Real stories, real families, fighting common core.


This photo above is very real.

This is a special blog entry, of voices of despair. These are the real stories collected by #stopcommoncore activists, from families and educators, on the negative impact common core has brought to their lives.
Many of these stories were brought in a legislative packet to Albany last year in a desperate attempt to have the voices of the children heard. Some have signed their pieces, others wish to remain anonymous. What they all have in common is the suffering caused by age inappropriate, Fed and corporate education.


—-From a mom:
My 12 year old son S was ALWAYS the easiest, laid back kid, got A’s, B’s and an occasional C on his report card. He was diagnosed w/ ADHD in fifth grade, before that, he struggled greatly with Math, (just in 5th grade, 2011- never before) but putting the IEP in place changed everything. He was so confident, he was happy, making a lot of friends. Everything was on track.
This year, in 7th grade, my son’s IEP seems to take a back seat to common core. He lasted TWO weeks. Anxiety attacks became the norm, and I’d dread waking him for school. He became depressed, withdrawn, he literally told me school was worse than jail. He had no specials in his schedule, but he DID have Math twice a day (AIS and Algebra), and ELA twice a day. His schedule (remember, he’s got ADHD) was so packed, he had to go to mandatory P.E. ZERO period, BEFORE school. Trying to help him with Math HW was pointless, he would tune out in class, since it was so overwhelmingly confusing, and when he came home, I of course didn’t recognize his “Math”.
The days absent became weeks. His teachers would call to tell me his absences were affecting his grades. My reply, “I am not an idiot, I realize this, but I CAN NOT get him out the door!” When he did make it to school, I would get the call that he was so far behind, he’d need to stay after, go in early, or spend lunch making up work. My reply: “Please, can we just work on getting him THERE!?!” I felt like the world’s worst mother. Where did I go wrong? The day my husband tried to drag him out at 11 a.m. in his pajamas, hysterical crying, was rockbottom.
It was at this time that John King was making his rounds at forums. I figured, with the backlash from parents I was seeing on the news, it was something to look into. That day, October 22, 2013, was the day that changed our lives forever. I tried to work with the school, armed with my new knowledge, but was immediately shot down. When I told the school psych I believe common core was playing a role in my son’s depression, she suggested (strongly) that I admit him to an inpatient children’s hospital for 10 days. He never mentioned self harm, he never said he’d hurt anyone else. HE WAS HURTING, he was crying out to me for help, and this was the advice from the person I thought would help…
Needless to say, I pulled my son out of school, and he is now homeschooled/tutored. He’s HAPPY again, not bouncing off the walls, but he is himself. He’s smiling again, going outside to play, being funny and fun… And, he is thriving with the proper instruction. His work is not being dumbed down anymore, and he’s getting it!
There is NO way anyone, anywhere can convince me that my son was not directly negatively affected by common core, over testing, ambiguous algebra assignments, lack of specials, and an overpacked schedule. -CTB
March 17 at 11:01pm

——From a parent.
“Do you know what sucks about standardized education? The inability to change pedagogical strategies if something isn’t working in the classroom. The onus then falls on to 7 year olds to Shape Up, and Shape Up Now, If You Want To Be Competitive In The International Corporate Marketplace. You Don’t Need Art, Music, Literature, Health, Quiet Time–You Need More Tests, and Quick Socialization Skills Or We Will Leave You In The Dust. It’s less a concern in higher ed (other than someday these kids will be here, and will be in for a shock when ‘will this be on a test’ is no longer a valid question), for now. But when I see my stressed out, Common Core Exam taking children coming home, on the verge of breaking down (N. is having traumatic episode after traumatic episode at school), I just feel like pulling them out and teaching them, myself. Dangerously close to saying F. This I’ve Had Enough.” -GB
March 17 at 11:05pm

——From a NY mom:
I’m tired. I’m tired of my formerly A student bringing home 50s on “module” tests. I’m tired of the fact that I can’t study with him or help him with homework because the “work” is unnecessarily confusing and nonsensical. I’m tired of him sitting down to hours of math every single night and being unable to complete it or pass the tests, despite how much work he puts into it every day. I’m tired of the errors in the math books that he sits for hours trying to figure out answers for, that just aren’t there. I’m tired of him telling me other kids are crying in class, and sometimes he cries too. I’m tired of the teachers pushing through, plowing through, too much math in a single day to meet the module requirements, because they’re so afraid of the performance on the “state tests”. I’m tired of being told by the local districts that the kids just need more hours in school, or that its the parents fault for not attending more school to learn to teach what the teachers cannot, because its garbage. We went to school. We graduated. Something is very wrong when districts have no one to blame but parents.
I’m tired of not trusting the schools to provide a fair and reasonable education for my child and his peers. I’m tired of him sitting through test after test, and as his parents who are also his legal guardians and love our children, we never get to see the questions nor the scores. I’m tired of hearing more and more families have to change their goals by pulling their kids out of school. Something they never dreamed they would do before this year. I’m tired of hearing experts IN the educational field admit this is a failure, and hearing its “just the implementation” from those who stand to lose money when this goes down.
I’m tired of being a proponent of public schools, and knowing they just became unsupportable. I’m tired of wondering how “bad” school will be for my youngest child, and how to convince my family of teachers we must homeschool to avoid this educational cognitive abuse.
I’m tired. I’m tired of not knowing what agenda his language arts assignments are pushing or touting. I’m tired of the spin the material puts on the history of our country. I’m tired of the guilt that is implied in the message of this content inappropriate reading material. I’m tired of the questions that come from material that is not age appropriate. I’m tired of the one size fits all curricula that fits no one.
I’m tired of waiting for the other shoe to fall, knowing the science and social studies are coming, and will be equally problematic. I’m tired of knowing a billionaire bought our schools, and the government allowed that to happen without our permission. I’m tired of knowing the common core agenda is to have our children be cogs in the economic machine, and that there’s no place for differently abled children in Bill Gates’ vision of the future workforce in this country. I’m tired of having Bill Gates tell me if my child cuts the mustard. I’m tired of hearing about his globalist theories and collective, and killing the individuality that till now, made America the place everyone was proud of.
I’m tired of being scared for our future. I’m tired of fighting and being ignored. I’m tired of being looked at as “that common core mom”, and hearing people say “it will be fine”. I don’t believe that, and I’m tired of waiting for someone else to stand up for my children.
Be that someone. Be a voice, not an echo. Take a stand. Sign petitions, attend rallies. Make calls, send emails, do research. Our children were sold to the highest bidder. This is the most important issue in your lifetime as a parent. This is freedom. Fight for it. Complacency got us here. Stop waiting for your neighbor to speak. Speak for all of us, before its too late. You won’t have a second chance. And your child won’t have a second childhood. Gates, Duncan, and King have asked for TEN YEARS “to get this education thing right”. Are you willing to waste your child’s entire childhood? Are you willing to send them into adulthood with this dumbed down foundation? Are you willing to allow them to remain in this diabolical
Science experiment? Or, do you want to be able to tell them you did something to stop this. Fight common core. Take the schools back. Build your children up. Don’t let them be broken by tyranny.
March 17 at 11:07pm

—– A Father’s Uncommon Story

How did this all begin? How has it come to this? My sons, Dan a second grader and Joe a fifth grader attend a suburban/rural school district in Western New York. We moved here for more room for the kids to run and for a school we had learned would fit our families needs. We wanted a close knit community, to know the people we saw in public , to feel like we belonged and a more importantly a place where our boys could thrive. We visited the school, met the staff and over the next few years grew to appreciate the education my children were receiving.

That all changed when the “tests” started. My oldest was in third grade when he had his first anxiety attack in the buildup to “The Tests”. He was eight. He had never had anxiety attack before then and was what you would call a level headed kid for his age. He did well in school, excelled even. He took part in gifted and talented classes once a week where he could really spread his wings. He began seeing the school psychologist in third grade and continued on throughout fourth grade. He had no problems during the summer only during “test season”. We stayed in contact with the teachers, trying to work through it and never understood what it was that was changing him and making him so anxious. Now we do and more.

Fast forward to fifth grade and the introduction of common core state standards and the continuation of the high stakes testing as I learned what they actually were. I first heard of common core from some unusual homework that came home with my oldest son and then my youngest son as well. The work seemed counter-intuitive to everything I had ever known about education. I attended more than thirty schools myself as a child of a military father as well as college and continuing education. I’m familiar with how education works and doesn’t work. I decided to learn about what was going on and came across a video testimony by a clinical social worker testifying before a legislative body on the mental impact that common core was having upon children and a light went off in my head. It clicked. I began to understand what was happening to my children.

You see both of my children are bright kids and don’t typically put up a fuss with homework or classwork. Before common core struck our family, the boys would bring home projects and tests that they were so proud of. We would pin them on the refrigerator and we were genuinely proud of them. That has not happen once this school year. Not once. Nothing is on the refrigerator but the school menu. My children are drained when they come home, where once they were excited to get on the bus, now they loath having to go to school in the morning. They are bored. They don’t see the value in what they are doing. They feel they are being treated as if they are stupid. Both of their grades have dropped off, my oldest especially has had grades that even a year ago would have sent warning flags up for his mother and I.

Something is wrong. Something is fundamentally wrong in our school and from the hundreds of hours of research I’ve done on Race To The Top and the Common Core Standards, my fact based analysis is this. These standards are fundamentally flawed. That does not surprise me after learning how they came to be and how they came to came to violate the sanctity of my children’s education. My children’s school has become a hostile environment. Teachers are stressed out by demands placed on them which they in turn can’t help but communicate to their classes. My son witnessed one of his classmates break down in hysterics in math class from months of frustration. My son is ten years old. That poor girl was the same. He said she kept saying I can’t take it, I can’t take it. Never in all my years of being associated with education have I ever heard of such a story let alone have to hear a story from my child who was trying to process what had happened.

My children regularly beg me to homeschool them. They do not want to be in a public school anymore. I can’t say I blame them, I wouldn’t either. They want to learn,but they are being drained of their enthusiasm. We’ve had to teach my children basic math concepts to make up for the haphazard and fuzzy math that is being thrown at them now, help them come up with answers for complex writing tasks that are far beyond their cognitive ability to give anything other than regurgitated answers. We are scared to death that a gap is being created in their education and we are fighting to not let that happen. The one thing we as parents wanted more than anything for our children. A sound quality education. They are being robbed of that.

The other day I got a familiar call from school to come and pick my son for stomach aches which have coincidentally occurred for the last 3 years in the weeks leading up to the “Tests” when I went to pick him up from school he told me that the nurse office was full of kids, one of those kids was having an anxiety attack. He too is ten years old and is considered to be one of the tougher kids in school. Something is wrong. Something is terribly wrong in our school and I’ve learned that we’re not alone thousands of parents and their children across the state are suffering similar fates. Many of those parents are blaming themselves, some blame teachers, some blame the children and God help them but many kids blame themselves. The real blame lies at the feet of those who would willingly see children harmed by education of all things and not do anything and everything in their power to stop it immediately.

I am angry. I am angry with the knowledge that other human beings could rationally look themselves in the mirror and tell themselves that this is okay. It’s okay for children to lose they’re love of learning. It’s okay for children to suffer anxiety attacks. It’s okay for children to harm themselves. It’s okay to cause cognitive child abuse on children. It’s all just okay. It is not okay. It is not right. There are mountains of evidence to disprove the validity of the experimental test being performed on my children and others through these profit and power driven set of one size fits all standards , high stakes testing and privacy robbing data mining. The real evidence is in the pain of suffering children, the loss of a love of learning, the loss of hope and ultimately the theft of a healthy and balanced childhood and education. The real evidence is my two boys who I see loosing the desire to learn, the curiosity to explore, the excitement of achievement, the love of learning and that’s evidence enough for me. Is it for you?

Michael P.
Rochester, NY
March 18 at 7:08am

—- From a concerned mom:

Would you send your kids to a college…

1. That just completely overhauled their standards?
2. That said it would take 10 years to fix all the problems with these changes?
3. Where the faculty felt these changes were not in the best interests of the students?
4. Where the faculty wasn’t appropriately trained to implement these new standards?
5. That used class time to give tests that did not count towards grades but for the purposes of evaluating the professor and the school?

So then why are we allowing this in our public schools?

#stopcommoncore #refusethetests #theseareourschools
March 18 at 9:16pm ·

—– From a mom named Kelly;
I am not having my children refuse the state tests only because I am against them taking tests. There is so much more to this that I don’t think people fully understand. I refuse the tests because of the tests themselves, but more importantly, as a protest to this education reform. I protest so our teachers can, hopefully once again, do what they love—TEACH! Here are a few tidbits of info that everyone should know, even if you decide that test refusal is not for you.
1. There was a 30% passing rate on these tests last year. NYS said they are trying to get our kids “college and career ready”. That’s great, however 70% of our children are now failures according to the state. Not to mention their self esteem and self confidence are now shot. Thanks, NYS.
2. Our teachers are being evaluated based on these test results. Not only are our children now responsible for someone’s job, but it’s even that much harder on them when the passing rate is a mere 30%. No pressure, kids.
3. Because there is so much tied to these tests, our teachers have to heavily prep the students, which means “teaching to the test.” Education is so robotic these days…our kids are fed worksheet after worksheet (with many mistakes printed into these worksheets), and they go through the steps of each lesson, but that’s it. No time for detailed explanations by the teachers. If your child does not understand, that’s unfortunate, because they just go on to the next lesson. Not the teacher’s fault, that is how the state has designed it.
4. There are a few highly inappropriate books, including sexually explicit material, on the STATE APPROVED list. If they approve “Brokeback Mountain” that was a controversial movie even with the R-rating, how can I trust the state with my child’s education?!?!
5. NY State is the ONLY state left in the US with a contract with inBloom…the data mining company that is storing much of our personal information in a not-so-secure cloud. They are storing it for free this year (so nice of them), but will soon be charging districts for this storage, along with having the ability to SELL our information (400points of personal information) to third party companies. We are talking names, addresses, SS#s, medical diagnoses, behavioral issues, sexual preference, etc….. In this day and age of identity theft, this blows my mind. Not to mention some of these “points of data” could hinder your child getting into a certain school, job, etc in the future.
6. And one that affects our district in its time of severe fiscal stress…this education reform is/will cost us a boatload of money. Yes, NYS signed on to this with the intent that we would get funding in return. However, we will pay SO MUCH MORE than what we get back. Example…Williamsville school district has already put $1 million into this reform, and has only received $70K back. And that is only the tip of the iceberg. The state is looking to make all state tests computerized. Guess what…we pay for the new technology.
March 20 at 8:48am

—– From a parent

Here is my Common Core story –
Last year, as testing time grew closer, my normally happy-go-lucky third grader became very sick. He had tummy aches, irritable bowel, was very nervous and couldn’t sleep – all because of NY Common Core State tests. He cried every morning and begged me not to go to school. He even asked me if I would take him to see the doctor! Imagine, an 8 year old WANTING to see the doctor! We did take him to the doctor, and the diagnosis – Stress! How can an 8 year old have stress? How can a child who loves school and is a straight A student be stressed? He is not the only one. I have seen the changes in his friends and classmates. One of his friends in particular, went from being a smiling, happy child to a sullen, depressed boy – all because he scored low on the Common Core State Tests. He now thinks he is stupid, and is having difficulties in school and home.
Even though he scored very high last year, this year, my son will not be taking the tests. In fact, I informed our school district that my child will no longer be taking any tests, quizzes or assessments that are not graded by his teacher, and that do not count directly toward his grades. I see no value in taking tests that do not count for teacher evaluations and do not count toward my child’s advancement or grades. The only purpose these tests serve is for Pearson and Bill Gates to profit. They are trying to force my child to be a field researcher, test marketer and guinea pig. Well, that is NOT going to happen! We are not only REFUSING the tests, but we are doing everything we can to inform everyone we know, why they should also be REFUSING.
With the first day of testing only 11 days away, my son is not exhibiting any of the symptoms he had leading up to testing last year, knowing that he will not be made to suffer through them this year. In fact, his grasp of Common Core amazes me. He has a thorough understanding, and I love listening to him explain it to his friends.
U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan was correct when he said “white suburban moms who — all of a sudden — their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were” – Yes, he was correct – My son is not as brilliant as I thought – he is much more brilliant!
Debbie Patt,
Holley, NY
March 20 at 2:37pm

—– Do you know the hard time my 4th grader is having in school, he has meltdowns, breaks down crying in school and now he sits alone at lunch and recess!! Why?? Because the kids have started making fun of him and calling him a cry baby. He is having his birthday party this weekend and has been so excited and he invited his whole class, not one kid is coming!! He hasn’t said anything about it and neither have I but I am so sad for him. He has always had friends. I am sick over this!! I know he will have a good party because his family will be there but the hurt in his eyes that I know will be there is going to be kill me.
March 20 at 3:55pm pm

—– My children are now homeschooled, which isn’t a bad thing, but how we got here wasn’t so pleasant. I had sent in a refusal for all local and state assessments for both my sons. One is 13 and in 8th this year, and the other is 10 in 4th. My 10 yr old has Aspergers and was in a Special Edu room. School started Sept. 6th and we were homeschooling by Sept. 23. After having to be at the school everyday since day 1, either for a meeting about my refusal, or to pick my oldest up who was being bullied and harassed non stop by Administration at the school, The Superintendent had the nerve to both say, and write to me, that parents had no right to direct the education of their children. That DID NOT sit well with me. They were also telling my 8th grader he would have to take a detention for every test he refused, because he was being insubordinate. They also told him “It was nice he wanted to listen to what his parents said, but he HAS to listen to his teachers” WHAT??!! Over me? I don’t think so!!! The final straw was when my youngest, with the Aspergers, refused a gym pre-test. After marching him back and forth to the principal’s office, who was with me at the high school in a meeting. They called his teacher. She initially lied and said I had said it was ok. He would not believe her and so she told him he had ruined her break and put him in a hallway alone, as punishment, while the rest of the class watched movies. He classroom door is a few feet from a door to the outside of the school, which is of course not locked from the inside. All it took was a split second thought in his very upset mind, that he had, had enough and he would have been out that door and either been on a golf course and then swamp, or between 2 roads with VERY heavy traffic. I WAS LIVID! The school felt it the tests were so important they would endanger a child’s life for them. They planned on making an example out of my children so no one else dared to refuse ! That was on a Friday. I pulled the boys on Monday. They like homeschooling, but they miss their friends and I don’t blame them. These are kids that have been in public school and have made lots of friends, so they are use to and miss, the social aspect of it. I get that. I have been playing catch up all year with my youngest who had an IEP that the school has failed on for over two years. He is just getting multiplication down really good, yet third graders, who were not taught multiplication in our school last year, had it presented to them on their state tests. Way to set kids up to fail!!! -Alethea
March 20 at 5:33pm

——We adopted our son in September, 2012 from Asia. He had just turned 14. We enrolled him in public 8th grade thinking that his school would be HAPPY to have a former teacher who speaks English unlike the other ELL parents to partner with them. It was a match made in hell. They complained that he was a “drain on resources” and that he would never learn enough English to pass the required 10th grade testing. There were about 10 educrats at a kvetchfest over his education in December, 2012 who shrugged their shoulders and blamed CC. It was the first I had heard of CC. It was obvious they just wanted him GONE. We had to threaten a lawsuit to have him tested in his native Language which revealed educational deficits. At 14, he tested at a 2nd grade level in all subjects in his native language. The “Special Ed” teacher, a co-teacher in the classroom, told me the reason he didn’t know his timestables was due to LANGUAGE. At that point I knew you just could not fix stupid. We live in the movie “Deliverance”…… He cut and pasted letter sounds for 6 months. I was discouraged for starting him on sight words. Their solution? Give him a 4.0 in classes he never took (like 8th grade English). Maybe I would have felt differently if they would’ve given him a pity pass in the form of a diploma, but to give him a 4.0 and yet deny him a diploma due to not acquiring enough English is why we had no choice but to homeschool him. He was also denied an IEP (because educational deprivation is no grounds for an IEP. This child was institutionalized for 14 years. He has ADD/PTSD and needs speech therapy. All they would give him is ‘Preferential seating” for his hearing issues.)
We had no choice but to homeschool him. He is our only child at this point and he is now in about 2nd grade work (and still doesn’t know his timestables!!!!) but he can read now!!!! It’s been 3 months. We tried K12 which was also a disaster because they expected me to read to him so he could answer the questions and to “to his best” on the compulsory study island stuff. At least k12 took his language assessments into consideration and enrolled him in 6th grade, the lowest they could go for a now 15 year old. He is lonely. We have many native language speaking friends who are college students at a local church, but there are very few high schoolers in any of the homeschool co ops.- Carolyn
March 20 at 5:34pm

—— My second grade 7 year old started after Xmas break! The math! Failing and never had any problems before ! He came home to hours of home work and studying and weekends became all about math!! Like to add this should be typically easy adding and subtracting! Due to the decomposing and breaking down and all the lovely drawings he was so confused even with basics th like asking him to do it in his head! He lost all ability to do it! He at this point didn’t even know where to start ! 8+6 trying to repeat it over and over in the hopes it would magically come to him! Looking to ” find the ten first ” and break down the ones! Can’t be done in their heads !! He started with headaches, not sleeping , face palm after face palm and over and over ” I’m so stupid , I’m so stupid!” He gave up!! He wanted no part of school or any math!! He has worked day and night just to get back to where he started in September!! We had to bring it as far back as kindergarten to help him understand the basics again! He has a tutor and still HATES SCHOOL every night he’s up all night bitting his nails and every morning it’s crying and fighting to stay home! My 4 yr old watches this and now thinks homework is a punishment and won’t even sit to write her name! How am I going to do this for the next 13 years?? They hate school and they just started their education!! How are they going to dream of college when they dread the idea of learning tests and school period !! No recess no down time too cold to go out so they are slaves to school!! I can’t live with this anxiety all day everyday and starting out everyday with crying and yelling is no way to live ! I want their confidence back! I want the 6 months of learning he lost back! I want his love for learning back! I want to raise a confident man not an ostrich that hides it’s head over basic math!! 7 year olds sitting and copying 9 paragraphs , 3 day writing tests and 6 page math tests weekly !! Where is the childhood?? He has more worries then ppl who have life and death careers !! So we will have a generation of kids on sleep aids, anti anxiety meds and digestion problems ?????? With no basic skills or confidence ??!?!?!!! I’m ready to homeschool in Sept! I’m done playing a part in this never ending nightmare that has become school! You can not spend everyday all day in a place you HATE !!thats what work is for!! So they will also be so burnt out by the time they go into the work force with no confidence to even try! -Pamela
March 20 at 5:35pm

—— A few weeks from now, New York’s public school children in grades 3-8 will spend six days taking the poorly designed, expensive New York State Assessments. The overreliance on these tests has pushed school districts to abandon successful curriculum models and confine themselves instead to the limited, unproven and expensive Common Core standards.
“Prepping” for these dreary, mind-numbing examinations greatly reduces the time our kids can spend on appropriate, meaningful educational pursuits. It inhibits excellent teachers from bringing their inspiration and ingenuity into the classroom. The tests penalize children for their creativity and original thinking, and they punish gifted children and those with special needs even more severely. The process also channels tens of millions of our tax dollars out of the classrooms and into the coffers of rapacious testing corporations, who view our children as nothing more than a footnote on their bottom line. These companies also eagerly look forward to gaining access to our children’s confidential personal information.

Faced with this threat to our children’s education, a large and growing number of parents (ourselves included) are taking the very logical step of opting our children out of the New York State tests.
When asked why we would refuse the tests, we ask instead, Why would we let our kids take them? We really can’t think of a reason.
These assessments do not benefit our children, and they serve no educational purpose. Unlike the exams given by teachers as an aid to instruction, the Common Core tests are secret. Teachers cannot use them to improve learning, because they aren’t allowed to see them. Ever. Want to know which questions your child answered incorrectly? Sorry, you’re not allowed access to that information. Would you like to see if the test itself contains errors? Oh, you definitely can’t do that. Why all the secrecy? Possibly because every version of the tests has been riddled with errors, developmentally inappropriate material and ambiguous questions. Months of prepping and a week of testing are reduced to a single-digit score, and we’re supposed to assume it tells us anything of value? All available evidence points to the contrary.
The tests are also needlessly stressful, punitive, and take away months of vital classroom instruction time. College students on their way to medical school take the MCAT. It lasts around 4½ hours. The Common Core exams are given to our kids for six days, one to two hours per day or more. And that is every year, starting in third grade. If 4½ hours of testing is enough to get you into medical school, it is ridiculous to assume that double or triple that amount, every year, is necessary for a child in grade school. No other high-achieving nation tests their children in this relentless, harmful way.
Educational leaders throughout New York are speaking out forcefully that these tests are harmful to our children and detrimental to their education. Just this past week, nearly 100 of Long Island’s school superintendents appealed directly to Governor Cuomo, urging him to support a halt to the testing process. School Boards in Port Jefferson, Great Neck, Herricks, Huntington, Syosset, Rockville Centre and many other districts have made public statements and passed resolutions opposing the misguided, harmful state assessment process. Additionally, several thousand principals throughout the state have signed an open anti-testing letter to the Board of Regents. It is becoming difficult to find anybody (other than the people being paid to say so) who will tell you that these tests are actually useful for anything. Enough already.
There is no requirement that your children take these tests. Opting them out is very straightforward. You just visit the website of the NY State Allies for Public Education and download an opt-out form. Fill in your information and send it to your child’s principal. Specific opt-out protocols vary from district to district, so discuss it with your principal or superintendent. In Roslyn, children will read quietly or do other schoolwork while the tests are being given.
So the real question becomes, why would you let your kids sit through these tests? The only reason we can think of is, “because other people are doing it.” As we teach our children, that isn’t a good reason to do anything. Really, it isn’t. It certainly isn’t a good reason to let our kids take these useless, absurd Common Core tests. We have a better idea. If we want to know how our children are doing in school, we will ask their teachers.
Mitchell Rubinstein
Susan Rubinstein
Roslyn NY

—–From a mom:
Heres my story, it began about 3 weeks after school started. I noticed Kaden was struggling with homework, at first I just told him it needed to get done, then it turned into arguments about getting it done. I summed it up to him just not wanting to do homework or being lazy. I didn’t know anything about common core at this time. Kooper my youngest went from loving school to hating school in a matter of weeks. He kept saying it’s too much math, mommy, I can’t do it. I kept saying you’re in kindergarten, how hard can it be? Then I looked at what he was allowed to bring home, what happened to all the fun, colorful pictures kids do in K where are all the little projects that he should be bringing me home? ; Karter my 8th grader was bringing home math and it was so foreign to me, he just said the teacher doesn’t care if we have right or wrong answers, she just wants us to have an answer and show how we came up with that answer. I of course said what teacher in their right mind would say that? So, I had him do a page with all wrong answers and he got a 100 because he showed some work. Keegan, my 9th grader hasn’t had any problems, I guess I’m lucky with him in that I don’t have to learn how to teach him as well. After Christmas break is when it got really bad, after being home for over 2 weeks, I could not get my younger 2 to go to school without pitching a fit. It became a war zone in my house. The stomach aches, crying, headaches not sleeping was taking a toll on all of us. I finally emailed my entire school board a very personal message about a day in our lives. It was after that, that I really started getting involved and learning everything I could about common core. My district super has decided that after this school year we will no longer follow cc curriculum, beginning tomorrow the teachers and board along with parents will be phasing out EngageNY and replacing it with a new one. This is supposed be done by September, I can only pray it is. -Stephanie D.
March 20 at 11:08pm

——From a mom:
Always a happy child who was eager to learn.
Curious about what was beyond every bend we would turn.
Making up stories, and songs, we would play.
Everything got better day after day.
Facing each day with a smile, she was too busy to frown.
Then came that day it all turned around.
Suddenly the songs turned into a fight
I wondered what happened night after night.
She was sullen and scared; and sometimes got mad.
I starting thinking what could be so bad.
No longer eager to get up for school
Pretending to be sick and that wasn’t cool.
I started reading and looking around
I got upset at what I had found.
Going to classes might not be the best
School wasn’t school it was “teach to the test”.
Math wasn’t math, it’s easy to say
And all other subject became ELA.
The homework each night turned into tears
Seeing her planner was one of my fears.
Researching and reading and learning their rules
I knew in my heart that we had to home school.
I’m sure as a mother, there’s some things I lack
All I can say is I want my girl back.
-Christine RH

—-From a mom:
My son was 11 years old when school started two years ago.He LOVED school..he wanted to go when he was sick…he wanted to SKIP Disney World because he would miss his teachers and friends.he struggled with reading and other classes BECAUSE of his reading.He has dyslexia..he has learning disabilities.His Biggest disability was an extreme form of dyslexia( I don’t remember the name) The word “roll” looked like “olrl”
BEFORE CC he received help from spec ed teachers…within one semester,the spec ed teachers figured out how to teach to HIM…he started going up…he was proud of himself… he said I CAN do this mom!(I have an older son that had learning disabilities also so I knew a lot of little shortcuts and ways to help with homework issues..I also have an older daughter that has NO disabilities)Then CC came sneaking into our house. The sullen attitude started first..then the “im sick” all the time…then things like why do I have to go to school? im never gonna be anything anyway…im stupid im dumb ..Cant I quit school and stay home with you ,MOM?…and then THIS.I cant even figure out 1 math problemnlet alone 20! math was his favorite subject…he could add large numbers in his head…he could divide lrg numbers and multiply them too! he did it a weird way but he could do it.Ive been involved closely with my kids education since my oldest son was in 1st grade and we found out about his disabilities.I KNEW something was up…then the weird homework came home…he had a math sheet that was number problems.but the answers had to be in little cube forms,I said no honey that isn’t right its like this…he flipped out! started crying and shaking and said IT HAS TO BE LIKE THAT! I WILL FAIL…he flipped out so bad that night…begging me not to send him back this was two or three months into the year.I went to school I had soooo many meetings…Chase has an IEP so I dealt with the spec ed people too…everyone talked about new standards and assesments and BINGO common core…I HAD HEARD of common core before…a teacher of my older son said to me a year BEFORE “I have two words for you and I cant say anymore …COMMON CORE” I went right home and started investigating.I found …after many months of weeding thru the haters and blind sheeple and the MEAN NASTY pro cc people,a group of parents whose kids were going thru the same thing…they are my special safe haven where I can come to and SOB over watching my child losing his very childhood before my eyes…Fight parents if even ONE child has to be sent to therapy or one child has to be sedated to handle school there is SOMETHING wrong!
Heather P

—From a mom

My story… where do I begin? My son is 10 years old and is learning disabled. This school year, fifth grade, has been absolutely horrible for him. He used to LOVE school. He hated weekends, breaks and summer vacation. He wanted to be at school all the time. He LOVES to learn. He is the type of kid who MUST know an answer and if I do not know it I better google it pretty quick. But starting the end of October, only after about two months of full out common core, everything changed. He started with daily headaches when he came home from school. He was counting down the days until Friday. Then in January, when they had to go back after the Christmas/New Year break, it got even worse. He did not want to go back to school. He cried “mommy don’t make me go”. He has been asking to be homeschooled. He was asking me at what age can he drop out of school. HE IS 10 YEARS OLD IN FIFTH GRADE! Homework is nothing but tears and frustration. He now HATES math which he used to love. Common core has now ruined his love to learn. His IEP is basically useless now as the only accommodation they are giving him is extended time. When I demanded a meeting with the Director of Special Education to address the fact my son was shutting down and we needed to do something to help him, I was told they intend to kick him out of special education because they think he was labeled incorrectly and that there is no disability; it is that he just does not apply himself. I was told he needs to be more focused so he can accomplish the higher level of thinking that common core requires. As a result of that meeting I am having him privately tested for learning disability. And guess what… round one of testing shows dyslexia and dysgraphia (which I knew both but the school would not acknowledge). He has another round of testing next week. I will NOT let common core destroy my child. I am as determined as ever! We MUST stop common core!! Laurie N
March 21 at 8:37pm

—–From a parent
Title Deja vu (an European landing in the US)
Author Glen Dalgleish
Date October 3rd, 2013
When I stepped off the plane with my pregnant wife, I was so excited that I would be able to offer my unborn child the American dream. As a European, I had always been fascinated by the catchphrases “Only in America”, “The Land of the Free” and the “American Dream” and I was humbled by the fact that I was actually going to live it, and so were my children. They would get a great education and they could be what they wanted to be, unlike myself who had to choose by the time I was 14 what path I wanted to go down. I remember it being a struggle to make that decision at that age as it was going to be a choice that would determine what future options I had going forward, or as I now see it, what options were no longer available to me. It would take you down a path that was very hard to get off of unless you completely re-schooled yourself, and not many did or were even encouraged to do so. You just accepted it as that is the way it was done and didn’t ask many questions. Not sure much has changed since.
Fast forward 8 years, and I now live in fear that my children’s education is heading down the same and to be honest even worse path. Yes, even worse as I actually had a choice at 14, now it looks like that a nameless data analyst in a windowless room in Utah will use my children’s 400+ data points, stick it in a machine that will be spit out a spreadsheet with my children’s name on with what their direction will be. And it looks like that will be before they are even 14 years old and choices will be limited, very limited.
I thought the choice of how I wanted to school my children was something that I would be able to control, even if we wanted to homeschool them. When we left Europe in 2005, many of the countries already had had that right eroded by making parents sign documents in which they commit to teach their children along the lines of the United Nations Convention on Children’s Rights. This document also states that government inspectors will decide whether families comply with this and if they feel they do not, after two negative reports a clause in that document kicks in forcing them to send their child to an “official” government accredited school. I believe this undermines the authority of parents and basically transfers parental rights to the state. Common Core I fear will start to erode and then finally consume the thriving homeschooling community by placing an enormous amount of rules and regulations on them; this might even come with inspectors too. Europe has already signed away a lot of rights to the UN, things are not looking much better here at the moment. Although homeschooling is not what I had planned for my children, it is the fact that school choice in the US is under assault that concerns me. Combine that with the changes to FERPA and the planned data mining of our children, I believe my parental rights and choices as a father are already being stripped down. My parents never fought back and slowly but surely more and more government mandates and involvement crept into the system. This country convinced this father that my children are mine to raise and teach how I see fit, not the State’s or the government. Now I am not sure the country’s education leaders have that conviction anymore and we as parents need to remind them that it’s not what they want, it’s what we, the parents, want.
When I went to school, I never saw parents get involved with the school, kids were just sent there. The thought of being able to participate in my school community through the PTA excited me. As a father, not an educator, I might actually be able to shape the education in my community and ensure that what was taught was appropriate and met the standards we expected. Working closely with teachers and the administration of the school or even the school district would allow me to feel comfortable that my children’s education would be the best they could get. Now we are faced with an untested, one-size-fits-all model where local involvement is minimized and even marginalized. No input at all into the curriculum of my community. Moving somewhere else won’t even be an option because it will all be the same in the majority of the US.
I still have not regretted stepping off that plane as I have grown to love this country and still do believe the catchphrase “only in America” rings true. Now Common Core is looming like a dark cloud over the future leaders of this country, I have seen two kinds of parents, those who fight, and those who flight. This father, who has sworn to protect and cherish his children, is ready to fight. I just wish many more fathers would stand with me, you are sorely missed. This is a fight that both parents should be in, not just the mothers.

—–From a mom
I just realized that I never shared my story… I have seen first hand how a child who once loved school and considered himself “the math king” has turned into a child who not only hates school but says he hates learning. As a parent it is heartbreaking to hear your child talk like that. Both of my children have gone from loving school and being upset when they had to miss school to crying hysterical and begging to stay home. Once a week I get a phone call from my son’s teacher that he is crying and begging to go home because he is “too stupid for school.” I have made my children a promise that I will do everything I can stop Common Core and to bring back their love of learning. crystal D
March 24 at 9:39pm

—From a mom

Ava was always a confident straight A student. The last year the state test said she wasn’t proficient in math and suggested IEP. excuse me but this kid gets academic excellence awards every semester, had confidence in herself, etc. I called the school and they confirmed outright that the kids were tested on things they hadn’t implemented yet! That’s when I decided that I needed to do more research. This year she started out with C’s and B’s which is great when you are doing your best. The thing is why is she crying and calling herself stupid, and not wanting to go to school. It breaks my heart. I wonder how many truly wonderful future teachers this program is destroying? I’ve never seen so many teachers with long faces as I have in the last year. -Krista S

— From a mom
Not a pleasant night in this house at all….and it came out of nowhere. All was fine, my son started his homework and asked me to time him for 3 minutes to do a pretty simple addition and subtraction sheet he can do without even blinking. So I set the timer on my stove, I say GO…and his pencil touches the paper and he freezes….he started shaking saying “I cant!!! There isnt enough time!! I cant think anymore mommy”!!! I have tears writing this….I stop him and of course assure him there is no pressure in this house and its okay, its not a test…everything I could to comfort him….then he wanted to try again…and AGAIN when I said GO the same thing happened but the meltdown was worse and he actually hit himself!!! Screaming the same things…my heart broke…I got rid of the math sheet and said no more…..he kept screaming “I cant think anymore”!!! I told him to watch tv with me and made a call to our parent liaison to see if math sprints or timed math has been excessive and the answer was yes….within seconds I turn around and he hands me the easy math sheet completed and perfect (in seconds)!! Without the timing end of it he had no problem…I have never seen a breakdown so severe so quick….things are getting much worse Cant wait to homeschool, my heart is broken. -Jacqueline L

—-From a Mom:
Why do we need Common Core? Experts tell us it will make kids “college and career ready.” And let me add, potatoes don’t have wings because my bicycle is a 10-speed. Out of those two statements, only one has a measure of truth. Potatoes don’t have wings. And my bicycle is, indeed, a 10-speed.

We continue to hear people with lofty titles and lots of letters after their name tell us that Common Core is “college and career ready.” You’ll notice that they never use any other wording. They never talk about workforce skillsets or employability or long-term success. They use the exact same wording every time – and that is a marketing technique. Tell a person the same thing enough times and s/he will believe it without evidence.

Lack of evidence is exactly what we have with common core. David Coleman is the primary architect of common core; he is responsible for writing the blasted thing. Here’s what he said at a 2011 Institute for Learning Senior Leadership meeting: “… we’re composed of that collection of unqualified people who were involved in developing the common standards.” Bill Gates, through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is the financial backer of common core; in September of 2013, at Harvard University, he stated “It would be great if our education stuff worked, but that we won’t know for probably a decade.” So the man who wrote it is unqualified to say if it works and the man who paid for it thinks that we won’t know if it works for years.

Let’s break down what they’re saying – 10 years. That means that nine years’ worth of high school graduates will have largely failing numbers, and we may find out in the tenth year that it was not because of the students, but because of common core. What do those nine years’ worth of kids do with their future? If we were testing drugs on these kids without permission, someone would be in jail. Instead, we’re testing education – we’re toying with their workforce skillsets, their employability … their long-term success. And we have no idea if it will work; we don’t know that there’s any connection between Common Core and “college and career readiness.”

My superintendent once told me that the top consideration for any academic policy change is the impact on the current cohort of students. Those students do not get a do-over, so the mantra with respect to education reform is very similar to that of medical practice – “first, do no harm.” The CCSSI reform has not even taken harm into account.

This is all big-picture. Let’s see how this mindshift sits with an anecdotal example.

My children are both in an early college program – they started Algebra at the local community college in 7th grade. My oldest is now taking common core aligned Regents Algebra I, aka 9th grade math. She has a direct comparison between the way math is taught at college and the way that common core is now teaching it.

Spoiler alert – they don’t match. Common core has taken to renaming conventions that have been around for decades and sometimes even centuries. Let’s take the examples of FOIL and set notation. You may remember FOIL from high school (first, outer, inner, last)? It’s now called “double distribution” under common core. Set notation is that list of answers produced by a function, written as a string of numbers, separated by commas, inside curly brackets. That’s now called “range roster notation” in common core. But neither of these things has changed in college, nor can her college professor nor 9th grade teacher explain why the names have changed in common core. There’s no practical reason for it.

My daughter has a 4.0 in her second year of algebra at college, but her 9th grade math average is a 90. Why? Because common core changes the way that we show our work, mathematically. Understand that since the time of Euclid, there has been one set way to show work – line by line, one change per line – that other mathematicians can follow. Some of the greatest work in mathematics has been accomplished under this simple method. Common core adds required notation to that method – notation that my kid’s college professors have never seen before. Wiggly arrows, circles, highlighting, notation in the margins … all these are suddenly required elements in showing math work and points are taken off for not having them there. Again, no one knows why a system that has worked superbly for centuries has to be changed – it doesn’t even match what other countries or industries are doing. Nobody is doing this – only common core.

My kid is okay because she’s had “regular” math prior to hitting this common core notation … but what about the other kids in her class? They’re drowning.

To sum up, we have a theory that common core is a cure. We have no proof. But we do have daily evidence that it is leading kids down a path completely apart from anything needed for college or career success. We are following a man who is unqualified, financed by a man who is comfortable with ten years’ worth of experimentation, going in a direction that NO OTHER COUNTRY is going. Some may be doing standardized testing, some not. But no other country – higher PISA scores or no – is going in this particular direction. None. Why are we?

—- From a mom

The second week of September, my 6 year old came home from 1st grade and told me she had “failed” a test. I laughed and said “You’re 6, do you even know what the word failed means?” She put her head down and said, “Yes mommy, it means I did really, really bad on a test. I’m sorry I didn’t know how to do it.”

It was in that moment that I became extremely concerned. You see we don’t use the word failed in our house. In our house, live 2 extremely successful adults. We would not have been successful if we believed in failure but rather in taking risks and doing the best job that you can every single day. Since then, I have researched all that encompasses Common Core every day since that sad afternoon. I feel that my testimony will be most useful if I share with you my story:

Straight out of high school, I became a sales woman for over 13 years, I have a bachelors in multimedia web design, masters in business administration, I have managed all aspects of the one of the largest Verizon wireless stores in NYS, and I started a women minority owned construction business in Almond NY, not knowing how to physically do any of the work myself, but rather knowing how a business should and must be run to be successful and this year we are celebrating its 5th year in business….I am a 2001 Arkport central school graduate, pre common core. I was college and career ready without the Common Core the standards or the modules.

And just to be clear, I was not the only “college and career” ready individual in my class, as each and every student graduated and went on to college or a career – members of my class include doctors, lawyers, business owners, members of the armed forces, and even 1 United States Marshall. Yet I hear over and over again how children graduating are not college and career ready and it makes me almost physically ill that our Commissioner of Education has little to say besides that as the reasoning for turning our schools, teachers, and children upside down.

I stand before you tonight having all of those accomplishments that I have worked diligently for, making my way with a baby on my hip, helping to teach a 6 yr old how to read and a 4 year old how to write her name. As a female in this unforgiving corporate bought world I would not have gotten where I am without a solid foundation in education, teachers that Loved me, yes I said loved, and inspired me to be the absolute best I could be in stilling in me a love of learning….but where is that inspiration and love of learning this year? Common Core does not appear to allow for personality, creativity, nor individualism.

I have regularly attended BOE meetings in my children’s district: Alfred Almond as well as my alma mater Arkport Central, and neighboring Hornell City School. I have repeatedly asked over and over again for districts to IGNORE the modules, CANCEL the tests, and GIVE BACK the RTTT funds. Not one single one of those schools will, not because they think Common Core is right for my children or anyone elses, because they would “all loose their jobs, the state would pull back millions of dollars worth of funding, and the school would be shut down.” When I ask for proof that such action will take place, no one can provide it, however, out of fear continue to respond the same way meeting after meeting after meeting….I wonder to myself if this isn’t Bullying on the largest scale of my lifetime, at our children’s expense non the less.

So I leave you with one last statement that I wrote in a moment of passion recently:

Regarding Common Core, I’m not upset about “not understanding what my kids are bringing home”

I’m upset that the only 2 educators involved in the creation of these standards REJECTED them in a validation committee,

I’m upset that it was privately funded through lobbyist groups in DC,

I’m upset that this was not voted on in NYS (education without representation),

I’m upset that reading requirements include pornography, molestation, pedophilia, degrade the US military,

I’m upset that USA children are learning Singapore math with no evidence of its success,

I’m upset that over 400 personal points of data is being collected on my minor children and my family and fed to the state for them to do with as they see fit,

I’m upset that most public school teachers have a gag order on them to not be able to speak up without fear of loosing their jobs,

I’m upset that 70% of kids failed Common Core testing last year,

I’m upset that those failures hurt teachers in their evaluations,

I’m upset that our school districts will not be able to afford this new curriculum and neither will the tax payers in our district

…I’ve done my research and I want Common Core Standards, modules, and data mining ALL to STOP!

Shelly Stevens, Mother of 3