New York Teachers Union Pulls Support for Common Core

New York State United Teachers Union has submitted a resolution that pulls their support on Common Core, declaring they have “no confidence” in state Education Commissioner John King, and calling for his removal.

“It’s not about an individual,” said NYSUT President Richard Iannuzzi. “It’s about the individual’s policies and his insistence in pursuing those policies in a way that’s damaging to instruction in New York State. It’s a judgment about his ability to provide leadership we need.”

The NYSUT is part of the American Federation of Teachers and was an earlier supporter of Common Core. But AFT President Randi Weingarten has since called implementation of the Core “far worse” than the troubles with the HealthCare.gov Web site.

This decision sends a strong message to King and the Regents as they both encounter criticism over the implementation of the new Common Core Standards.

Members of NYSUT have complained that they were not given adequate guidance in how to implement Common Core. They also have a problem with the state’s new teacher evaluation system that is based on how students perform on standardized tests.

Those assessments, given last year, proved controversial when state officials predicted exactly what percentage of students would flunk.

Another problem recently came up when a website created by the New York Education Department sent students to other sites with vulgar material. Officials refused to take responsibility when asked about it.

The Union is asking for:

  • A three-year moratorium on using test scores for evaluation decisions.
  • More time for teachers to review Common Core lessons and modules.
  • More parental engagement, including officials taking the time to listen to parental concerns
  • Tools and resources that would help teachers address the needs of diverse learners, and those with disabilities and English Language Learners.
  • Full transparency by releasing all test questions so teachers can use them to improve instruction
  • The postponement of Common Core Regents exams as a requirement for graduation.
  • More funding to ensure that all students have an equal opportunity to achieve the Common Core Standards.

King and Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch issued a joint statement regarding the resolution:

“Together with the Board of Regents, the Governor, and legislature, we will make necessary adjustments and modifications to the implementation of the Common Core,” they said, “but now is not the time to weaken standards for teaching and learning.”

The resolution will now go to NYSUT’s representative meeting, where union delegates will vote on it.

The action taken by the NYSUT is a blow to those who support Common Core, which has been adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia. The implementation of Common Core has become a controversial subject with states pulling back, changing the standards, or in some states like Florida changing the name altogether.