Hudson Valley educators and local state lawmakers joined together for a meeting with Regent James Jackson this week to voice concerns over the State Education Department's bungled Common Core implementation — and to seek his support for a moratorium on high-stakes consequences linked to testing.
While educators cited mounting frustrations with the Common Core rollout and testing, the meeting remained positive and constructive, according to Kathy Taylor, a NYSUT Board member and longtime Ulster BOCES union leader.
Taylor set up the meeting with Jackson in response to NYSUT's call for members to get to know their Regents and let them know how their policy decisions are impacting students and teachers. NYSUT Vice President Maria Neira said it's important for the Regents Board members to be held accountable and has urged members to schedule meetings, invite Regents to their schools and send action letters calling for the Regents to fix Common Core implementation.
Jackson, one of 17 members of the Regents board, represents Albany, Columbia, Greene, Rensselaer, Schoharie, Sullivan and Ulster counties. A longtime principal at Shaker High School in the Capital District, Jackson is up for reelection by the Legislature this March. The Regents are elected to five-year terms by a joint session of the Legislature.
Taylor was joined by Sheryl Delano of the Rondout Valley Federation of Teachers, Ashley Keegan of the Chatham Teachers Association and Ann Harrison, regional staff director of the NYSUT Mid-Hudson Regional Office.
Local legislators included Assemblyman Kevin Cahill, D-Kingston, State Sen. Cecilia Tkaczyk, D-Duanesburg, and State Sen. Terry Gipson, D-Rhinebeck.
The legislators asked a lot of pointed questions, while educators shared specifics on how SED's Common Core rollout and testing were negatively affecting students and teachers. At Jackson's request, SED Deputy Commissioner Ken Slentz attended part of the meeting to defend SED's actions.
The legislators seemed to be signaling that if the Regents do not make serious changes, legislative action will be needed, Taylor said.
"Finally, I believe the voices of parents and teachers are starting to be heard," Taylor said. "Whether action will follow remains to be seen."
7 Action Steps You Can Take
NYSUT members can take several steps to hold Regents accountable:
- Sign the letter at www.nysut.org/dayofactionletter.
- Watch what they do. Regents meet monthly in Albany. Video of the proceedings is streamed from the State Education Department's website - www.regents.nysed.gov - where you'll find the meeting schedule, agenda and videos from past meetings.
- Find the Regent who represents your area by going to the interactive map at www.regents.nysed.gov/members/findrep.html.
- Contact your Regent via email or phone from information listed on www.regents.nysed.gov.
- Invite your Regent for a classroom visit to show first-hand what you do and the impact their decisions have on your students.
- Ask your local leader to invite your Regent to your next membership meeting.
- Keep your legislators updated about the decisions Regents make that affect your school.