Parents listen to concerns with Common Core

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Social worker Mary Calamia speaking at Wednesday night's Common Core public forum.
JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Social worker Mary Calamia speaking at Wednesday night’s Common Core public forum.

About 50 people gathered at the Long Island Aquarium in Riverhead on Wednesday night and listened to several education advocates voice their concerns over Common Core.

The forum, titled “Our Children Are Not Common: Their Education Shouldn’t Be Either,” discussed how high-stakes testing, new mandated teacher evaluations, Common Core curriculum and student data storage plans are negatively affecting children.

Social worker Mary Calamia said she’s noticed an increase of students experiencing bed wetting and nose bleeds due to stress caused by the new assessments.  An eight-grade female student also came under the social worker’s care last April after the teenager carved the word “stupid” on her wrist, Ms. Calamia said.

“I found it all boils back to this Common Core,” she said.

Other special guests speakers included: Comsewogue School District Superintendent Joseph Rella, Long Island Opt Out founder Jeanette Deutermann, retired special education teacher Terry Kalb, and educator Brian Wasson.

On Monday, news reports surfaced that the 600,000-member New York State United Teachers board of directors approved a resolution withdrawing its support for the Common Core State Standards “as implemented and interpreted” by the state education department, according to the Washington Post. The resolution declares “no confidence” in education department commissioner John King’s policies and calls for a three-year moratorium on high-stakes standardized testing. It also calls for Mr. King’s removal, among other measures, the report reads.

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

Earlier this year, and as part of Race to the Top requirements, the state did direct New York school districts to develop their own teacher evaluation systems, known as annual professional performance reviews plan (APPR), lest they 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 related new student assessments and the APPR plan until the rigorous curriculum is properly implemented inside the classroom.

Locally, members of the Facebook group Riverhead Parents Questioning Common Core helped organized Wednesday’s event. For more information, visit

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