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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

Wide range of issues covered by

Stewart Manor Board

The Stewart Manor Board of Trustees began its most recent meeting in high spirits, presiding from the newly-renovated, cherrywood justice’s bench in village hall.

Mayor Tangredi offered up thanks to the court system for providing the grant that paid for the improved bench. Trustee John R. Egan also was in fine fettle in his return after missing previous meetings due to health issues.

Focus groups to continue this fall

The Garden City Public Library’s Board of Trustees and Library Director Lisa Paulo are dedicated to continuing the patron-friendly atmosphere in the library. It is an experienced and dedicated panel, who with a knowledgeable staff under the direction of Library Director Lisa Paulo, will continue to develop interesting innovations. The trustees anticipate many productive years ahead.

The library’s successful focus groups will continue in 2014. All patrons are invited to attend. The board, however, is reaching out to parents of school-age children to round out the participants. Anyone interested in contributing their time and experience is welcome. Please call the library at 516-742-8405  x210 and leave your name and telephone and/or email address.

Gloria Weinrich is the vice chair of the Garden City Library Board of Trustees


Sports

Garden City gals lead FLG

to three championships

The FLG 2018 girls have established themselves as one of FLG’s premier teams of the summer. Garden City’s Julia Kavan and Anna Mandaro at the midfield and Megan Sprotte and Ann Sullivan defensively led their team to three championships this summer. The girls “really started to gel and play as a unit,” said Coach McGinty, successfully executing new plays, transitioning well and crashing on defense. With the improvements across the board, the team hasn’t lost a game since the first tournament of the summer. These girls were leaders on and off the field and are taking FLG Girls Lacrosse to the next level.

Two friends get back on track through running

The other day I woke up to this text from my Garden City friend, Claire LoRusso: “I need help. I am running a half marathon in October. I have not run in years. Where do I start? Miss you.” I got giddy, in a dorky way, because I always get excited when someone wants to run.

In this case, however, it was more of a “Welcome back, Claire.”


Calendar

Friday Night Promenade

Friday, August 22

The Little Mermaid JR

Saturday, August 23

Getting Your Feet Wet

Tuesday, Aug. 26



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