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Group to discuss new public school standards

A small crowd attended the North Country Alliance for Public Education forum at AuSable Valley Central School this past June.

A small crowd attended the North Country Alliance for Public Education forum at AuSable Valley Central School this past June.

— A group of concerned citizens are coming together Nov. 14 to discuss the “Race to the Top” school initiative and it’s “Common Core Curriculum” standard, and hope to be able to impact the dialog of this growingly fractious issue.

“We’re getting together to share experiences and think about what we can do on behalf of the kids, because it’s the kids...we’re concerned about what’s happening for the kids in the schools,” said Doug Selwyn, a SUNY Plattsburgh professor and one of the organizers of the event. “We don’t want it to be just an “ain’t it awful” session…forthem to air some of that, but the focus is also going to be on what can we do, why is this happening, try to understand what’s happening.”

Race to the Top is a $4.35 billion United States Department of Education initiative which incentivises states to participate, and requires schools to satisfy certain educational landmarks, such as performance-based standards for teachers and principals, complying with Common Core standards, turning around the lowest-performing schools and building data systems.

In the first wave of testing under the Common Core standards, released this past fall, New York schools state-wide performed much worse than they had on previous standardized tests.

“Race to the Top was sold to us as a way to get more money to schools and districts that desperately need funds. As it turns out, the requirements of Race to the Top cost way more than the schools are receiving, so they are actually losing money at a time when they are already receiving less from the states. They are having to end programs and lay off people so that they can do more testing,” said Selwyn.

The Common Core, according to Selwyn, was created under the auspices of the National Governors’ Association, and was financed primarily by Bill Gates, other billionaires and publishing companies; people, he cites, who do not have a background in education.

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