NYSUT regional director Anne Geronimo works with more than 7500 members from throughout Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Allegany Counties. She was a guest Thrusday on WRFA’s Community Matters program and during our interview, she said educators aren’t necessarily opposed to Common Core, but instead are against how it’s been introduced and implemented by state education leaders.
“We support raising standards for kids. We always have supported that and we have many of our members who think the Common Core as they’ve seen it is a great thing and they’re happy to be working with it in their classrooms,” Geronimo explained. “Where we’ve run into problems is the state’s implementation of it in such a way that materials were not provided to teachers in a timely fashion. They were asked to test students on material that they hadn’t even introduced in the classroom yet.”
Geronimo also said that because of the poor implementation, both teachers and students are seeing a negative impact. “Children are having anxiety over this. They’re failing exams that they had never even seeing material for. They’re coming home crying. They’re exhibiting a lot of symptons in the classroom of anxiety. Any teacher is going to be deeply stressed by seeing their students stressed. So the genesis of our resistence to the implementation was the experience we saw our students having with the tests.”
Geronimo adds that teachers across the state are also against the state’s new evaluation model, which uses the test results from Common Core to help determine a teacher’s overall performance. She said its simply not far to use those results, considering teachers were not made aware of what material would be on the tests – making it difficult if not impossible to prepare students.
In January NYSUT came out with a vote of no confidence for State Education Commissioner John King, Jr. In addition, it is calling for a moratorium on Common Core so that some of the issues can be addressed. Leaders in the state legislature have also offered their support and Geronimo tells WRFA she’s also seeing local support.
“Joe Giglio, the assemblyman from Cattaraugus and Allegany County did come out against the common core and so far he’s the only legilsator in this region to make a public statement supporting our posiiton,” Geronimo said. “We’ve had very good conversations with [Senator] Cathy Young on that also, so we know that the legislators are hearing from their constituents who are coming from the place that we have to protect our schools and our kids and our communities.”
Geronimo says in the coming months, NYSUT will be focusing on the school budget votes and elections for various local school boards, encouraring residents to support those candidates who are opposed to the way the state has handled the rollout of Common Core. She also encourages anyone who wants to be more involed with the issue to contact her office in Jamestown at (716) 664-7425 or to learn more by visiting NYSUT.org.
If you missed the full interview with Geronimo, it will be replayed at noon this Sunday on WRFA and will also be made available at wrfalp.com via podcast early next week.