Education reform made headlines this week, and to quote the late, great New York Yankees’ legend Yogi Berra, “It’s like déjà vu all over again.”
For the second time in as many years, Governor Cuomo has created a task force to review the Common Core standardized tests. When he used this approach in 2014, the endeavor produced nothing original. One media outlet described the results by saying, “nearly all of [the recommendations] have already been adopted by the State Board of Regents or proposed by lawmakers.”
The latest task force is charged with providing proposals before the governor’s State of the State Address in January. The focus seems to be on generating content for a speech, rather than generating new answers for students, parents, teachers and school districts.
ALBANY’S INACTION IS COSTING OUR KIDS
This week, I wrote to Governor Cuomo expressing my disappointment that existing reform proposals have been ignored and that the Assembly Minority Conference is not represented on the new Common Core Task Force. We have certainly earned the right to be there. Assembly Republicans toured the state in 2013 to hear from concerned students, parents and teachers. We remain the only legislative conference that has demanded the tests be put on hold until the entire program is fixed. Our proposals include:
- Stopping administration of Common Core tests until reforms are implemented;
- Providing funding for professional development;
- Eliminating the Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA) to help school districts become fiscally stable;
- Reducing the over-reliance on student testing;
- Reasserting that an Individualized Education Program is the supreme document for the education of a child with special needs; and
- Requiring parental consent for disclosure of student information to a third party.
For two years, these measures have sat on a shelf, waiting for action. Our schools don’t need another time-consuming, ineffective, public relations exercise of a task force. They need immediate help.
WHILE THE CLOCK TICKS, SCHOOLS HOPE FOR HELP
Third-grade students who took Common Core tests in 2012 are now sixth graders facing their fourth round of exams this spring. It is unconscionable that Albany has taken this long to act, when the problem was identified so long ago and solutions have been ready to be implemented for years.
Parents have made it abundantly clear that half-measures are no longer acceptable. More than 200,000 students were opted out of the tests in April. Without substantial reform, it’s likely that number will increase this spring.
Recently, the Board of Regents Chancellor suggested that changing the name of the tests might be in order to help diffuse some of the controversy surrounding the issue. But the Chancellor should know, applying a new coat of paint doesn’t fix a house that’s falling down. Our children and our schools do not need a re-branding of Common Core. They need solutions and substance. And they need them right now.
What do you think? I want to hear from you. Send me your feedback, suggestions and ideas regarding this or any other issue facing New York State. You can always contact my district office at (315) 781-2030, email me at email@example.com, find me by searching for Assemblyman Brian Kolb on Facebook, and follow me on Twitter.