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Local News

November 7, 2013

Educators, parents discuss school overhaul

The Common Core curriculum and high-stakes testing were the focus of a two-hour forum Wednesday held by the Oneonta Area for Public Education at Morris Hall at SUNY Oneonta.

More than 200 people attended the session held by the group, which is a coalition of parents, educators and community members dedicated to reclaiming public education in the area, according to a press release. The forum was a partnership with the Oneonta Teachers Association, United Teachers and United University Professions unions.

“We’re one of many grassroots groups that are trying to make a difference,” said one of the group’s founders, Worcester parent Danielle Boudet. The meeting came in response to problems the group's members are finding with the state’s implementation of the Common Core — a curriculum adopted by more than 40 states.

The group is also critical of Federal Race to the Top funding, which requires increased state teacher assessments (APPR) and data collection. Issue was also taken with so-called "modules" many schools are using to ensure that students are prepared for the Common Core standardized tests — used, in part, to measure student achievement and are part of the APPR.

“Testing is creating a one size fits all environment,” Boudet said. “Our teachers are doing a great job despite this.”

She urged parents to opt out of high-stakes testing, which includes the annual English and Math tests in grades 3-8.

“These tests are reducing kids to numbers and data points,” she said.

Hartwick professor Betsy Bloom traced the roots of the problem back to 1983 and the release of a report by the National Commission on Excellence in Education, under President Ronald Reagan, called “A Nation at Risk.” It blamed a faltering economy on public education, and called for changes.

That eventually led to the No Child Left Behind Act under President George Bush and Race to the Top under President Barack Obama, with their increasing reliance on high-stakes testing and increased opportunities for for-profit education corporations.

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