An Uncommon Plan For Our Schools

A legislative column by Assemblyman Ed Ra (R-Franklin Square)
January 31, 2014

Over the past 12 months, there has been one education issue that stands out above all others: the flawed rollout and implementation of Common Core. Children, parents and educators alike all have spoken out about the high stress, frustration, anxiety and difficulty that have arisen in the wake of these new standards and curriculum.

As Ranking Minority Member of the Assembly Education Committee, Iíve been fortunate enough to speak with many parents and educators on these topics. Beginning this past October, I held a series of 11 statewide forums to address Common Core. My colleagues in the Assembly Minority and I invited parents, teachers and administrators, the stakeholders in our childrenís education, to testify for the public record on their experiences with Common Core and share their thoughts on how we could correct these mistakes.

Now, weíve taken this testimony and put together a comprehensive package that would halt Common Core in its current incarnation and replace it with a system that would provide a top-notch education for our children. Itís called the Achieving Pupil Preparedness and Launching Excellence, or APPLE, Plan. The plan consists of the following points:

  • Put the current slate of high-stakes testing and implementation of a rushed curriculum on hold until a comprehensive review of Common Core is performed.
  • Achieve funding equity by eliminating the Gap Elimination Adjustment that devastated school budgets.
  • Provide stronger professional development to help train teachers and give them the tools they need to succeed.
  • Get teachers involved by implementing an independent teacher panel to review, assess and develop age-appropriate curriculum and tests.
  • Restrict the use of student data by requiring parental consent before any childís private information is turned over to a third-party vendor.
  • Provide equity for special-needs students by working with a special education studentís IEP team to decide on the best course of action and ensure the IEP plan is not trumped by Common Coreís rigidity.
  • Create 21st century pathways for students by better funding the BOCES program and incorporating career and technical skills in the classroom.
  • Revamp the State Education Department by making its commissioner an appointee of the governor and make any potential new unfunded mandate imposed by the Board of Regents subject to approval from the governor and the Legislature.

Our children and educators shouldnít dread school; each day should provide new opportunities for students to grow as individuals and teachers to assist in that process. Due to the current standards imposed on schools by Common Core, this just isnít happening. What we need is a plan that puts our students and teachers first, as opposed to arbitrary standards and exams put forth by people with no stake in our childrenís future. The APPLE Plan is that plan, and I encourage anyone interested in learning more to visit bit.ly/educationalcrossroads or bit.ly/APPLEplan.