Parent power packs the plaza

For four moms at the “One Voice United” rally, the back of their T-shirts said it all: “Peeved Pittsford Parent.”

The women explain that they are not peeved at their schools, or their kids’ teachers. They’re frustrated with the state’s heavy-handed obsession with standardized testing and what that’s doing to their kids and their schools.

“This really needs to be a parent cause because our kids are the victims,” said Pittsford parent Julie Daugherty. “We have a school district that works, a really strong district, but these ridiculous testing policies are going to mess everything up. We need them to stop fixing our schools… they weren’t broken.”

“Our teachers are doing the very best they can, but they can’t do what they used to because of the testing craze,” said Sarah Hurth, who rode from the Rochester area with Daugherty and two other parents, Kathy Serling and Jennifer Tills. “We need to trust our teachers,” Hurth said. “Stop messing with what’s working!”


  1. Jolene DiBrango June 9, 2013 at 9:46 am #

    As the president of the Pittsford District Teachers Association and a teacher to some of the children of these fabulous moms we want to thank them publicly for being courageous,driving from Western NY and speaking up and out for the children of Pittsford and all children across the state. Parents like these are what we need to make Albany see and hear what they are doing to the kids and teacher who depend on the public education system for fairness and funding!

  2. Kathy Serling June 10, 2013 at 1:13 pm #

    The Rally in Albany was thought provoking and inspiring. I am glad I was there to support this effort to call upon the State Ed Dept and our NYS officials to make meaningful changes to the frequency and design of APPR assessment testing. I attended the One Voice Rally with Julie Daugherty, Sarah Hurth and Jennifer Tillis. We are parents of Pittsford students. I am proud to say there were a number of Pittsford Teachers at this Rally on Saturday.
    These are comments of Dr. John King, commissioner of the state Education Department, said his department has provided “extensive resources and support for teachers” as they transition to the Common Core standards, an initiative adopted by dozens of states that lays out specific standards to be met for each grade level. “At the end of the day, the changes we are making will help all students graduate prepared for success in college and careers,” King said in a statement.(Democrat & Chronicle)

    In my response to this situation and the above referenced statement. I would like to add my thoughts and comments. From my position as an educator with a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction, and a parent of 3 Pittsford students, I respectfully question the why, how and when of the core curriculum and the associated testing which is beyond rigorous and doesn’t seem to be the best way to achieve your reform objective. I have a son, who will graduate June 22nd with an IEP diploma, a daughter, who is currently a Junior in general ed and a son with special needs, who is in 6th grade. The daily experience my children have in school is my highest priority. While my children have fared okay in regard to these curriculum and testing initiatives enacted in such a brief time span and brusque approach, I am deeply concerned and puzzled about how these well intended reforms are working in actuality.
    When students are feeling and expressing their personal anxiety about these frequent and pervasive testing in every one of their classes, how do you anticipate their acceptance and success? Without the support of your NYS teachers and parents, how do you envision your educational reforms to be a successful endeavor? I am hearing very troubling accounts of anxiety and dysfunction about the Core curriculum, APPR and testing.
    I am moved to advocacy when I hear and see the following concerns and problems. It is distressing to hear a teacher express personal and professional concern about how her student’s needs and academic ability and potential will impact her own job performance rating of APPR assessment during a CSE meeting!!? The sole purpose of any CSE meeting is designed to singularly address and discuss the needs of the special education student in order to determine the best and most appropriate placement and resources to be decided and provided for the special needs student. The fact that APPR became part of that CSE meeting is clear indication that these educational reforms are not working as intended, planned and implemented.
    What is your response to the situation of a student coming to their Teacher in tears and anxious distress and asking “Will you get fired if I fail this test? Can you measure this student’s anxiety in numerical measure? Can you assess the profound and long term impact that can make on that student and teacher? Can you envision how this Teacher will verbally explain and reassure this student? Can you be certain that student will be satisfied with that explanation and once again feel safe and secure about their Student-Teacher Relationship? Can you guarantee that student will be motivated to attend school or feel confidence in their education? Do you find this to be an acceptable burden to create for that student and teacher? Is this an appropriate position to put that student and Teacher into? Surely this will not create a positive learning environment for our students and teachers or serve to intrinsically motivate a student to develop a love for learning and look forward to going to school. This is troubling and not an acceptable environment conducive for learning.
    The fear and consequence of failure that is being created by the APPR Model approach is counter intuitive to positive collaboration, team building and professional trust. Trust, collaboration and team work are the building blocks of any successful endeavor and positive learning experience. The time table you have mandated for the Core Curriculum to be drafted and implemented and monitored by APPR and correlated assessment testing is proving to be highly flawed in design and practice. Please see and feel the anxiety, concern and negative impact this educational reform is creating!! Please act accordingly to further review and redesign these reforms to mitigate the negative impact and restore a better balanced learning environment in our schools. This concern is not a fleeting call to reform the
    APPR Reform.

    I hear there is inequity in resources and training for the Core Curriculum. How can this be in this age of technology and high speed communication? This will further diminish and interfere with the success for educational reform you are looking to create for our Schools. Akin to the ideal of the No Child Left Behind Legislation – the same must hold true for the principle of No School Left Behind. When any school is left out from having the exact same resources and professional training, then that inequity will translate to students being left behind! There can be no resources and training inequity in the Common Core and assessment testing among the school districts!!
    I have serious reservations about your recent comment “at the end of the day…”. Do you mean to assert that the end justifies the means or the outcome is worth the struggle. This ideal may work in other venues, business ventures or reform of other social issues but this perspective does not serve our educational system in the same way. There is no place for discord and dysfunction in the day to day experience of students and teachers in their classrooms and the operation of our schools. Each and every day of school has to be considered and managed to be every bit as valuable as the next and more important than yesterday. There should not be even one day of school that is diminished or interrupted by these sweeping reforms that are creating such initial negative impact on students and teachers. Reforms should be uplifting and rooted in positive change. There must be a collaborative meeting of the minds to successfully examine this situation and modify these educational reforms for the benefit students, teachers, administrators and NYS State Ed Dept in a very timely manner.
    It is my hope and expectation that you have been, are currently and will continue to hear what is being said by the key people that matter most in this situation. The students and teachers!!! Look and listen and become immediately invested in making necessary changes with an open mind to the well being of the whole Child and the bigger picture of our education system. I ask you to reach out and work with your teachers and administrators rather than just for them. Think what lesson in Democracy you will be showing your students, teachers, families and the world community. When your public speaks with honesty and validity, you have the obligation, as our governing official, to listen and act with prudence, integrity and an open mind to truth and professional interest to achieve reasonable compromise. This is how excellence is achieved!!
    Please make the right response and take appropriate action that will best serve the people you have promised to serve. We expect and need nothing less than this and we look to you to start the process for the necessary modifications to the APPR and assessments for our students!! This not an impossible problem to solve, it only requires wisdom and compassion and a vested interested in staging a collaborative effort. So, please look and listen beyond the black and white text of your educational reforms into what is really happening in the classroom to students and teachers. Please take this opportunity to make reasonable and practical compromise and reach for excellence that is more meaningful and long lasting than test scores.

    Kathy Serling
    Pittsford School Parent


    • Betsy Sandberg June 10, 2013 at 1:29 pm #

      Kathy, thank you for your comment. We’ve got a Tell It Like It is section to help teachers communicate with the Regents and SED Commissioner John King. We’ll make sure they get your comments as well.

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