Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

NYSED Commissioner King Shouted Down At Common Core Meeting In Suffolk

Okay, you know the drill on this already.

Hundreds of parents, teachers and administrators criticize the Common Core, the Common Core implementation, the Common Core tests, the teacher evaluation system tied to those tests, and the inBloom data project at the latest Common Core forum with NYSED Commissioner John King.

King says he's listening but vows there will be no major changes to the state's education reform agenda.

And on goes the implementation.

Newsday has the latest:

Parents, students and school officials from across Suffolk County told state Education Commissioner John B. King Jr. during a contentious meeting Tuesday night in Manorville that the rapid implementation of tough, new academic standards has "set children up to fail."

Roughly 600 people packed into the Eastport-South Manor Junior-Senior High School, with a vast majority critical of the rollout of the Common Core academic standards. They say the initiative is far too difficult for many children -- particularly those with special needs. They contend it has prompted testing anxiety among students, causing some to feel perpetually discouraged and to lose interest in school.

They also said the state is inflexible in its implementation of this and of numerous other education plans, including a controversial move to link teacher and principal evaluations to student test scores and academic growth. The state agreed to such a move in part so it could receive some $700 million in federal education grants


 The crowd shouted down both the commissioner and the few educators who spoke out in support of the Common Core initiative -- which proponents say emphasizes critical thinking -- despite numerous appeals for decorum. Hundreds walked out early, telling state officials they weren't listening.

Here's what students and parents told the King:

Connor Sick, 18 and a senior at Rocky Point High School, asked King if he had "anything to say about why failure is being used as a weapon" to motivate struggling students. The commissioner did not answer the question directly and stood by the Common Core program.

Tom Laraia, 60, who identified himself as a special-education teacher who retired last year, said he was particularly upset over special-ed testing.

"The way we test special-ed kids is appalling," he said, explaining how some former students cried during tests.

Mary Von Eiff, of Southold, came in with her own sign that read: "Hey King, these are my kids, not yours. And they are not common."

Von Eiff resigned as the special-education administrator of Oyster Ponds School District in 2009, and is now home-schooling her three daughters, who are 11, 8 and 6. She called Common Core "the federal takeover of public education as we know it. That local control has been removed."

Karen Wing, 44 of Shoreham, took her 10-year-old triplets to the meeting but left early. She said the Common Core-related tests were "extremely stressful" for her daughters and that she and her husband hired tutors to help them.

Jan Achilich, special-education director at Remsenburg-Speonk Union Free School District, told King the state should have introduced the new materials starting at the lowest grades so children had time to adjust.

"What we are doing to our upper-grade children," she said, is tantamount to "physically throwing them into a rushing river without a life preserver."

School, she said, should be a place for children to sing, dance, create and learn together "in an atmosphere of grace," rather than under an umbrella of anxiety.

King's response?

King, in an interview after the forum, said the schools he's visited have adapted well to the standards, although it has taken time and effort. He predicted that critics will look more favorably on the initiative as the years roll on.

"Now is not the time to retreat from high standards," he said.

This Gospel of the Common Core road show is getting old, and while I like song and dance routines as much as the next fellow, the one's King and Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch are doing as they make believe they're listening to the concerns of students, parents, teachers and administrators aren't striking a chord with me.

It is time to put the politicians on the spotlight over the CCSS, the Common Core tests, the teacher evaluation system that mandates all the tests, and the inBloom data project.

As  Christina Bangel, parent and teacher, said at a recent forum in Binghamton:
“Tell the assembly we’re coming for them. We’re coming for them, we’re angry and we vote.”

I would add the state senate and the governor to the list.

Might even start making calls to representatives in Washington.

Politicians who continue to support the Common Core, Common Core testing, teacher evaluations tied to those tests, and the inBloom data project will be made to pay a political price at the ballot box and in the news media.

That's where this fight has to go now.

It is clear that King and Tisch do not give a whit about student, parent, teacher or administrator concern.


  1. inBloom has got to go! The fact that the Sachem, Long Island school district has had three breaches of student data security should rest once and for all the question of whether parents can feel secure with a state-wide (or interstate shared) database of student information. In this blogpost I go into issues such as IT professionals' own misgivings with the security of data clouds.

    Cuomo, King and Tisch have made no valid case for why parents and schools must gamble on children's sensitive information. The Moreland Commission must investigate each of these characters. Just why are they so gung-ho for these student databases?

    1. They have to be on the payroll - either now or promised in the future. I see no other reason for it. It's totally insane that NY is the only state still pushing this w/out any opt out option. That was a great post by you, Geo.