Director of Educator Outreach Nathalie Elivert's Testimony Before the NY State Senate Committee on Education

Nathalie Elivert // October 29, 2013

Thank you Chairman Flanagan and thank you to the Committee for giving me an opportunity to speak today. My name is Nathalie Elivert and I am the Director of Educator Outreach for StudentsFirstNY.

I was a New York City public school teacher for the last six years. I left the classroom this summer to advocate for broader changes that will benefit my students. I talk with teachers on a daily basis about how they feel about reforms such as Common Core. There are many teachers in New York City who are excited and encouraged by the more rigorous standards and who expect to be held accountable for their students ability to meet them.

As an educator, I am completely in support of the implementation of Common Core standards, and of holding teachers accountable for their students meeting those standards. I am here today in support of the Regents Reform Agenda.

There has been talk recently of removing the stakes for teachers, of giving them a pass if their children fail to meet these higher standards over the next three years. Whatever the decision, there will be no such pass for the students. The stakes remain for them.

New York State cannot continue to graduate students who are not career and college ready. The old standards, which set the bar too low, deprived students of access to a future of their choice; particularly in environments where a college preparatory education is a principal means to gaining upward mobility. The old standards were not a predictive indicator of which students were college ready. It is our job as educators to, at a minimum, graduate students with enough preparation to pursue a higher education if they so choose.

The old standards were ineffective tools for teachers who wanted to create rigorous lesson plans that worked backwards from college readiness. If you were a developing teacher who wanted to design lesson plans from the old standards, they gave minimal direction for what children should be able to know and do.

As an educator, I strongly believe that highly effective educators are ones with openness to lifelong learning and development. I know so many teachers who are embracing the call to action of the new standards and who are keeping their focus on how to best implement the standards in their classrooms. I believe those teachers to be the rule and not the exception.

As educators, I also think we need to be really careful about the message that we are sending our children. If there’s a delay to implementing the full Regents Reform Agenda, then we’re essentially saying to our students – “We’re taking away the stakes for your teacher, but the life stakes remain for you.” That is a gap that cannot exist.

We need to show our children that we believe in them, and that the adults will accept the responsibility for attaining their full potential.

For those reasons, I wanted to make sure my voice as an educator was heard. I support the Regents Reform Agenda, the implementation of the Common Core standards, the tests aligned to them, and the stakes attached to those tests.

Thank you.