Thursday, 24 October 2013 00:00
Make no bones about it. I have been consumed with nonstop questions and concerns regarding the state education department’s rollout of the Common Core curriculum. I’m approached by constituents with questions at almost every event I attend in our district. But more than answer questions, I’ve been trying to listen because it’s abundantly clear to me that people are truly upset. There’s something wrong and they want something to be done.
To resolve this issue is going to take time and a whole lot of patience. That’s why I was so flabbergasted this past week when State Education Commissioner Dr. John King Jr. announced he was suspending his scheduled town hall meetings to discuss the roll-out of Common Core and answer questions. Apparently, the commissioner was challenged by concerned parents and teachers at a town hall meeting upstate. Blaming “special interests” (i.e. concerned parents) for what he felt was an unconstructive atmosphere, he chose to suspend subsequent meetings including the Long Island event that was to be held right here in Garden City. This was an incredibly poor decision on his part. Anyone involved in government must understand that just because you don’t like the score, doesn’t mean you can take your bat and your ball and go home. This is especially true as Dr. King not only chose the game, he set the rules by which our children will be gauged. It’s wrong.
Let’s be frank, our communities are paying some of the highest taxes in the nation to educate their children who are suddenly failing in droves under the Common Core. In fact, an Aug. 7 Education Department report revealed that a whopping 60 percent of students in grades three through eight on Long Island scored below proficiency, nearly double the amount from the year prior! The scores are wrong and some have speculated that they’ve been manipulated.
Naturally, parents are panicking. And whether he likes it or not, as Education Commissioner, the buck stops with him. It’s his plan.
So the appropriate response would be to assure parents that their concerns are not falling on deaf ears and then to begin the clearly necessary work of addressing the problems with input from everyone. Ignoring parents when they voice concern for their children’s well-being compounds the problem and only confirms for them their sentiment that the Education Department is acting without regard for the very people it should be serving.
Yet it’s not too late to set things right. It can’t be.
As I’ve noted before, embracing the higher standards of Common Core is worthwhile but it should have been rolled out gradually, allowing students the opportunity of growing with the new curriculum instead of callously blindsiding so many without preparation. The damage to student confidence and personal progress may be irreparable, to say nothing of the disadvantage of inferior grades that do not accurately reflect ability. It has to be fixed. Hopefully our Board of
Regents and Education Department have the humility to accept that and the wherewithal to see it through.
At the moment, New York needs a caring pragmatist willing to address real concerns raised by caring parents and educators who see a system being manipulated from above to the detriment of their children. Unfortunately, we have John King. He should immediately reschedule these forums or he should immediately resign.
Thursday, 19 December 2013 00:00
Demetra Ingram wanted to get healthy. The 56-year-old Westbury resident had gained weight over the past several years, and at a recent doctor’s appointment, was told that she had an irregular heartbeat. Her doctor encouraged her to do cardio exercise, not only for her heart, but to help fight Alzheimer’s Disease, which runs in her family.
So Ingram, along with a team of fellow members from her sorority Pheta Iota Omega, decided to join the Long Island Weight Loss Challenge, an eight-week health initiative that encouraged people to focus on healthy eating and exercise.
Wednesday, 18 December 2013 00:00
Thanks to a grant from the Early Years Institute (EYI), several area daycares and early childhood organizations will be able to expand their services and continue to help Westbury youngsters learn valuable skills they need to succeed in school and life.
Eleven groups applied for the Ready Set Achieve grant, which was donated to the EYI by The Rauch Foundation. Grants were awarded to nine groups in amounts ranging from $1,000 to $10,000.
The grants will go toward a variety of community agencies dedicated to helping improve school readiness for children ages one to five. Many applicants wanted to use the money to expand their daycare programs, while others wanted to use the funding to increase literacy or create educational workshops for parents. The LIFE Lutheran Church is one such group that received a grant for $7,500, which will help them continue their free ESL program.
Thursday, 12 December 2013 00:00
Congratulations to the Westbury boys varsity basketball team who defeated East Meadow High Schoool 57 to 51 to win the championship game of the Coaches vs. Cancer tournament.
The tournament was dedicated to Coach Martin “Bunky” Reid and the 1985 state championship team. Before the finals of the tournament, a poster signed by many of the players from the 85’ team was presented to Mrs. Reid to honor her son.
Thursday, 05 December 2013 00:00
The wrestling team at Westbury High School looks forward to a fresh start this season. Last year, they struggled to stay atop the Nassau Conference, but this time, the team has a lot of valuable pieces that are crucial for them to flip the script and potentially climb to the top of the standings.
One of the shining stars in the school’s team this year is the dominating Raeco Jackson. For the past two seasons, Jackson has had an extraordinary winning record in the 113 and 120 weight classes. “Last year, my record was 28-5 and the year before that it was 30-5,” he said. With a total record of 58 wins and 10 losses, he has won 85 percent of his matches. His impressive feat helped Jackson receive all-county honors last season.