In light of the just recently revealed test scores that show that 70% of children in New York state are not proficient in the Common Core Standards a courageous Superintendent has stepped forward with the intestinal fortitude needed to stand up for an entire state’s population of children.
Upon hearing the results, Dr. Joseph Rella, Superintendent of Comsewogue School District in New York, penned a letter to Senator Kenneth LaValle:
Today (August 7th) the State Education Department (SED) released test scores for grades 3-8 ELA and Math tests administered last April. Our scores, as well as the scores of students across the State have dropped significantly—30 to 35 percentage points.
He goes on to outline all of the district’s testing and proficiency changes over the year and points out that in three years’ time it went from 90% of children in New York were proficient in ELA and Math standards and now they are failing.
He states that the only people benefitting from this outrageous reform are test makers, publishers, data management companies and other entities that stand to gain a whole lot of profit through their education agenda.
Ultimately, this drastic change does nothing to help the very children it is “supposed” to be helping. It is only lining the pockets of those corporations and driving the results to seem as though the schools need more reformation, therefore lining these company’s pockets even more.
But let’s remember that all of these things are happening and have happened to adults. Today, we crossed a major line. The majority of our young children will receive the clear message that since these tests are predictors of college success—they are not college material in 3rd, 4th, 5th grade???!!! That message is unconscionable. It is hurtful to our children. I pray it is not lasting.
The man seems to understand that children come first. You would think that would be a natural, why would anyone work in education if they didn’t think the children came first? That’s a good question, but it needs to be asked, as there are some people out there that are not for the children, at all.
On Saturday, August 17th, Dr. Rella was part of a rally in Port Jefferson Station, along with parents and teachers all proclaiming that these new tests are not helping children.
Beth Dimino, of the Port Jeff Station teachers’ association, says something has to be done. “There are people in power that are hurting our children,” she says. “As the adults in the room, we have to make it stop.”
Alicia Palifka, of New York puts it very succinctly with, “We’re better than that.”
According to Long Island News 12 there were 1500 people at the rally, although the fire department estimates higher, at around 2000.
This is a great turn out but as Dr. Rella pointed out at the rally, we need more. We need more parents, educators and administrators involved in this fight.
This Superintendent seems to get it. In his impassioned robo-call to district parents he stated his position on the matter. The implementation of the Common Core and the testing are hurting our children. The fact that 70% of the students will be told that they are failures is not good. “That message is wrong,” says Dr. Rella.
He goes on to say that the rally, called Students Not Scores, is calling on the governor, legislature, commissioner of education and the regents to stop or halt the implementation of the Common Core and testing tied to it.
He says if it can be fixed, fix it. “If it can’t, throw it out, scrap it. Stop it, fix it, or scrap it.”
What a refreshing attitude to see from an administrator. Many involved in trying to raise awareness about the Common Core have run into administrators and people in education that happen to be proudly proclaiming the implementation taking place as something that will be akin to a magic pill and will help all children be college and career ready.
Dr. Rella is not just talking the talk here either. To close out his letter to Senator LaValle, he says this:
If you believe that any of this is valid, then please help us. We are being systematically deprived of our fundamental rights as Americans to appeal. No one is listening!
If not, then I request that on behalf of our residents—your constituents—you initiate proceedings to have me removed as Superintendent. IF this assessment system is truly valid, then during my tenure as Superintendent, our students went from 90% proficient to about 30% proficient. At best this is gross negligence. At worst, this is willful malpractice.
Superintendent is willing to walk to walk and for that, we cheer and take hope.
We also urge other Superintendents to do the same. If you want to see children succeed and not be hindered by an arbitrary test that is doing nothing but telling kids they are failures and tying them to the confusing Common Core Standards, then stand up, for the love of children!