Despite NYSED’s Claim of Major Changes, Common Core Still Intact – Commissioner Elia Misleads the Public Again

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  September 26, 2016
More information contact:
Lisa Rudley (917) 414-9190; nys.allies@gmail.com
Bianca Tanis (845) 389-0722; nys.allies@gmail.com  
NYS Allies for Public Education (NYSAPE) www.nysape.org
 
     Despite NYSED’s Claim of Major Changes, Common Core Still Intact – Commissioner Elia Misleads the Public Again  
 
Last Wednesday’s release of draft revisions of the Common Core standards left more questions than answers.  Commissioner of Education MaryEllen Elia stated that more than half of the standards had been revised. However, upon close inspection, it appears that the majority of these changes consist of revised phrasing and language rather than substantive content changes.
 
While revisions include some minor tweaks, the standards continue to reflect a rigid adherence to the original Common Core anchor standards. Serving as the framework for the Common Core, these anchor standards are the foundation for the over-emphasis on informational text, close reading, convoluted math strategies, and the increased reading benchmarks that have concerned many parents and educators.
 
We applaud the 138 educators and parents who participated in the Education Department’s standards revision committees. However, due to NYSED’s restrictive process for allowing committee members to make substantive changes, the result of their efforts is essentially just a rebranding of the Common Core.
 
We call on NYSED to demonstrate complete transparency and to make public the process by which the standards were revised. Furthermore, we urge NYSED to release all committee suggestions and/or dissenting reports that were not included in the draft standards.
 
Eileen Graham, Rochester public school parent and founder of the Black Student Leadership organization said, “I will acknowledge the minor changes, but I do not see them closing the gaps in achievement. It feels like a slap in the face when parents, teachers and students clearly define what we need and our demands and expectations are ignored.  In order for our students to truly succeed and compete we must set them up for success not failure.”
 
Peter Rawitsch, Albany County first grade public school teacher and National Board Certified teacher in early childhood who served on NYSED’s Common Core P-2 standards review committee said, “Our work this summer was a missed opportunity. Instead of having the critical discussions about what is best for young children, we were directed to review the current standards. We were never given the opportunity to debate the appropriateness of having standards, the absence of play, and the disregard of the whole child. The draft standards do not represent our best thinking for Prekindergarten – 2nd grade (P-2) learners. The promise of a P-2 Task Force came only after having our concerns ignored for five weeks. Educators and parents should demand a moratorium on the P-2 standards until the needs of our children are addressed.”
 
“The process was flawed from the beginning because the Common Core standards were being compared to themselves and not to our prior standards or next generation ELA lost standards which were shelved when the common core was hastily adopted.  Furthermore, the public should have access to the revisions that were not accepted for complete transparency,” said Lisa Rudley, Westchester County public school parent and founding member of NYSAPE.  
 
Jeanette Deutermann, Nassau County public school parent, founder of Long Island Opt Out and NYSAPE said, “Parents and educators have made themselves perfectly clear; the only acceptable changes to our children’s curriculum is a complete overhaul. While SED continues to play games to placate corporate reformers, we will continue to refuse participation in this system.”
 
Bianca Tanis, Ulster County public school parent and educator said, “The Governor’s Common Core Task Force clearly outlined the concerns of early childhood experts regarding the developmentally inappropriate expectation that all kindergarteners read emergent texts with purpose and understanding, yet this standard change remains unchanged in the draft revisions. Out of close to 50 ‘changes’ to the kindergarten ELA standards, only 3 are true content changes. At the end of the day, we need to move away from overly prescriptive learning standards that do nothing to increase student achievement and ignore the research supporting increases in recess, unstructured play, and child-centered learning.”
 
“I would like to see the early childhood standards reflect more of the research, principles, and ideas of Jean Piaget, Reggio Emilia, and Maria Montessori. Learning is a process of exploration, play, and self-discovery, which continue to be absent from the spirit and language of our standards. It is also time for teaching and learning to enter the forefront of the conversation as pedagogy and culture are what truly nurture the academic, social, and emotional development of every child,” said Jamaal Bowman, Bronx public school educator and parent.
 
“Whether the changes to the standards are significant or not which they appear not to be, the real impact is the interpretation at the local level.  Will some schools still mandate teachers use flawed curricula such as the EngageNY modules and an overemphasis on close reading strategies that create boredom and frustration for young readers?” asked Chris Cerrone, Western NY public school parent, educator, and school board trustee.

“One of the most criticized aspects of the Common Core had been the mandated quota for informational text, at 50% of assigned readings in elementary school and 70% thereafter, which has squeezed novels and plays out of the curriculum in too many schools.  The revised standards include an overly ambiguous statement that the two types of reading, informational and literary, should be ‘merged’ and ‘streamlined’ to ensure a ‘healthy balance’ which tells us nothing about whether these damaging quotas have been deleted, modified or retained,” said Leonie Haimson, Executive Director of Class Size Matters.
 
Marla Kilfoyle, Long Island public school parent, educator and Executive Director of BATs said, “It is apparent that educators were called to the table and ignored again.  NYSED continues to trivialize the teaching profession in New York State.”
 
“These proposed standards represent change without progress. We once again have standards that are so vague that they could be tested on the elementary or collegiate level. This will lead to more time wasted with flawed tests. Every standard should have an assessment boundary attached to it to ensure that both the instruction and assessment are developmentally appropriate,” said Michael Lillis, Ulster County public school parent and President of the Lakeland Federation of Teachers.
 
As the eve of the first presidential debate is upon us, we continue to demand that public education be front and center as it is the cornerstone of our democracy and opportunities. The people of this state and country demand equitable funding and resources, access to all opportunities, and supports to lift up public education and communities. We want privatizers out of our classrooms and power completely restored back to the people.

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