December, 2020 Archive
Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York With day one of three controversial Common Core ELA (English Language Arts) examinations for grades three through eight completed in New York State, the total score of students refusing to take the tests continues to rise exponentially.Compiled by Jeanette Deutermann, founder of anti-Common Core Facebook group “Long Island Opt Out” and a founding member of New York State Allies for Public Education (NYSAPE), a coalition of 50 parent and teacher organizations who oppose the standardized tests, Long Island school officials—including Board of Education members, administrators and educators, she says—are reporting an astounding number of test refusals.As of press time, her preliminary unofficial count from more than half the 124 school districts on Long Island had already tallied more than 82,000 students opting out—more than last year’s total figure for the entire state and double the 30,000 students from across Long Island who refused the tests last year—according to a Google Drive spreadsheet on Long Island Opt Out’s Facebook page. Comsewogue School District, home base of vocal public education advocates including Dr. Joe Rella, its superintendent, and Beth Dimino, an eighth grade science teacher and president of the Port Jefferson Station Teachers Association, who stood as a “conscientious objector” earlier this year and vowed to refuse to administer Common Core exams to students, saw 82 percent of their eligible students refuse the test–a new record for that district.Sisi Wong Townson, co-president of the Plainedge Middle School PTA, reports that a record-shattering 74 percent of Plainedge students opted out of the test yesterday, including an entire third-grade class. A vocal opponent of high-stakes standardized testing, she testified against Common Core before New York State legislators two years ago drawing upon her personal experience as a student in Hong Kong.It’s stories such as these that resonate loud and clear with Deutermann.“Each time another number comes in, it validates all the work we’ve been doing,” she tells the Press Wednesday morning in between phone calls with school administrators for the latest figures. “Two years of work to advocate and educate. It makes you feel like all this work—people appreciate it, they’re grateful, and they understand. It means the information reached through in a way that inspired them to action.”Renowned education historian, policy analyst and New York University Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development research professor Diane Ravitch, in a blog post Tuesday titled “Long Island: This Will Be The Biggest Opt Out Ever,” estimated more than 100,000 students statewide would opt out of taking the exams this time around.“Last year, 50,000-60,000 students opted out in New York. The figure will be more than double that this year,” she writes. “Parents are reacting against the overuse and misuse of tests. They are reacting against Governor Cuomo’s harsh and punitive education legislation.“In a democratic society,” she continues, “parents can’t be pushed around by public officials who are more interested in politics than in children. It makes parents angry.”Parents across Long Island have spoken in an unmistakable roar of defiance, determined to disrupt what they believe to be an unacceptable system delivered by government officials they do not trust—with Gov. Andrew Cuomo at the top of the list.Parents and school officials have been rallying against the Obama administration’s education reform program since the Common Core’s botched roll-out two years ago. Parents were alarmed by the detrimental effects they said the implementation had on their children, among other gripes, but since Cuomo’s State of the State address earlier this year—in which he announced his plan to ramp up what many education activists believe was already an overly aggressive and vindictive teacher-evaluation plan—opponents say they felt compelled to raise their voices even louder.The test refusals are their megaphone, amplifying a collective rage against Common Core.“I’m realizing, ‘Wow—there are some really angry parents out there,’” says Deutermann. “It gives a clear picture of how parents are feeling about the direction the state is taking public ed.”The idea is to “starve the beast”—a common refrain among dissenters—to withhold students’ test data from the state in order to collapse a system that has become increasingly test preparation-based, with a myopic focus on testing subjects ELA and math, at the expense of other subjects and art, gym, music, and recess, opponents say. Parents and education experts demand a more holistic approach to teaching and learning.“The current teacher evaluation system is demoralizing,” Richard Willis, a North Babylon teacher, tells the Press. “Non-ELA and math teachers are evaluated by a test in a subject that they do not teach. Special education teachers who work with children below grade level are doomed to always be developing or ineffective when judged on tests that are actually above grade level. Many of the teachers in my building are demoralized and defeated. It is sad because I work with some truly great teachers who love their students but no longer love the profession.”Parents and teachers hope the message of refusal reaches the ears of government officials and that the standardized tests are invalidated, once and for all.Calls to the New York State Education Department and Nassau-Suffolk School Boards Association for final official opt-out tallies and verification for this story were unsuccessful, with a spokesperson for the latter telling the Press: “We don’t have that info, and whatever we have is sporadic.”State Education Department spokesperson Jeanne Beattie tells the Press in an emailed statement the official number of test-takers and those who refused the exams will be available “over the summer when we release test scores.”
Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York A 76-year-old Amityville man was killed when an SUV crashed into his car in North Lindenhurst on Tuesday afternoon.Suffolk County police said Glenwood Blalock was driving a Chevrolet Cavalier westbound on Albany Avenue when his car was struck on the driver’s side by a northbound Dodge Ram at the corner of New Highway at 12:20 p.m.The victim was taken to Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center in West Islip, where he was pronounced dead. The other driver was not injured.First Squad detectives impounded both vehicles and are continuing the investigation.
Tara says Cooper loved the playground while his older brother played baseball games at the park. She says she wants to have a playground with swings and stuff to climb on to give the younger kids something to do while families attended the baseball games. “We know that this playground is going to make kids all over the community smile and we’re just really looking forward to seeing children on the playground, having fun, and encompassing Cooper’s spirit doing that,” said Tara. Tara says they expect to break ground at the park in May of 2020. Volunteers are welcome to help over a weekend to help put together the pieces. Cooper’s mother, Tara Busch, says even small playgrounds are surprisingly expensive, explaining how the project cost more than $100,000. She says thanks to State Senator Fred Akshar raising and donating thousands of dollars and Broome County covering a portion temporarily, the plan has become a reality. “I was starting to lose faith in it, so just in time for the holidays and a really great Christmas present is the county is actually going to cover the $75,000 from the state and when the money does come in from the state, they’re going to reimburse the county,” said Tara. Cooper Busch’s family has made a mission of spreading Cooper’s message throughout the community, especially toward kids who could use a smile every now and then. That is why after his passing in May 2018, his family began the project, the “Super Cooper Memorial Playground,” which will be installed at the Chenango Bridge Civic Park. CHENANGO BRIDGE (WBNG) — After more than a year of planning for the Super Cooper Memorial Playground, the plan is finally coming through fruition with funding complete for the project.
“It was very exciting. It was very upbeat, very energetic. Just to meet Drew Carey and be up on the stage, it was very exciting,” said MacDonald. “He was there for a few rounds until he actually got called up on the stage. We were very nervous watching him the whole time, like come on,” said Hamlin. One local resident found out, and it was mostly by chance. “We were going to Los Angeles for my son’s college graduation and we were looking for things to do. We saw it pop up, free tickets to The Price Is Right, so we figured let’s give it a whirl,” said Johnson City resident and star of the show Graham MacDonald. “It’s not what I won, it’s more what I lost. I had the, the Publishers Clearing House was there and I had $20,000 in the palm of my hands,” said MacDonald. Regardless of winning or losing, it’s a special moment he will always remember. After going through the interview process on that second day, Graham was in the audience when his name got called with the first group of contestants. TOWN OF UNION (WBNG) — Many of us watch game shows like “The Price Is Right” as a part of our daily routine or just for fun. But what would it be like to be on the show? Graham and his family went to the studio, but realized they already filled the seats for that taping. Unfortunately the live airing of the episode with Graham was interrupted by a CBS Special Report, but Graham and his family still gathered to watch as much of the episode together as they could. Graham went on to play a game of “This or That”, and while he couldn’t reveal what exactly he won, he knows he unfortunately missed the big prize. “The first day, the day we had planned our tickets for, they had already filled up. There was no more room, they had hit their limit. We were like, can we come back tomorrow, will there be room? They were like yeah just get here early,” said family friend Samantha Hamlin.
Parker added that the studio is looking forward to welcoming students back to a brand new music studio as soon as state regulations allow. (WBNG) — The Parker Music Studio held their annual recital Sunday, but it looked a little bit different than usual. From there, staff compiled a virtual recital that was presented live on Sunday afternoon. Director Jesse Parker says the recital marks the end of a unique set of lessons for the studio in which students and teachers were forced to learn how to do music lessons over Zoom, a popular conference call application. Parker said after all of that hard work, she was determined not to call off the recital. Organizers say since COVID-19 stopped the studio from being able to hold the recital in person, students recorded their performances and sent them in. “The kids have been working so hard and they’ve missed other things that got cancelled, like All-County and the New York State School Music Association festival, so I wanted to give them something so they could feel like they still performed this year,” Parker said.
“We continued to send letters to the governor and local legislative branches and lobbyists, we worked and pushed,” she said. While Ripic says her facility was never in danger of closing for financial reasons, she couldn’t be happier to welcome back her bowling family, and anyone who wants to come for a game or two. “We were on the verge of being shut down for as many months as we had been in operation,” she said. “Last night when we left after cleaning we said ‘I wonder when our last sale was last year?’ It’s almost to the day August 22 was our first sale. Today is the 17th, it’s like a brand new beginning for us.” Now the time has come to prove that bowling can be done safely. The facility has been fitted with new air filters and hand sanitizing stations. Bowlers can only use every other lane in order to maintain social distancing. 6 people can use a single lane, and no more than 8 people can use 2 lanes right next to each other. At Ripic’s Carousel lanes in Binghamton, owner Beckie Ripic says the news Friday brought with it relief after more than five months of being shut down. BINGHAMTON (WBNG) — Today was the big day for bowlers and bowling alley owners across New York State. Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Friday that bowling centers could reopen starting Monday morning. Ripic says the road to reopening has been a long one. The news comes one week after Ripic joined local leaders and bowling alley owners in Waverly to rally the state to reopen, now it’s back to business. The closure due to the virus came just months after Ripic and her husband purchased the old Laurel Bowl on Laurel Ave and reopened under the new name. “Come on down, we have s lot of air hugs, we’ve missed everybody in the last five months, we just want people to get back out on the lanes.” As a member of the Board of the Bowling Proprietors Association of America, Ripic played a role in swaying the state to give bowling alleys a chance. “We had a crew in here this weekend doing all sorts of cleaning to get ready for it and it’s just so good to hear the noise of the pins crashing behind us,” she said. “It was very overwhelming when we got the news on Friday I bawled like a baby,” she said.