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Filler: Common Core subcommittee should focus on better implementation, not self-esteem

Plainview-Old Bethpage Central School District Superintendent Lorna Lewis

Plainview-Old Bethpage Central School District Superintendent Lorna Lewis addresses, from left, NYS Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch, NYS Education Commissioner Dr. John B. King, Jr. and Regent Roger Tilles during a forum at Oyster Bay High School. (Oct. 15, 2013) Credit: Barry Sloan

With all the controversy over the implementation of Common Core standards in New York and all the changes wrought in its name, it’s not surprising that Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch has decided to appoint a subcommittee of five Regents to review the process and report back.

What may be more telling than the creation of that group is the eventual announcement of which Regents actually constitute the subcommittee.

Several members, most notably Long Island Roger Tilles, of Great Neck, have been going rogue a bit of late, and that came to a head at the Regents’ monthly meeting in Albany Monday. Several Regents voiced concerns, in particular, about the impact of tougher standards on childrens’ emotional well-being, but also about the pace of change (too fast, they say) and the number of things, from curriculum to tests to test cutoff scores to teacher evaluations, changing all at once (too many, they say).

Tilles has always been impassioned about how much damage it can do to children’s academic engagement and careers when their self-esteem is crushed by poor test results or grades.

State Education Commissioner John King and Tish, though, seem to still be united in their push to move Common Core and the curriculum, testing and teacher evaluation changes that have come with it, forward quickly.

This subcommittee is worth convening, and empowering, and paying attention to. The implementation of all these changes has been, in many ways, poorly handled, and much (but not nearly all) of the blame for that goes to the state.

We need to keep moving forward to get these kids the educations they need to achieve enjoyable, productive lives. Recommendations on how to make this progress come more smoothly would be helpful and welcome. But honestly, recommendations on how or why to slow this progress, whether to save the feelings of teachers, students or parents, probably won’t.