My office has been inundated with phone calls, emails, letters and faxes from parents, teachers, students and community members that are very concerned with the implementation of Common Core Standards.
In 2010, the state Education Department secured Race to the Top funding from the U.S. Department of Education. In exchange for $700 million in funding, the state Education Department made various commitments related to educational standards, testing, a teacher evaluation system, and data collection.
As part of this, the Common Core Standards were adopted — without legislative approval — and the implementation of such has been nothing short of a disaster.
The Board of Regents just recently adopted several recommendations from the Regents Work Group to adjust the implementation of the new Common Core standards. Among other things, the recommendations included a request for hundreds of millions of additional state dollars to support the creation of a Core instructional development fund. Clearly, the cost of implementing the Common Core curriculum and testing related thereto, has already far exceeded the federal funding that our state received, and is threatening to further strain our limited state education resources.
The misguided transition to Common Core has resulted in an emphasis on developmentally inappropriate material and poor educational outcomes. Worse, the hasty implementation and lack of communication between state Education Department and educators on the ground have created widespread problems for teachers and parents, resulting in poor outcomes for students.
Along with state Sen. Lee Zeldin and Assemblyman Al Graf, I have introduced comprehensive legislation to halt Common Core and its associated testing for three years.
The bill (S.6604) would convene an independent commission, the Blue Ribbon Commission on 21stCentury Testing and Curriculum, charged with:
» studying the implications of changing standards and determining the best method of improving public school education,
» reviewing the time and resources allocated to preparing for and administering state-wide tests and the impact they have on the quality of instruction for New York students,
» making recommendations regarding appropriate methods in transitioning to new educational standards based on their findings.
Most importantly, during the review period, set to conclude in the 2016-17 school year, school districts will not be required to implement the Common Core curriculum, nor will they be required to administer any state test based off of those standards. At the end of the review, the commission will be tasked with taking a vote on whether or not the Common Core curriculum should be reinstated in the state of New York.
It is important to note, the bill as it is written, will not jeopardize any No Child Left Behind (NCLB) funds. As for the highly contested Race to the Top funding, if a waiver is granted by the federal government, the bill will not cost New York any of the designated funding.
If the waiver is not granted, New York will not lose $700 million as some Common Core supporters have suggested, because, among other reasons, the state has complied with other portions of our Race to the Top obligations.
To continue the dialogue and to hear from more of those affected by the Common Core Standards, I have teamed up with Our Lady of Lourdes High School in Poughkeepsie to host a community forum at 6 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 24, 2014 at Our Lady of Lourdes High School at 131 Boardman Road in Poughkeepsie.
The public and those in the education community are invited to attend. I hope to hear from you on Feb. 24 at Our Lady of Lourdes High School. (ARTICLE)