Monday, October 7, 2013

“All Great Change Begins at the Dinner Table”…Ronald Reagan

There’s a great deal of misinformation being circulated regarding NYS PTA and the Common Core Initiative (CCI). Unfortunately, there are those who seem unable to support their stance against education reform on the merits of their case and, instead, resort to manipulation of facts. 

So, let’s set the record straight:
  • At no time has NYS PTA accepted any money, either from private or public corporate, industry or education agencies, to support the Common Core Learning Standards (CCLS) or assessments in our state.
  • At no time has the NYS PTA president accepted any money, either from private or public corporate, industry or education agencies, to support the CCLS or assessments.
  • At no time has there been an “edict” from NYS PTA that campaigns such as “Lace to the Top” or “Opt Out” could not be mentioned or discussed.
  • At no time has there been an “edict” that individuals cannot participate in such campaigns.
  • At no time has NYS PTA governance or its president asked for members to be silenced regarding their concerns about the CCI or its implementation.
As a Matter of Fact:
  • NYS PTA supports the CCLS and, while not perfect, recognizes the need to ensure all students graduate high school, college and career ready, and; that it is necessary to evaluate progress along the way toward meeting that goal.
  • NYS PTA continues to express concerns over NY’s implementation of and the assessments associated with the CCI. Review the joint statement Common Ground on Common Core.
  • NYS PTA favors positive, constructive collaboration with decision makers. Although NYS PTA does not support negative campaigns such as Lace to the Top or Opt Out, NYS PTA recognizes the decision to do so is an individual one.
  • NYS PTA BELIEVES its role is to provide varying platforms for parent voices. To this end:
o    A survey to more than 20,000 listserv subscribers for feedback on the CCI has been disseminated for the purpose of informing our work on behalf of our membership.
o   Survey comments were collected and delivered to both the Commissioner of Education and Chancellor of the State Board of Regents
o   NYS PTA representatives have been meeting regularly with representatives of NYS Education Dept as well as with the Regents and the governor’s office to share members’ concerns and encourage enhanced parent and family engagement in formulating and implementing education polices
o   Five 5 statewide town hall meetings are scheduled to deliver an update on the state of the CCI here in NY and to provide members an opportunity to clarify information and share concerns with NY State Education representatives.
o   NYS PTA publications and events, such as the annual Legislation Education Conference and Summer Leadership Conferences, have offered many opportunities to build understanding, ask questions and comment.
o   The Deputy Commissioner of Curriculum, Assessment and Technology will be the key note speaker at November’s annual NYS PTA convention; the Deputy Commissioner of P-12 Education plans to participate in a workshop.
  • NYS PTA BELIEVES its role is to provide information and materials for parents and members to become educated on topics and make informed choices; it is left to the individual to exercise personal choice on behalf of their child/student. 
NYS PTA supports the intent of the Common Core initiative, yet at the same time recognizes the flaws of implementation and seeks to address those flaws. Our efforts to support both students and educators adhere to our NYS PTA vision to be the premier child advocacy and parent engagement association to ensure every child reaches his/her potential. 

No, we will not rattle and rail at the gates -- for this only drowns out any chance of being heard as the rational voice of those who understand that change is inevitably accompanied by challenge. Instead we seek opportunity in change; the opportunity to provide constructive feedback from the dinner table to the school room to the state house that builds understanding and support for positive, sustainable education reform.

Lana Ajemian, President
Reflect the past, Transform today, Inspire tomorrow!