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Mar 19, 2015 12:12 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Forum On Public Education Urges Parents To Opt Out Of Common Core Testing

Mar 25, 2015 12:53 PM

More than 200 people attended a forum in East Quogue on Monday that urged parents to opt out of Common Core testing and to put pressure on Albany to get rid of the standard altogether.

Members of the East Quogue Parent Teachers Association and the East End Advocates for Public Education hosted the forum, titled “Reclaiming Public Education in New York State,” which drew educators and parents from the East End to East Quogue Elementary School.

“I think awareness is growing,” said Cynthia McNamara, a member of the East Quogue Board of Education who also acted as the moderator for the evening. “I think this is a ‘make it or break it’ year. There is so much at stake.”

Among those who spoke about the negative effects that Common Core testing has had on students so far were Carol Burris, principal of South Side High School in Rockville Centre; Beth Dimino, president of the Port Jefferson Station Teachers Association; Jeanette Deutermann, co-founder of New York State Allies for Public Education; and Terry Kalb, a retired special education teacher and advocate for parents of children with disabilities.

All are members of the New York State Allies for Public Education. It is a group composed of parents, educators and community members who hope to scale back standardized testing in New York.

The East End Advocates for Quality Education is primarily a Facebook group, whose mission states that it is “a page dedicated to helping East End parents advocate for quality education for all children.”

“I’m fully aware of the ramifications of my actions, but my fear can’t stop me from speaking out,” Ms. Dimino, who has refused to administer the tests in her classroom, said Monday night. “These tests show nothing about the child. This is the single act of civil disobedience that will have an impact on our children’s future. We are parents. Nobody can tell us what we can do with our children.”

Recently, U.S. Representative Lee Zeldin, who has expressed distaste for the Common Core on more than one occasion, proposed an amendment to an educational appropriations bill that would allow individual states to opt out of Common Core standards for K-12 education without losing hundreds of millions of dollars in federal aid. The amendment, referred to as the “Zeldin Amendment,” is one of 128 proposals to the Student Success Act, which would fund primary and secondary education programs from the 2016 fiscal year to the 2021 fiscal year. A vote has not been set on the Student Success Act.

In 2010, the New York State Legislature adopted Common Core in order to receive $700 million in federal funds for education through the Race To The Top program. The state would not have otherwise qualified for the funding.

On Monday, members of the East Quogue Board of Education sat in the front row during the forum, but when approached by The Press, noted that they were there as “parents and community members,” not members of the board.

Board President Kathryn Tureski said, “If I had kids in the district, I’d opt out.”

The four women from the advocacy group have been speaking at forums across Long Island on a regular basis about what they believe are the dangers of Common Core testing and sharing stories of students having anxiety attacks and even getting physically sick because of the way the exams are phrased and the weight they carry.

One Westhampton Beach mother, who declined to share her name with The Press, said she opted her two daughters out of the exams. “I think some of the stories are heart-wrenching,” she said after the forum.

Ms. Burris told the group that opting out of the exams was the only option left to show legislators in Albany that they disapprove of Common Core. “Opting out is saying that we understand that these tests are the rock under which all of this is built, and we are not going to take it anymore,” she said. Loud applause as well as shouts of agreement followed her statement.

The group also addressed rumors that students who opt out of the exams will be blocked from honors courses or will be given a practice exam to pass the time while other students are taking the test.

One woman, who refused to give her name or say where she was from, said she felt that there was a disconnect between administrators’ actions in signing letters expressing concern with the Common Core and what was actually happening in the schools.

“I have these administrators signing on to these letters, but when you sit with them and talk to them about why you’re doing this … you get the runaround,” the woman said.

Ms. Deutermann explained that some teachers and administrators are not allowed to talk to parents about their personal opinions on the tests.

“It’s all fear-based. They’re worried about rebellion, but parents and students are smart. They know the difference between a good test and a bad test,” she said. “There is still so much fear out there. They should be afraid of what will happen if we don’t do this.”

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Another forum to lie to parents that they don't need common core or any type of critical thinking. A joke
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Mar 19, 15 10:46 PM
1 member liked this comment
Common core is a joke.
By razza5350 (1911), East Hampton on Mar 25, 15 1:02 PM
From the National Education Policy Center: "Carol Corbett Burris has served as principal of South Side High School in the Rockville Centre School District in NY since 2000. Prior to becoming a principal, she was a teacher at both the middle and high school level. She received her doctorate from Teachers College, Columbia University, and her dissertation, which studied her district’s detracking reform in math, received the 2003 National Association of Secondary Schools’ Principals Middle ...more
By cmac (184), East Quogue on Mar 20, 15 8:57 AM
Great forum!! Important information regarding what is happening to public education.
By eqmomof3 (22), EAST QUOGUE on Mar 24, 15 1:00 PM
3 members liked this comment
Very informative! Well respected speakers in the field of education. Crowd was composed of concerned parents and teachers who truly care about our students and schools! I was grateful to be in the company of such courageous and compassionate people. We will continue to stand up and speak out for our vulnerable children who are caught in the middle of politics and corporate greed.
By JJJ (2), Westhampton on Mar 24, 15 3:18 PM
1 member liked this comment
Great forum! The four highly qualified and respected speakers said what needed to be said. There were no lies, only facts and graphs to back them up.
Protect our children from super egos and corporate greed!
My grandchildren are not guinea pigs!
By Hamptonsseashell (359), on Mar 24, 15 4:57 PM
1 member liked this comment
chief1 has no qualifacations to comment on educational issues
By EastEnd68 (888), Westhampton on Mar 25, 15 12:34 AM
... I would say there were closer to 300+ people at the meeting, not the " more than 100" you report. For that reason alone, your story stinks.

Whether thru design or the inability to count, by under-reporting attendance, your minimize the impact of Anderw Cuomo's assault on education. No community organization or governmental meeting can assemble the number of people like this week's meeting did. The passion there was palpable. The desire to protect the education and health of our children ...more
By William Rodney (561), southampton on Mar 25, 15 8:11 AM
2 members liked this comment
I actually said "I think this is a make it or break it year. There is so much at stake." ~ Cynthia McNamara
By cmac (184), East Quogue on Mar 25, 15 8:16 AM
Yes, I shook my head at the reporting of the attendance, too....waaayyy to low.
Would love to hear from some of the larger groups in attendance. Who was there? I know William Floyd was there wearing great shirts that said, " WE ARE FLOYD STRONG STANDING UP TO TYRANNY SINCE 1776". I know there was a large contingency from Westha,pton as well. Who else?
By Hamptonsseashell (359), on Mar 25, 15 9:28 AM
Not a single BOE member from Southampton was there, pathetic!
By April1 (156), Southampton on Mar 25, 15 2:16 PM
The people here sound like zombies. These people that are against Common Core like Carol Burris don't like Andrew Cuomo, because he wants accountability from teachers. They have no ideas how to improve education, but they want business as usual. Hey Carol why are we 24th in math, and 25th in science in the industrialized world? The system we have now is not working it is too easy. We have kids making the honor roll, and not passing Regents exams. Is this acceptable?
This is the teacher's union ...more
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Mar 25, 15 3:57 PM
1 member liked this comment
A child's ability to test shouldn't count for or against a teacher. Every day preformance should do that.
By Polandspring (96), Southampton on Mar 29, 15 9:29 AM
Every day performance is as reported by the teacher, so that won't work. Common Core has got to go, but there needs to be a way in which good teachers get rewarded and ineffective or lazy teachers get fired. Most teachers are excellent and care deeply about the children, but some just do what's easy. No job should be guaranteed.
By lamm (304), Southampton on Mar 30, 15 10:33 PM
Agreed Chief, we do need accountability , both tithe parents of the students subjected to this excrement and to the taxpayers forced to pay for it. But common core is not the way to achieve the goal. Not sure how it should be done, but handing over the education of our kids to the tools in DC is definitely not the way!!
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Mar 25, 15 5:28 PM
1 member liked this comment
We have had local education in the hands of school boards made up of the local butcher, baker, and candlestick maker. Then we wonder why education is going down hill? Now we have a curriculum that is challenging called common core, and we don't like it? I say keep business as usual, and we can watch foreigner's fill our Ivy league schools. Not picking on you Big Fresh, but that is the answer from educators they don't like common core, but no alternative ideas.
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Mar 26, 15 1:36 PM
If education is going down hill, then that is because society is going down hill! Teachers in today's world now play the roll of parents. Schools reflect their communities. Public institutions are now filled with children from split homes, illegals, and many children that are fed diets of GMO infested garbage on a daily basis. Many children receive virtually no support at home. Students who come from stable homes that support education, and are well taken care of by intelligent loving parents do ...more
By louse pt. (143), springs on Mar 26, 15 4:11 PM
Common core is not designed to be challenging. It's designed by the government to bring the bottom up and the top down, so all kids can meet in the middle. Mediocrity rules.
By lamm (304), Southampton on Mar 30, 15 10:36 PM
It's not so much the Common Core. It's that 6 days of testing is a waste of time. There should be one day for Literacy and one day for math. Teachers and parents know how their kids are doing in school. Why should a kid who is in all accelerated classes and achieving honors grades, need to take 6 days of testing? On the opposite end, does it really make any sense for kids who have no chance of coming close to passing the tests, to take them as well? Much of state testing has to do with teacher ...more
By louse pt. (143), springs on Mar 26, 15 4:02 PM
Anna should be respectful of every speaker. Her nasty replies to Nancy McGann were inappropriate. So is the zone change. Nobody "needs" another grocery store and the traffic impact will make is nearly impossible to go to this one if it's
built. Time to step back and look at what big developers are doing to the quality of life issues out here like water, power, traffic, noise and safety. That's what good government should do. Southampton town and village officials should start before it's ...more
By localcitizen (110), Southampton on Mar 27, 15 8:31 AM
The tests are rigged for students to fail. How can a test be considered valid when 3rd graders is being tested at a 7th grade level. If 95% of special needs children are failing does that not speak volumes about the design and implementation of the tests. All the extra time in the world will not help many of these students.
Common core is designed for the masses. "College & career ready" equates to being successful in a community college not a 4 yr university. The children in the private ...more
By April1 (156), Southampton on Mar 27, 15 8:21 PM
You certainly make a valid point regarding the Common Core with students that have special needs, and also in terms of most kids not being able to pass the tests. The are however some students who are able to keep up with the core who perform well on the tests. i don't think 6 days of standardized testing is necessary for any student, yet the most neglected students in public education are the gifted and talented. Most funding goes to services provided for struggling students. This is part of the ...more
By louse pt. (143), springs on Mar 28, 15 4:26 PM
1 member liked this comment
Louse. Amen to that. The schools do what's needed to get the kids through to the next level. There are very little to no enrichment or developmental programs for gifted children in the public school system.
By razza5350 (1911), East Hampton on Mar 29, 15 5:03 AM
The amount of resources spent on struggling students far out weighs the amount of resources availed to the highly intelligent. This is due to two main issues. The first is lack of funding for programs for the gifted. The second is this political correctness that plaques modern day society. There are no winners and no losers. Everyone gets a trophy, and no one is more intelligent, athletic, or artistic than anyone else. We all know this is nonsense. Some form of tracking needs to be brought back ...more
By louse pt. (143), springs on Mar 29, 15 12:40 PM
The reason that a school spends more resources on struggling kids (and kids with learning disabilities) is because it is a schools legal responsibility to try to keep kids on grade level. It is not their legal responsibility to provide extra programs for kids who are above grade level. When funding is limited, it goes to the struggling students first. Only if they're lucky enough to have anything left after that, will there be anything left for gifted students.
By lamm (304), Southampton on Mar 30, 15 10:47 PM
The money is not spent on struggling children first. Most of the money first goes to pay salaries, very rich benefits and bloated pensions. The children get the scraps. It costs about 20K per year of tax payer dollars to send a kid to school. Sorry but I don't see the value.
By razza5350 (1911), East Hampton on Apr 1, 15 4:28 PM
People send their kids to private school so the local big mouth mom's don't influence their kids education. I say stop all tests, give the kids 35k a year to be put in a trust, and let them text all day.
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Mar 27, 15 9:50 PM
Im curious ... can I start a taxpayer group to opt out of the Teachers Union contract? Now that we can pick and choose what rules we want to follow and which we don't, and civil disobedience rules the day.
By GALAXIE (43), SAG HARBOR on Mar 31, 15 9:41 AM
1 member liked this comment
The call for the opt out is based on an evaluation system that puts too much emphasis on a standardized test created by testing corporations who have politicians in their pockets. Most parents are even more sick of the testing than teachers. Too much time is wasted on test prep. This test should not be used as a main source of evaluations for students or teachers. Is it really fair for students to have to sit through 6 separate testing sessions? All of this for poorly constructed tests that contain ...more
By louse pt. (143), springs on Mar 31, 15 6:03 PM
Sorry Louse you aren't preparing kids for the real world. In life you don't get to opt out of testing for jobs. Teachers think it's ok to let kids graduate, and half of them need remedial help in college.
When I went to school 30 years ago there were broken families, crummy parents, and yes junk food, and we learned. In fact we were always in the top five of the industrialized world in math, and science rather than the 25th spot we hold now.
Louse if education is such a lost cause why ...more
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Apr 2, 15 9:10 AM
All the kids these days have digital dementia. How on earth is a student supposed learn let alone take a test when they've got an iPhone parked in their lap. All they do is text all day long.
Get the phones out of the classrooms already! Common core? How about Common sense???
By Harbor Master (114), Sag Harbor on Apr 2, 15 6:41 PM
1 member liked this comment