Lancaster parent Heidi Indelicato told a heartfelt story Thursday of her 8-year-old son’s struggle last school year with the abrupt changes in school when the new Common Core standards began making their way into the classroom.
Indelicato, a mother of three, said her son’s experience in school changed abruptly when January came with a whole lot of rigorous test preparations.
“My son faltered,” she told an audience of about 100, many of them parents who attended a forum in the Lancaster Municipal Building about the new educational curriculum and unpopular Common Core standards and standardized testing. “This curriculum doesn’t give any extra time for those who need more time.”
“How can we say a one-sized approach fits all (kids)?” asked Indelicato, who helped organize and lead a forum hosted by the newly formed Parents for Quality Education in Lancaster.
She said her son would cry himself to sleep and lacked confidence in his school work. It was then that she said she promised him “I will never stop fighting this until we get this right.”
The forum – which mirrored many other meetings critical of the new educational standards and tests and the pressure it has put on school-aged children, as well as teachers under fire with what critics say are unfair evaluations – urged parents to write to their state government representatives and educational leaders to force change.
A few Lancaster school administrators attended the forum and listened, but did not speak publicly. The district so far has said it is bound to follow the mandated educational curriculum changes and is not returning the Race to the Top grant monies it has received thus far.
Tonawanda parent Eric Mihelbergel, a founder of New York State Allies for Public Education which opposes excessive testing and data sharing between school districts and the state, was hopeful that the state eventually will do something.
“I have no doubt in my mind that this is going to be changed. Let your voices be heard,” he told the crowd.
Mihelbergel said at one point he had to do an hour of research to help his third-grade daughter do her homework. “It was implemented too fast, and doesn’t give parents a chance to catch up,” he said. “There is an over amount of focus on English Language Arts and math. We’re excluding so many other things that are important for our children to learn.”
D’Youville College professor Mark J. Garrison, another featured speaker, asked: “If the tests are so good, why can’t we see them?” “There’s no need to hire a for-profit company when we hire educators who can develop tests,” said Garrison, a professor of education policy and research.