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On March 3, 2013, I began a petition through SignOn.org calling for our state legislators and Governor Cuomo to separate our Empire State from the federal disaster that is Race to the Top and Common Core Standards. On April 25, I and a small group of supporters – both active and retired educators – delivered the petition with 1,083 signatures from residents around the state.
Our state education standards, the professionalism of our teachers, and the creativity of our students stand proudly and successfully on our own merits. We do not need a Race to the Top education in New York State. We know and live the truth in our classrooms, daily.
NYSUT President Richard Iannuzzi has made the following statement: "NYSUT has continually stressed the potential for Common Core standards to be a rich addition to classrooms across the country. Polls of members in NY and nationally agree." I have not met a New York State teacher yet who would agree. In fact, I am confident many in the trenches are adamant about the devastation caused by these standards.
Race to the Top and Common Core standards are nothing but corporate-driven strategies for the privatization of public education. They are tools to continue the economic segregation of our students, now with the use of data warehouses.
New York State United Teachers and the American Federation of Teachers are not doing enough to resist these moves. Calling for a moratorium and a public rally and writing legislation are appreciated.
However, these are a response to poor decisions, and they are failed attempts to stave off the corporate profiteers invited by NYSUT and AFT's partnership with corporate-driven politicians and foundations.
The Common Core standardized guidelines run counter to brain-research findings. For our youngest students, love of learning and hands-on discovery are being lost to developmentally inappropriate expectations for all, destroying the spirits of our future innovators. For our older students, unique talents and gifts are being sacrificed for "a one size fits all" approach. We cannot then expect problem-solvers or critical thinkers for the future.
Teachers need union leadership that is willing not only to listen but also to ask the tough questions of policymakers and union members; to seek input to redefine or clarify our mission; and, most important, to lead us away from corporate profiteers and back to research-based policy that celebrates and promotes all learners.
Will NYSUT, AFT, and the NEA listen to their membership?
JULIE MITCHELL, WEBSTER
Mitchell is a Fairport teacher.