Chappaqua Moms Say Opt Out Of Common Core

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Catherine Lepone of Mount Kisco is the executive director of the Making Headway Foundation in Chappaqua.
Catherine Lepone of Mount Kisco is the executive director of the Making Headway Foundation in Chappaqua. Photo Credit: Brian Donnelly

CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. – Some Chappaqua parents would like to see New York follow the state of Indiana’s lead and opt out of the national common core standards.

Indiana Gov. Mark Pence signed a law Monday requiring the state to develop its own set of education standards by August 2015, making the Hoosier State the first of the 45 state enrolled in common core to opt out.

New York State Sen. George Latimer agreed with Pence's comments that Indiana's withdrawal could open the floodgates for other states to do the same.

Oklahama’s state Senate Education Committee passed a bill Monday that would abolish its use of common core standards. It will now go to the full senate for consideration.

The fate of common core in New York will be decided, at least for now, when the state budget is adopted next week, Latimer said. A two-year moratorium on its implementation has been discussed, but Latimer said nothing is final. 

"The sense that we have is that there is clearly discomfort across the state with the nature and speed of the implementation of common core, and I think the decision makers in the room are very sensitive to that," Latimer said.

Like many throughout New York, a group of Chappaqua mothers said that the national standards have brought excessive testing for students and an unfair evaluation system for teachers.

“They put the kids through the ringer last year and they felt overwhelmed and stressed about it,” said Heather LaFortezza, who has five children in the Chappaqua Central School District.

LaFortezza said her sixth-grade son was stressed about taking the state English Language Arts exam next week, and has had to spend a lot of time preparing.

“I think it’s exhausting for the kids,” she said.

Her friend Karen Parelman said both students and teachers are feeling overwhelmed.

“Every year (teachers) have to change their curriculum and change their teaching method based on what Albany tells them to teach,” she said. “It’s like starting a new job every year.”

Howie Lipson, whose twin son and daughter are seniors at Horace Greeley High School, said he sees both sides of the debate.

“You could say the tests are too hard and the pressure is too much. The flip side is the world is just a harsher place and they have to be prepared for it,” he said.

Catherine Lepone of Mount Kisco said she wants to see standards that focus on comprehension and have practical applications in life. She said these” arbitrary standards” don’t seem to accomplish that.

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If you want to opt out of the common core write to your public officials and get your voice heard. A child's potential cannot be measured by standardized tests.

In the words of the immortal Steve Jobs - Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes... the ones who see things differently -- they're not fond of rules... You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can't do is ignore them because they change things... they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.

I sincerely hope NY is crazy enough to challenge the hypocrisy of these tests and adopt a more meaningful way to evaluate children not at the cost of their self esteem.

Thank you for noting in the photo caption where I work. I would like to emphasize that the opinion given was mine, personally, and not that of Making Headway Foundation.