According to the Common Core State Standards Initiative website, the mission statement of the new standards reads: "The Common Core State Standards provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers. With American students fully prepared for the future, our communities will be best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy."
But the standards have proven contentious to some, and problematic for others.
One South Jamesport mom, Georgette Keller, who is also a literacy specialist at Roanoke Elementary School, explained her thoughts on the new standards.
"The Common Core Curriculum is not the enemy," she said. "The way in which they are testing students prior to the implementation of the curriculum and basing teaching evaluation heavily on those scores is the issue for me. We are being evaluated on teaching a curriculum that is not fully developed, and students are being tested on material that has not necessarily been taught yet. The result is disastrous."
Many parents who have blasted the curriculum on Facebook agree, stating that students have come home frustrated and find homework difficult.
"Supporters and defenders say it's the only way to get it on track and moving forward, that change is hard, that doing it this way will get us there quicker," Keller said. "While it is true, that to turn a large ship, you need lots of room and it takes a while, I have to wonder if the destruction, pain, and frustration the low test scores will cause to children, and teachers, will be worth the loss of interest in education by both the students and good teachers who choose to walk away."
Keller, who went with a contingent of Riverhead teachers to Albany last year to rally for the future of public education, added: "We have suffered through cut after cut, children are crammed into classrooms, with no room to move, services have been cut. All this adds up."
Adding in the Common Core Standards and the testing, and connection to teacher evaluations through the Annual Professional Performance Review teacher/principal plans, Keller said, can be disastrous: "It's a perfect storm- and storms have an aftermath."
In Riverhead, teachers are faced with cuts, asked to do more with less and now, undertake CCS without proper funding for staffing and necessary teaching resources, she added.
"This is a district that has many obstacles; poverty and language acquisition are the most prevalent," she said, asking how New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo justifies reducing funding, adding unfunded mandates, with an expectation of raising the quality of education, too.
"This is an unconscionable directive without leadership providing a pathway for the directive to take place," Keller said. "I love my job, I love the children I work with. There are times I come home and shed tears over my students. Their plight, their joy, their families' hard work — the quality of their lives are on the line."