Today is a nationwide “Day of Action” around issues plaguing public education. Teachers, parents, union leaders and even some school superintendents and board members in New York are clothed in blue to show their concern for what they see as an overemphasis on testing, an under-emphasis on state education funding, and inequitable spending between districts.
New York’s wide-ranging, day-long events are part of a national Day of Action coordinated by the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association and more than 100 community groups and other organizations. They say they aim to reclaim the promise of public education from corporate interests and self-proclaimed education “reformers.”
The itinerary includes rallies, press events, meetings with and communications to the Board of Regents and legislators. Billy Easton is Executive Director of the Alliance For Quality Education. "What we've seen in the last several years in New York State and across the country is a corporate effort to take over our public schools that includes a lot of emphasis on privatization and testing, and frankly a defunding of our classrooms. We reclaim the promise of education, that New York State stops the obsession with testing and fully and adequately funds our schools."
Capital Region Organizer for Citizen Action of New York Mark Emanatian says the coalition of groups is calling for a three-year moratorium on high-stakes testing, so that teachers and students can be brought "up to speed" on Common Core. "There's lots of nationwide attacks on public education. The closing of the 27 schools in Philadelphia. The closing of the 1 schools in Chicago. Right now Niskayuna is discussing the closing of a school. The Niskayuna School District. Schenectady had to close a school last year. Troy had to close a school the year before. We have an increase in classroom sizes. So we're looking for more funding, fairer funding so the poorest schools get it. An end to these high-stakes testings for three years and more emphasis on teaching and learning rather than testing."
Emanation says test results should not be viewed as a "death penalty" for any given school. Day of Action events are highlighting solutions aimed at ensuring that every child in New York state receives a high-quality public education from pre-K through college. Leaders have launched an open letter to the Board of Regents urging them to accelerate support to schools and make the course corrections necessary to ensure the Common Core standards are implemented properly.
A spokesman for the NYS Education Department said it had "no comment" on the day’s activities.