CANANDAIGUA — Loss of local control, privacy and creativity are among troubles with the new Common Core learning standards, citizens said during a community information meeting Thursday in Canandaigua.
Worries about the new standards — how and why they are being implemented and the negative effect on parents, students and teachers — were evident as many who attended the presentation and discussion shared experiences.
“There is a great deal of money to be made by the Common Core,” said Beth Bingham of Middlesex, who led the meeting that included a showing of one of five videos in a series, "Stop the National Common Core Power Grab." The video attributes the origins and background of the Common Core to corporations that stand to make money from selling learning materials and products, such as the Pearson publishing company and Microsoft. Meanwhile, parents, teachers and students are being forced to fit a mold that strips away local control and the joy of learning, said Bingham, a mother and registered daycare provider with background in early childhood education.
Throughout the meeting, citizens discussed the importance of putting pressure on state legislators and raising awareness. The next step? Trish Christoforo of Canandaigua, who helped organize Thursday's event, said a Facebook page will be set up to share information and continue a dialogue.
James Schwartz, a professor and chairman of undergraduate teacher preparation at St. John Fisher College, said that the Common Core modules — scripted lesson and curriculum — can discourage teachers from being creative over fears that deviating from the script can result in bad evaluations.
“It can be incredibly demoralizing,” said Schwarz, a Canandaigua resident who previously taught at Keuka College, Houghton College and Geneva College and taught elementary school.
Nancy Stanton Multer of Middlesex, an early learning specialist and former executive director of Child and Family Resources Inc., said even the best teachers are being intimidated into believing they must use the modules to meet the Common Core standards in order to avoid being penalized due to observations, evaluations and test results.
Several parents of children in grades three through eight, grades dictated by Common Core, said they are frustrated because the homework and other materials their children are expected to learn is complicated and sophisticated beyond what they believe is reasonable for their child’s age level.
“It’s all about how to pass a test,” said Dave Christoforo, a father of three from Canandaigua and Trish Christoforo's husband.
Concerns over loss of privacy were also discussed. The presentation included a report about information the federal government seeks related to Common Core. According to the report, data sought includes information on students’ religious affiliation, family income, health history and other personal matters.
“I am terrified,” said Morgan Woodworth, 16, who attended the meeting with her mother, Michelle Woodworth, a mother of four in the Canandaigua district. Morgan said she fears she will be judged by prospective colleges or employers based on the personal information.
Bingham said a powerful but controversial method of raising concerns is for students to refuse to take the tests, though she said it must be done with care to protect the students from being punished. She recommended following guidelines at the website www.nystoptesting.com on how to “opt out."