Thursday, 20 March 2014 00:00
A few weeks from now, New York’s public school children in grades 3-8 will spend six days taking the poorly designed, expensive New York State Assessments. The overreliance on these tests has pushed school districts to abandon successful curriculum models and confine themselves instead to the limited, unproven and expensive Common Core standards.
“Prepping” for these dreary, mind-numbing examinations greatly reduces the time our kids can spend on appropriate, meaningful educational pursuits. It inhibits excellent teachers from bringing their inspiration and ingenuity into the classroom. The tests penalize children for their creativity and original thinking, and they punish gifted children and those with special needs even more severely. The process also channels tens of millions of our tax dollars out of the classrooms and into the coffers of rapacious testing corporations, who view our children as nothing more than a footnote on their bottom line. These companies also eagerly look forward to gaining access to our children’s confidential personal information.
Faced with this threat to our children’s education, a large and growing number of parents (ourselves included) are taking the very logical step of opting our children out of the New York State tests.
When asked why we would refuse the tests, we ask instead, Why would we let our kids take them? We really can’t think of a reason.
These assessments do not benefit our children, and they serve no educational purpose. Unlike the exams given by teachers as an aid to instruction, the Common Core tests are secret. Teachers cannot use them to improve learning, because they aren’t allowed to see them. Ever. Want to know which questions your child answered incorrectly? Sorry, you’re not allowed access to that information. Would you like to see if the test itself contains errors? Oh, you definitely can’t do that. Why all the secrecy? Possibly because every version of the tests has been riddled with errors, developmentally inappropriate material and ambiguous questions. Months of prepping and a week of testing are reduced to a single-digit score, and we’re supposed to assume it tells us anything of value? All available evidence points to the contrary.
The tests are also needlessly stressful, punitive, and take away months of vital classroom instruction time. College students on their way to medical school take the MCAT. It lasts around 4½ hours. The Common Core exams are given to our kids for six days, one to
two hours per day or more. And that is every year, starting in third grade. If 4½ hours of testing is enough to get you into medical school, it is ridiculous to assume that double or triple that amount, every year, is necessary for a child in grade school. No other high-achieving nation tests their children in this relentless, harmful way.
Educational leaders throughout New York are speaking out forcefully that these tests are harmful to our children and detrimental to their education. Just this past week, nearly 100 of Long Island’s school superintendents appealed directly to Governor Cuomo, urging him to support a halt to the testing process. School Boards in Port Jefferson, Great Neck, Herricks, Huntington, Syosset, Rockville Centre and many other districts have made public statements and passed resolutions opposing the misguided, harmful state assessment process. Additionally, several thousand principals throughout the state have signed an open anti-testing letter to the Board of Regents. It is becoming difficult to find anybody (other than the people being paid to say so) who will tell you that these tests are actually useful for anything. Enough already.
There is no requirement that your children take these tests. Opting them out is very straightforward. You just visit the website of the NY State Allies for Public Education and download an opt-out form. Fill in your information and send it to your child’s principal.
Specific opt-out protocols vary from district to district, so discuss it with your principal or superintendent. In some districts, children will read quietly or do other schoolwork while the tests are being given.
So the real question becomes, why would you let your kids sit through these tests? The only reason we can think of is, “because other people are doing it.” As we teach our children, that isn’t a good reason to do anything. Really, it isn’t. It certainly isn’t a good reason to let our kids take these useless, absurd Common Core tests. We have a better idea. If we want to know how our children are doing in school, we will ask their teachers.
Mitchell & Susan Rubinstein
Friday, 31 October 2014 00:00
Driving rain and cold temperatures could not keep Long Islanders from coming out to support the first annual DogFest Walk ‘n Roll, a fundraiser for Canine Companions for Independence. Held for the first time at Marjorie Post Park in nearby Massapequa, dogs of all breeds and sizes came with their humans with one goal in mind; to raise funds for CCI.
Event organizer Yvonne Dagger, past president and now board member, discussed the importance of the event.
Thursday, 30 October 2014 00:00
It’s been more than 50 years since the Farmingdale High School class of 1964 roamed the halls of their beloved high school, but that doesn’t mean that the memories have faded. The class—the first to graduate from Farmingdale High—came together on Saturday, October 18 at the Marriott in Islandia to celebrate all of the good times past and make new memories as a class.
Thursday, 30 October 2014 00:00
The Giants and Jets met for the 2nd time this season, with the Giants again getting the victory over the Jets. Jalen Gordon scored late into the 1st half for the Giants, which turned out to be the only points in the half. The Giants shut the Jets down for both halves, keeping the offense off the board. The Jets strong point this weekend was the defense, with Kyle June and Jake Kuller picking up the weekly William June Foundation awards. In what is turning into a rough offensive season for the Jets, these awards continue to remind the boys of the perseverance and determination of the award’s namesake and his “never say quit” attitude.
—Submitted by Paul Caputo
Thursday, 30 October 2014 00:00
William Merola, a member of the Farmingdale School District’s wrestling program, was recently selected to attend the third annual U.S. Marine Corps Summer Leadership and
Character Development program, which is limited to 150 sophomores and juniors throughout the nation.
Over the summer, from July 20-26, Merola attended the third annual Marine Corps recruiting command summer leadership and character academy at the USMC base in Quantico.
The SLCDA (Summer Leadership and Character Development Program) educates high school leaders about Marine Corps Officer Programs by participating in classroom academics, ethics training, accelerated college prep, physical fitness training, a field exercise, a community service component and a field trip to Washington, D.C.