Written by Daniel Offner Friday, 07 March 2014 00:00
On Feb. 27, parents in the Levittown, East Meadow, Massapequa and Farmingdale school districts came together for an informal panel discussion on the New York State Education Department and the implementation of the state Common Core Learning Standards.
Panelists included New York State Assemblyman Thomas McKevitt, Jeanette Deutermann of the Long Island Opt Out Facebook page, and former public school teacher David Greene, who came to the Farmingdale Public Library to talk with local parents about key concerns and questions with the curriculum.
An outspoken parent and founder of the Long Island Opt Out movement, Deutermann, delved into some of the factors behind what led to the state’s adoption of the Common Core, and how the state education department cites high school graduation rates as its reasoning behind the curriculum.
“For those students who were already below the bar and struggling, we just moved the bar higher... moving it even further and further out of reach,” said Deutermann. “This is a socioeconomic problem, not an education problem.”
At the forum, parents raised questions and concerns on a variety of topics, ranging from state and local assessments, test preparation, modules, Annual Professional Performance Review, and opting out to the state Board of Regents.
“The state legislature never adopted the Common Core,” said McKevitt. According to the Assemblyman, on the second Tuesday of every March, state lawmakers each cast a single vote to elect candidates to the Board of Regents, which will implement the state’s educational policies throughout the year. “I am not inclined to vote for any incumbents when the vote comes up week from Tuesday,” he added.
McKevitt also passed out copies of what he refers to as the “Apple Plan,” which aims to alleviate pressure on school districts, students and teachers. The “Apple Plan,” which was constructed by Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb, Ranking Minority Member of the
Education Committee Edward Ra, and Member of the Education Committee Al Graf, covers several issues and possible solutions to six specific aspects of the Common Core, including the curriculum, data collection, teacher support, funding, student anxiety and special education.
David Greene—a former school teacher from the Bronx, Greenburg, and Scarsdale, published author of Doing The Right Thing: A Teacher Speaks and treasurer of the advocacy group, Save Our Schools—told parents at the forum that the state’s attempts to commonize public education is nothing new. According to Greene, the country has made several attempts to reform education in the past, through federal programs like A Nation At Risk, GERM, No Child Left Behind, and most recently Race to the Top.
“We need to backup, simplify and find out what will really work,” Greene said, regarding the usefulness of the curriculum.
Reflecting on the past, Greene said that while growing up in the 1960’s, one teacher helped inspire him to pursue a career as an educator. “I’m afraid that students will not have a Ms. Stafford... that they are not going to have the same opportunity.”