A Farmingdale, Long Island, woman who belongs to a group opposed to the Common Core Learning Standards introduced in New York last year has posted a Facebook page asking people to keep their children home from school Nov. 18 as a protest.
Christina Lichtenstein, who has two children in the public schools, is a member of Stop Common Core New York, a different group from one created by Port Chester parents Yvonne Gasperino and Glen Dalgleish, Stop Common Core in New York State. The two groups share concerns about Common Core, the federal educationinitiative that has become policy in 45 states and the District of Columbia.
Lichtenstein said she was meeting with people from the Long Island group Oct. 24 who were debating a way to bring attention to their concerns on a statewide and possibly national basis. It was eventually decided to ask parents to keep their children out of school on Nov. 18 as a protest, and Lichtenstein created a Facebook page about the proposed protest that drew 600 likes within the first few hours.
“It was in my head, and a lot of the groups were saying, ‘we should! We should!” Lichtenstein said. “When people start talking about doing something, I’m the kind of person who will just do it. I just started the (Facebook) group to talk about the date and … it took two hours to get to 600 people.”
Nov. 18, she said, was chosen because it is the first day of American Education Week and is Revolution Day.
“Some people are calling it Common Core-itis,” Lichtenstein said.
The Long Island effort has scattered support locally, but is not being endorsed by Stop Common Core in New York State. Gasperino said that parents will do what they think is right, but that her organization is not part of the effort behind the Nov. 18 event, even though some parents who are part of their group are disappointed with that decision.
“We have a lot of parents who are very upset and are looking for some type of outlet (but) we work with many administrators nationally and we’re working together in unison with (people from) Oregon, Washington, Montana, Iowa, Nevada, Ohio, New Mexico — these state haven’t even rolled out Common Core. The awareness is not there,” Gasperino said. “When you look at the big picture … you want to do something that’s going to be effective. We’re not endorsing it, but we have many friends and contacts on the website who are.”
Nancy Barr, who is president of the Blind Brook Board of Education, also is no fan of parts of Common Core, but said she did not think that an overwhelming number of parents in her district would participate in a Nov. 18 school day boycott.
She was one of 70 people who spoke at a meeting Oct. 28 in Port Chester before State Education Department Commissioner John King and other officials to express her reservations with the speed with which Common Core was rolled out and some of its provisions.
“There’s a really wide range of issues related to Common Core that are different for different communities,” she said. “My position as president of the Blind Brook school board (was) the rollout was impractical and flawed. From listening to people from some other districts, it sounds like in some districts, it has been a tremendous hardship. I know (that) in some of those districts, there are people who would do something like (the Nov. 18 protest). In our district … I don’t think overall sentiment is ‘the Common Core is a bad thing.’ In Westchester, there are some people who would feel that way. I haven’t seen it in our school district.”
Lichtenstein said there’s nothing to join and no registration. Parents who want to participate can do so on their own. She said she hoped all the parents in the entire state would keep their children home to cause a media storm and send a message to King and the Board of Regents that they are not happy with the way and speed at which Common Core was rolled out, not happy with the number of tests, not happy with the data collection and not happy with using the test data to grade teachers
Common Core is tied to the federal Race to the Top money, and school districts are being urged to refuse the federal money in order to avoid following the Common Core requirements. Several local schools have done so.