The Community Education Council of School District 21 (CEC21) is challenging the state’s testing and educational policies, voting this week to request the Department of Education ”re-evaluate and slow the implementation” of Common Core testing standards.
The council’s resolution argues that the tougher standardized testing requirements of the Common Core curriculum do not meet the individualized needs of students, and leave many students – especially those with special needs – in the dust.
“Each child is different and this approach is very cookie-cutter like,” said Heather Ann Fiorica, the president of CEC21.
They also say that the state bungled implementation, pushing it through too quickly without soliciting feedback or providing training.
Community Education Councils were formed after community school boards were stripped of power and abolished in 2002. The new boards – one for each of the 32 school districts in New York City – are comprised of parent volunteers and provide grassroots support and feedback to the Department of Education on the needs of schools in the district. They are advisory only. The Community Education Council of District 21 covers schools in Gravesend, Bensonhurst, Bath Beach, Coney Island and a sliver of Sheepshead Bay.
The group becomes the latest in a nationwide chorus critical of the new Common Core Learning Standards, which have been promoted with incentives by the Obama Administration and adopted by New York State in 2010. Common Core is an attempt to create a consistent educational standard nationwide, and as the program has ramped up in the state it has meant longer and more frequent standardized tests. In addition to the testing, a national movement opposing the new curricula frequently focus on the speed with which it was implemented, the lack of public input, and the marginalization of local educators.
For Fiorica and her colleagues at the CEC, Common Core has the potential to improve the quality of education for local students – but the state’s implementation of it and the reliance on high-stakes testing is cause for concern.
“The way it is now, no one is on the same page,” said Fiorica.
The resolution, which you can read in full below, requests that implementation be slowed until the state and city provide more support and guidance for teachers. According to the resolution, teachers have not yet been given the full curricula and are unsure of what to teach.
CEC21 hopes their January 15 resolution will help spur the state and city Departments of Education to reevaluate the program and allow teachers and students more time to adapt to the changes, and open up a dialogue for more feedback.
The resolution also requests that parents have the option to opt out of the data being collected on schoolchildren in a massive database called inBloom, which will be run by a private contractor capable of selling or sharing the data with unspecificied vendors.
Additional reporting by Ned Berke.