NYSAPE: 2017 Test Boycott Numbers Remain High; Parents from all Demographics Continue to Reject Test & Punish System

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 24, 2017
More information contact:
NYS Allies for Public Education (NYSAPE) www.nysape.org

Link to Press Release

2017 Test Boycott Numbers Remain High;
Parents from all Demographics Continue to Reject Test & Punish System

Over 225,000 parents across the state, including tens of thousands of first-time refusers, rejected the state’s test-and-punish system, as evidenced by a third consecutive year of opt out numbers hovering near 20%. This is remarkable given that NYSED and local districts continue their attempts to squelch opt out by distributing misleading information and threatening dire consequences that create an environment of confusion and fear for families.

While Commissioner Elia would like to portray students who boycott the state ELA and math tests as ‘white students in rich or average wealth districts’, the data says differently. Only 8% of public school districts even met the required 95% testing participation rate, demonstrating how parents from all districts and demographics are boycotting the testing regime.*

The Board of Regents approved a reduction in state testing from 6 to 4 days (combined ELA and math) at their May meeting. While this is a step in the right direction, significant problems remain. Due to Commissioner Elia’s untimed testing mandate, many students continue to sit for up to 6 hours of testing per day; the Common Core standards, now rebranded the Next Generation Learning Standards, are still far from developmentally appropriate; and student data privacy is still at significant risk. Rather than focusing on the work that needs to be done, including truly overhauling the standards and creating meaningful and developmentally appropriate assessments, Commissioner Elia continues to be divisive, undermining the direction the Board of Regents and the trust of New Yorkers.

Jeanette Deutermann, Long Island public school parent, Long Island Opt Out founder and founding member of NYSAPE said, “While State education officials and corporate-reform lobbyist interests debate and interpret the assessment results and opt out numbers using the usual rhetoric, we see parents from all school districts including first-time refusers, overwhelmingly rejecting this test and punish system. Not only have they chosen to protect their children, but they have also joined our community of parents committed to advocating for whole-child policies in our classrooms. This network of hundreds of thousands of advocates will continue to grow and develop strategies to fight against those who wish to profit from our children.”

“NYSED continues to ignore best practices for children and New York State Schools. The test score results only shine a light on the fact that NYSED continues to try and mislead parents and teachers.  NYSED has a long way to go to regain the trust of parents and educators in New York State. Opt Out is remaining steady and is adding thousands of new parents each year,” said Marla Kilfoyle, Long Island public school parent, educator and Executive Director of BATs.

Eileen Graham, Rochester public school parent and founder of the Black Student Leadership organization, expressed, “I would like to see more realistic efforts towards meeting the needs of children and not making our children testing ‘lab rats.’ I’m extremely angry that we keep obsessing over testing; instead of partnering with teachers and parents to ensure our children discover their greatness and learn the brilliance they bring to their schools and the world.”

Bianca Tanis, Ulster County public school parent, educator and founding member of NYSAPE, said, “We are five years into the State’s implementation of these clearly flawed standards and assessments and we are still labeling 60% of our students as failures. The Next Generation Learning Standards are nothing more than a rebranded version of the Common Core, adhering to the same invalid back-mapping methodology and lacking any basis in research or evidence. It is time to scrap these shoddy standards and assessments and start over.”

“These tests aren’t serving any purpose other than to keep the testing treadmill turning, preventing meaningful assessment alternatives from emerging and perpetuating unworkable teacher evaluation models. This testing system stifles children’s thirst for learning and is being used to usher in pervasive computer-based testing activity,” said Fred Smith, testing specialist and former administrative analyst for New York City public schools.

Kemala Karmen, Brooklyn public school parent and founding member of NYC Opt Out said, “The Commissioner, and others, including NYC’s mayor and chancellor, disingenuously use the test scores to boast that students are making “progress.” Progress on standardized tests can only be measured if the testing instrument, conditions, and manner of scoring remain consistent from year to year. This is not the case. Changes this year include some students taking the tests on computers rather than paper and some students having questions read aloud (meaning that they are no longer being tested on decoding, as in previous years). As ever, the determination of what raw score equals “proficient” changes every year and the untimed policy (and failure to track how long students are actually spending) makes direct comparison even less tenable.”

Johanna Garcia, NYC public school parent and President of the District 6 Community Education Council said, “There were many reports of intentional misinformation that bordered on students’ and parents’ civil rights being violated. If NYSED and NYCDOE had confidence in the testing regime, they wouldn’t have to heavily invest in policies that condoned internal threats and scare tactics. Because of their fear mongering, we see classrooms with students learning in fear. We need to finally have a public education system that’s accountable to the students’ learning instead of false numbers that further political agendas.”

New York parents remain steadfast in their advocacy for stronger child-centered policies and will continue to boycott state tests that are a waste of precious resources that would be better served addressing the opportunity gap.

* Participation rate calculated by counting NYC as one district (as NYSED itself often does). Public schools only (not charter schools).

NYSAPE is a grassroots coalition with over 50 parent and educator groups across the state.

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New York State Allies for Public Education (NYSAPE), Long Island Opt Out, New York BATs, NYC Opt Out and Stronger Together Join Forces

NYSED Declares Scores Not Comparable, Opt Out Grows Across State

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  August 1, 2016
More information contact:
NYS Allies for Public Education (NYSAPE) www.nysape.org

Link to Press Release

NYSED Declares Scores Not Comparable, Opt Out Grows Across State

This past Friday afternoon, the New York State Education Department (NYSED) released the results of the 2016 NYS Common Core 3-8 ELA and math results. Despite expensive ad campaigns from Gates-funded advocacy groups and the distribution of “Anti Opt-out” toolkits by Commissioner Elia aimed at persuading parents to opt in to state tests, the test non-participation rate increased from 20 percent last year to 22 percent.

As Chris Cerrone, a school board member and NYSAPE member from Western NY said, “Given Commissioner Elia’s public relation blitz across the state and all the interviews she did with the media, as well as all the money spent by the pro-Common Core groups, the increase in opt out numbers indicates that parents remain very concerned about the low quality of these tests and the direction of education in our state.”

An increase in test refusals were seen across the state, including in large urban districts like Buffalo and New York City. In only 5 percent of districts statewide –38 out of 686 — was the test participation rate at or above 95 percent for ELA and math.  If the current proposed Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) regulations are adopted, this would mean that the state would have to punish the vast majority of schools by giving them low grades or imposing aggressive intervention plans. (see chart below)

“Despite the relentless and well-funded PR push back we received in the city, more and more parents are becoming educated on just how harmful standardized testing is for their children. The increase in opt-out is a significant win for immigrant families, students with special needs and students from low income households. Our grassroots approach is resonating with parents seeking true equity in public education,” said Johanna Garcia, NYC parent and Co-President of District 6 President’s Council.

“Overall, these exams not only demonize our students and teachers, but the entire city of Rochester. I will not allow my child to take an exam that does not accurately reflect her progress. I’m not against testing, but I am against tests with no educational value,” Eileen Graham, Rochester parent of 4th grader and founder of Black Student Leadership.

Long Island districts again this year opted out in large numbers, some as high as 84%.  Many other districts also experienced over 50% of student refusing to take the tests. (see chart below)

Jeanette Deutermann, Long Island public school parent, the founder of Long Island Opt Out and a member of NYSAPE said, “The opt out movement continues to expand despite the aggressive campaign to thwart our efforts and marginalize our voices. Parents demand nothing short of a complete overhaul to our excessive testing system, a ban on the mining of sensitive personal data, replacement of flawed Common Core with research-based standards, and a permanent decoupling of evaluations from test scores.”

Despite their own warning that this year’s test scores could not be compared to last year’s because the tests were shorter and untimed, NYSED still claimed that increases in this year’s ELA scores over last year’s scores justified their continuing to implement the Common Core standards and Common Core aligned exams. These contradictory statements undermine NYSED’s credibility.

The reality is that without a more careful analysis of the tests themselves, their length, and the impact of giving them untimed, it is impossible to ascertain if achievement increased, decreased, or stayed the same as last year.  In addition, the fact that so few schools and districts had a 95% participation rate also undermines their reliability.

“The fact that 95% of school districts in NYS did not meet the federal and state participation requirements significantly weakens the reliability and validity of test scores for accountability purposes. How can Commissioner Elia claim that these scores are valid or show any improvement in achievement,” asked, Jessica McNair, Central NY public school parent, educator, and Opt Out CNY founder.

“There is little doubt that parents will continue to exercise their right to refuse harmful state tests and right now it is imperative that Commissioner Elia and the Board of Regents advocate for a revision in the proposed ESSA regulations, or else face having to intervene in most of the schools in the state,” said Marla Kilfoyle, Long Island public school parent, educator, and BATs Executive Director

“Parents were very concerned when MaryEllen Elia was named Commissioner, due to her links to the Gates Foundation in Florida.  Skepticism was withheld to give her the benefit of the doubt while changes were discussed.  However, her continued failure to address the concerns of parents have only further eroded confidence in her leadership and in the State Department of Education,” said Lisa Rudley, Westchester County public school parent and founding member of NYSAPE.

In response to increases in test refusal, Commissioner MaryEllen Elia attacked critics and claimed that parents refusing the state tests were unaware of “important” changes made to the tests. Bianca Tanis, Ulster County Public School parent and educator said, “The small changes and tweaks made by the NYS Education Department are simply not enough. Nothing has changed for the individual child and to suggest otherwise is just plain wrong.”

Said Leonie Haimson, Executive Director of Class Size Matters: “Between 2003 and 2009, the NY State Education Department engaged in rampant test score inflation, by making the tests and the scoring easier, without admitting this.  After that, the bubble burst and the scores fell radically with the introduction of Common Core-aligned exams, when our Commissioner was intent on proving to parents their children and their schools were failing.  I fear that state officials are still manipulating the scores for political ends.  It is no wonder that New York parents do not trust these exams to give an accurate picture of their children’s learning.”

“NYSED must work more consistently with teachers, parents, and students, to create policy that supports whole child initiatives in every community. It’s tiresome to continue to sell our children and families short by engaging annually in narrow discussions about learning that only focus on ELA and mathematics, while continuing to neglect science, the arts, and civic engagement,” said Jamaal Bowman, Bronx public school educator and parent.

“Why would anyone support tests designed for over 60 percent of students to fail? If a teacher gave a test in her classroom where over 60 percent failed she would rightly question the validity of her test. This is insanity,” said Tim Farley, Hudson Valley principal and public school parent.

It is clear that the over-emphasis and misuse of test scores with questionable validity and no educational purpose continue to rob our public schools of valuable instructional time and resources. Until the leaders of public education in NYS begin to focus on closing the opportunity gap by addressing the inequitable resources in our schools and heed the demands of parents and educators for evidence-based and child-centered educational policies, the opt out movement will continue to grow.

2016 Test Refusal Analysis – Public School Districts
ELA Tests 2016
# of districts – less than 95% participation 648
% less than 95% participation 94%
# of districts – 95% or more participation 38
% 95% or more participation 6%
Math Tests 2016
# of districts – less than 95% participation 655
% less than 95% participation 95%
# of districts – 95% or more participation 31
% 95% or more participation 5%
Test Refusal increase from ELA to Math 2016
# of districts 582
% of districts 85%
Test Refusals by Percent Thresholds % of Districts*
20% and over test refusals 72%
30% and over test refusals 48%
40% and over test refusals 30%
50% and over test refusals 19%
*Based on NYSED math test refusal figures
# of public school districts (includes big five): 686

NYSAPE is a grassroots coalition with over 50 parent and educator groups across the state.
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NYSAPE Action Alert – Time to Refuse All NYS Field Tests

The following action alert was issued by the New York State Allies for Education (NYSAPE).  It does a fine job explaining why parents should refuse any field tests on behalf of your children.  We will continue to update the public as more information is obtained.  If you have not already done so, please submit your refusal letter as soon as possible.

Dear Allies,

We are calling on parents to contact their district TODAY and request that their school districts RETURN the 2016 grade 3-8 stand-alone field tests to the NYS Education Department (NYSED) and at a minimum, parents should complete and submit this refusal letter on behalf of their children. Here’s the list of schools being field tested this year: http://www.p12.nysed.gov/assessment/fieldtest/2016fteirev2.xls

Over 2,300 schools have been assigned to administer the stand-alone field tests to a quarter of a million students (250,000) starting this Monday, May 23rd and given any day through June 10th.  In addition, schools are currently administering Regent field tests which you can also refuse.

Since 2013, a growing number parents have refused the field tests for their children, and many districts have returned the boxes of tests unopened so their students wouldn’t have to sit for the extra stand-alone tests. Just recently, the media reported on New Paltz’s Board of Education nysaperejecting the field tests for its students.

What are field tests?

Testing companies often pay subjects to get feedback on experimental test questions. The information they get is used to produce and sell future exams. Since 2012, NYSED has allowed the testing company Pearson to use NYS children FREE OF CHARGE to try out test questions for the following April’s statewide exams.

In fact, your taxpayer money covers the cost of administering these tests. Field tests for grades 3-8 will take up to 50 minutes to administer. For your information, field test questions were also embedded in the April grade 3-8 ELA, math and science state assessments. This, of course, increased the length of the ELA, math and science exams.

Are parents informed about field tests – what they are and when they are administered?

In most cases, no. Many districts administer field tests to students without informing parents. You can call or email your school to find out when the tests are being administered this year.

Are field tests graded?

Field test results have no bearing on your child’s report card grades, teacher evaluations, or school rankings. The testing company and NYSED provide no feedback or information of any educational value to districts. Refusing these tests is a must.

Can we refuse field tests? How?

Of course. If you did not already check off field tests in your state test refusal letter simply send in a letter stating you do not want your child taking ANY field tests. Instruct your child not to take the test if anyone in their schools attempts to administer them.

How are schools selected for field tests?

Each year SED generates a list of districts, schools and specific grades within them that are assigned to administer field tests. Field tests are then shipped to them. This year, districts were asked to participate in computer-based field testing. If your school is on the computer-based field test list, it is because your child’s services have been volunteered for this latest giveaway.

Are districts mandated to administer field tests?

No. Every year dozens of districts send back field tests unopened to protect their students from the excessive and unnecessary additional testing. Last year the Board of Regents sought a regulation that would make field testing MANDATORY. The proposed regulation never came to a vote because sharp public resistance rose against it. It has not come up again.

Please send in your refusal letter for this year’s field tests TODAY and request that your district join the growing list of districts refusing to administer these meaningless assessments.

Thank you for your continued advocacy to save public schools and ensure all children receive a quality public education.

NYS Allies for Public Education

Daniel Tew: KPAE Questionnaire For New Or Returning Kings Park BOE Candidates 2016

*Questionnaires are completed by the candidates and unedited by KPAE.

Daniel Tew

Please tell us about yourself. (ie. work experience, life experience, residency, hobbies, associations, etc.)

I am a life long resident of Kings Park, raised and educated in the district. My work experience as an Airline Pilot gives me the opportunity to work with a variety of people on a daily bases, many who depend on my leadership, guidance and sometimes conflict resolution abilities.Dan_Tew

Shortly after graduating flight school and university, I was employed as a flight instructor for the BOCES program as well as Dowling College. My wife and I have 3 children within the district. My family is active in St Joseph’s Parish, Ancient Order of Hibernians, as well as school sports, CYO athletics, various community activities and organizations. I have been a volunteer for the Junior Achievement Program as well as assisted in Career day at WTRMS on multiple occasions.

Briefly state any experience you bring to your School District Board of Education.

I am running for the School Board because I would like to share my time and talents with the district that fostered me through my youth. I hope to be a voice for our teachers, parents and students. I want to create stronger ties with the amazing community we have so it may better serve all our kids and faculty. I have a strong science and technology background. More and more school districts are placing emphasis on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) career paths, so it will be a tremendous advantage to have a member of the Board who has that type of professional credentials.

As a board of education member, how will you engage the community to make certain that its needs are heard and acted upon?

Kings Park is a unique Long Island hamlet, we are small enough that so many residents know each other. There are many generations present, however as new families move in there should be more connective access. The community and the school board should offer forums to voice their concerns, ideas and proposals not just limited to the BOE meetings. I would like to see more of community connection via our schools website that allows the community to have access to the board. Social media has been a great tool, as we have witnessed with our children’s specific school PFO organizations. However, they seem to run parallel with district at times. Would like to see easier access for all parties.

For current BOE members, please provide examples of how you have engaged the community.

N/A

Commitment to the promise of public education for all children requires Board of Education members to work outside of and across community boundaries. How will you advocate for our school and students outside of our school district (ie: regional, state and federal government) so that all students’ needs are met?

Just like in industry, one needs to develop relationships in similar environments so you can build upon ideas, learn from and institute plans that help in the overall mission. As a new Board Member it will be a great learning experience for me. Having experienced colleagues by my side who can help foster my knowledge and understanding in the scope and function will be key. I look forward to developing a relationship with the Nassau-Suffolk School Board Association and others. Through involvement with organizations beyond those within the district we all can advocate for a positive path for our students.

For current BOE members, please provide some examples of how you advocated during your term for our schools.

N/A

Currently, New York State has issued a 4 year moratorium on using NYS assessments for teacher evaluations, how would you like to see teachers evaluated in our district?

I believe that our teachers should be evaluated by their own administration. Teachers work all year in conjunction with administration to formulate, support and administer curriculum. The district should oversee teacher evaluations not an outside source at an additional cost to the district.

How do you define the success of a school district?

Strong parent-community-district ties, as well as cultivating teachers and staff. This way all become invested in the overall responsibility for the school improvement and success!

What educational value does our school district receive from NYS field tests? If none, would you support KPCSD not administering these tests.

I think the tests are a hindrance to the students and teachers. For some time we have been on the rocky road with the current system. State testing has taken much of the individuaized instruction away from the teachers. The bar is unrealistically set for failure. I 100% agree with doing all we can to raise the bar and have our students thrive and rank at a higher level within the world. However, the new norm has limited teachers in their abilities to deliver a curriculum that is effective. These moments enable teachers to reach out, connect and build stronger knowledge bases. The current testing practice, in a sense is forcing teachers to teach the test, ensuring the mark is made all the while creating a pressurized, stressful negative learning curve for students. This has been proven time and time again.

What is your position on the 2% tax cap?

Kings Park has always kept its residents in mind when creating budgets. The district has a fiduciary responsibility to its community. While increased taxes is never a positive topic, I believe there is a false sense “security” for residents by NYS limiting the tax cap at 2%. The cap only adds to the hurdle of operating the district as an unfunded mandated. We face the same mandates and rising costs in retirement and health insurance, The district constantly looks to take steps to cut costs, and it just means we have to use our reserves. And when that’s gone, what’s next?

What is the best way to evaluate teachers and principals?

They should be evaluated by their own administration and Board of Education members.

Describe your view on the Common Core Learning Standards.

While the intent of the CCLS was to raise the bar and produce a stronger educated population across the nation, I believe it has many faults that need to be revamped, changed and/or retooled. A one size fits all program is not a realistic approach for every district throughout the country.

Describe your view on the amount of testing in our schools and how those test results are used.

Common Core testing has been a proven controversial topic. Defenders say that the tests provide the data necessary to determine whether kids are learning all that we want them to—a corrective to a system that too often lets failing students and teachers slide by. Critics argue that the tests are too long, too difficult, too confusing; that the focus on math and reading leaves less time for science, art, and other valuable subjects that aren’t part of the new testing regime; and that the pressure to perform leaves kids stressed-out and miserable.

Define the role of a parent in a child’s education.

Parent involvement is paramount in the success of their children. Not only in education but also in whole life, continuous support from parents is crucial to sustain a student’s confidence and sense of achievement. However, knowing when to let your child learn their own life lessons, experience accountability, make decisions and know the consequences and repercussions is very important.

Have you ever been a parent/guardian of a child enrolled in the KPCSD? If so, what was your experience?

Yes, we have 3 children in the district. Thus far we have had very positive experiences in our interactions with faculty and administration. My wife and I are graduates of the district and see that commitment to education excellence is still the ultimate goal.

How can our school district improve?

Under the leadership of our new Superintendent, we have already seen improvements such as the re-emergence of moral and unity that seemed to have been eroded from years past. The positive momentum only gives students, faculty, staff and the board members an incentive to continue to build a district that is very competitive and excels in the 21st century.

Approximately 60% of parents of students in grades 3-8 have refused state testing. What will you do to restore their trust in the system?

The Common Core system needs to be reevaluated in its entirety. The Department of Education needs to create a program that encompasses a learning model that addresses the educational experience as a whole. Pressurized lesson plans to make sure test materials are covered while creating a stressful environment only creates a negative experience, that is counterproductive and does not make for a smarter student. Furthermore, data collected from these tests can not be accurate, is skewed and not useful in my opinion.

Is there additional information you want the voters in your community to know?

I hope to be an additional positive voice for our district. An educator once conveyed to me a simple concept…” What is good for the students is good for the teachers and is good for the community.” If elected I will advocate for all of the above making sure that Kings Park Central School District and the education provided to our children is an exceptional education. One that fosters the academic as well as interpersonal success our children need to become exceptional members of our society.

Francis Braun: KPAE Questionnaire For New Or Returning Kings Park BOE Candidates 2016

*Questionnaires are completed by the candidates and unedited by KPAE.

Francis Braun

Please tell us about yourself. (ie. work experience, life experience, residency, hobbies, associations, etc.)

My name is Francis Braun, I am a retired NY City Police Officer. I have three children ages 16,13,11, who all attend the Kings Park Schoo District. I have a Bachelors Degree in Physical Education and an Associates Degree in Criminal Justice. My wife, brother, sister-in-law, and numerous aunts and uncles are all teachers. My aunt Marylou retired from the Kings Park School District after over 30 years. My wife and I have lived in Kings Park for 16 years. I have coached various sports for KPY, Kings ParkDad's iphone April 2016 005 Soccer, and CYO. My parents also both attended the Kings Park School District. My hobbies at this time are more focused on my kids, golfing, fishing, traveling for tournaments and camping with family and friends. The association that I spend my time supporting is the XXYY Project. My youngest son was diagnosed with XXYY syndrome at 8 months of age. It is a rare genetic disorder where he has both 2 x’s and 2 y’s. He is on the autism spectrum and has other, physical, mental, and social impairments. The doctor who does all the research on this is based in Aurora, Colorado, so we visit her once every 3 years. I became the chairman of the xxyy board with other parents to help other boys and their families. Recently, the organization merged with the AXYS and we are still in the process of finding our place.

Briefly state any experience you bring to your School District Board of Education.

I have not had a lot of experience on an educational board, but I have had years of experience with negotiation, investigation, and listening to people’s complaints. I have a desire to help others and come to a solution that benefits everyone. I am a good communicator and am willing to listen to other’s opinions. I have had to work with both large and small groups of people who do not always see “eye to eye” and feel this will help me as a member of the board of education. I am also willing to learn how to become an effective member of the board and am open to suggestions from others.

As a board of education member, how will you engage the community to make certain that its needs are heard and acted upon?

Since I know that all the community members need to be taken in consideration when decisions are made, I would like to create a website with an email that would keep the community up to date and allow them to respond with their opinions. For the other community members, I would like to establish a phone line that they would use to contact me.

For current BOE members, please provide examples of how you have engaged the community.

N/A

Commitment to the promise of public education for all children requires Board of Education members to work outside of and across community boundaries. How will you advocate for our school and students outside of our school district (ie: regional, state and federal government) so that all students’ needs are met?

Since I am retired and have a flexible schedule, I would be willing to travel to conferences, meeting, ect with other NY State members of the education system to keep our district up to date.

For current BOE members, please provide some examples of how you advocated during your term for our schools.

N/A

Currently, New York State has issued a 4 year moratorium on using NYS assessments for teacher evaluations, how would you like to see teachers evaluated in our district?

I do not believe that educators should be evaluated on the test taken by students. I feel that the districts themselves should be responsible for coming up with a way of measuring a teacher’s ability. I feel the teachers should have some imput into how they are evaluated. Teachers do a lot more to help students then simply teach them classroom knowledge. I’ve seen my son grow in confidence, self-esteem, socialization skills and have seen his fellow students give him that in return. These traits are not taught in a classroom but in an environment that is safe and nurturing.

How do you define the success of a school district?

Success of a school district is based on how well prepared the students are for life; how to handle chaallenges, how to set goals, how to achieve, how to accept defeat, how to pick themselves up during difficult times, how to approach adversity, and overall, how to become a productive member of society. It takes a community to build a student who is compassionate, accountable, and successful and I feel that the district, with the help of the community has this responsibility.

What educational value does our school district receive from NYS field tests? If none, would you support KPCSD not administering these tests.

I do not know what our district gets out of NYS field tests, but i do know that each student, community, county in New York has different needs and I would not be opposed to our district not administering these tests.

What is your position on the 2% tax cap?

I understand why a 2% cap was created because there are members of the community who are on fixed incomes and cannot afford the increase. however, I feel that there should be a way to exceed the cap if it was absolutely neccessary to ensure the safety and education needs of our students. This excess would have to be explained in detail and then proven once the funds had been spent; complete transparency of the spending that is over 2%.

What is the best way to evaluate teachers and principals?

I don’t know if there is a perfect way to evaluate teachers and pricipals but I think there needs to be a way to look at their past expereince in the district and elsewhere. There should be consideration of the things these teachers do outside the classroom, volunteering their time to work with the students, starting new programs, creating and teaching new classes. All the things that great teachers do that they are never given credit for should be included

Describe your view on the Common Core Learning Standards.

I am not in favor of the common core learning standards. I do understand what was trying to be accomplished but I think the delivery was very poor. If it is to continue, there needs to be significant changes.

Describe your view on the amount of testing in our schools and how those test results are used.

I feel that testing should vary from subject to subject and class to class. I also thing the level of learning and the students ablility to perforn should also be taken into consideration. Some students are brilliant and never get to show their abilities if the evaluation is only on a test. Just like there is differenciation in learning, there should be a differenciation in testing.

Define the role of a parent in a child’s education.

The parent plays a vital role in a child’s education. Parents need to be in communication with their children’s teachers and be willing to reach out to them if their child is struggling. In return, teachers need to be willing to look at the individual child’s needs and be willing to alter their assignments to meet that child’s needs. not every child comes from a supportive home where they can have the help they need to succeed.

Have you ever been a parent/guardian of a child enrolled in the KPCSD? If so, what was your experience?

My experiences have been both good and bad. My youngest child, with special needs was abused physically and mentally by his kindergarten teacher. Due to his lack of verbal skills we did not find out about this for months, when a teacher aide said she had enough and reported it. There have been a couple other incidences that could have been very minor if all involved had simply taken accountablility for their actions. Admitting a mistake by a student, teacher, or administrator is an indication of being human and taking responsibility for ones actions. That is what I hope I can help restore to this district, the knowledge that all individuals within this district display have good intentions and that they will be accountable for their own actions.

How can our school district improve?

As stated above, community members, parents, and staff need to know that their best interests are the utmost priority. Parents need to know that their children are safe and receiving the best education possible. Teachers need to know that they are valued and be given a salary that is significant enought to make them want to invest in the future of our district. If you treat them with respect, give them a decent income, and look out for their best interest, they will want to make a life long career in our district, and make it one that we can all be proud of

Approximately 60% of parents of students in grades 3-8 have refused state testing. What will you do to restore their trust in the system?

I think the only way to restore their trust is to make change and explain that change. Only when parents feel that their child’s education is improving with these implementations will parent agree to it.

Is there additional information you want the voters in your community to know?

I would like to be the board member that you feel comfortable approaching if you have a concern. I want to make the Kings Park School District better for everyone

JuanPablo Andrade: KPAE Questionnaire For New Or Returning Kings Park BOE Candidates 2016

*Questionnaires are completed by the candidates and unedited by KPAE.

JuanPablo Andrade

Please tell us about yourself. (ie. work experience, life experience, residency, hobbies, associations, etc.)

My name is JuanPablo Andrade. I was born, raised, and studied in Kings Park. As the son of immigrants from South America, I am the first of my family born here in the United States. My parents were from a country constrained by a dictator-type leadership, so I grew up knowing that strong 5600m1KGand responsible leadership is needed to make a well-functioning government, no matter what level. Since I was younger, I always dedicated my time outside of school to volunteering in my community, such as at libraries, at parks, or at nature centers. After doing volunteer work with the 4th Precinct and Then-Suffolk Legislator John M. Kennedy, I knew I wanted to dedicate my life and future career to public service. Besides being heavily involved with volunteering activities, I stayed extremely politically active throughout Smithtown, Long Island, and New York State. While working alongside various local, state and federal officials, I learned much about our government, and that furthered my interest into public service. I moved to Florida briefly to work for Turning Point USA, which was a student based organization that focused on promoting fiscal responsibility, limited government and free markets. Currently, I work for a political consulting firm based out of Nassau County, as well as being a contributor for HypeLine News, an online media source for millennials. I belong to New Yorkers United for Kids, Asking Myself Associaition INC. (Anti-Bulling Organization), Conservative Society for Action.

Briefly state any experience you bring to your School District Board of Education.

My expierences have always been governmental and political. I have worked alongside many current and former public officials such as Congressman Lee Zeldin, Supervisor Pat Vecchio, NYS Senator and Assemblyman Flanagan and Fitzpatrick. Former Councilman Kevin Malloy, and then-Legislator John Kennedy. My Various work in the governmental, political field and the community will be beneficial in serving the community I grew up in, if elected to the Board.

As a board of education member, how will you engage the community to make certain that its needs are heard and acted upon?

I will help reach out the community in every way that I can! Making sure that all members of the community know that they can attend board meetings, as well as contacting us board members individually, to make sure the needs of them and their children or family are heard.

For current BOE members, please provide examples of how you have engaged the community.

Commitment to the promise of public education for all children requires Board of Education members to work outside of and across community boundaries. How will you advocate for our school and students outside of our school district (ie: regional, state and federal government) so that all students’ needs are met?

I will make sure to work with the public officials throughout the Town of Smithtown, Suffolk County, Long Island, and New York State to make sure that our students have the best opportunity to succeed in the future. As well as attending meetings outside of Kings Park (Albany, Hauppauge, DC) , that would effect the Students in my district as a whole.

For current BOE members, please provide some examples of how you advocated during your term for our schools.

Currently, New York State has issued a 4 year moratorium on using NYS assessments for teacher evaluations, how would you like to see teachers evaluated in our district?

I believe that the Superintendent, Board, and Principals of the Schools should be constantly evaluating teachers in the district, to ensure that our students have the best possible educational team available to them.

How do you define the success of a school district?

I define the success of a school district in 3 ways. Having a well fuctioning Board of Education that will implement good policies and remove useless ones. Insuring that the students have the best educational team that they deserve. And having members of the community stay as involved as they can, and to speak up when they want to be heard.

What educational value does our school district receive from NYS field tests? If none, would you support KPCSD not administering these tests.

I don’t believe our School District receives any educational value from NYS Field Tests under the Common Core Standards. Yes, I would support the KPCSD not administering these tests.

What is your position on the 2% tax cap?

I am a supporter of the NYS 2% Tax Cap, but I believe that it needs to be reformed in some ways, including no longer tying the cap to the rate of inflation, and also seeing to no longer require a 60% vote to override the cap.

What is the best way to evaluate teachers and principals?

I believe that the best way teachers can be evaluated is by having them simply evaluate themselves monthly. Each month, having them send in a self-class evaluation form to the adminstration office and principal. And depending on how the grades/students, shows how to think about what the teachers said themselves. As well as having the Head of each Educational department to constantly check up on each of their teachers. Same goes with Principals, I believe that the Head administration officials should constantly evaluating Principals, as well as being updated by Assistant Principals on how the Principal is handling the school.

Describe your view on the Common Core Learning Standards.

I have always been an advocate against Common Core Learning Standards. I believe the implementation of C.C. Was a complete disaster, headed by Governor Cuomo and then Ed. Commissioner John King. I don’t believe that educational standards should be coming from DC or Albany, it should come from the Local level.

Describe your view on the amount of testing in our schools and how those test results are used.

I agree with the amount of testing administered by the Kings Park Schools. We need a way to make sure that our students and teachers are all achieving in the best possible way.

Define the role of a parent in a child’s education.

A parent, in my opinion, has the most important impact in a Child’s education. The parents have the ultimate decision on how their child is educated and how they can succeed.

Have you ever been a parent/guardian of a child enrolled in the KPCSD? If so, what was your experience?

No. I am not married, thus I do not have any children. But one day, I would like to get married, and raise a family in the town I grew up in, that is why I’m running for the Board.

How can our school district improve?

Our district has great teachers, staff, leadership, and opportunities for our students. But I believe our Board can be improved, by electing members who will bring a fresh new voice, and some fiscal responsibility and accountability, to make sure that the students have the best educational opportunities they deserve.

Approximately 60% of parents of students in grades 3-8 have refused state testing. What will you do to restore their trust in the system?

Like I said, I am against Common Core Standards and testing. But I will remind parents, that Common Core won’t be going away, at least not any time soon. I will promise them to make sure to work with the rest of the board and state education officials to make sure the common core standards don’t get anymore difficult and frustrating then they already are.

Is there additional information you want the voters in your community to know?

I want to bring a Fresh New vision to Kings Park Schools. I want to make sure our district is as transparent as it can get, to reduce its wasteful spending. I want to bridge a better gap between the community and school district, ensuring open and timely communication to all constituents. I believe the board should be a little more diverse, since the most of the board is comprised of educators. I envision a greater involvement of students to BOE, such as student representatives. And to end this off, Yes, I’m Young. That mean yes, I have creative ideas. Yes, I will think outside the box. Yes, I have more time to devote to this job. And yes, that I’m going to work smarter and harder than any other board of education trustee this town has ever Had, once elected. Who better knows which policies are working and which aren’t than someone who was recently governed by these policies? Who better to represent and articulate the needs of students more than someone who was recently in their footsteps?

Pamela DeFord: KPAE Questionnaire For New Or Returning Kings Park BOE Candidates 2016

*Questionnaires are completed by the candidates and unedited by KPAE.

Pamela DeFord

Please tell us about yourself. (ie. work experience, life experience, residency, hobbies, associations, etc.)

Hello! My name is Pam DeFord. I have been a resident in Kings Park for 21 years. I graduated from Kings Park School District in 1985. I moved away for a short time, but returned when my daughter started kindergarten. I have been in the field of education over 20 years, I received a BA in Elementary Education and a Master’s in Special Pam DefordEducation from Dowling College. I have taught in grades K, 1,2, and 4. At present, I teach 3rd grade. I enjoy being involved in my community. I was a Girl Scout Leader for 5 years. I was a religion teacher at St. Joseph’s Church. I belong to Catholic Daughter’s of the Americas. I am a member of the PFO and Music Boosters at Kings Park High School.

Briefly state any experience you bring to your School District Board of Education.

I have attended Board meeting for the past 10 years. I have had the pleasure of serving on the Board for the past 2 years and Board president for the past year. I have established a working relationship with our Superintendent, administrators, teachers, support staff and other Board members. I am aware of the current issues facing public education and have been actively involved in advocating at keeping and increasing local control and advocating to give educators more control of curriculum and programs that best met our students needs.

As a board of education member, how will you engage the community to make certain that its needs are heard and acted upon?

I have listened to many parent and community members concerns. I believe it is best to work together so our students receive the best education. Since being elected to the Board, I have established a Policy Committee and a Legislative Committee. Both committees involve community members. I will continue to work at increasing community attendance at BOE meeting by continually reminding people when meeting are scheduled. I will continue to listen and talk with community members at resolving their concerns.

For current BOE members, please provide examples of how you have engaged the community.

As stated, in establishing a Policy and Legislative Committee both committees involve community members. At BOE meetings, we invite community members to speak at public comment time. We make sure that answers to questions are returned in a timely manner. Surveys have been posted to our district website asking community members their opinions and concerns. I want to ensure that we have an environment where all opinions are valued.

Commitment to the promise of public education for all children requires Board of Education members to work outside of and across community boundaries. How will you advocate for our school and students outside of our school district (ie: regional, state and federal government) so that all students’ needs are met?

I will and continue to work with neighboring school board members on educational issues that concern many people. By having a greater voice, our concerns will be heard. I will and continue to attend conferences to stay current on educational issues. While working with our Legislative Committee we have written resolutions concerning various issues. I will continue the work needed in advocating so all our students have their needs met. I have met and will continue to meet with legislators regarding challenges facing our students.

For current BOE members, please provide some examples of how you advocated during your term for our schools.

I have advocated that it is a parent’s choice when it comes to their child taking state assessments in grades 3-8. I have advocated for greater local control in making decisions within our district. I have advocated for state funding with concerns of the many unfunded state mandates the state has demanded of each school district. I have advocated that the educational decisions regarding curriculum and testing be left to those who are educators who know the true value of learning and the art of teaching. I will continue to advocate in all these areas to do what is best for our students and public education.

Currently, New York State has issued a 4 year moratorium on using NYS assessments for teacher evaluations, how would you like to see teachers evaluated in our district?

The evaluation of a teacher is important to ensure standards are maintained. Teachers have always been evaluated and should still continued to be evaluated by their administrators. An evaluation of a teacher is not done in one class period or lesson. That is only part of their evaluation. An administrator takes into account the daily work of a teacher. This is the way evaluations should be done for teachers.

How do you define the success of a school district?

The success of a school district is one where the students have an environment that fosters creativity, hard work and high achievements. It includes a staff that has the ability to develop curriculum based on the needs of their students, not a “one size fits all” approach as dictated by New York State politicians who have no educational experience. A successful school district is run by an administrative staff that puts the education of its students first and maintains a successful working relationship with their teachers based on mutual respect. A successful school district is one that is committed to advocate for what is right for public education.

What educational value does our school district receive from NYS field tests? If none, would you support KPCSD not administering these tests.

I believe our district does not receive any educational value from NYS field tests. In my opinion, it takes away from educational learning in the classroom. It is a way for big business to save money by having our students answer questions that have no educational value. No student should have to miss quality classroom instruction to “test” questions designed by non-educational people. If tests had input from educational professionals, test questions would not have to be “tested” to be sure questions were appropriate. This is another reason why education decisions should be left to educators and NOT big business.

What is your position on the 2% tax cap?

While I understand the need to limit taxes, I do not believe Governor Cuomo should be telling us how much we can spend on our school district. This is another example of how New York State is taking away control from local school boards. With the amount of underfunded and unfunded state mandates, there is not much left to work with within a 2% tax cap. The Kings Park School District has always kept the taxpayers of Kings Park in mind when creating school budgets and historically have some of the lowest tax levy increases on Long Island. The proposed budget for the 2016-2017 school is the lowest tax levy in the past ten years.

What is the best way to evaluate teachers and principals?

The best way to evaluate teachers and principals is to allow our administrators to observe and mentor them. We have a team of administrators with the educational background and experience who know what is best for students. We do not need outside observers to come in to do what our administrators already do well. This is yet another area in which the state is trying to take away local control.

Describe your view on the Common Core Learning Standards.

The common core standards were intended to ensure students all learn the same curriculum and with more rigor that was currently being done in the classroom. However, theory and application are not always the same. The common core standards were implemented too quickly and with too much “script”. They limit a teacher’s ability to teach to the individual needs of students. Teachers are professionals and should be given the ability to decide how to deliver instruction. The common core standards were designed to teach students how to pass a test. If the purpose for learning is to score well on a test, we’ve lost sight of the real reason for learning,

Describe your view on the amount of testing in our schools and how those test results are used.

The amount of testing in our schools done is enough to give a clear picture on a student’s academic abilities. Tests given from material covered in class would show a true indication if learning is adequately taking place. Testing done on a quarterly basis can be analyzed so curriculum can be adjusted to meet the individual needs of students. There is no “one fit” that all students learn the same way at the same rate. When test results are viewed, it can be a wonderful learning tool to help navigate instruction.

Define the role of a parent in a child’s education.

A parent is their child’s first teacher. A parent is a child’s first role model. A parent can help to foster a love of learning at a very early age. A parent’s role in their child’s education needs to be active throughout their child’s school career. I believe when parents and teachers work together, the child will have greater success.

Have you ever been a parent/guardian of a child enrolled in the KPCSD? If so, what was your experience?

My daughter currently attends Kings Park High School. She has been a student in the district since she started kindergarten. I have been very pleased with the education she has received. I have always been able to communicate with teachers, principals, and/or other administrators.

How can our school district improve?

Since our district started with new leadership almost 2 years ago, we have addressed a number of concerns. However, there is always room for improvement. Technology is an area that continues to need improvement in order for our students to compete in the 21st century. Although, some gains have been made in this area, more needs to be done for our students. In addition, I believe class size does matter in order to provide our students with an optimal learning experience.I will continue to address this area, when needed.

Approximately 60% of parents of students in grades 3-8 have refused state testing. What will you do to restore their trust in the system?

I am very proud of the education our district provides to our students. Overall, our educational system works. In recent years, it has become political because some politicians believe they know what is best in the area of education. This is far from the truth. We need to keep advocating that education should be left in the hands of educators, not politicians. With continued effort, we have to work as a team to tell politicians they do not belong in the classroom.

Is there additional information you want the voters in your community to know?

It has been a pleasure working on the board for the past 2 years. I would like to continue to contribute to the positive momentum our district is going in. I will continue to advocate for our students and community by listening to the concerns of community members. If re-elected, I would be the voice for our students and community. I will continue to advocate for what is right for public education. By working together, our students will be able to succeed. Remember….I believe it takes a village to raise a child and Kings Park is just the place to make sure it happens.