Press-Republican

Education

June 16, 2013

Locals join Albany rally against testing, data collection

SARANAC LAKE — The outcry against high-stakes testing drew thousands to a recent rally in Albany.

Among buses that poured into the capital were three from the North Country.

Saranac Lake Middle School teacher Don Carlisto went with 12 others from that community, joining a busload from Plattsburgh. Other buses traveled from Canton and Watertown.

“It was a festival atmosphere,” he described the scene on the Plaza. “There were thousands of people there. The estimate going in was 10,000. I would say they easily exceeded 10,000.”

State assessment testing — also called high-stakes testing — was implemented to align with federal Common Core standards this year.

The exams are also deigned for use as teaching assessment tools, despite indications that, this year, many students were given questions about subjects three or more grade levels above their current curriculum.

A LOT OF KIDS

Speakers at the rally, organized by the New York State United Teachers, included American Federation of Teachers President Randi Wiengarten, United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew and John Nichols, Washington correspondent for The Nation magazine.

“There was also a performance by (singer/songwriter) Tom Chapin. He wrote a song called ‘Not on the Test,’ and that was really good,” Carlisto said.

Dr. Margarita Garcia-Notario, a SUNY Plattsburgh professor, has children in the Plattsburgh City School District. She also attended the rally in Albany.

“I thought it was very well organized, very peaceful,” she said. “People brought a lot of kids. And the signs were very funny —there was a 1-year-old holding a sign that said: ‘I’m not a test score.’”

THREE ISSUES

The rally focused on information in a civilized way, Dr. Garcia-Notario said, “primarily criticizing aspects of the situation that are not acceptable: that state education is using public money in a way that is hurting the public.”

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