STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- As Staten Island parents vent their frustrations about the state's new Common Core Curriculum standards, parents throughout the state are preparing to keep their children home from school on Monday, in what's being labeled as "National Common Core Protest Day."
The grassroots movement is being fueled by a Facebook page created by an upstate mom, Janet Wilson. So far more than 3,600 people have clicked on the page saying they were going to take part in the protest. Parents have shared the event on Facebook pages across the country.
Ms. Wilson is the mother of a toddler who said she became aware of the Common Core controversy only a few weeks ago. The more research she did about the subject "the more petrified I became" Ms. Wilson told Syracuse.com, adding that she plans to home-school her daughter.
The Common Core is a set of national standards being implemented by the states to improve education. The standards set benchmarks for what students need to know to be prepared for college and careers in the 21st century.
The goal of protesters is to organize a New York State Common Core Protest Day by staging a "silent" demonstration against the State Education Department in Albany.
Facebook organizers are calling for Monday to be a "no show"day in public schools throughout the city and state; it is not a "walk-out" protest, organizers emphasize. The Monday date was selected to coincide with the first day of American Education Week.
Gina Bailey of Annadale, who describes herself as "just your average mom raising two kids on my own" since her husband died six months ago, said she plans on keeping her children home Monday. Her daughter, Alyssa, is a third-grader at PS 42, Eltingville, and her son, Derek, a sixth-grader at Paulo Intermediate School, Huguenot.
Although her children are "excellent in school," she said, "my thoughts on the protest is to do it." "I intend to keep my kids home this day, November 18th." she said.
She said she learned of the protest through Facebook. "I am not an advocate; I'm not a parent who would stand outside school carrying a protest sign. I just want to participate in an event that hopefully will open the eyes of the government and realize that they are pushing our kids too much in school, with no solid evidence that this will even benefit them in the future."
Mrs. Bailey said she can't see how the state can incorporate the Core Curriculum standards into standardized reading and math exams, and hold teachers and students accountable for the test scores.
"It's all about the exams," Mrs. Bailey said. "These kids are being used as lab rats and there is no evidence that these new guidelines will benefit them in the long run. There was no 'pilot' program for this, they just threw it into our schools and expect our kids to just understand it."
She said she'd like to see the protest take off, if only to send a message. "If we as a whole community, and throughout the state for that matter, don't come together to get our voices heard about this new curriculum, nothing will change."
Eltingville mom Stephanie Locricchio also said she plans to keep her first-grade son, Louis, home from school. Her sister, Jennifer Roman, who lives next door, also plans to keep her son, Paul, a second-grader, home from school. The boys attend PS 42.
"It's a one-size-fits-all curriculum when there are so many children of different learning abilities, who are now being set up to fail," she said.
And while she's "all for encouraging college and career readiness," Mrs. Locricchio said she feels the new curriculum is being applied too early. "It's too much, too soon, for children in kindergarten and the primary grades. Children that age need time to develop social skills. They need time to play and develop their imaginations, not spend hours doing homework and assignments," she said.
Both sisters said they've encountered some resistance from parents who believe that keeping children at home for the day might make them fall further behind. They said they plan upon picking up their children's assignments and having them complete the work at home.
"I've heard parents say it's a useless exercise, that it's not going to change anything," Mrs. Locricchio said, "but unless we emphatically express our displeasure at this system, how will it change?"
The pushback against the Core continues to gain momentum.