In New York, teacher and parent groups are increasingly standing in opposition to the new Common Core Standards. State Education Commissioner John King Jr. has already received many complaints from parents and educators in a series of public forums across the state, and the critical voices are growing louder.
King was blamed for too quickly imposing more rigorous academic standards tied to the Common Core benchmarks. Some parents called him deaf to the misery of pupils taking standardized tests and too open to commercial involvement in the system, writes Al Baker of The New York Times.
The Common Core is a set of national standards being implemented by nearly all states that set benchmarks for what students need to know to be prepared for college and careers in the 21st century.
King reiterated the state’s commitment to its current course. “The reason that 45 states, the District of Columbia and Department of Defense schools have all come together around the Common Core is the clear need to ensure that all of our students graduate from high school ready for college and career success,” he said.
King and the state Board of Regents said they will move forward with implementing Common Core despite the opposition. The New York State Allies for Public Education and other organizations of teachers and parents criticized the Common Core and said the new standards require too many tests for students.
“There is now a Common Core Syndrome,” said Beth Dimino, an eighth-grade science teacher, who was speaking to King in a packed high school auditorium in Suffolk County.
King is holding the listening tour as several major changes occur all at once. Schools have begun to adopt tougher curricula in accordance with Common Core. New tests based on those standards began last year before the curricula were fully in place, causing students who once easily passed tests to suddenly be branded as failing.
The state also introduced a new teacher evaluation system that has led districts to add even more bubble tests, even in the early grades. The state has angered some parents with plans to share students’ academic data on an Internet cloud to help education companies develop digital teaching materials more closely tailored to children’s needs.
King plans to host six more forums outside New York City through December 9 and at least five in the city in the coming weeks.
“Experiencing the frustrations and emotions of the change process is part of leadership,” King said in an interview last week. “So, I see this as part of my responsibility to both hear people out about their concerns, to make thoughtful adjustments where appropriate, and also that we continue to explain why we are so convinced about the urgency and importance of raising standards.”
People who support King are blaming teachers’ unions for whipping up some of the emotion. Timothy Daly, the president of the New Teacher Project, a group focused on teacher effectiveness and aligned with the reform movement, said that public displays of aggression toward King were political tactics that should be cause for concern.