Updated: 05/09/2014 6:29 AM
Created: 05/08/2014 7:07 AM WHEC.com
By: Rebecca Leclair
Every public school district in New York must abide by the Common Core standards. But parents and teachers are unclear where this reform movement is taking children and if it is worth the money.
Common Core is a federal initiative. The government is not dictating what your children are learning in the classroom.
In a week and a half, residents will vote on school budgets in every suburban district around Rochester. Some think the vote could be impacted by backlash over Common Core standards, the tests and all the money it takes to implement the program. Not only are teachers petitioning, parents are opting their kids out.
Mike and Jennifer Panessa of Chili have decided to home school their children next year. They disagree with the tests and expectations of Common Core.
Mike Panessa said, “We cannot participate in something that condones the one-size fits all nature of the education reform. The testing is part of that, as a matter of fact, even English as a second language learner students are forced to take these tests in English when they don't even speak the language.”
Protests have exploded around the state as parents complain that teachers have not been given enough time to develop the new curriculums. The New York State Education Department and school administrators say, ‘Wait, it will work and help students succeed.’”
Dr. Tamara Lipkey, former West Irondequoit administrator, said, “Bringing everyone up to speed takes time, not only the educators, but also the community and the parents to fully understand why it is we're going in this direction.”
But, teachers are worried because their job performance evaluations are tied to how well students score on the tests.
News10NBC got ahold of a letter sent to the New York State Education Department. More than 60 teachers at Cosgrove Middle School in Spencerport signed it. They complained the latest tests were "poorly written", "deliberately confusing" and "completely useless to our instructional practices". None of them could speak to News10NBC on camera because they are under a gag order by the company that creates the tests.
So will teachers lose their jobs, according to test performance? The answer is unclear right now.
Senator Joe Robach said, “We hear from teachers all the time that the tests are too long and that we're only teaching toward the test.”
This year, lawmakers passed bills to limit testing and make sure children are not "held back" by their test results alone.
New York is one of 45 states that have Common Core. It is driven by the federal government.
Panessa said, “The test prep for teachers, the training involves huge amounts of dollars so there is a huge waiting financial burden.”
Greece is getting more than $526,000 in federal aid over three years for Common Core, while Honeoye Falls-Lima gets less than $18,000.
Dr. Tamara Lipkey said, “When you are talking about educating students on a daily basis and all that goes into running a school district plus implementing a reform effort as large as this one, it takes a lot of effort and time.”
News10NBC tried to speak with New York State Education Commissioner John King, but he was too busy. News10NBC was told he would talk to us after making a major policy announcement next week. Educators and protest groups think it will be an announcement about those controversial teacher evaluations.