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Monday, December 22, 2014
Pencils down – less testing and more learning
by Laura Schofer

One size doesn’t fit all. That was the consensus of educators, parents and other stakeholders at an education forum on Common Core, held at SUNY Old Westbury last month. The forum was sponsored by Long Island’s New York State Assemblymen including David McDonough, who represents Wantagh and Seaford and focused on the implementation of the new curriculum based Common Core, a nationwide effort, led by individual states, to establish a single set of educational standards for kindergarten through 12th grade in English language arts – reading, writing, speaking and listening – as well as mathematics. The standards are designed to prepare students for rigorous competition in the global economy.

Many of the speakers, including New York State Regent Roger Tilles and Dana E. Friedman, Founder of the Early Years Institute, support the ideas behind Common Core. “This is a broad set of standards that uses more non-fiction. It digs deeper in a subject matter and requires more higher level thinking,” said Mr. Tilles. “But there are problems here – with implementation and the need to have one size [teaching methodology] fit all.”

Mr. Tilles explained that the one size fits all mentality is the direct result of securing a $700 million Race to the Top award from the federal government. “All that money went to the cities in order to close the gap between high and low performing school districts. Yet we [on Long Island] have to follow the same regulations.”

For example, Seaford received $14,686 in Race to the Top funds to be delivered over four school years, said Superintendent Brian Conboy. Wantagh did not receive any funding from Race to the Top, said Superintendent Maureen Goldberg.

Mr. Tilles suggested that a better way to close the gap between high and low performing districts is with a “universal pre-K program.”

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