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January 25, 2014

The state Board of Regents deserves a shakeup

 Last Saturday, despite a blanketing snowstorm, more than a hundred people showed up, some from as far away as Binghamton and Utica, at Oneonta High School for a forum titled, “On the State of Education in New York: Reform and Resistance.”

The draw for these stalwarts was three outspoken and well-regarded school administrators from around the state who have challenged the Common Core state standards, high-stakes testing, teacher evaluation linked to test scores, InBloom’s data collection of students’ personal information and the corporate takeover of public education in New York.

Tim Farley, Ichabod Crane Elementary School Principal, described how more than 200 children, including his own children and those of U.S. Rep. Chris Gibson, opted out from the state tests last year in his district. These courageous acts of civil disobedience empowered the parents in his district and demonstrated to those of us who are worried about negative consequences for children, teachers or administrators that there are zero penalties, financial or otherwise, for sending the powerful message of opting out.

Carol Burris, principal of Southside high in Rockville Center and 2013 School Administrators’ Association of NYS Principal of the Year, used her expertise to explain in detail how the Common Core Standards do not prepare students for life after school but actually diminish their capacity for success in college and the workplace.

Several of our elected officials, including state Assemblymen Clifford Crouch and Pete Lopez, state Sen. Jim Seward and Gibson attended the event. Each spoke in support of a return to local control over our schools. All noted in their remarks that they have faced a barrage of letters, emails and phone calls from concerned parents, teachers and taxpayers.

The tenor of that correspondence is consistent; children are stressed, the learning has been hijacked by canned curriculum that isn’t educative, and millions of dollars are being siphoned off from school programs to enrich big publishing companies and IT developers.

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