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February 17, 2014

In Our Opinion: Let's fix Common Core, not fight over it

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The Daily Star

---- — “Too little, too late” was how Gov. Andrew Cuomo characterized the changes proposed to the state’s implementation of the Common Core curriculum. 

“There is a difference between remedying the system for students and parents and using this situation as yet another excuse to stop the teacher evaluation process,” Cuomo said in a statement issued last week after the state Board of Regents proposed delaying more rigorous graduation requirements and letting teachers off the hook for low test scores.

Cuomo went further, saying that the board’s recommendations “are another in a series of missteps by the Board of Regents that suggests the time has come to seriously reexamine its capacity and performance.”

So if you thought the debate over Common Core couldn’t get any more fever-pitched, think again. 

“Too little, too late” these recommendations may indeed be, but they may also help local schools cope with what has been a hastily rolled-out and poorly communicated set of changes. 

If nothing else, it shows us all that the Board of Regents is done turning a blind eye to the obvious flaws in how the state has chosen to implement the Common Core State Standards. 

“It’s good to feel they are listening, and will give us the time to do it right,” Franklin Central School Superintendent Gordon Daniels said Wednesday. 

Meanwhile, the governor has taken the “Fine, I’ll do it myself” approach, appointing his own panel to look into ways to improve the system. 

In theory, this should be an opportunity for the state to hit the pause button and take into account “the concerns expressed at the hearings and forums,” as Tisch said Monday, regarding “the urgency of our work, and the unevenness of implementation.”

Instead, it looks a lot like it’s just going to be another opportunity for the folks in Albany to squabble at each other.

We don’t care who fixes Common Core — it can be the Board of Regents, Cuomo’s special panel or aliens from Mars. But there are a few things that could use a second look. 

Let’s try to relieve some of the frantic pressure on districts, and give teachers some breathing room so that they can stop treating modules as if they came down from Mount Sinai. Delaying the teacher evaluation system, despite what Cuomo said, is a good step in this direction. 

On the other hand, it’s disheartening to think that it may take until 2022 for the state to get its act together enough to start requiring passage of Common Core-aligned exams for graduates. 

Sidney Central School Superintendent Bill Christensen may have said it best when he noted, “If we expect more, we will get more. ... A delay may be needed, but this is too extreme.”