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Local assemblyman supports anti-Common Core bill

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A north country assemblyman representing St. Lawrence County wants to get rid of the new education initiatives rolled out last year that continue today on the first day of school.

Assemblyman Kenneth D. Blankenbush, R-Black River, is cosponsoring a bill to break ties with the national Common Core initiative that aligns education standards throughout the country and Race to the Top.

Race to the Top is a federal competition that will reward states monetarily for how well schools can prepare their students to meet the new standards. Both initiatives were adopted by all states except Alaska, Nebraska, Texas and Virginia.

“The purpose of the bill is to get a dialogue going,” he said. “Will this bill be voted on by the assembly and senate. It’s probably slim.”

The bill, whose main sponsor is Alfred C. Graf, R-Holbrook, calls to “discontinue” the initiatives.

“The mandates that are required in order to comply with these programs are causing a great amount of frustration and uncertainty in our educational institutions,” according to the bill. “These programs have reduced the instructional time allocated to our children’s educational experience.”

The bill also states that the cost of implementing the initiatives are higher than the state aid offered.

“These one-size-fits-all programs have proven to be unsuccessful, detrimental, and ineffective, and therefore the State of New York should and must withdraw from these programs immediately,” according to the bill.

Mr. Blankenbush is one of 25 other supporters for the bill. His support precedes the assessment scores that were announced by the state Education Department a month ago. The scores, which Education Commissioner John B. Kind Jr. warned would be low, showed that the majority of third through eighth grade students across the north country — and the state — lacked proficiency in the new English and math standards. These scores will be used as a baseline for future test scores.

“The emphasis really that I feel has shifted from learning to testing and data collection,” he said. “We would bring back control to the professionals in our own area and not be dictated by federal standards with the threat of losing federal aid.”

He said that after talking to teachers and superintendents for the past year, he and his fellow assemblymen are not the only ones who oppose the Common Core and Race to the Top. Additionally, more than 4,200 people signed a petition on a website promoting the bill as of Tuesday afternoon.

“There is not one educator that looks at me and says, ‘This is a great program,’” he said.

For more information on the bill, visit http://www.fixnyschools.com.

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