CORNING | Several hundred educators and parents filled the East High cafeteria Thursday to sound off on the controversial new Common Core standards in public schools during a hearing held by state Assembly Republicans.
The lawmakers on hand included the area's two representatives in the Assembly, Phil Palmesano and Chris Friend. They were with two fellow assemblymen who serve on the Assembly's Education Committee, Al Graf and Ed Ra.
The Corning forum was the last in a series of 10 forums held around the state by Assembly Republicans to hear from the education community, Palmesano explained.
“Hands down, we've been hearing that the implementation of the Common Core has been a disaster,” Palmesano.
Graf went a step further, calling the Common Core “state-sponsored child abuse.” Graf recently introduced a bill in the Assembly to halt the Common Core in New York.
Common Core is a curriculum in math and English at both the elementary and secondary level that has been implemented in New York and across the U.S., with the goal of having a more rigorous, uniform learning standard that will better prepare students for college and careers.
But from the testimony heard Thursday in Corning - much like the withering criticism state Education Commissioner John King has heard in recent months - the Common Core has many issues.
Some of the complaints aired Thursday, in a nutshell:
The curriculum was poorly developed and has been rushed into place without proper training and resources for teachers.
The state Education Department implemented the standards without input from local school districts or from lawmakers in Albany, speakers said. The curriculum is confusing and frustrating, both for students and parents who try to help them. And both students and teachers are being unfairly judged by the results of high-stakes standardized tests.
“The more I teach, the more I realize the truth - only the test scores matter,” said Ryan Love, the chair of the English department at Bath Haverling High School.
Liam O'Kane, a high school teacher in Watkins Glen, blasted the state Education Department's “top-down approach to micromanaging our classrooms, and putting teachers in an educational straitjacket.”
Nate Brinkerhoff, a parent of two children in the Campbell-Savona School District, said the Common Core is a “one-size fits all philosophy” that holds back gifted students. At the same time, it's terribly designed for special needs students, other parents said.
Eric Jones, a second-grade teacher in Hornell, said he's always been rated as an effective teacher and has won awards for his work in the classroom. But the Common Core “has made my students failures, and made me a failure as a teacher,” he said.
Palmesano said they'll take all oral and written testimony from the series of hearings and compile a report. They hope to discuss the matter in Albany and push the Legislature to act, or put pressure on Commissioner King and Gov. Andrew Cuomo to either scrap Common Core or consider significant changes.