Education Commissioner talks Common Core in Albany

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ALBANY, N.Y. – New York State Education Commissioner Dr. John King held a forum at Stephen and Harriet Myers Middle School in Albany Thursday to discuss the new Common Core standards.

Most of the parents and teachers in attendance were grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the forum, but also don't really believe that it is going to change anything.

Tara Molloy-Grocki, a second grade teacher in Guilderland says she has a lot to say about the common core.

“It is overwhelming. I do teach second grade and I do feel that the standards are not developmentally appropriate, and Dr. King mentioned it was the curriculum and he is kind of blaming local districts — but it is not,” she says.

She was one of the 67 parents and teachers spoke at the forum. Overall, she says she was pleased at how the forum played out.

“It is nice to have so many people being heard and so many different kinds of people and it wasn't everyone with the same kind of opinion either. So that was good too.”

For
three hours parents and teachers stood and addressed the New York State
Education Commissioner, almost every single person expressing major concern
about the common core, testing and teacher evaluations.

One parent told Dr. King she's not convinced he's even
listening.

“Strictly
as a parent, I'm sick and tired watching my kids cry every night,” says Tim
Farley, a parent from Ichabod Crane.

“We have a problem, this is unacceptable,” added
teacher Randall Gunther.

Dozens
and dozens of speakers lined up for hours, parents and teachers from different
districts across the Capital Region, but with the same message — they are
unhappy with the common core.

“The new common core standards use vocabulary that I am
unfamiliar with,” says seventh and eighth grade teacher Lisa
Magrin.  “How do we expect parents to be able to do this?”

Magrin
says she has her master's degree in math, yet has struggled to understand
and implement the common core modules she has been given.

Another
long-time teacher, Marilyn Held says she retired because of the common core.

“I'm
one of the lucky ones, the rest of them are sitting there waiting for their
time to be up,” says Held.  “It is that bad Commissioner
King.”

Dr. King says the common core is not a curriculum and every district, every school and
every teacher needs to evaluate the materials and decide what makes sense for
their students. He says the materials are a resource but can be adapted.

“We are committed to making adjustments
along the way,” he says.  “I suspect all 45 states which have
adopted the Common Core will over time and we want to make sure we get the
right resources to schools, both the instructional resources, and the financial
resources.”

The meeting was the first in a series of rescheduled Common Core forums. It was also the first time the commissioner faced parents and community members after abruptly cancelling similar meetings two weeks ago.

King was heckled at a Common Core meeting in Poughkeepsie earlier this month where parents said he didn't leave enough time for questions and answers. Many parents were upset with the new education standards saying they were implemented too quickly. Only about 30 percent of students passed the Common Core tests in 2012.

During a visit to School 2 in Troy last week, King said he cancelled the meetings because he felt the meetings were unproductive and spoiled by special interest groups.  He now says the changes in the format will help improve the overall goal of these events.

Other Common Core forums will be taking place in Rochester, Westchester, Suffolk County, Nassau County, Schroon Lake, Binghamton, Amherst, Syracuse and Jamestown.

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