Common Core

BH-BL parents banding together to oppose Common Core standards

Monday, March 31, 2014
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Common Core

Tricia Kaiser Farmer, a Burnt Hills-Ballston lake parent who is organizing opposition to Common Core learning standards.
Tricia Kaiser Farmer, a Burnt Hills-Ballston lake parent who is organizing opposition to Common Core learning standards.

— A group of parents in the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Central School District is banding together to advocate against the Common Core learning standards.

Tricia Kaiser Farmer, whose children are students in the district, is working to create “Parents United to Stop Common Core,” a group for parents to connect throughout the region and voice their opposition to the Common Core.

“It’s more than just the Common Core standards, it’s about the ‘Race to the Top’ initiative,” Farmer said. “We’re told Common Core is just a set of national standards, but there is actually so much more attached to those standards.”

About 20 parents met Thursday evening at the Town of Ballston Community Library to discuss their concerns over the Common Core-based tests, including issues surrounding evaluations and student data.

The State Education Department and its commissioner, John King, have faced widespread criticism from educators, parents and some state legislators on the implementation of the Common Core.

About 30 percent of students in New York passed the state English and math exams under the tougher standards, according to the State Education Department. That’s a drop of more than 20 percentage points from the previous year.

Students in grades three to eight are set to take another round of Common Core-based tests this week, and scores aren’t expected to any better than last year’s.

“This is a political agenda and it is being driven down everybody’s throat,” said a parent at the meeting. “It’s not about the kids, because they are being discouraged by these exams.”

The parents are calling for New York to drop the Common Core standards. Indiana was the first state to abandon the standards altogether. Several states have opted out of the assessment component.

Farmer said she has received support from state Sens. Hugh Farley, R-Niskayuna, and Kathy Marchione, R-Halfmoon. Jim Fischer, who is challenging U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, also attended the meeting Thursday night to show his support.

“This is exactly what made me decide to run for Congress, something completely out of my comfort zone,” Fischer said. “Listening to these concerns, that is why I am against the Common Core. We have to step up now. We can’t wait two more years or four more years.”

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