A group of Lakeland School District parents believe the state’s Common Core is detrimental to their children and they are planning a major lobbying campaign to convince state officials to change them.
Parents for a Common Cause was recently formed in the district to fight the standards, which were discussed during a meeting presented by the Lakeland District Parents’ Council December 18 at Lakeland High School. Over 100 local residents attended the meeting.
Parents for a Common Cause’s goal is to educate parents about the Common Core Standards curriculum and assessments; explain the student data sharing initiative being sought by the state; provide parents with the tools they need to express their opinions on the Common Core; and answer parents questions and provide them with resources on the issue.
The Common Core standards are learning expectations for students in kindergarten through grade 12 in mathematics, English Language Arts and literacy. According to the Lakeland Parents’ Council, the Common Core are meant to prepare students for success in college and careers.
Mike Lillis, president of the district’s Federation of Teachers union, said Common Core assessments were adopted by the state in July 2010.
Lillis said Common Core Assessments have been harmful to New York’s students. “Tests have increased dramatically,” he said. For example, the time taken by Lakeland students in third grade to take state standardized tests last year increased by 163 percent over the previous school year, he said.
Lillis said the state prohibits teachers from seeing tests or test items and after a new state test is taken by students, educators cannot share what was on the test with their colleagues.
Lakeland Superintendent of Schools Dr. George Stone said the district decided to stop taking federal Race to the Top funds (distributed through the state) because it objects to the sharing of student data with the state and Lakeland officials are concerned about student privacy being violated. The district already provides such data as biographical information, enrollment, as well as attendance and anonymous suspension information.
Stone explained the district objects to providing student data to iBloom, a private non-profit organization that provides data security, storage access and transport. Funding for sharing student data would only be provided by the state for two years and would duplicate data sharing Lakeland already provides for parents, Stone said. After the first two years, “The cost to us would be over $30,000 a year,” he said.
Denise Kness, a member of Parents for a Common Cause, said the Common Core was harming students. “We have to do something,” she said, adding later, “We have the support of all of our teachers.”
Parents for a Common Cause has posted a survey on line at quia.com/sv/646792.html. The organization is planning to send the survey results to state legislators. The organization is also seeking to have 20 or more parents directly call state legislators to express their concerns about the Common Core. Parents interested in calling should send an e-mail to email@example.com or visit Facebook.com/p4commoncause, Kness said. She added that her organization was planning to meet with state Senator Greg Ball and conducting a campaign for parents to write letters to state legislators.
Some of the parents in attendance last week said they would consider having their children boycott the new state tests, which they can legally do, but must sit in class while the tests are being administered.
One parent noted that the state predicted low passage rates on the new state tests, which were first administered in the previous school year The new exams had a different scoring system from previous state tests “It’s a set up” and a way for the state to diminish public schools through such means as creating many more charter schools, the parent said.