[Susan notes: Many good points. Here's a simple one we can ask anyone who claims educators wrote these standards and curriculum: Are these "educators" teachers who have spent at least five years in a classroom and are familiar with developmentally appropriate instruction and learning theory? Give us the list of those who designed the curriculum, materials and evaluations along with their credentials as classroom teachers. ]
Submitted to New York State Senate but not published
Senator Jack Martins
New York State Senate
Re: Common Core Hearings at Mineola High School
And the Protection of Children's Data
After listening to your extraordinary hearings at Mineola, I am convinced that we will need to start all over.
Like the story of the blind men trying to describe an elephant by holding a different part of its anatomy, the numerous issues and concerns make it obvious that no care was invested in a process that usually takes three years with close observation and input from actual teachers and administrators in the classroom.
This is an issue that directly impact the safety and emotional well being of all students, particularly early childhood, and the integrity of the educational system, as outlined recently in a letter by the Catholic Scholars: letter to the Bishops.
The evaluation of students, mistakenly called "assessments", needs to be revisited while we return to the excellent New York State curriculum that was recently in place. Teachers and students are unable to use this data for their own growth and understanding, or receive it in a timely manner. One suggestion was to have testing on alternate years, which could offset the costs of being able to provide testing questions and answers for our own enlightenment and legitimacy.
These evaluations will add to the costs exponentially as Common Core proponents look to the use of computers in the future.
At your hearings, we learned of the recent study indicating the severe costs to economically challenged communities due to the Federal governmentĂ˘€™s unfunded mandates in the Race to the Top (RTTT) program. It was indicated that the community of Rockland County foresees an increase over four years of $11,000,000 with a meager distribution of $400,000 from RTTT.
Commissioner King indicated that it was federal law that permits the schools to be governed by the States, when, in fact, it is by default in the Constitution that mandates States control of education and not the Federal government.
Another issue of concern is that parents who refuse to permit their children to be exposed to this questionable testing will cause their excellent local schools to be labeled in danger of failing, which would lead to State Control and the advent of new charter schools on these sites.
Commissioner King indicated that resources are being provided to the schools, but they have the option of not using them. This may be the most pernicious problem with the Common Core, since testing questions are drawn from the materials which are the costliest component of the Common Core regime. Who controls the resources control the "evaluations" of both students and teachers and these "resources" crowd out good instruction.
The Commissioner indicated that these publishers will provide informational texts materials when, in fact, the research from their own Common Core indicates that publishers continue to dumb down the textbooks that they produce and provide excerpts from texts about numerous children with emotional stress creating an atmosphere of questionable social engineering both in literature and testing. Teachers become dependent on the "resources" provided by the State's publishers in the absence of authentic literacy materials and expect that they will appear on the annual testing "evaluations."
The Common Core Research for English Language Arts (ELA) & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects indicates that:
"There is also evidence that current standards, curriculum and instructional practices have not done enough to foster the independent reading of complex texts so crucial for college and career readiness, particularly in the case of informational texts." (Appendix A)
Of major concern is that time and money is being spent by municipalities for "staff development" surrounding these resources that are "not required" and are untried and unproven, as indicated by the local school board representative from Port Washington.
Those who created the curriculum and materials were said to be "educators" by the Commissioner. I am not certain what that term means. Are these teachers that have spent at least five years in a classroom and are familiar with developmentally appropriate instruction and learning theory?
Senator Martins, you need to get a list of those that designed the curriculum, materials and evaluations along with their credentials as classroom teachers.
I am particularly concerned that the privacy of students has been diminished by Federal mandates permitting childrenĂ˘€™s data across the nation to be available to one outside economic entity. Besides testing scores, this entity will create a behavioral profile, which will include student and family social status and behavioral missteps.
Currently, the Clinton Foundation is creating a "digital badge" which will follow workers and those in education from cradle to grave, as they look for economic opportunities in the future.
The elephant in the room, if I may return to the above mentioned metaphor, is the role of the publishing companies and the economic impact that they have in producing the materials for those program. Already we have seem major flaws and mistakes in their books and their inappropriate testing materials for children below 2nd grade.
I have seen math books now expecting children to round to the nearest five "5" as well as the nearest "0". This may be useful for Walmart clerks, but not scientists.
I have seen Social Studies books speak of the Bill of Rights created in the Constitution without identifying them or their importance to individual freedoms.
I have seen workbooks micromanage with reductionist precision to the point that the subject cannot be perceived holistically and become boring and unbearable to the students. In many ways this is due to the market forces of the publishers where children are being prepared for multiple choice testing in kindergarten.
In summary we should take Regent Meryl Tisch at her word when she indicates that such issues will receive a fair hearing. Such a hearing will require a moratorium on this program for a few years until we can begin an entirely new review which includes parents and classroom teachers in the various municipalities across the State.
Joseph Mugivan, MS, Educational Administration PD