Say rollout for new national education
standards is deeply flawed
By Stephen Witt
The state legislature this week called for a two-year moratorium for using Common Core-aligned test scores to evaluate educators and affect student placement decisions.
In a rare bipartisan vote, both Democrats in the assembly and Republicans in the senate said while they support higher learning standards, the urgency and confusion behind the Common Core rollout left schools, educators and students scrambling to find resources and other tools to teach the new standards.
“Though we as a conference agree with the need for the Common Core standard, it is critical for us to implement it correctly the first time through. Given the various concerns we have received from parents and educators across our state, we feel it is appropriate to wait until we can collectively collaborate on the best way to roll out this program in New York State. I look forward to working with Governor Cuomo and my counterparts in the state Senate to improve our schools, while doing right by our students and teachers,” said Assemblyman Walter Mosley
Under the national Common Core initiative, 45 states including New York, signed on to share the same standards and much of the same curriculum, textbooks, lesson plans and assessments. The standards, which include the subjects of English, language arts and math, were written in collaboration with teachers, school administrators, and experts for students to be fully prepared for the future and to compete in the global economy.
Both Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York State Education Commissioner Dr. John King support the initiative.
“Common Core addresses the mismatch in K-through-12 between what is taught and what is needed in today’s marketplace,” said King at a forum last year in Harlem, noting that 80 percent of CUNY junior college students have to take remedial high school courses at college prices.
While most charter school networks have lauded Common Core standards, many public school teachers and parents have lamented that the Common Core curriculum focuses only on core subjects and gives students less access to art, music and a more well-rounded education.
It also has subjected the youngest students in elementary schools to testing. Due to the rollout last year, thousands of students didn’t pass initial tests and this was put on their permanent records – a point not lost on the city’s teachers union, which has called on a three-year moratorium.
“Parents, principals and teachers spoke in one voice about how their children have suffered because of this grossly mishandled roll-out of the Common Core standards,” said United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew in a statement. ”We gave our kids tests, and only after our children failed — and after that failure became part of our students’ permanent records — did anyone even think about getting teachers the curriculum and materials they need to help their students succeed.”
Cuomo acknowledged problems with the Common Core rollout, but called the moratorium premature.
“Governor Cuomo believes that the best long term economic development strategy is ensuring New York State has the strongest possible education system,” Cuomo spokeswoman Melissa Derosa said in a statement following Tuesday’s vote. “Common Core is an issue about which there has been a lot of dialogue. The Governor believes that we need to set real standards for our students and have a meaningful teacher evaluation system, and continues to support the Common Core agenda.”
The city’s Department of Education (DOE) did not respond to the vote at press time.