So state Education Commissioner John King spoke at Manhattaville College on Wednesday about the state’s ongoing education reforms, namely the introduction of the Common Core learning standards.
Today, King and Deputy Commish Ken Slentz are at a big conference in Rye Brook about the Common Core.
Boy, there is a lot of anxiety out there. Over what?
Based on questions asked of King and Slentz, administrators and teachers are worried about (take a breath): the speed at which the Common Core is being introduced; whether teachers and students are prepared for the new states tests — grades 3-8, math and ELA — that are coming next month and are tied to the Common Core; whether worries about the new teacher-evaluation system will overshadow the positive aspects of the Common Core; whether schools have the time and money to properly train teachers and principals for the Common Core and the new tests; how New York could possibly move to on-line tests in a few years; whether New York embraced reforms in order to get federal cash; and more, more, more.
I said to King this morning that it must be tiring to be constantly moving around the state, explaining and defending these reforms, and having to answer all sorts of questions and comments and criticism.
He just smiled. “No, not at all,” he said. “I enjoy this.”
I sure hope so.
The basic position put forth by King and Slentz (if you haven’t heard it) is that the public schools of NYS are not preparing students who are ready for college and/or the workforce. Simple as that. As a result, the state must act to push new, tougher, more relevant learning standards (the Common Core), new and improved state tests that use the new standards as a scale, and better teacher evaluations that force teacher and principals to reflect on how everyone can get better.
A lot of people wish they had more time to take it all in. One administrator said this morning that a 5-year roll-out “would be my dream.” But King and Slenz say they can’t wait because there is too much work to be done.
Incidentally, they usually point to poor student performance in urban districts (only 9 percent of black males in Rochester graduate ready for college). But they also say there are pockets of students in high-achieving districts who are also not as ready as they should be.
Local school officials might agree — but add that they don’t need top-down reforms from the state in order to help their kids
There is certainly great interest in the changes taking place. More than 500 people came to the two programs.