Despite their support for the goals of the Common Core, some Central New York lawmakers say New York’s program is off to a rough start and needs work.
“In general, I think the policy is a good policy,” Assemblyman Al Stirpe, D-Cicero, said. “It was set up for a disaster because you took away resources instead of adding resources.”
For example, state budget cuts to education made it more difficult for schools to prepare for the Common Core, Stirpe said. Sending teachers to staff development workshops and paying substitute teachers requires money, he said.
The Common Core State Standards Initiative is a set of educational standards for students in kindergarten through 12th grade, and its development was led by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, according to the initiative’s website corestandards.org. The Common Core has been adopted in 45 states; Washington, D.C.; four territories and the special schools run by the Department of Defense for children of military families in Europe and the Pacific, according to the website.
States have been voluntarily deciding to adopt the standards since 2010, corestandards.org said, and each state’s education department works to implement the Common Core. The federal government did not play a role in creating the standards, the website said.
Some Central New York lawmakers raised these concerns about the Common Core:
- Not enough money from the state for schools to prepare for the Common Core:
Assemblyman Stirpe suggests one problem in New York was having budget cuts to education at the same time districts were supposed to prepare for the Common Core. He cited a $1.1 billion cut for the 2010-11 school year, another $1 billion cut for 2011-12 and only a $500 million increase to school funding for 2012-13. “You can’t be cutting budgets fairly drastically and at the same time supposed to be accomplishing more,” Stirpe said.
Only wealthier districts could begin to develop their own curriculum years in advance, he said.
Most teachers Stirpe has talked to are not opposed to the Common Core and its goals to challenge students, he said. “I don’t think teachers should be afraid of it – Common Core is here to stay,” he said.
- Use of teacher evaluations too early:
Teacher evaluations should be eliminated immediately, Assemblyman Gary Finch, R-Springport, said. He argues that teacher evaluations should be added five years after the implementation of the Common Core so they can adjust to the new curriculum.
Finch has voted against teacher evaluations and their release to the public. It’s unfair for teachers to have the evaluations tied to the new, difficult curriculum of the Common Core, he said.
He has resisted efforts to repeal the Common Core, he said. “If they pull it out of the school system or repeal it, it would be a disaster for students and the future of this country,” Finch said.
- Introducing the Common Core too quickly in schools:
In a statement, Assemblyman William Magnarelli, D-Syracuse, said he agrees with the New York State Board of Regents’ vote to delay the full implementation of the Common Core for five years.
In a statement, state Sen. John DeFrancisco, R-Syracuse, raised concerns that the Common Core was rolled out too quickly. DeFrancisco supports state Sen. John Flanagan’s, R-Nassau, bill that would allow for studies on possible changes to the Common Core.
State Sen. David Valesky, D-Oneida, and Assemblyman Sam Roberts, D-Syracuse, did not respond to multiple requests for interviews for this story.
(Kristen Eskow is a junior majoring in broadcast and digital journalism.)