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Educators, advocates to speak at Woodmere forum on Common Core, more

Principal of South Side High School in Rockville

Principal of South Side High School in Rockville Centre in one of her classrooms on July 25, 2011. Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

Four Long Island educators and education advocates will speak during a Woodmere forum Monday night focused on high-stakes testing, teacher evaluations, new academic standards and sharing of student data.

The forum for parents and other community members will be held at Lawrence Woodmere Academy.

Carol Burris, principal of South Side High School in Rockville Centre, and Joseph Rella, superintendent at the Comsewogue School District, will be among the speakers.

Lisa Rudley, the mother of a child with autism and a longtime education advocate, will also speak, as will Jeanette Deutermann, who helped lead Long Island's "opt-out" movement, in which children refuse to sit for state exams. Some students, parents and teachers say students are overtested and that the results are of questionable value.

Burris said parents are "taken aback" by the numerous educational initiatives that have been implemented in the past few years, including the tough, new Common Core academic standards.

"They feel that all of this is happening outside their control, and outside the control of their school district," she said. "They are hungry to know why this is happening . . . and what they can do."

But, she said, parents are not powerless -- their voices can be heard.

The Woodmere event is one of many that have been held across the state on these issues; Burris has spoken at a dozen similar forums in the past year.

Rudley, co-founder of New York State Allies for Public Education, said she wants parents to know their rights and for their concerns to be addressed at the state level. The New York State Board of Regents, which convened a special committee to consider such matters, will unveil its findings this week.

"If things do not turn around, the advocacy groups will continue to get bigger and stronger," said Rudley, 47, of Braircliff Manor.

Rudley, whose 11-year-old son, Max, has autism, said many students with special needs are buckling under the pressure of high-stakes assessments. While standardized exams have been commonplace for decades, this is the first time student test scores are factored into teacher evaluations, which only adds more pressure, she said.

She said the rigorous Common Core academic standards -- adopted by 45 states and Washington -- leave special needs children at a disadvantage.

"They are not getting the instruction they need," she said.

The forum starts at 7 p.m. in the library of the academy, 336 Woodmere Blvd.


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