Parents stand up for higher standards

Today, public school parents from New York City’s most underserved neighborhoods gave a loud declaration of support for the Common Core standards. The parents represent neighborhoods from East New York, Brooklyn to Jamaica, Queens and say that their communities want more rigorous standards for their children and teachers. The parents gathered before State Senator John Flanagan’s Education Committee hearing on the impact and effectiveness of the Board of Regents reform agenda, including the recent implementation of Common Core standards.

DeWayne Murreld, father of an eighth-grader, said the good teachers pushed him and that our children need the challenge of the Common Core standards. “That’s what I want for my son. I want teachers who will push him really hard to achieve his full potential. That’s why I’m such a big supporter of Common Core. What the Common Core standards do is send an important message to kids like my son – they tell him – we believe in you and in your potential,” said Murreld, who is from East New York and is a parent member and organizer for StudentsFirstNY. “My son deserves to be pushed. My son deserves to have the bar set high. My son deserves to have his teachers held to a high standard.”

Shamika Butler, a mother from Bedford Stuyvesant, said she “loves” Common Core and could immediately tell the difference in her children’s homework because her third-grade daughter now has to show her work in math. Common Core is making her children think outside of the box.

“We have a choice. We can move forward with Common Core and see a generation of our children be prepared for college. Or, we can stop and waste the potential of countless more children. We have to move forward,” said Butler.

These public school parents were floored to hear President Barack Obama make a clear declaration of support for the standards during his visit to P-Tech on Friday when he said, "I also want to congratulate Governor Cuomo and all of you in New York for having the courage to raise your standards for teaching and learning to make sure that more students graduate from high school ready for college and a career. It's not easy. But it's the right thing to do; it's going to prepare more young people for today's economy; and we should keep at it."

“With President Obama in support of the Common Core, all of our democratic elected officials should be in support, too,” Murreld said.

The Common Core standards were adopted in New York three years ago with the support of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT). However, in April, AFT President Randi Weingarten said there should be a three-year moratorium on attaching stakes for adults to the Common Core. And two weeks ago, NYSUT President Richard Iannuzzi warned that if the three-year moratorium on the use of student test data in teacher evaluations was not implemented, State Education Department Commissioner John King’s should resign.

But parents rallied today behind Commissioner John King’s agenda and approach.

“We finally have someone in Commissioner King who understands the needs of our community. He believes that all children – not just the ones in middle- and upper-class neighborhoods – deserve a quality education. Common Core is the solution for that,” said Douglas Covington, a Bed Stuy resident and father of two, a current public school student and graduate.

A. U. Hogan, who raised 17 children who graduated from New York City Public Schools, and currently has grandchildren in the system, said these standards now give teachers the tools to know where the bar should be.

“I think it’s fantastic that teachers and parents now have a clear idea of what a 5th grader should be able to know and do that will prepare them for college. I wish my older children would have benefited from that kind of focused effort to get them ready for college. If children can pass these Common Core standards, and I believe that they can, then we will have countless more children from my community going to college,” said Hogan, a resident of Jamaica, Queens.

The press conference was organized by parents and by a coalition of education reform groups including New York Campaign for Achievement Now (NYCAN), StudentsFirstNY (SFNY), Democrats for Education Reform (DFER), and Families for Excellent Schools (FES).

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