ALBANY, N.Y. – The debate over the new Common Core learning standards is intensifying in New York.
On Monday, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a Democrat, weighed in on the controversy by declaring, “I think the case has been made, if nothing else, for a delay and a re-evaluation of the implementation of Common Core,” according to CapitalNewYork.com.
Silver said Common Core was imposed on schools and families without public support and before teachers were given proper training in the new ways of education.
Silver added that he’s waiting to see what “remedial actions” the New York State Board of Regents comes up with before he considers a legislative remedy, CapitalNewYork.com reports.
NewsDay.com reports that Silver’s remarks came as a group of New York education professionals – including superintendents, board of education members, principals and teachers – sent letters to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the Board of Regents, and Education Commissioner John King, asking state officials to hit the brakes on Common Core’s implementation.
The state Board of Regents has charged a subcommittee with identifying ways the state can address the growing concerns of teachers, administrators and parents who say the transition to the new math and English learning standards – which “bleed” into most other subject areas – is happening too fast and is wreaking too much havoc on schools.
Common Core critics are especially troubled that standardized tests are being aligned to the new standards before schools have a chance to fully understand and implement them. New York students took the new tests last spring, and many saw their test scores plummet.
Falling test scores worry New York teachers, who will soon see part of their annual job reviews linked to how well their students perform on the Common Core-aligned tests. Teachers and administrators are requesting that the current school year and the next one be considered “transition years” before the test scores count toward those evaluations.
The low test scores also bother a lot of parents – a group that U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan infamously mocked as “white suburban moms” who are suddenly realizing “their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were and their school isn’t quite as good as they thought they were.”
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But plummeting test scores are only part of the Common Core controversy. A growing number of parents and taxpayers are also angry that students’ personal and sensitive information is going to be aggregated onto a state database and made available to for-profit K-12 technology companies, which will use the student data to design learning software.
State Sen. John Flanagan, a Republican, has expressed serious concerns about the data-collecting plan and recently suggested the state could create its own version of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. That would give parents considerable control over who has access to their child’s personal information.
Perhaps in response to the mounting pressure from state lawmakers, the Board of Regents subcommittee has been given a “small timeline” to come up with solutions by board Chancellor Merryl Tisch.
It’s not all good news for Common Core critics, however. Most state officials still support the new learning standards; their opposition only involves how quickly and chaotically the new standards have been forced upon school districts.
A one- or two-year delay won’t address critics’ larger concerns, namely that the new learning standards are designed to create a generation of workers – not thinkers – and will ultimately provide the federal government a back-door through which bureaucrats can control what gets taught in the nation’s K-12 schools.