Written by Daniel Offner Thursday, 06 February 2014 00:00
Who could have predicted that a chance encounter at a PTA convention in upstate New York would be all it would take to get the state Deputy Commissioner of Education Ken Slentz to appear for a parent-teacher forum in Levittown?
“We have a lot of people in our community who are concerned about the [state] curriculum,” said Levittown PTA Council President Patricia Genco. “Hopefully [Ken] will put their concerns to rest.”
On Jan. 29, Slentz came to dispel myths surrounding the learning standards adopted by New York and 45 other states in the nation.
“Its not called Common Core because every kid has to be the same,” Slentz said. “It means that no matter which of these 45 states you’re in, you will be held to the same standards.” Following the state’s implementation of the Common Core-based English
Language Arts and Mathematics exams, many parents, teachers, students, staff and administrators had several concerns and questions about the curriculum and its impact on students in the district.
At the forum, one PTA Council parent asked about the necessary procedure for a parent to have their child opt out of the state exams. While not reciting the protocol needed to opt out, Slentz reminded the audience that the common core exams are a balance of information from districts and state assessments, which will help them determine what is working and what is not.
“It is the choice of moms and dads to decide if they do not want their child to take the exam,” Slentz said. “But we have to be thoughtful about what they’re giving up instead of the 60 minutes [required to take the test].”
Among the questions, a vast majority of people asked the Deputy Commissioner about the levels of stress placed on the students taking these high-rigor examinations. Slentz acknowledged the concern, attributing the increased levels of stress to “growing pains” that come with putting in place a new curriculum for 696 school districts in the state.
Wisdom Lane Middle School Teacher John Lipani disagreed with Slentz’s sentiment, informing him that students’ discomfort with the new curriculum goes far beyond the initial “growing pains” that Slentz had described.
“It’s every day,” Lipani said. “Whatever the lesson we are teaching, I’ve never seen the kids so miserable.”
An educator in the district for 17 years, Lipani said that he constantly wants to challenge his students, but doesn’t see what the new wave of state testing is doing for the kids.
And he was not alone.
“As a teacher and a parent I think we are failing them emotionally,” said one of the parents in the audience. “We’re not comparing one or two children... It’s affecting all the children.”
Slentz explained that in order for parents to see the difference in the outcome of their children, it is going to take some time.
With many moving pieces involved in keeping up with the Common Core, Slentz would also address concerns facing school administrators and teachers. Educators and administrators have encountered an added amount of pressure to engage with collective bargaining units to submit an Annual Professional Performance Review—a means of teacher and principal evaluation that must be negotiated with union leaders—by the state’s deadline.
“We are well on the way to making changes by next year,” said Levittown Schools Superintendent Dr. James Grossane on the status of the district’s APPR.
Slentz went on to debrief the audience on plans to phase in the curriculum for high school students. According to Slentz, the state plans to adjust how it will be introduced this year by providing high school students taking new Algebra regents examinations, with the option of taking the older assessments. The higher of the two scores will count towards their grade.
Among a crowd of disgruntled parents, one mother, who said she was in favor of the new curriculum because it had elevated her expectations of her son, asked that if students are required to take two tests, with the higher of the two counting towards their grade, wouldn’t that only cause a gap between the common core and the older curriculum?
“Our hope is to close that gap over the next three years,” Slentz replied.
He added that the graduating class of 2017 will be the first group of students to be required to pass Regents based on the common core standards.
Saturday, 30 August 2014 00:00
In response to the county’s fly-by-night decision to remove 176 old oak trees along Seaman’s Neck Road, earlier this month, New York State Sen. Kemp Hannon has issued a letter to Nassau County Department of Public Works Commissioner Shila Shah-Gavnoudias regarding constituents’ concerns with the appearance of the roadway.
In his letter, Hannon asks Commissioner Shah-Gavnoudias if the removal of the trees were under the jurisdiction of LIPA or PSEG.
“If not, I would like to know who made the decision to remove these trees and why,” Hannon states. “I request you review this case and take whatever course of action necessary.”
Wednesday, 27 August 2014 00:00
U.S. Navy Veteran Richard Meyerowitz of Levittown joined the military in 1962, enlisting straight out of high school. While he would never see combat, Meyerowitz served as a boilerman aboard the U.S.S. Dewey amid the United States’ blockade of Cuba.
“They gave us our orders,” Meyerowitz said, “turn any vessels away. If not, blow ‘em out of the water.”
During the blockade, Meyerowitz said he only encountered one ship, which they warned to turn back. Just a kid at the time, Meyerowitz said it didn’t occur to him at the time, how the country could have been on the verge of nuclear war.
Thursday, 28 August 2014 00:00
Christopher Joseph of Levittown was recently selected to play on the United States world university hockey team in Italy this year. A 2009 MacArthur High School graduate, Joseph was captain of his high school team for two seasons, leading them to two championships. Joseph would later go on to play junior hockey for New York Apple Core and the New Jersey Rockets junior ‘A’ team.
Joseph’s parents, Hal and Theresa, along with his brother Robert and sister Kristin said they are very proud of Christopher’s accomplishments and are cheering him on as he heads off to Italy.
Thursday, 28 August 2014 00:00
Farmingdale State College had four players named to the 2014 D3baseball.com All-New York Team. Senior outfielder Edward Bergmann of East Meadow, earned First Team honors, while junior shortstop Anthony Alvino of Lindenhurst was named to the Second Team. Junior outfielder Michael Marino of Franklin Square and sophomore pitcher Alex Weingarten of East Rockaway also earned Third Team honors this year.
Bergmann batted a team-leading .421 this season and also led the Rams in hits (53), runs scored (42), doubles (8), on-base percentage (.503), stolen bases (30) and held a perfect fielding percentage. Nationally, Bergmann ranks 4th for stolen bases per game (0.88), 10th in stolen bases, 23rd in both on-base percentage and batting average and 29th in runs scored per game (1.21).