01/23/14 1:11pm
01/23/2014 1:11 PM
JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Senator Ken LaValle at a previous Calverton Business Incubator event.

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON FILE PHOTO | State Senator Ken LaValle wants New York to delay Common Core rollout.

State Senator Ken LaValle is calling on education department commissioner John King to “hit the delay button” with rolling out new, more rigorous curriculum in public schools through the Common Core. (more…)

12/13/13 3:30pm
12/13/2013 3:30 PM
COURTESY PHOTO | State Senator John Flanagan during his press conference in Brentwood on Thursday.

COURTESY PHOTO | State Senator John Flanagan during his press conference in Brentwood on Thursday.

State Senator John Flanagan is calling on the state Department of Education to delay using a controversial method of storing student data electronically for one year and proposing legislation to ban standardized testing for students in pre-K through 2nd grade.

Mr. Flanagan (R-East Northport), who chairs the senate’s Standing Committee on Education, is also sponsoring legislation to create independent oversight, as well as establishing civil and criminal penalties for unauthorized disclosure of personal information stored on the state’s student data portal received from public schools.

The actions are based on his committee’s report, “The Regents Reform Agenda: ‘Assessing’ Our Progress,” which Mr. Flanagan unveiled Thursday during a press conference in Brentwood.

[Scroll down to view the complete report]

In the report, privacy experts and school administrators raised concerns about the ability of unauthorized third-parties to access personally identifiable information, or PII, of students, teachers and principals that are collected on the state portal.

Many parents and educators have protested an agreement the state has made with inBloom, Inc. to store student data because they fear personal records could be compromised.

Strengthening public school privacy protections is one part of a series of legislative actions Mr. Flanagan is proposing.

The report includes testimony given during five public hearings Mr. Flanagan has held in recent months that sought public feedback on the state’s implementation of Common Core.

Merryl Tisch, the Board of Regents chancellor, issued a statement Friday in response to Mr. Flanagan’s report.

“While we have concerns about some aspects of the report, it’s clear that Senator Flanagan has put together some strong recommendations that we look forward to working collaboratively to address,” Ms. Tisch said in a press release.

The Common Core State Standards has been nationally recognized and adopted by most states across the country that claims to better prepare students for college and careers by requiring instructors to teach more non-fiction and rigorous math to students at a younger age.

After New York adopted Common Core, the state published lesson plans for teachers to help students achieve the new standards. The state doesn’t mandate that schools use these lesson plans, but they are available online at engageny.org.

Earlier this year, and as part of Race to the Top requirements, the state did direct New York school districts develop their own teacher evaluation systems, known as annual professional performance reviews plan (APPR), lest the districts risk losing additional available state aid.

The state Department of Education has been heavily criticized by school officials across New York for pushing the new mandates before districts were ready for them. While many educators embraced Common Core when it was first introduced, they’ve since demanded that the state hold off on implementing the new student assessments based on Common Core and the APPR plan until the rigorous curriculum is properly implemented inside the classroom.

Some of the concerns raised in Mr. Flanagan’s report include: over-testing of students, inadequate professional development funding for teacher training, incomplete and missing modules and the use of test questions that were neither age-level nor developmentally appropriate.

Mr. Flanagan’s committee also heard testimony from parents about their “children experiencing severe stress, anxiety and frustrations as they struggled to understand the new curriculum, while also trying to learn in a whole new way.” The committee also hear about teachers’ “exasperation over the lack of time and resources given to professional development training in order to adequately prepare lesson plans before teaching and testing their students,” according to a press release issued by his office Thursday.

As a result of the testimony given, the report recommends the state Department of Education immediately address several concerns, such as expediting waivers from the U.S. Department of Education “to relax onerous and rigid testing restrictions placed on certain students,” especially with English as a Second Language students and students with disabilities; producing all missing or incomplete curriculum modules; aligning assessments proportionally to curriculum actually implemented; and increasing funding for the professional development of teachers.

As for the state Legislature, Mr. Flanagan is proposing several bills for approval, including requiring state Department of Education commissioner John King to review APPR plans and eliminate unnecessary student assessments. If approved, Mr. King will also be required to report on the effectiveness of Common Core tests and programing with an independent audit.

Mr. Flanagan described the recommendations contained within the report as “a good first step in addressing the concerns heard by the committee, which overwhelmingly revolved around the issue of over-testing.”

“Setting rigorous academic standards to ensure that all students are college and career ready should always be an important goal to attain,” he said. “However, it must balanced by a fair and even implementation of those new standards to allow our children to adjust and adapt appropriately.”

The report will be submitted to the Board of Regents, Mr. King and Governor Andrew Cuomo, officials said.

jennifer@timesreview.com

The Regents Reform Agenda: ‘Assessing’ Our Progress,

11/12/13 4:00pm
11/12/2013 4:00 PM
COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY PRESS PHOTO | New York State Education Department commissioner John King.

COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY PRESS PHOTO | New York State Education Department commissioner John King.

Residents will no longer have to sign up with their local school districts to secure a seat for the Nov. 26 public meeting with New York Department of Education commissioner John King, state Senator Ken LaValle’s office said Tuesday.

A sign-up list won’t be necessary because a larger venue has been secured at the Eastport-South Manor High School auditorium in Manorville, Mr. LaValle’s spokesman Drew Biondo said. Entry will be determined on a first-come, first-serve basis, Mr. Biondo said.

Mr. LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) has said he was working to relocate the meeting from Riverhead High School’s 800-seat auditorium to a new location in order to accommodate a larger crowd. Last week, the state Department of Education posted on its website that the meeting will take place in Manorville. Eastport’s auditorium can accommodate 1,000 people, a school spokesperson said.

Mr. Biondo said the senator is also looking to live stream the event. Additional details will be released closer to the meeting date, he said.

On Tuesday, Mr. King is expected to address state Senator John Flanagan’s (R-East Northport) constituents at Ward Melville High School in East Setauket from 6 to 8 p.m.

Mr. Flanagan’s office said the meeting is open to the public. Although seating capacity is 900 in that auditorium, the school will be able to accommodate an additional 400 seats in the cafeteria where the event will be live streamed.

The forums are designed to answer questions and provide information to the public on the Common Core Stand Standards Initiative, teacher evaluations and state assessments.

jennifer@timesreview.com

07/27/13 3:00pm
07/27/2013 3:00 PM
JENNIFER GUSTAVSON FILE PHOTO | Senator John Flanagan, left, and Senator Ken LaValle at the annual Longwood Regional Legislative Breakfast in February. Mr. Flanagan announced Friday he will hold a series of hearing throughout Long Island to review the effectiveness of recent state education reforms.

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON FILE PHOTO | Senator John Flanagan, left, and Senator Ken LaValle at the annual Longwood Regional Legislative Breakfast in February. Mr. Flanagan announced Thursday he will hold a series of hearings to review recent state education reforms.

State Senator John Flanagan announced Thursday he will host a series of public hearings throughout the state to review the effectiveness of recent state education reforms.

Mr. Flanagan (R-East Northport), who chairs the senate’s Standing Committee on Education, said the first hearing will take place on Long Island in September. His office said Friday dates and locations of the hearings are being finalized.

This past school year, English and math state assessments included elements of the Common Core State Standards Initiative. The common core standards are a new set of national benchmarks to help public school students master language arts and mathematics. It requires instructors to teach more non-fiction and rigorous math to students at a younger age.

The results of the new assessments are also tied to the state-mandated annual professional performance review plans, known as APPR. The teacher evaluation requirement originated in 2010 after New York was awarded a grant of nearly $700 million under the federal Race to the Top program. For school districts to qualify for part of the grant, the state required them each to implement their own APPR program this year.

While the state Department of Education has claimed implementation of common core aims to better prepare students for college and careers, many parents and educators have criticized the move because they believe teachers are being forced to abandon true learning for “teaching to the test.”

In addition to discussing state assessments and common core standards, the hearings will also focus on reforms implemented by the New York State Board of Regents. In 2010, the Board of Regents released policies designed to prepare students for college and 21st century careers, close the achievement gap and instill a lifelong love of learning in children Regents Reform Agenda, according to a press release issued by Mr. Flanagan’s office.

“As these reforms are implemented by the Board of Regents, questions and concerns continue to be raised about the impact these changes will have on students throughout the state,” the press release states. “While the reforms were initiated by the Board of Regents, it is critical to Senator Flanagan and the Education Committee that the state review the new policies and maintain an open dialogue about the future of state education policy.”

Mr. Flanagan said in a press release the hearings will focus on finding out “which policies are working well and which ones may need improving.”

“These hearings will provide the public with a thorough examination of current state education policies and the impact on our students,” he said. “This timely discussion will give parents the information they need and deserve and move the state education system forward in a positive direction for the benefit of our students.”

jennifer@timesreview.com

04/18/11 8:49am
04/18/2011 8:49 AM
Southampton Republican leader Ernest Wruck (from left), County Treasurer Angie Carpenter, Riverhead Republican leader John Galla, Southold Republican leader Denis Noncarrow, and East Hampton Republican leader Trace Duryea at Friday's screening.

COURTESY PHOTO | Southampton Republican leader Ernest Wruck (from left), County Treasurer Angie Carpenter, Riverhead Republican leader John Galla, Southold Republican leader Denis Noncarrow, and East Hampton Republican leader Trace Duryea at Friday's screening.

Republicans from all five East End towns gathered at Polish Hall in Riverhead Friday to jointly screen candidates to replace Steve Levy as the GOP nominee for County Executive.

According to Riverhead Republican leader John Galla, the groups screened three potential candidates: County Treasurer and former County Legislator Angie Carpenter, state Assemblyman  Michael Fitzpatrick of St. James, and state Senator John Flanagan of East Northport. He said county Commissioner of Jurors Michael O’Donohoe has screened with other town committees, but was not present Friday.

Others who were rumored to be possibly screening Friday, but did not, were former Congressman Rick Lazio and Randy Altschuler, who narrowly lost a Congressional race to incumbent Tim Bishop last November.

Mr. Galla said County Comptroller Joe Sawicki of Southold has withdrawn his name from consideration for a county executive run, and County Legislator Ed Romaine, who represents the North Fork, was present Friday but has not asked to be screened.

It is believed to be the first time the East End Republican committees have jointly screened for county executive, although they have done so for other races.