Press Release

AFT's Weingarten on Cuomo Common Core Task Force Report

For Release: 

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Contact:

Kate Childs Graham
202/393-6354; cell 202/615-2424
kchilds@aft.org

WASHINGTON—Statement from American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, a member of the Common Core task force, on the report released today.

"For years, parents and educators have been raising the red flag about the botched implementation of the Common Core in New York. Unfortunately, their cries were too often ignored. And so, in the last commission, I was the canary in the coal mine, warning that a rushed implementation would sink the standards.

"In this report, the canaries have been heard and the joy of learning restored. The task force listened to what parents and educators have been saying for years: There were real flaws not only in the way the standards were rolled out, but also in how assessments were used and how educators were prepared and evaluated.

"This report lays out what needs to be done to re-create trust in New York state public schools. It starts with high standards, but standards that—while ensuring students are learning what they need to know and do in the 21st century—are appropriate for students of all ages, abilities and language proficiencies. We need better, shorter tests that are created with educators and aligned to curriculum. We need proper training for educators and more time to develop better curriculum. And we need educators to be involved and parents engaged at every step of the way.

"The report also makes clear that we can't repeat past mistakes—namely, evaluating teachers based on students' test scores as the instructional shift to the new standards, which those scores were based on, was taking place. To that end, this commission recommended a moratorium, stating that 'the results from assessments aligned to the current Common Core Standards, as well as the updated standards, should only be advisory and not be used to evaluate the performance of the specific teachers or students.'

"As the report states, we need to bring back the 'joy of learning.' With this report, we have the chance to get things right, ensuring standards and assessments are helping students learn, not frustrating parents, demoralizing teachers and making kids anxious. If we do this, we can restore New Yorkers' faith in the public education system.

"This report comes at an opportune time, just hours after the president signed into law the most sweeping, positive changes we've seen in federal education policy in two decades. Americans across the country have been fighting for a reset in education policy. This report, like the Every Student Succeeds Act, delivers that reset. Thank you to teachers Heather Buskirk and Kishayna Hazlewood, New York State United Teachers Vice President Catalina Fortino and all members of the task force for being willing to listen."

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The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.