The chairman of the New York State Senate Education Committee will hold hearings next month on the state's controversial educational reforms.
Sen. John Flanagan, a Republican from Long Island, said he will hold several hearings across the state, starting in Long Island in mid-September. He said the topics will include, among other issues, the state's emphasis on high-stakes standardized testing, the new Common Core standards, teacher evaluations and student privacy.
He noted that education policy is the province of the state Education Department and the Board of Regents, but that the Legislature should have an oversight role.
Flanagan said he isn't taking any preconceptions into the hearings, but that he is concerned about the speed with which the state introduced testing tied to the Common Core standards. He said he is among many who feel the tests should have been delayed until teachers and students had more time with the new standards.
The results of those tests, where were given in April, were released Wednesday.
He said the state's adoption of the Common Core standards themselves is an important development to monitor.
"There are clearly groups that are ardent and passionate supporters of the Common Core," he said. "I also have groups that are strident, vociferous in their opposition."
Flanagan said he wants the hearings to explore how much time students spend taking tests. He said it can be a hard number to determine, because in some cases the pressure to test comes not just from the federal and state governments but from local school districts as well.
He also said the issue of privacy and the security of student information gathered through the student testing system needs a close look.
"As a parent, that is pre-eminent in my mind," he said.
So here's how I read this development.
Both Republicans and Democrats in the New York Assembly and the State Senate are getting complaints from constituents about the NYSED/Regents education reform policies.
The test scores that NYSED Commissioner John King rigged and announced last week was the cherry on top of the reformy cake that got Flanagan to announce hearings to look into what King and his merry reformers are doing at NYSED.
Now whether these hearings are going to be legitimate inquiries into all that is reformy or a dog-and-pony show similar to Sheriff Andy Cuomo's Education Commission of Pearson Shills And Hedge Fund Managers is another matter.
But just the announcement of these hearings should let us know that people in state government are vulnerable to hearing complaints over the NY State reforms from constituents and parents.
Perhaps it would be a good time to contact John Flanagan's office and let them know what you think about NYSED Commissioner John King's reforms.
The contact is here.