Drumbeat against excessive testing gets louder

State Sen. Cecilia Tkaczyk and Assemblywoman Pat Fahy have a lot in common. They’re both newly elected female legislators from the Capital Region area. They’re both former school board presidents who strongly support education issues. And, judging by a forum scheduled for Wednesday, they’re both concerned about increased state testing and related state and federal mandates.

The two Democrats have invited a “who’s who” of educators, administrators, parents and students for a two-hour forum in Albany.  Concerns range from the loss of instructional time for students as a result of hours of testing, the effects on children’s emotional health from excessive testing, to the added costs of testing and other mandates at a time when school districts’ budgets and valuable programs are being cut.

The legislators have invited members from urban, rural, and suburban school districts to speak on these challenges. Panel 1 will be from 3 p.m. – 4 p.m and will include Albany Superintendent Marguerite Vanden Wyngaard; Guilderland Superintendent Marie Wiles; Fonda-Fultonville Acting Superintendent Ray Colucciello; Voorheesville Business Administrator Gregg Diefenbach; and Cohoes School Board President: Mark Pascale.

Panel 2 will be from 4 p.m. – 5 p.m and will include Troy special education administrator Natélegé Turner; Former New York State Teacher of the Year Katie Ferguson of Schenectady; Fort Plain School District parent Sara Niccolli; and a student from Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Schools. The forum will be in Room 711A of the Legislative Office Building.

The forum discussion is sure to add momentum to this weekend’s giant “One Voice United” rally on June 8 in Albany. Thousands of educators, parents, students and community activists will be coming by the busload and carload on Saturday, and are expected to fill the Empire State Plaza. Rally-goers will be standing up against the state’s obsession with standardized testing, the corporate influence over public education, the state’s irresponsible property tax cap on education funding, and more. Don’t miss it!

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