A legislative column from Assemblyman Chad Lupinacci
(Albany, NY) The 2013-14 school year is rapidly coming to a close; so is the 2013-14 legislative session. But one should not end without changes to the other.
Common Core had a disastrous implementation and has continued to burden our schools over the past year. Its failures can be seen on the frustrated faces of our students, educators and parents. Last summer, my Assembly Republican colleagues and I hosted a series of hearings across the state to gather input from students, parents, teachers, administrators and education advocates. Over and over again we heard stories of students suffering physical and emotional hardship, teachers who felt confined to test results instead of a quality education, and administrators grappling with the cost of implementing these new standards and curriculum.
In January our conference released our report on Common Core, At the Educational Crossroads and offered a comprehensive plan, the APPLE Plan, to deliver the reforms needed. Per our suggestions, testing would have been delayed until after a comprehensive review of the Common Core Standards had been completed. An independent teacher panel would have been established to develop, review, and approve age/developmentally-appropriate curriculum and assessments and the major funding gap, the GEA, would have been eliminated state-wide in three years.
Unfortunately, only some of these concerns were addressed during the budget process. While the steps were positive, it simply was not enough to truly reform our state’s ongoing educational nightmare.
This week my colleagues and I again brought forward legislation to help alleviate the burden and provide reform. Our bipartisan legislation, which had 45 sponsors, would have created a Blue Ribbon Commission on 21st Century Testing and Curriculum. The commission would have been tasked with studying the current education system and then issuing a report, making recommendations to the legislature and the governor regarding education policy and best practices for K-12 education. Unfortunately, our legislation was defeated along party lines, 23-8.
As a former South Huntington School Board member and an educator myself, I know the struggles our school districts face. Our teachers, administrators and parents all have the same goal in mind: provide the best education possible for our young minds. That’s where our legislature must now step up and do our part.
We must deliver comprehensive reform to Common Core. That means placing a higher priority on providing professional development, instead of just training teachers to teach for the test. It means providing state reimbursement for implementing teacher evaluations, Common Core, and other programs that we’ve mandated upon the districts, and providing reimbursement for school districts that expended resources to locally develop curriculum aligned to the Common Core Standards.
We should create an alternative pathway to a high school diploma, including a Career and Technical Education pathway, by increasing state funding for BOCES. BOCES should be a resource for students and school districts, not a financial burden. Finally we must reform the State Department of Education and the Board of Regents by allowing the governor to appoint the Commissioner of Education and requiring any changes which impose financial mandates by the board be approved by the state Legislature and governor.
With these changes, we can hold our heads high knowing we truly have made a difference in the future of our state and nation.