Niagara Gazette

Local News

January 6, 2014

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

Niagara Gazette — Paul Casseri knows what education’s like in countries that put a lot of pressure on students to perform well on standardized tests.

The principal at Lewiston-Porter High School has spent years cultivating relationships with schools in China, Japan and others around the world and has seen the way many of these countries — many of which are considered better at educating than here at home — push their children.

It’s so intense in China particularly, he said, some schools he’s visited have begun adopting more well-rounded curriculum to include art and music education instead of the typical razor-focus the country’s had on mathematics and science for a generation.

“As the middle class has grown in China, there are parents who are looking for other options for their kids,” he said. “They want to see what other options are out there other than the high-stakes, one-shot system in China that puts a lot of stress on the children.

“As a result of our work with some of the Chinese schools, we’ve seen them change their curriculum to incorporate things like art, shifting their focus to educate the whole person. It seems like we’re moving in the (testing) direction and in China, they’re moving away from it. We need to keep in mind ... we can’t get away from the real beauty of our education system, that we’ve been able to teach to the whole child and given them all a chance to grow and develop their own individual talents.”

Common Core implementation is one of the most heated, controversial topics education has seen in the U.S. in a generation. In New York state alone, political and education leaders, including Commissioner John King, have held a number of forums with parents and educators in an effort to try to explain away misconceptions and air grievances over the changes.

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