Niagara Gazette


January 6, 2014

Lew-Port, Falls district officials see state stance shifting on Common Core


Niagara Gazette — Many have turned into heated arguments, with King even leaving one in Poughkeepsie after he was reportedly vulgarly heckled by audience members in October. Locally, after several in the Buffalo area, Niagara County will see its own forum at 6 p.m. tonight at Niagara County Community College in Sanborn.

Sponsored by Assemblyman John Ceretto, R-Lewiston, Sen. George Maziarz, R-Newfane, the Niagara Region Parent-Teacher Association and the Partnership for Smarter Schools, it’s expected to include guest speakers including retired Lew-Port Superintendent Walter Polka, Lew-Port special education teacher — and state Teacher of the Year winner — Ashli Skura-Dreher and Tonawanda district principal John McKenna.

King is not among the expected guests.

Aside from the over-reliance on testing to show student growth, one of the major qualms being expressed concerning the Common Core has been its actual implementation. Many educators have found themselves in a less-than-favorable situation these last two years, as promised free resources the state is supposed to be providing through its EngageNY website, are still being written.

So while the theory behind the drastic shift Common Core presents may be a positive one, making it a reality, at least in New York, has been borderline nightmarish. Casseri said calling the implementation “not well thought out” is “being kind.”

“I don’t disagree with the curricular changes emphasized in the common core,” he said. “I believe we need to ask our students to think more deeply, more profoundly about these ideas we’re teaching them. It’s just the implementation has just been awful. It’s been secretive, it’s been clandestine and not very transparent. It’s like they’re building the plane in midair.”

Cynthia Bianco, Niagara Falls City School District superintendent, echoed Casseri’s concerns about the new standards. She too is in favor of creating, and holding children accountable to, higher education standards. She also is turned off by the way the state has implemented its new toy.

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