Dear New York State Legislator

Dear New York State Legislator,

I am deeply disappointed with your vote on the education reform bill on March 31, 2015. I have two young daughters whose education has been compromised these last few years by inappropriate common core high stakes testing. Now they will endure much of the same due to your vote.

There were many noble voices that stood up for our children while debating this bill including Senator Panepinto, who made many intelligent comments about this bill. He accurately described the real issue being ignored by Governor Cuomo when he said, “We don’t have an education problem, we have an economics problem. We want to blame teachers for what the problems of society are.” He continued to explain how hard working union member’s rights are being taken away. “It is disgraceful that this legislation impedes on that collective bargaining process. What has happened to the democratic process?” He explained that my daughter’s teachers will be evaluated based on flawed tests. How will good teaching be delivered in my daughter’s classroom if the weight of a test is going to determine the future of her teacher’s livelihood? What will happen to student centered, developmentally appropriate learning? I want to hear about cooperative learning and critical thinking in public schools, not a factory model of instruction designed around test prep.

Senator Panepinto’s speech.

The bill was rushed without input from the experts or the public. Why weren’t stakeholders such as parents, teachers, principals, superintendents, board of education members, or researchers allowed to participate in the discussion? It appeared to me to be a very shady process by which this legislation got rushed through without due diligence. It was clear to me by the size of the paperwork containing the legislation that it was impossible to know what was actually in the bill because it was received three hours before the vote. “Huge stacks of printed bill materials shared only hours before the votes last night left little time for thoughtful consideration and stakeholder input. Major educational reforms were ill-considered in the haste to meet a vote deadline.” (Bonnie M. Russell). That’s just disgraceful. This sentiment was echoed by the Honorable Edward Ra on the Assembly floor. He spoke about how these measures will “reduce local control of districts.” An attack on my children’s teachers and our local school district is an attack on my ten and eleven year old daughters.

Honorable Edward Ra’s speech.

There were many rationale voices in the assembly including the Honorable Charles Barron who voted for “keeping children first.” I was impressed by his morality when he proclaimed, “This doesn’t cut it for our children!” Furthermore he continued, “And sometimes you have to make those tough decisions.” He made that “tough decision” for our children and their public schools.

Honorable Charles Barron’s speech.

The New York State Education Department in cooperation with the Regents have failed us these past few years with their disastrous implementation of the common core. Now, they will be tasked with fixing this broken system. Why would you give the power back to the groups that have failed us without involving the stakeholders? If the experts in the field of education were given an opportunity to speak you may have heard comments such as this from Regent Dr. Kathleen Cashen, “As a Regent of the State of New York, I cannot endorse the use of the current state tests for teacher/principal evaluation since that was not the purpose for which they were developed. It is axiomatic in the field of testing that tests should be used only for the purpose for which they were designed. They were designed to measure student performance, not teacher effectiveness. The American Statistical Association, the National Academy of Education, and the American Educational Research Association have cautioned that student tests should not be used to evaluate individual teachers.” If I can review this information, an ordinary citizen with fewer resources that our state government, why couldn’t our state Senate?

“The American Statistical Association (ASA) happens to be a highly-regard, non-partisan organization. ASA experts are not the only experts whose research has shown that using test scores to evaluate teachers are not valid. In a comprehensive joint review of the research, the National Academy of Education and the American Educational Research Association found that, “Value Added models [test score based] of teacher effectiveness are highly unstable.” 3 The RAND Corporation concluded that there is insufficient research to use these test for “high-stakes decisions about individual teachers or schools.”4

This evening I wrote to Senator Latimer to tell him how proud I was for the integrity he showed giving a voice for our children.

Senator Latimer‘s speech.

This was his reply –

Mark
Thanks for your kind words; I simply spoke the truth, forgotten in this moment. I’m confident we’ll be proven right over time. Keep the faith.

Best wishes,

George Latimer
914-934-5250

There were plenty of great legislators that spoke up for the children of New York. You can review their speeches here.

Honorable James Tedisco’s speech

Honorable Steve McLaughlin

Honorable Peter Lopez‘s speech, and here

Honorable Al Graf

Honorable Angela Wozniak

I have learned that you are introducing legislation to protect the rights of parents and children that decide to refuse these tests. Your bill is akin to placing a band aid on a broken arm. We live in the United States of America and parents have the right to make decisions for their children without the overreach of government which is, ironically, the entire point of what is happening.

Senator/Honorable Assembly member, deep in your conscience you must realize that we are heading in the wrong direction with regards to the education for our children. Your vote has contributed to the problem, rather than take a stand against Governor Cuomo to protect our children. By the time these mistakes are rectified my children will have missed out on a high quality education only to waste their time focusing on developmentally inappropriate common core exams. I want them to experience a wide enriching curriculum which the school district wants to provide for them. Unfortunately the mandates in this legislation do not allow our local schools to do what they know is best.

While we will be refusing these tests it doesn’t change the fact that my children will spend countless hours in the classroom and at home preparing for these developmentally inappropriate exams.

You are our Representatives. We expect you to stand up for us and more importantly our children. I am truly disappointed with your vote.

Sincerely,
Mark Hegenauer
Parent in NY

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