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Educators, parents challenge state education commissioner
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Christina Daly and Howard Schwach/Herald
Michael Dobler, who taught at Merrick-Bellmore schools for more than 40 years and was a union leader, protested outside the forum because he had no ticket to attend.

Asked how he can resist the complaints of teachers, administrators and district staff, committed educators with years of experience, King said that they are “misguided” and that there is a lot of misinformation about Common Core. “We know that the program has to be adjusted, tweaked,” he said. “Every new program needs adjustment. We are in a seven-year process, and we are not going to slow it down. The pace of the introduction is reasonable.”

The forum addressed four topics: Common Core; the Annual Professional Performance Review program, in which teacher evaluations are tied closely to student achievement; the right of parents to “opt out” of the testing program; and student privacy rights. While it was scheduled to run from 4 to 6:30 p.m., it did not end until after 7, with people still firing questions and demands at King.

“My child studied for the state tests, and he cried every night,” Antonia Dimaggio of Franklin Square, a parent of a student at the John Street School, told King. “There was no enjoyment in going to school. He was simply overwhelmed by the constant practice tests. I’m all for my child being challenged, but I can’t even help him with his homework anymore. I try and help him do his math and he tells me that they don’t do it that way anymore. What do we gain by frustrating students and taking away the joy of learning?”

When King said that shared her concerns, there was laughter in the audience. “We know there is too much test prep, but that is directed from the districts, not from the state,” he said. “We want to engage in instruction, not just assessment, and we know that we have work to do in that area. We have to ensure instruction in all the subjects — social studies, science, foreign language.”

His answer drew calls from the audience that time for those subjects had been cut to make way for extra instruction in reading and mathematics, as well as test prep.

This has been shoved down our throat,” one participant told him. “We’re in the real world, and nobody in the state has thought of the kids. We’re not ready for the tests, and the kids are demoralized and losing self-esteem. You should have started this program in kindergarten and then moved it up one grade at a time instead of jumping into the deep water with both feet.”

A woman who identified herself as a parent and a high school and college math teacher told King, “Our educational system is not broken and we don’t have to fix it. A large percentage of our students go on to college. Our job should be to get our students, especially in the lower grades, to think creatively, to be curious and to love learning. We’re not doing that. Instead we use scripted lessons, with students spending lots of time filling in boxes. They hate to come to school.”

King denied that Common Core lessons are scripted. “That is not true that the teachers have to follow a scripted lesson,” he said. “The decision on how to use the material we provide must be local.”

That answer drew catcalls and boos — and that was the way most of the session went.

Martens said that the bills awaiting consideration in Albany would follow the recommendations of the state’s PTA to stop the process for a year to provide time to get it right. King, however, said that the state is not ready to do that.

“We are moving ahead with what the children need,” he said. “There are too many of our students who need remediation when they get to college, and that is not acceptable. We owe it to the students to move forward.”


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I guess your photographer got there very early and missed the hundreds of protesters outside.

Thursday, November 21, 2013 | Report this

I am posting a recent article that was released today regarding the Common Core:

Mental Health Professional Denied Speaking Slot at King Common Core

Community Forum

On Tuesday, November 26th, NYSED Commissioner Dr. John King is holding

a Community Forum on Long Island at the Eastport-South Manor High School

in Manorville, NY from 6:00-8:00 PM.

The only Mental Health professional in New York State who is publicly

speaking out on the subject of the Common Core, Mary Calamia

respectfully requested the opportunity to speak and present a

statement on record regarding the mental health ramifications of the

Common Core State Standards before Dr. King.

Ms. Calamia was denied the opportunity to present this important

statement to Dr. King. The reason was she does not reside in Senator

LaValle’s district.

The following is the statement Ms. Calamia wanted to present at the

Community Forum:

Statement for NYS Education Commissioner John King

My name is Mary Calamia and I am a licensed clinical social worker. I

want to thank you for bringing us the Common Core. Business has never

been better.

If not for the Common Core, I would never have met the 8 year old who

is so afraid of the Spring exams, she has to be medicated just to go

to school.

Or the 4th grader who vomits every morning, certain that he is "the

stupidest kid in the class."

Or the lady who has to leave work early, her job in jeopardy, because

her 7th grader becomes so hysterical over his homework, she fears for

his safety.

Or the 6 year old boy who is scratching the skin off of his face,

drawing blood every time he does his homework.

Or the 8 year old who picks his skin obsessively and has to go to

school with band aids all over his face.

Or the honor student who carved the word "stupid" into her wrist with

a razor blade after last year's math assessment scores came out.

Without the Common Core, I would not be working 10 to 12 hours days

without a break just to treat all of the young people streaming into

my practice with anxiety, depression, self mutilation, panic attacks,

insomnia, school refusal, and a host of other maladies.

I thank you for the emergency phone calls at all hours of the night

and the countless interrupted meals, leisure activities, and family

occasions when I have had to address a "homework meltdown" that could

not be resolved without professional intervention.

How many more children will you send my way? How far do you plan to go

with this disaster that you call "education" but more closely

resembles child endangerment? How desperate are you to be right? What

will it take for you to do the right thing?

Contact: Mary Calamia (631) 675-0080, mcalamiacsw@aol.com

Copyright 2013 - Mary Calamia, LCSW, CASAC

Thursday, November 21, 2013 | Report this

What qualifies this guy to be a Commissioner of Education? Being black and young should not warrant an appointment to such a high state position. Dump him...and Cuomo for appointing him.

Thursday, November 28, 2013 | Report this
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