A Column from Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin (R,C,I-Schaghticoke)
As our children begin school once again, we are unfortunately reminded of the lengthy test prep and examination time that awaits them as a result of the Common Core Standards. The swift implementation of Common Core has left many students, parents and teachers searching for answers about how to cope with the new testing standards and learning requirements. There is no time to waste, and our children cannot wait until the legislature reconvenes because every day that goes by is one too many. We need to repeal and replace Common Core immediately.
We need more flexibility for creativity in the classrooms, thus allowing coursework to evolve. This one-size-fits all mentality about teaching destroys its dynamics. Our children are not “common” and should not be treated as such. I was one of the first legislators out in front on this issue, and I held an educational forum to gain input on Common Core in Troy. I experienced firsthand the pain and anguish these new testing standards have placed on our children, parents and teachers. Bright students were brought to tears because they were struggling with test questions that teachers were not allowed to properly prepare them for. The absolute worst thing we can do is steal our children’s ability to succeed, and that is exactly what Common Core has done.
It has been my legislative priority to put an end to these foolishly-implemented standards before our children are permanently damaged. By continuing this irresponsible regulation of classroom activity, we are robbing our children of the ability to think outside the box and master the traditional concepts that will allow them to succeed later in their educational careers. As teachers are forced to spend more hours prepping students to succeed on these exams, less time is available for teaching traditional concepts and more pressure is placed on teachers. Teachers should be evaluated on their work quality and dedication, not on how students score on an exam.
Now is the time to put an end to this abuse of our education system. Teachers, parents and students remain in the dark as test materials continue to be hoarded by Education Commissioner John King and pressure mounts due to continued testing. As a result of our education forums across the state, I have worked with my colleagues to create the Achieving Pupil Preparedness & Launching Excellence (APPLE) Plan to reform Common Core. Our plan would delay Common Core testing until the year 2016 for grades Kindergarten through eighth grade and establish the Blue Ribbon Commission to evaluate every aspect of Common Core and make recommendations about whether it should be reinstated.
Unfortunately, the Assembly Majority twice blocked this legislation, proving that they feel it is okay to treat our teachers like drones and our children like guinea pigs. Fortunately, I fought hard to include reforms in the 2014-15 State Budget that will prohibit test scores from appearing on a student’s transcript, require the Commissioner of Education to release transparency reports on testing performed in each school district, and limit the time devoted to state testing and preparation.
Although these are steps in the right direction, we must continue to fight for our children, teachers and parents and put an end to Common Core before any more damage is done.
Assemblyman McLaughlin represents the 107th district, which consists of parts of Rensselaer,
Columbia and Washington counties. For more information,
please visit Assemblyman McLaughlin’s campaign website.