April 23, 2013
By NYSUT President Richard Iannuzzi
To be clear, NYSUT believes the state’s new Common Core learning standards have the potential to enhance student learning and help students hone their critical thinking skills—if implemented correctly. The key word is ‘potential’ and the key phrase is ‘if implemented correctly'.
For two years, NYSUT has been telling the State Education Department that it has been moving too fast, and without the time and support for schools and students. Teachers have been speaking out by the thousands and with unprecedented conviction and passion. Sadly, the State Education Department and Regents have been deaf to teachers’ voices and to a booming chorus of parents who know what’s best for their children and who, too, are loudly declaring that these high-stakes tests are too much, too soon and are coming without enough time for teachers – and school districts – to do it right.
The chancellor may believe, as the New York Times reported, ‘We can’t wait. We have to just jump into the deep end.’ But NYSUT, on behalf of the state’s teachers, says that if students are going to jump into the deep end, it should be after they’ve had plenty of swim lessons and perhaps with a life jacket if they need it. Teachers are passionate about saving every single child.
Clearly, the state Education Department has lost its way. It is doing something that no teacher would ever do—testing before instruction. Last week’s English Language Arts tests and the Math assessments that today are largely based on material that has not been taught because the state promised, but has not provided, all the necessary Common Core lessons. In fact, the State Education Department has not developed a single lesson module for teachers to use before this week’s math tests for students in grades 6, 7 or 8. Yet, students and teachers will be held accountable.
Accountability runs both ways. It’s time to hold the commissioner and the Regents accountable.