BY: ERIC GROSS
Carmel Town Hall was filled to the rafters Thursday evening when more than 250 men, women and children voiced concerns over the state’s recently implemented Common Core learning standards.
State Senator Greg Ball, who hosted the two-hour forum, told the overflow crowd that he had introduced legislation calling for an immediate three-year moratorium on the Common Core until the issue can be resolved.
The topic has raised significant issues nationally and in New York about local control of education, an over-reliance on standardized testing, and the privacy of student information. However, it also is clear that many students are not sufficiently prepared for work and college now, and this was to address that.
The state-led effort provides consistent standards for all students across New York to prepare them, but those speaking at the forum were critical of its implementation and the stress Common Core places on students and teachers.
Ball told the Courier: “In an effort to elevate the standards, Common Core has become an uncommon disaster. The failed and flawed implementation by the State Education Department will destroy the careers of teachers and children by making them guinea pigs unless a moratorium becomes implemented and the right questions are asked. Common Core was hastily implemented. The brakes must be placed on this failed initiative.”
Putnam Valley Assistant High School Principal Sam Oliverio agreed: “To raise the rigor of academia is excellent but to try and build an airplane when it is flying is totally crazy. There has been no research on this program. Teachers are coming into it cold. The state has not provided the proper curriculum or academic standards for even the content material. This is insanity.”
Retired educator Roger Gross of Southeast described Common Core as “one big unfunded mandate. It was ill prepared and is a travesty.”
Dr. Stephen Jambor, President of the Brewster Board of Education, called America the “greatest country on earth because
‘We the People’ have an active say in our government. ‘We the People’ also want the best for our kids. It is terribly unfair to force fit all children into a ‘one size fits all’ mode. ‘We the People’ have been on the outside looking in. We have no local voice and must take our fight to Albany.”
Several students also addressed the forum in Mahopac.
Olivia Vataj, 10, a 5th grader at the Austin Road School in Mahopac, said “Common Core destroys creativity. We are tired of being like Alaskan dogs and pulling the sled to cross the finish line of knowledge that most of us will never cross.”
Laura Nardelli, a junior in Putnam Valley, said due to Common Core the “atmosphere at school has changed. Creativity is being destroyed by the Common Core since teachers are teaching for a test.”
Carmel High School junior StephenYoussef testified that due to the new standards “New Yorkers were creating a generation highlighted by the ‘one size fits philosophy. What happened to being original, imaginative, inventive and inspired?”
Parents also protested. Denise Kness of Putnam Valley charged that “Common Core had exacerbated negativity in our schools.”
Mark Plotkin of Kent added that “Common Core will kill creativity.”
The anger on the local level is finally being acknowleldged statewide. Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday adopted the pose that changes are needed. He told state lawmakers in his budget message that “corrective action” is needed. “I support the Common Core agenda,” Cuomo said. “But the way the Common Core has been managed by the Board of Regents is flawed. There’s too much uncertainty, confusion and anxiety.” (ARTICLE)