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Hold On, Albany, These Are Our Children

Anyone who thinks that getting mad, speaking out or maybe even raising a little hell doesn’t get results, I have two words for you: Common Core.

A year ago, the Common Core curriculum was virtually unknown to most parents and everyone else not directly involved in K-12 education. If anything, it was passed off and readily accepted as a good thing — a more “rigorous” approach that would make our kids and our country more “globally competitive.”

But as the state Regents rolled out the curriculum and the tests tied to it, parents quickly felt crushed by a hyperactive bureaucratic steamroller. Kids as early as third grade were suddenly subject to multiple hours of testing that would not merely assess their skills, but also be used to evaluate their schools and teachers.

Educators didn’t get the materials needed to even figure out what to teach. And no one adequately explained what was so wonderful about the Common Core in the first place. That 45 states and the District of Columbia had adopted the Common Core, and that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, as well as numerous Wall Street zillionaires, have endorsed it was supposed to be enough.

But even Gates’ billions were no match for the moms and dads who saw their kids shudder and weep as tests were piled on. The dismissive arrogance of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch didn’t cow parents when children who previously loved school suddenly hated it. State Education Commissioner John B. King, Jr. could no longer be deaf to concerns that schools would become test-prep factories as the curriculum narrowed to focus primarily on material that would be tested.

Even Governor Andrew Cuomo, a huge Common Core/school “reform” booster, got the message, and declared the roll-out flawed. Last month, he convened a task force to recommend fixes.

Politicians on both sides of the aisle heard their constituents and piled on the Regents. That, in turn, led the Regents to frantically backpedal.

Last week, the Regents’ unilateral moves to modify the Common Core plan only compounded their woes when Cuomo, their longtime backer, lashed out at the board for jumping the gun, as his task force was still at work.

A year ago, Cuomo stood to be a genius, wizard, educational miracle-worker as the Regents hastily implemented the Common Core plan and put New York’s public schools on what he could claim was the path to kicking Singapore’s, Shanghai’s, Korea’s and Finland’s academic butts.

But parents aren’t such easy marks, and don’t take kindly to Albany messing with their kids and their local schools. The politicians and bureaucrats underestimated New York’s parents.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the governor’s plan to recover from this fiasco involves Tisch, King and company taking the fall. In other words, Cuomo will, metaphorically, throw the Regents under the bus. A bright yellow school bus.

John Owens is editor in chief of Anton Community Newspapers. Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it