Yonkers Teacher Among Those Airing Out Common Core Concerns

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A Harrison parent yells at New York Education Commissioner John King about the Common Core at a public forum held in Port Chester Monday.
A Harrison parent yells at New York Education Commissioner John King about the Common Core at a public forum held in Port Chester Monday. Photo Credit: Casey Donahue
Yonkers teacher Kevin Clifford speaks about how the Common Core hurts schools.
Yonkers teacher Kevin Clifford speaks about how the Common Core hurts schools. Photo Credit: Casey Donahue
John Del Vecchio of Yorktown talks about his experiences under the Common Core and how it has increased his stress as his mother Linda looks on.
John Del Vecchio of Yorktown talks about his experiences under the Common Core and how it has increased his stress as his mother Linda looks on. Photo Credit: Casey Donahue
New York Education Commissioner John King addresses criticism of the Common Core at the forum held in Port Chester Monday.
New York Education Commissioner John King addresses criticism of the Common Core at the forum held in Port Chester Monday. Photo Credit: Casey Donahue

PORT CHESTER, N.Y. -- Hundreds of Westchester County parents and educators expressed concern and outrage to New York Education Commissioner John King over the implementation of the Common Core at a public forum held before a packed house at Port Chester Middle School on Monday night.

Many felt that the Common Core standards have been implemented too quickly and that not enough due diligence has been performed on their effectiveness. Others said that there was an over-reliance on testing, and that the standards reduce teacher and administrative control over what children are taught in the classroom.

Administrators and school board members complained that the Common Core and teacher assessments are placing a heavy burden on district budgets.

"At Yonkers, we've had cuts for guidance counselors, our psychologist, our social workers, our peer support, art, music, library, everything has been decimated," said Kevin Clifford, a Dobbs Ferry parent and teacher in Yonkers Public Schools. "Yet you want our students to meet the same standards as everyone else. I tell you, that is not fair. That is not right. That is not just."

Lou Wool, the superintendent of Harrison Schools, said that superintendents tried to warn King and the Board of Regents about the issues raised by the Common Core. He said that the curriculum has hurt the people in poverty it was partly designed to help.

"I spent 18 years in a district that is predominantly a district ravaged by poverty and I can tell you this reform agenda has not only not helped, it has damaged them," he said. "And all of this could have been accomplished quite differently.

"There's not a single superintendent in this room that's not opposed to teacher accountability. There's not a superintendent that's opposed to reasonable use of test data. What we were opposed to was the medical malpractice that's been perpetrated on the teachers and the children of this state." 

Some said that King should resign, while others called for a repeal or a vote on the Common Core. There were some who accused King and members of the Board of Regents of having personal financial incentive for implementing the curriculum.

Those who crowded into the auditorium enthusiastically applauded those who spoke against the Common Core. Nobody spoke in favor of the initiative.

The only student who spoke was John Del Vecchio, a 10-year-old from Yorktown who was joined by his mother, Linda. He talked about how much work the Common Core standards have created for him.

"There is so much pressure to pass all these tests, me and my classmates have to stay in during recess to cover material for the test," he said. "I've always done well in school, but this work has become so confusing I often want to give up."

King said that he has seen the Common Core in action and that he has seen its success in school's he's visited. He said that work will continue to be done on the curriculum and implementation to make it more successful.

"We will make adjustments, but I don't want to leave any confusion about our commitment to our work on the Common Core moving forward, ensuring that we work with government and legislators to make sure the resources are there for all districts to reach those higher expectations, and to work on teacher and principal evaluations."

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Comments (24)

Did John King ever teach in a classroom? His bio says he started a charter school but it did not say anything about him teaching. I am a teacher and am very concerned about where education is going.The common core is a good idea because it is suppose to challenge the children but its implementation is full of flaws. I wish we could just let the kids learn. Most teachers know how to challenge their students. We are so sick and tired of non-teachers telling us how to do our job. I am very worried about the future. And yes, poverty is a very big factor in who succeeds and who doesn't. I see it firsthand everyday.

no need wasting energy worrying about the future, this country hasn't one. nothing that you might recognize anyway.

It so refreshing to see people keeping it clean and focused on the kids ;)

While I care about the general state of education in our country, poverty and inequality, and unfunded mandates - I'm much more concerned with what's going on with my first grader this week. If you more substance and less political ranting, I've created a new blog to deal with specifics: http://tarrytownparent.wordpress.com

@Casey Donahue - your lead is wrong. There were at least three people who spoke in support of common core. I wanted to, but was registered as number 76 and so didn't get my shot at the mic.

What was criticized was the way in which common core is being rolled out, its unfunded mandate status, the one-size fits all pattern independent of a child's learning style, and the unwillingness of the State to provide individual student's test results to school districts. Each of these are valid issues which can be constructively addressed, but emotional appeals (most on offer yesterday) do not help.

Your selection of the guy from Harrison to be your lead picture is interesting given his having been shutdown by the moderator [good job, by the way] for leveling personal attacks that had no place in the forum and which provided no value to the event. He seemed surprised [disappointed?] when a sizeable number of people applauded his being cutoff.

@Case - looks like you changed the title of your post. Thanks. Would still be nice to see a "deeper" article that gets into the facts as to what's going on. The irrational rants attacking the left (or right) miss the point that the Common Core, testing and teacher evaluation plans were all discussed and approved by the NYS School Board Association as well as the teacher's unions and the administrator's unions. So, while there are huge problems with the roll-out, no one in a position of authority has a right to plead ignorance as to what was coming.

Agree with you Bob all of which are valid concerns. My point is that the intent of the common core itself is not the issue.

I think State Ed. scheduled when it did, because renting out Capital Theater or Westchester County Center would have busted the budget. The middle school auditorium was pretty full... and many parents brought their passionate concerns to the attention of elected and appointed officials. Take the fight to those slimy Tea Partiers and former GOP idiots who gave us NCLB... The right wing has led Pearson and InBloom to feed at the public trough. Bill Gates, Mike Bloomberg, former Senator Al D'Matto built this. You arm chair teachers don't have a clue what it like to work under these conditions where the precious lives of our children are being used and exploited for profit. US schools still produce the best and the brightest, don't buy the myth that we are failing. Dig deeper and you will find that our education system is 2nd to none.

Oh please. Yeah, the Tea Party gave us CC. OK. Is lying like a reflex? Progressives from the left and right are responsible for this, and it's been accelerated without input, exactly like ACA. When the educators and states have the freedom to teach and decide how their students will reach their goals then we can talk higher standards. This isn't about helping kids ... it's about control and social engineering. The content is awful, it's heavily biased, it's anti-American (Columbus was an INVADER??!!!) and it's tied to big money as they sell out our kids personal information without allowing parents access. It's going to ruin the learning spirit of our kids. It's bad, bad on all levels. Teachers deserve the FREEDOM to teach.

A gentle answer deflects anger.

~ Proverbs 15:1

Ralphie, if you've got a problem with the state issues, then go to Latimer, Stewart-Cousins, Otis or Paulin. They're the ones who aren't looking out for the middle class (us).

You sound like the opposite of the Tea Party or the ultra left, the far left or left wing. Whatever it is, isn't good for Westchester County residents and sounds expensive.

Do not overlook the fact that this extremely important meeting was held at a time when most parents were either working or picking up their children from school. WHY WAS THIS TIME SELECTED? TO KEEP PEOPLE AWAY!

fedupinny, The students of the United States of America are not falling behind students of other nations. Those statistics are misleading; in countries such as China and India only the best and brightest are tested because they are the only ones that are allowed to continue academic schooling past the age of twelve.

Here's the problem. There may be issues with the common core that need to be addressed but the fact of the matter is this country is lagging every major industrial country in both math and english so something needs to be done. We are graduating students who don't know history, math, etc as they are being dummed down. Instead of yelling at each other as is evident by the parent shown in the picture parents, teachers and the state need to figure out how we raise the bar for the students of this generation so that we don't become a country of individuals who can't compete with other countries.

Woefully misinformed. The ed reform crowd likes to pretend poverty is an excuse for poor performance.It'sthe leading cause of poor performance. If you factor out poverty ravaged areas the US has the best scores. Don't just accept this lie, challenge yourself to look into what these people say. They lie constantly. King is a huge liar.

fedupinny, we don't have an education problem in this country. we have a poverty problem. kids in upper income districts are doing just fine. when you factor out for family income in those national comparative tests, the USA is doing well. we do NOT do well in the underserved, urban districts. we need equitable funding, we need a better commitment to ALL schools and we need more social service supports to make sure students come to school able to learn every day. not everyone at the podium last night was yelling. of course the media chose the more dramatic photo. there were MANY speakers who spoke calmly, eloquently and politely. they just don't make it onto the front page.

"New York leads all states in school spending per student"
By Glenn Coin on Syracuse.com | on June 01, 2011 at 8:09 AM, updated June 01, 2011 at 2:40 PM

Ellen and Big Sean I am well informed I just don't tend to agree with you. Yes the poor districts need to be addressed but I can assure you that coming from a northern westchester school district one of those so called rich districts (although don't agree with that) there are many students even in those schools who just can't cut it and it's not because of the common core. Our entire educational system in this country is a mess and I don't agree that if you adjust for the poor the US is right up there with the rest of the industrialized countries.

i am a yonkers parent and was one of those who spoke. it was nice that king mentioned me and the yonkers teacher in his response to the speakers. he said he was concerned about the inequity in funding that both of us mentioned. what is disturbing is that it sounded as if he had never thought about this before or realized that some districts face financial challenges in implementing this misguided curriculum. huh? really? he didn't know that one of the largest cities in state has massive financial needs for its schools? how could he be so blind? too much time spent talking with for-profit consultants, not enough time actually learning what is going on in the state's school districts. shaking my head....

Implement common core now.

We live in the era of John Kings. Guys like this are literally everywhere.

I agree; the John King's make a living off of "babble" and taxpayer's and parents are paying the price along with today's children.
It's shameful...........

Hilarious how King talks of "our commitment to the common core" when he sends his kids to a private Montessori school. "Our" commitment John, would involve you exposing your own kids to this toxic sludge instead of whining that none of us wi go along with it for our kids. We heard you say in Saratoga how you just eat lousy meals and drink terrible wine instead of sending it back. If the same lousy meals made your kids throw up and hate school. Would you tell them to just eat it? This is what you get when the billionheiress is allowed to hire her flunky. A guy who's not career ready and clearly lacks rigor.

Your good point reminds me of NBC host David Gregory who was vehemently opposed to armed guards in schools; yet his OWN children attend a school that was reported to have over half a dozen armed guards.

The limousine liberals are at it again.

"You" & "We" need to do this but they can do whatever they want and NOT be questioned.