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Common Core Conflict

Recent board of ed presentation stokes emotions

Governor Andrew Cuomo may have recently announced the members of the Common Core Implementation Panel, which will undertake an immediate and comprehensive review of the rollout of the Common Core standards in New York State, but it hasn’t assuaged the concerns of Garden City parents. The Garden City Board of Education recently opened up to the public what wound up being a two-hour plus work session having to do with Common Core on Tuesday, Feb. 4. With roughly 40 to 50 people in attendance, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Dr. Teresa Prendergast gave a thorough Common Core presentation complete with slides and handouts as a means of offering clarity on this highly controversial and complex state standards initiative.

With criteria for English Language Arts (ELA) and mathematics at the heart of Common Core, Dr. Prendergast not only gave a detailed explanation of these learning standards and examples of questions on the exams, but also dispelled a number of misconceptions. One of the primary misunderstandings is the idea that New York State and not Garden City Public Schools, is in charge of the curricula.

“Standards are nothing really new here that we haven’t done before here in Garden City in prior years,” she explained. “As far as ELA goes, the state is asking school districts to look at reading, writing, thinking and listening and looking at writing in all content areas as well as the use of appropriate language. I’ve heard people say that grammar and vocabulary are ignored in the Common Core and that’s absolutely not true.”

Prendergast, who was formerly a certified math teacher, also went over the mathematics portion of Common Core testing, which has proved to be a source of frustration to parents trying to help their children study due to the problem-solving methodology used. It’s a process the assistant superintendent defended.

“The process by which you understand the instruction and how the mathematics unfolds is critical, particularly at the younger levels because that builds the foundation for the upper middle school and high school mathematics,” she explained. “Without that foundation, things start to fall apart.”

When Prendergast finished, members of the board weighed in.

“I think the best thing to educate parents about is that Common Core is not bad. Anytime you’re raising standards to have your children perform at a higher level and introduce them to more rigorous curriculum and vocabulary, that’s not bad,” said Board President Barbara Trapasso. “It’s the whole thing about the implementation and the testing. So it’s not Common Core but the way the State Education Department has decided to implement its test information.”

“Speaking for myself, we on the school board really feel in the middle. We are required as a school district to comply with the state mandates. We get no money under tax cap regulation but nonetheless, we have to spend the money. We are a long ways along the road and I don’t think anyone would question whether Garden City graduates are college or career-ready. I believe that’s the reason most of us live here,” said Trustee Robert Martin. “We face two directions as a school board—we’re trying to explain to the community that we have to comply and doing our best. On the other hand, we look at Albany and our legislators and complained loud and long to them about the inequities and the issues that are involved that we think penalize our school district and our students.”

When the meeting was opened up to citizens' questions or comments of the presentation, reactions from parents became very pointed and barbed. Particular criticism was aimed at the effectiveness of Common Core.

“I know you guys can’t opt out, I’d like to find out if we can apply for a waiver. But we can opt out as individuals and I will be doing that because I think it’s a superfluous test and doesn’t add any advantage to our children as you already alluded to on standardized tests. So it’s redundant and it’s taking time away from what we should be doing, which is educating our kids,” said Sam Meyers, a father of four.

Other parents were disturbed at how pressure was affecting students.

“My 11-year-old son came home with an 85 on a math test that he spent 15 hours with a tutor preparing for. His sixth-grade teacher publicly hung up the test scores and humiliated the low scores in that classroom. My son threw up in the driveway and apologized to me for getting an 85 on the math test,” said teary parent Jackie Straus. “My kindergarten student is looking ahead at what happens in the sixth grade. Four months into his instruction I’ve heard, ‘I’m not safe in my school.’ ‘ I hate Garden City.’ ‘[Superintendent] Dr. Feirsen hates my brother, so why should I be good?’ That is the reality of the Common Core in some households. It goes deeper than not understanding the math.”

News

September is Library Card Sign-up Month

Back to school means back to the Garden City Public Library. September is not only back to school month, it is also Library Card Sign-up Month. A library card is the most important school supply of all for both students and their parents. This September be sure your library card is in your wallet. If you don’t have one, sign up for a new one for you and for your children.

The Garden City Public Library offers programs for adults and for children of all ages. In addition, the library provides access to an extensive collection of books, periodicals, music CDs, audiobooks, and DVDS. The library also provides online access through its website www.gardencitypl.org to authoritative electronic databases as well as to downloadable eBooks, audiobooks, and music. With a valid library card, you can register for programs, borrow materials and museum passes, and access electronic resources.

The Garden City Historical Society is gearing up for a really big celebration. In 2015, the Society will mark the 40th anniversary of its founding, and the 10th anniversary of the opening of The Garden City Historical Society Museum.

To observe these two significant milestones and to further the Society’s capital campaign to restore the exterior of the museum building, the Society is planning a special event on May 14, 2015 at the Garden City Hotel. Early next year, an invitation to attend will be extended to residents and businesses in the village. The gala will include an open bar and full buffet, with music, mystery guests, a live auction and raffles.


Sports

The league started on Saturday, Sept. 13 at Garden City’s Tullamore Park. It runs from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays. A uniform shirt and soccer balls are provided. Cleats and soccer shorts are recommended and players must wear shin guards. Age groups range from pre-k through 12th grade. Garden City residents and non-Garden City residents are welcome. Middle school and high school age volunteers are needed. No soccer experience is necessary. If you have any other questions, please contact Andy Garger at ajgarger@verizon.net or 516-775-8058.

— Submitted by the Challenger Soccer League

2014-15 Garden City Recreation Department Dance Conservatory

The Garden City Recreation Department’s Dance Conservatory Program is pleased to announce the start of registration for its upcoming 2014-15 season. Director Felicia Lovaglio, along with Mary Searson and the rest of her staff, are excited to start off another fantastic year. The dance conservatory offers classes to Garden City residents ages 3 through adult which are non-performance based. Age is determined by the start date of the desired class. The schedule and fees for this year’s youth classes are as follows (all classes are 55 minutes long unless otherwise noted):

Note: Registration is by mail only until Sept. 23. Participants MUST be the required age by the start of the program in order to register. Each session costs $220 for 22 weeks of class.


Calendar

Junior Varsity Football At Westbury High School

Saturday, September 27

Marvelous Movie Matinée

Monday, September 29

Not The Law Of The Sea

Wednesday, October 1



Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com