It has been almost three months since I first set foot in Albany. I had the best of intentions – to dump the Common Core Standards in New York State and draft standards that are based upon what teachers’ classroom experiences indicate are best practices, supported by what parents know are developmentally appropriate for their own children. Anyone who has followed the process, and reviewed the revise standards will tell you that my mission was a complete failure.
I was warned. Don’t go. Your name will be attached to their “reform” efforts. My answer was the same over and over and over, “If I am invited, how can I say no?”
Twice this summer I went to Albany, with my family in tow, with the goal of doing everything I possibly could to eliminate these standards. I learned two very important things:
- I was chosen to be on the committee because of my anti-Common Core and anti-state assessment position. They did want to hear from all perspectives.
- Most committee members share my perspective, but most are unable to speak their true positions.
Think about it. There are seven hundred school superintendents in New York State. Five have had the courage to take a stand to protect students from fraudulent assessments and developmentally inappropriate standards. That number reflects .7 % of superintendents. This means that the vast majority of educators have been silenced. This is reflected in the committee’s lack of significant action to replace the Common Core in New York State.
What were people like me left to do? I came to the conclusion that we could only do two things:
- Fight where we could and pick our battles. We fought hard to eliminate the “text complexity” and “grade level text” from the standards. Districts were using this language to restrict children’s access to text, as well as force children to read texts that did not meet their needs. We were adamant about moving play back into the standards for younger children. We also removed examples from the standards so that districts could no longer force teachers to teach the standards in specific ways, regardless of students’ needs.
- Keep fighting on the outside. People need to BOMBARD the survey. The New York State Education Department (NYSED) claims that the vast majority of people who responded to its initial survey indicated satisfaction with the current standards – that they were only looking for modifications. They used these results to hold the committee to these standards – rather than throwing them out as they should have been.
If you have looked at the recommended changes, and you believe they are largely the same you, are right. If you believe that the state had no intention of making significant changes to them via the Review Committees, you are right. But please keep in mind, the vast majority of teachers in New York State have been silenced by administrators who lack the knowledge, experience and/or fortitude to do what is right for this state’s children.
Those of us who work in the .7% of districts where children come first, and parents who are able to serve as advocates, we must remain strong in our resolve to tell New York State no thank you.
We do not accept revisions to standards that are simply wrong for our children.
We do not accept assessments that do not support the growth of children in our classrooms.
We will bombard the survey so NYSED understands the standards are wrong.
We will refuse all New York State grade 3-8 assessments that fail to drive instruction.