November Monthly Column

 

Ray Walter's Legislative Column - November 2013

             A couple of weeks ago, State Education Commissioner John King was scheduled to hold a town hall forum on the Common Core Curriculum right here in Williamsville. When I heard the meeting was cancelled because Commissioner King didn’t enjoy the response he received at a previous forum, I was extremely disappointed. The outcry from parents, teachers and administrators from across the state was deafening. Thankfully, Commissioner King realized his mistake and is scheduling ten new town hall meetings.

             As a fellow public official, Commissioner King must realize that accountability and transparency are critical aspects of our service. That means holding forums like the ones being conducted by the Senate Majority coalition and by my Assembly Republican colleagues, even if spirits run high. That means attending large community events like the Partnership for Smarter Schools Summit at Kleinhans Music Hall, where I joined 2,500 concerned parents, teachers, students and administrators who made their voices heard. That means listening, understanding and acting on these concerns.

 I have heard from a lot of concerned parents, teachers and administrators over the past year regarding Common Core and high stakes testing. While I think we can all agree that creating higher standards and greater accountability is necessary and proper, a one size fits all system with an emphasis on standardized tests does not bring us closer to this goal. Dr. Jaekyung Lee, the dean of the Graduate School of Education for the University at Buffalo, put it best when he recently stated, “Our schools need standards-based education with room for individualization and innovation, not standardized education. One size never fits all.”

 Another frightening aspect of this education reform is the compiling of our children’s personal information into a $100 million database.  A nonprofit called inBloom, Inc., is compiling this data for multiple states and while they say the data is secure, we all know there are no guarantees. This database will store sensitive information about things like students’ social security numbers, learning disabilities, health records, and teacher assessments of a student’s character.  Many other states have pulled back on their plans to use this database, but New York is still actively involved in it despite the outcry from parents and educators. 

 I encourage all of my fellow parents to talk to your children’s teachers, administrators, and school board members to see how these reforms are affecting your school.  Also, keep an eye out for information regarding forums on this issue taking place in the coming weeks and months. My office will have more details soon, but I encourage you to attend. 

 For more information Common Core, state-mandated testing or any other state issue, please email me at walterr@assembly.state.ny.us, call me at 716-634-1895 or visit my office at 5555 Main Street in Williamsville.

 

 

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