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Local News

September 26, 2013

School 'modules' draw flak at meeting

Teachers and parents in the Oneonta City School District addressed their concerns about so-called modules being used as part of a state initiative at Wednesday’s regular Board of Education meeting. More than 80 people attended the meeting at Riverside Elementary School.

Several superintendents earlier in the day discussed their experiences of using the scripted lesson plans designed to help students learn the state Common Core curriculum. All had some degree of difficulty, but none had people speaking out at a public meeting on the issue.

The modules are being rolled out in grades K-8 for English Language Arts and math. Other grades and subjects will have a similar treatment as the state tries to meet the requirements of the Common Core. The curriculum has been adopted by more than 40 states in a federal effort to have students learning the same information.

At Wednesday’s meeting, Ken Sider, a third-grade teacher at Valleyview Elementary School said the modules provide minute-by-minute directions that teachers don’t have the authority to change.

“We have become a tool” as the modules have “stripped the joys from learning,” he said. Students are no longer allowed to be “spontaneous or unique,” he said. “We are here to ask the board to loosen the stranglehold these modules have on our children.”

Several other parents and teachers expressed their concerns about the modules and the detrimental effect they were having on students during the public comment sections of the meeting.

Oneonta City School District Superintendent Joseph Yelich, who started in the district in July, said in response to Sider that he had similar concerns, and that he has expressed those concerns to officials at the state Department of Education. He said he’s ready to give flexibility to teachers in following the modules as he and his administrators search for long-term solutions.

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