Recently, I was asked by the New York State Senate Standing Committee on Education to speak at a hearing in Manhattan regarding school reform, testing and the Common Core curriculum.
The bureaucrats on hand assured the lawmakers that everyone was overreacting to the problems with the state’s remuddling of public education. Several parents spoke passionately about how their kids were being used as guinea pigs for testing companies and a State Education Department that seems more enthralled with corporate interests than those of taxpayers.
Senator Jack Martins (R-Mineola) asked a very good question last week at the State Senate’s Education Committee hearing in Manhattan. The topic was the Common Core standards, testing and the general state of school reform — hot-button issues that have created anger and confusion in local schools districts, as well as throughout the state.
Martins wanted to know why the tests given to our public school students last year were composed as though the kids had been studying a Common Core curriculum for years. Why hadn’t the Common Core-style questions been phased in, aligned with what the kids had already been taught?
He got no real answers, though Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers, New York City’s teachers’ union, ventured that the state didn’t want to spend the money for such an approach. A battery of full-force
Common Core tests was cheaper.
Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano visited our office last week at the invitation of the editors. We regularly conduct these round-tables with candidates to better know them and their views on the issues. His Democrat opponent, Tom Suozzi, got the treatment months ago, when he announced his candidacy.
Mangano began by running through a litany of his achievements over the past four years — not raising taxes, cutting the number of county employees, attracting businesses to Nassau, getting the plan for the new Coliseum underway, leading post-Sandy rebuilding efforts, and on and on.
Then someone said “assessments.”
With its rich and colorful history, Long Island has managed to be the site of a number of creepy locations sprinkled throughout its suburban sprawl. Stories with roots dating back to Native American times and the Revolutionary War up through the post-Cold War era abound, and in the process, chill the bones and terrorize the psyche.
It’s no surprise that New York’s Education Commissioner John B. King, Jr., bailed on a public hearing in Garden City last week regarding the Common Core curriculum following an upstate event at which the public was noisily outspoken. It’s also no surprise that the uproar over the cancellation led to the sudden announcement of a new series of events. This time, however, the forums won’t be quite so open, and the commissioner will be buffered by local state legislators to insure, as King put it, a “respectful, direct and constructive dialogue with parents.” Like so many “public servants,” King indignantly recoils from vociferous public disagreement. Or even tough questions.
• “Isn’t New York State moving too quickly to implement and begin testing our kids on a ‘standard’ that hasn’t proven to have any more educational substance than what you might step in behind a bull?”
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