementary School in Mahopac, read out a letter addressed to King.
“Are you the musher and are the students just dogs pulling the sled, trying to get to the finish line of knowledge which we will never cross?” she asked. “We are too tired of the Common Core to keep pulling.”
“I have so many more things to say to you, but unfortunately I have to go back to the drudgery of my Common Core homework,” she added. (ARTICLE)