Carmel School Board Votes Against Common Core Dismantling
By Anna Young
Common Core, the controversial learning standards that have been a point of contention since its inception in 2011, was brought into question at Carmel’s Board of Education meeting Tuesday night.
Members of the community spoke out urging the board to vote in favor of a resolution that would recommend the New York State Legislatuer discontinue the implementation of Common Core standards within the state. Despite public concern and a petition submitted by Trustee John Curzio with 490 signatures from high school students in favor ending Common Core, the board voted 4-3 against the resolution.
While Curzio said he strongly believes that curriculum and education policy are best left to the states and local school boards, School Board President Greg Riley, who voted against the resolution, believes the basic tenets of Common Core have merit, commending the district for building a successful program around the needs of students by using the foundational framework.
Common Core standards, put in place by the state, are a set of learning goals that outline the knowledge and skills students should gain throughout their K-12 education in order to graduate ready to succeed in entry-level careers, introductory academic college courses and workforce training programs.
Common Core is designed to provide a clear and consistent framework for educators in an attempt to fix the inconsistent academic standards throughout the country that can’t agree on what students should know and be able to do at each grade, advocates for the learning standards say.
“Familiarity has increased in each consecutive year with the adoption of new instructional materials and with students having received consecutive years of instruction under the Common Core learning standards,” Superintendent Andy Irvin said. “Standards and specifically high standards are good for education.”
But several parents and educators made their case to pass the resolution prior to the board’s paper-thin vote.
“I’ve been involved in fighting the Common Core for the past several years,” Patterson resident Andrew Falk said at the Feb. 7 meeting. “Voting for this resolution is a vote supporting the community that is against the Common Core.”
Anthony Cardinale, a third grade teacher at Kent Elementary School, stated parents and educators are concerned about state testing and graduation requirements due to the skill level being shifted down to earlier grades.
County officials even expressed their disapproval with Common Core.
“The goal of the educational system is to promote an individual initiative allowing children to become all that they are capable of becoming and not forcing conformity in their formative years,” County Executive MaryEllen Odell wrote in a letter addressed to the board.
Legislator Toni Addonizio agreed stressing the importance of bringing curriculum decisions back to a local level.
Trustee Michelle Yorio, who voted against the resolution, said the district has done exceptional work enhancing the curriculum with creative thinking, collaboration, and critical thinking while adhering to the guidelines set forth.
Board Vice President Heyam Nesheiwat, who voted for the resolution, said the negatives of Common Core outweigh the positives. She said she voted against Common Core because the “overwhelming local community response and national response, has been that common core needs to be removed and replaced with a better thought out and implemented approach.”
But despite mixed feelings throughout the board, they all agreed they voted for what they felt was best for the students.
“I do not agree with all the components of Common Core but to simply abolish it without providing our administrators, teachers and students with another plan that works does not make for a productive learning environment,” Trustee Tara DeTurris, who voted against the resolution, said. “Our schools promote consistency and until there is a better proposal on the table this is my course of action.”