What You Don’t Know About New York and Common Core Will Surprise You!


lace to the top

Photo of our children wearing bright green laces for their Lace to the Top

In New York, in the unlikeliest of places, there is a revolution going on! We have only just begun our fight against the Common Core and we won’t stop until we win! This is a fight for the hearts and minds of our children and we will protect them.

Albany, We Will, We Will Rock You!

Common Core has done something that no other issue has been able to do. It brought New Yorkers, and particularly Long Islanders together – political opponents, unions, parents, administrators. We are a disparate group here on Long Island, compliant of government demands, but on the issue of Common Core, we are banding together in what can only be described as a revolution. We are fighting for our children.

The value of Common Core is not a left or right issue. This is about what is right for our children. We all love our children.

There is bipartisan support for and condemnation of Common Core but the people who count – the children, the teachers, the parents – are the ones who oppose it and must be heard. It’s our children, not the government’s children.

We all have one purpose – Common Core must be stopped and it either has to be fixed or abolished.

New York is the first of 44 states to adopt the Common Core Curriculum and it is not going well. It’s been three years of pure hell for the teachers and children on Long Island.

New York State has been bought off as have 44 other states with large sums of cash rewards. Our state accepted $700 million in 2010 alone. The money will end but the expense of Common Core will not.

There are mega bucks involved in the publishing of new texts, tests, et al. There are a lot of people who stand to profit from it.

The Common Core was the brainchild of business people like Bill and Melinda Gates and it was fueled by free money from the Race to the Top funds in the Stimulus package. It is disingenuously described as a grass roots movement when it is in actuality a movement initiated by corporations.

It’s so bad that a description can’t do it justice and might even be unbelievable.

This past Saturday, a rally was held at Comsewogue School District on Long Island and what was not expected to be a big event quickly became one, but you wouldn’t know it or understand what was going on if you read the local rag of a newspaper, Newsday.

Newsday said this: ‘More than 1500 parents, teachers, and students gathered at the Comsewogue High School football field in Port Jefferson Station yesterday to criticize the Common Core standardized tests on which a majority of Long Island students performed poorly.’

They made the issue about people wanting to complain about tests their students couldn’t hack. Newsday continually refers to the standards as tough new standards.’ A more apt description would be ‘irrelevant’ new standards.

Newsday gave a brief rundown of what is going on but certainly didn’t reflect what is really at the heart of the new movement. Newsday then wrote, ‘On the Island, 37.5 percent of students in grades three through eight passed math tests in April compared with 75.4 percent who passed less rigorous tests in 2012…’ They want to further the idea that the kids can’t hack it because these tests are more rigorous. Very thoughtful of them.

Our students largely go on to college or vocational schools and they compete with the best students around the nation for the best colleges. The way it is being portrayed is either because of Newsday’s ignorance or they have some agenda.

There were 2,000 at the rally according to the police department but Newsday said there were over 1,500. They like to round down. They put the article about the rally on one column on page A21. That’s right, most people won’t notice it.

Joe Rella launched the revolution we are about to pursue:

‘Today is a celebration, and what a group we have to celebrate with. Students, almost students, parents, grandparents, educators, leaders of government, leaders of unions, our community, we come from Long Island, upstate, middle state, downstate, out of state. Your presence speaks volumes. And for every one of us here today, there are many more who wanted to be here but could not but they are with us today. We haven’t had much to celebrate in the last three years or so, have we? [Shouts of agreement] Nope.’

‘To a greater or lesser extent, all of us have felt helpless, demoralized, frustrated, scared, angry, frightened for our children’s futures. What’s wrong? Things have changed so much. They have, haven’t they?’

‘Well, remember, we, all of us, have been passengers on a plane being built in mid-air, as our commissioner described his APPR initiative but it applies to so many other things that are happening. There are a lot of planes. The Common Core plane. The Park plane…no long faces, because today we are canceling our flight reservations. We are jumping off that plane. Hold hands, I don’t want you to get hurt…you can’t really get hurt. It was never going to fly very high. It wasn’t designed to fly very high.’

‘Today’s message is a very simple and very important one. The NYS Common Core initiative, its implementation and testing regimen is hurting our children and it must stop now.’

Joe Rella went on to explain how hard they tried to be heard and to get help but no one was listening. They couldn’t get help from the state education department. Only a few legislators listened. The newspaper stories didn’t match what was said.

There were 20,000 at rallies in Albany and not a word was heard about it on Long Island and we can’t be invisible again, Rella said. No one is going to rescue us.

He said we have to find a different way to get our message out. He talked about letters to the state about the testing and the scores. The state believes that what you do in third grade will determine if you get to college. [Yes, that’s insane!] Joe Rella calls it magical thinking.

He posted the letters he sent to Albany on his website. His site that usually has 30 hits went viral with people calling from Texas, even Indonesia. He found himself talking on someone’s site in Utah. [I found him being talked about in Missouri]

Rella plans to use social media to get the news out. Newspapers are folding because that’s not how people get the news anymore.

Rella quoted Popeye – the great philosopher – That’s all I can stand, I can’t stands no more. He said he reached his Popeye moment. Any test that is designed to have 70% of the children fail is abusive. He sees his duty is providing a physically and emotionally safe environment. We don’t allow bullying of our children.

Clearly, we cannot and will not let anyone else bully us.

He talked about the stress parents and teachers are experiencing over the tests and the impending assault on the childrens’ self-concepts. It’s been three years of constant assault.

What’s right about any initiative that ‘puts families in turmoil, puts dedicated people in fear of losing their livelihoods, and the ultimate obscenity of damaging a child’s self-image and perhaps altering a child’s self-defintion, Rella asked. They should be ashamed of themselves, he added.

Those who designed the programmatic destruction of public education and who tally up all that money coming in would be doing none of it if it weren’t for a teacher.

He wants business-speak ended and academics and teachers looking at this curricula.

Rella wants it stopped now. He doubts it can be fixed, he has serious doubts. If not, he said, then scrap it. His slogan is ‘Stop It, Fix It, or Scrap It!’

How are we going to get this done, he asked. We must have a unified, measured voice. Numbers matter! We must communicate with the Governor, Commissioner, legislators. Email, call every week. It can’t just be from the school. It has to be all of us.

He talked about the unconstitutionality of a nationalized curricula, curricula must come from the states.  He said $400 million was waved in front of the states and that’s when it became a grass roots movement.

He warned that they are going to be schooled in what a grass roots movement looks like.

Let August 17th be the day we found our collective voice, he stated firmly and with conviction.

The anti-Common Core movement has a symbol – green laces, representing our Lace to the Top. Two dedicated teachers created them.

‘Fix it, stop it, Scrap it!’

We must start contacting these people. I will put the contacts for the state senate and assembly on the blog roll on the right Tuesday.

Bill A07994 was filed in the New York Assembly and then referred to the education committee.  This bill will halt the implementation of the Common Core State Standards and Race to the Top in the State of New York if passed. Click to read the bill!

The bill is thanks to the hard work of Assemblyman Al Graf. He needs your help, click on Fix NY Schools to sign the petition or offer to help.

Check out this Facebook page!

Check out this very important website. It has information you will need to make a judgement about Common Core. They are holding a Stop Common Core event in East Harrison, NY on September 21st to educate parents about what Common Core is. Save the date!

2000 parentsPhoto of real grass roots action

Joe Rella with Al GrafPhoto of Principal Joe Rella on right and Assemblyman Al Graf to his right with school children