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From The Desk Of Senator Jack Martins: February 27, 2014

Counting Things That Count

“Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.”

This simple observation made by Albert Einstein captures our concerns with New York State’s rollout of Common Core. It’s what caused parents and educators from across the political landscape and from across this great state to come together in opposition to artificial metrics of whether our children are “college and career ready.” It’s why hundreds of you joined me at a forum this Fall at Mineola High School to demand that the Common Core rollout be rolled back. It’s why we worked so hard to ensure that our children’s privacy is protected. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to get it.

To all the parents and educators who joined me in this fight, “Thank you.”

Don’t get me wrong, the fight’s not over. But when the New York Board of Regents, the group that sets education policy for our state, announced last week that it was postponing elements of the Common Core rollout, it marked the first time it acknowledged that things needed fixing. That’s quite a step and it wouldn’t have happened without us all standing up together. Again, “thank you.”

As we all know, the first step to fixing something is acknowledging it needs fixing. While the Regents’ plan didn’t address every issue, I believe it shows a glimmer of hope that common sense might eventually prevail over the Common Core. Their 19-point plan included these major revisions:

• A five-year delay in aligning new Common Core standards to high school graduation. That means the class of 2022, third-graders now, would be the first required to take and pass Common Core standard Regents Exams to graduate.  

• Suspending indefinitely their plan to share student data with private third-party vendors like inBloom Inc.,  

• Rejecting teacher and principal evaluations based on standardized testing for children in pre-K through second grade.

• Capping how much time schools can spend on standardized tests.

• Developing new curriculum to address the needs of students with disabilities and those with limited English.

• Advising districts not to use state test results in grades 3-8 to make decisions on student promotion or placement.

What has not been resolved and what remains explosive is the role of student test scores in the teacher evaluation process. The issue is whether teachers can be fairly judged by the Common Core test scores of their students. Without a slower, more deliberate implementation of the system, the answer is a resounding “no”. How can we rely on the test results of students who have had no materials, no preparation, and no time to adequately learn the Common Core? Simply put, teachers haven’t had a fair opportunity to do what was asked of them.  

The truth is that the more difficult Common Core standards were hastily implemented and caused a precipitous and unfair drop in children’s test scores. While everyone wants to raise the bar for our children, this abrupt roll-out meant our kids were being tested on materials and methods they had hardly been taught. That isn’t fair to them or their teachers. The process was rushed and the results were disastrous.

The plan set forth by the Board of Regents is at least an important first step in correcting the problems of Common Core. More work needs to be done which means we can’t sit back and wait for action. We must continue to participate, question, and demand. We’ll do it together.

Perhaps in this way they can find a way to count what really counts and make sure our children learn it.

News

A group of like-minded local residents banded together and saved more than 200 area trees from the chopping block — for now.

A state judge ordered Nassau County and the Department of Public Works to stop cutting down trees along South Oyster Bay Road, granting a temporary restraining order to a group of residents spearheading an effort to save the trees.

State Supreme Court Judge Antonio Brandveen scheduled a hearing on Thursday, Oct. 16 for the county to address complaints from residents, in particular a group called Operation STOMP (Save Trees Over More Pavement) founded by Hicksville native Tanya Lukasik.The Public Works department had planned to removed more than 200 30-foot trees in communities ranging from Plainview, Bethpage, Hicksville and Syosset.

For the past 16 years, Lucia Simon has walked from her home in Hicksville to her job at the Hicksville Public Library. She enjoys her job as a librarian and says that the staff has become like family to her. But for the past three years, Simon and 56 fellow co-workers have been frustrated at what she says is the library’s board refusal to negotiate a fair contract.  

“We have had no contract in three years. They refuse to bargain with us. Every time they come back to us it’s not fair,” says Simon.

However, the board of trustees disagree, saying that it has made a “fair offer.”


Sports

The Girls Varsity soccer team, in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, wore pink uniforms and pink socks in their game on Oct. 8 against MacArthur whom they defeated 1-0. The girls and boys soccer programs at Hicksville High School are selling pink ribbon car magnets with a soccer ball and HHS on it with the words “Kick Cancer” on the ribbon. All the money raised will go to the Sarah Grace Foundation, which is a local foundation trying to beat pediatric cancer. The players plan to raise $1,000 for this organization

— From Hicksville High School

Hicksville native progressing through Mets system

The Mets minor league system is enjoying a rare period of prosperity. For years, it was barren due to trading off high-ceiling players for major leaguers, or neglecting the draft in favor of the free agent market. Since General Manager Sandy Alderson took over, the organization has reversed course and put a much greater emphasis on player development. During his second-to-last season, however, former GM Omar Minaya took a chance and drafted a local catcher, Cam Maron, out of Hicksville High School in the 34th round.


Calendar

Spooktacular Halloween

October 17

Fall Festival

October 18

Veterans Casework Seminar

October 21



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