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Blankenbush, assembly members prepare list of Common Core reforms

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The Common Core program has been under harsh criticism since its implementation in New York state. Most recently, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo acknowledged the concerns about the program, and blamed its rough start on the state Board of Regents.

The governor has promised to form an independent coalition to review how the Common Core can be harnessed so students can reap all the benefits from higher standards of learning. On Thursday, Assemblyman Kenneth D. Blankenbush and other assembly members unveiled the Achieving Pupil Preparedness and Launching Excellence plan, which is aimed at reforming the implementation of Common Core in the state.

“We are in the very beginning stages of putting everything we’ve learned together,” Mr. Blankenbush said. “The governor said he will be appointing his own committee. When he does we want to be prepared to present our ideas to them.”

The plan was developed using testimony and comments provided by educators, school administrators, parents and students at 11 public hearings held across the state, one of which was hosted by Mr. Blankenbush in Lowville.

“There were mixed tones at the Lowville event. Some people called for the complete elimination of the Common Core, but the majority of people said they understood the idea to raise the standards of learning, but it needs to be done in a better way,” Mr. Blankenbush said.

The plan offers measures to help with funding and help educators prepare for the new standards in a way that won’t negatively affect students.

The plan is organized to extend participation in the Common Core implementation to educators, parents and students, instead of dictating how the program should be run. Eight recommendations for Common Core in the plan include: evaluate state assessments and curriculum; provide funding equity; prepare teachers with career development and training for common core; allow teacher involvement in approving age and developmentally appropriate material; restrict the use of student data; place priority on a student’s individual needs, especially in the case of special needs students, requiring that their individualized education plan supersedes any Common Core standards; create a vocational and technical high school diploma; and revamp the state Education Department with checks and balances from the Legislature and the governor.

“A lot of people would agree that there should have been a way to implement this where kids who hadn’t been educated since the first grade in Common Core curriculum wouldn’t be shocked with this new program,” Mr. Blankenbush said. “We should really put a freeze on this till it can be straightened out and properly put in place.”

In addition to addressing the problems of Common Core, many of the policy initiatives target other areas of concern in the state’s educational system.

Mr. Blankenbush proposed that though the blame shouldn’t rest entirely with the Board of Regents, the board itself should be evaluated.

“We ought to take a look at the state Education Department and how the Board of Regents is appointed. Shouldn’t we be concerned that out of 20 members, there are only three that have experience in the classroom?” Mr. Blankenbush said.

A copy of the recommendations is available online at http://wdt.me/b38msc.

Mr. Blankenbush said he will announce within the next weeks when the full report will be presented to area school superintendents and educators.

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