Thanksgiving Thoughts

Something to share

In response to the flawed Common Core survey that the NY State Ed Department posted online, NYSAPE (New York State Allies for Public Education) has created their own survey which they hope to be able to use to show what people really think of the Common Core (as opposed to the nonsense that NYSED is trying to push). NYSAPE is an organization of parents, teachers, administrators, etc, and they want the results of their survey to reflect this broad constituency. So…

  1. Please take a couple of minutes and complete the survey:  (click here to read their blurb about it, or click this link to go directly to the survey.)
  2. Bring this up at Thanksgiving dinner, and ask you family members if they’d be willing to complete the survey as well, then forward it to them
  3. Post it on Facebook and stuff


Things to be Thankful for?

It looks like NCLB (No Child Left Behind) is about to be replaced by ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act). The bill has cleared committee and is expected to easily pass the Senate and, although it is not a sure thing, will most likely pass in the House as well. Unfortunately, the requirement for annual testing in grades 3-8 still stands. However, this rewrite of the ESEA gets rid of the ludicrous AYP targets and also lessens the role of the US Ed Dept and returns more discretion to the states. At first blush, this wouldn’t seem to be of much help to us here in New York considering our Governor’s stance on testing. However…

It’s being reported that Governor Cuomo is open to reducing the use of test scores in teacher evaluations.

“…according to two people involved in making state education policy, Mr. Como has been quietly pushing for a reduction, even to zero”  

There’s plenty of reason to be skeptical (not the least of which is that he has never given us any reason to trust anything he says), and even the linked article throws some cold water on this actually happening,

“‘There is no position of this administration with respect to this issue,’ the governor’s director of state operations, Jim Malatras, said this week”

Nonetheless, combined with the news about ESEA, this report at least gives some reason to hope, and maybe opens the door just a little wider to give us leverage with the legislature.

Are you Highly Effective at Thanksgiving?

This piece is funnier if you’re familiar with the Danielson rubric (as opposed to the NYSUT rubric, which we use), but still worth a look.

Hope you all have a great Thanksgiving.

Common Core “Listening Session”

Although I was not able to attend last night’s Common Core “listening session,” SWR parent and Comsewogue teacher Melissa McMullan was kind enough to send me a summary.

As you may know, Melissa is an fierce advocate in the fight against the reform agenda, whose writing has been published multiple times in the Washington Post and elsewhere. She also was one of the speakers at last night’s event (see link at the bottom).

Melissa did not give me an estimate of attendance, but the article in Newsday said it was “more than 150,” which means there were probably at least 300 people there.

Overall, the turnout was overwhelmingly anti-common core, assessment, and APPR, from superintendents, board members, teachers, etc…  There was one rogue teacher from Middle Country who touted the benefits of Common Core instruction in his high school algebra class. He went so far as to say that he has learned more about math from Common Core than anything else in 15 years. (kind of reminiscent of a certain superintendent speaking at a forum back in 2014, no?) He also intimated that teachers who are opposed to it are not well trained, or are lacking “enthusiasm for teaching.” The room when nuts and several people stood and turned their backs to him. I did not. If we are there to listen, even if we disagree, we must hear all sides.

The first speaker was one of those paid people like the woman from Mineola. So only two, out of 45 people, showed any level of support. We spoke as a family afterward and if they do not recommend to scrap the Common Core they clearly were not listening.

This really never was about the Common Core, but Common Core has been so corrupted by greedy publishers, assessment creators and the APPR process that it really all has to go. There is no other way to undo what has been done.

Bottom Line
First, we know this task force and listening tour is largely a charade. The state has already said there are no plans to do a major overhaul of the standards or even look at APPR. But they have nonetheless opened the door a crack and we need to take advantage of this. In the Newsday article, State Senator Carl Marcellino (R-Syosset), chairman of the Senate Education Committee, said that “some changes sought by parents and teachers could be on the way.” “We’ll produce whatever laws we need to produce, we’ll try to change whatever needs to be changed to make this work.”

This is the opportunity we’ve been waiting for and we can’t afford to let it slip away. Between now and the end of the next legislative session there will be numerous calls to action, and if we don’t respond in force we will have only ourselves to blame.

Additional Links
Melissa McMullan’s remarks from last night
Newsday’s article about the event
News 12’s Coverage
PJSTA’s post, which includes video of Melissa, Beth Dimino, and others.