Wappingers Parents Rail Against Common Core Standards
WAPPINGERS FALLS, N.Y. – More than 100 people came out to the Wappingers Junior High School auditorium Monday night to tell the Wappingers Central School District Board of Education how they felt about the state’s new Common Core Learning Standards.
Twenty-five speakers spoke for more than 75 minutes and each one condemned the standards, some calling Common Core unproven, confusing, and a corporate takeover of the education system.
The outpouring of public comment was the result of the School Board’s denial of a Common Core presentation that was to be made by Anne LaValle, a district mom. The board had originally approved the presentation, but in a re-vote, it was turned down.
“Common Core is the wholesale takeover of our education system,” LaValle told the board Monday night during the public comment portion of the meeting. “The board claims it is powerless [to stop Common Core], but that’s not true. Their obligation is to the people who put their trust in them.”
Districts can reject the standards but they would stand to lose federal grant money from the Race to the Top program. So, far New York State has awarded some $700 million in grant money. The Wappingers Central School District would receive $228,047 over a four-year period.
Many parents on Tuesday night called for the board to reject the standards and the grant money and inspire other districts to do the same. School districts in Hyde Park, Pleasantville, Mt. Pleasant and Pelham have already done that.
Some parents contended that the new standards were created by a small group of individuals without the input of professional educators.
“You are preventing parents, teachers and taxpayers from hearing what the real experts have to say [about Common Core],” Lisa Daley told the board. “There is no empirical evidence that the standards would work. It conflicts with what colleges view as a well-rounded education.”
Some parents said that Common Core is nothing more than a money grab by corporations that produce the standardized testing that goes along with the new standards.
“Our most compelling concern is the covert process and experimental nature [under which the standards were created],” Deborah Torres Henning said “It’s received funding from corporations who have a vested interest. It was dictated by two private trade organizations and there is no recourse to amend [the standards]. It’s not about education, but about the financial control of our education system.”
Joe Porpora, a former Wappingers School Board member, agreed.
“People who make the tests make money – there is a profit motive here,” he said to the board. “You have the power to tell the state that these standards are no good.”
Some speakers also suggested that districts that adopt the new standards could leave themselves open to class-action lawsuits in the future.
Students have had difficulty with the new standardized tests under Common Core, which employs a different grading criteria. Teacher evaluations are partially based on how their students perform on those exams.
“Once again we are being told these changes will revolutionize the way our students learn, but where is the evidence?” asked school board member John Lumia, after the public comment session ended. Lumia suggested the district form an ad hoc committee that would include parents, teachers, students and administrators, to take a closer look at Common Core.
“There is no one on this board who does not want what is best for our students,” he added.
“We have taken a lot of notes. We have heard you and we will talk about what you have said,” board President Ved Shravah told the audience. “”We are all on the same side here, but we have very strong adversaries who have billions of dollars. If we do not put our house in order, they will take over the entire education industry.”