Voices opposed to Common Core testing are rising in central New York, as teachers and parents met this week at a forum in Syracuse to discuss these new education standards that bring major changes to the way math and reading is taught in public schools.
Heather Ryder's seventh grade son didn't take the English language arts exam or the state math test last month in the Syracuse City School District, "because I don't like what the tests are representing," she says. "I don't like their use. I don't like the amount of time they take up in a classroom. And I definitely don't like how they're being used to judge teachers."
Ryder's decision encapsulates how parents opposed to the Common Core and its testing regimen ordered by New York state, and encouraged by the federal government, have many different issues.
She says there were only a few parents in the Syracuse City School District who also had their children refuse to take the tests. She believes that's because many parents don't know their implications. For example, one thing that bothers her is that student privacy laws have been loosened to allow information from the tests to be passed along to third party vendors who sell educational material.
"Companies that sell study guides, or sell textbooks, or I guess the big thing is software, study guides with software," she rattles off.
From a teacher's perspective, it's good when parents are aware of all the issues, says Greg McCrea, a Westhill music teacher, but he says the state isn't encouraging schools to bring it up.
"There has been a very strong message from the state education department that this is a conversation that should not be had with parents," McCrea says. "And we think as parents, we should have those discussions with our local teachers, because when teachers and parents and administrators can sit down and talk about the impact of this on kids, kids benefit."
The New York State United Teachers Union is organizing a rally in Albany to discuss these issues.