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Brindisi writes letter to King urging reconsideration of some Common Core standards

By WKTV News

(WKTV) - Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi has written a letter to State Education Commissioner Dr. John B. King Jr. to ask him to reconsider some of the new Common Core standards for students in Pre-K through second grade and for special needs students.

In his letter, Brindisi said during the Oct. 7 Town Hall Meeting on Education in Whitesboro parents and educators told King that more rigid standards for special needs students were resulting in behavior problems for students and reduced class attendance.

“New York has long been noted for having an outstanding educational system for students with disabilities and special needs, but judging from some comments I’ve received from parents, the current system of testing is simply too strenuous for many of these students,”  Brindisi wrote to King.  Brindisi says only a very small number of special needs students can be exempted from the new educational requirements, and this needs to be reviewed.

Brindisi also told King that parents of young students also are expressing concern about the amount of testing now required in the early grades.

Brindisi has asked King to convene parents, teachers, and educational experts to consider changes to the Common Core standards that might help educators who teach special needs students, as well as whether the current testing program for Pre-K through second grade students is appropriate.

The following is the text of Brindisi’s letter to King:

November 15, 2013

Dr. John B. King, Jr., Commissioner

New York State Department of Education

89 Washington Ave.

Albany, NY  12234

Dear Dr. King:

I want to thank you again for coming to Whitesboro last month for the Town Hall Meeting on education.

During the Whitesboro forum and in the time since it was held, I have received comments from teachers and parents who are very concerned about two aspects of the State Education Department’s Common Core Standards.

First, I believe that requirements of the Common Core and the related Annual Professional Performance Review for Special Needs Teachers may be affecting teachers’ efforts to help these students.  One Special Education Teacher at the Whitesboro forum stated that the rigid standards for these students has resulted in behavior problems, and reduced class attendance by these students.

New York has long been noted for having an outstanding educational system for students with disabilities and special needs, but judging from some comments I’ve received from parents of special needs students, the current system of testing is simply too strenuous for many of these students.  Currently, only a very small number of special needs students can be exempted from these requirements, and I think that needs to change, keeping in mind the federal requirements for students with disabilities.

I also join with some of my colleagues who have been expressing concern about the amount of testing in Pre-K through second grade.  As a parent of young children and a former school board member, I understand how important it is to encourage them to read and to explore the world around them.  According to many parents of young students, memorization and frequent standardized test taking is only leading to anxiety, and a fear of going to school among some children.

Therefore, I would respectfully ask you to examine these two issues.  I believe parents, teachers, and educational experts should be consulted to consider changes to the Common Core Standards that might assist educators who teach special needs students, as well as whether or not the testing program for Pre-K through second grade students is appropriate.

If you have any questions, please feel free to call my office.  Thank you very much for your consideration of these important issues.

Sincerely,

Anthony J. Brindisi

Member of Assembly

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