New York school leader calls the implementation of Common Core ‘a disaster’

November 12, 2013

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Ben Velderman Ben Velderman

Ben was a communications specialist for EAG from 2010 until August 2014. He is a former member of the Michigan Education Association.
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WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – Over the summer, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan began blasting critics of the new Common Core learning standards as mostly belonging to right-wing “fringe groups.”

4plus4Duncan apparently hasn’t spent much time in New York state, where parents, teachers, school officials and other normal, well-adjusted citizens have emerged as some of the nation’s most vocal critics of the Common Core fad.

There’s a reason New Yorkers seem angrier about Common Core than most other Americans: The Empire State is a year ahead of virtually all other states in implementing the new standards and the accompanying student tests.

And being the nation’s Common Core guinea pigs is causing a lot of frustration.

For example, during a recent school board workshop, Watkins Glen Superintendent Tom Phillips described New York’s implementation of Common Core as “a disaster” and complained state officials are “trying to change 30 years of education in 18 months,” reports Observer-Review.com.

“In New York, the pace of change that is being dictated by the commissioner, state education department, and board of regents in simply unreasonable,” he added.

Jon Armstrong, a third grade teacher in another New York district, echoed those frustrations.

“We’re scrambling to do what we believe the state is going to be asking us to do, but not all the materials are there, and not everything has been released from the state yet, and that does make it very difficult as a teacher,” Armstrong told PressConnects.com.

The Common Core standards – which tell educators which concepts to teach and when – are also proving difficult to modify for struggling students, according fifth grade teacher Emily Napierala.

Critics also add that Common Core is forcing teachers to “spend hours outside of class learning new ways to teach,” according to PressConnects.com.

The New York Daily News recently reported that some Common Core-aligned teaching materials are poorly written and riddled with errors.

It all adds up to a bungled mess that creates confused students, angry parents and demoralized teachers. The chaos is perhaps the worst in New York, but it’s starting to appear in many of the other 40-plus states that are busy implementing Common Core.

Somebody needs to tell Duncan those “fringe groups” he warned about seem to include a lot of mainstream Americans.

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