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Emotions High At Common Core Forums On Long Island

MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Over the past two nights, hundreds of educators and parents on Long Island attended emotional forums with New York's education commissioner over new state testing.

As CBS 2's Carolyn Gusoff reported, about 800 people packed into the Mineola High School auditorium in Garden City Park on Wednesday night to give Commissioner John King Jr. an earful about state testing and Common Core academic standards. Protesters also gathered outside the school.

Parents and teachers say are calling for the state to delay its full implementation of the Common Core academic standards, which have been rolled out in 45 states, including New York.

Large Crowd Expected At Another Forum On L.I. About New State Testing

"The kids are anxious and uptight," Lisa Rosen, a mother, told Gusoff.

"We learn what they're going to be asking on the test and how to answer that question," Lisa's daughter, eighth-grader Talia Rosen, said. "And that's what we learn in class."

Parents say the standards have both students and teachers stumped.

Common Core Protest
Parents and teachers protest against the Common Core academic standards on Nov. 13, 2013, outside Mineola High School (credit: Mona Rivera/1010 WINS)

"I have friends whose first-graders have been given the word 'metacognition' as a vocabulary word," said Brian Moeller, a high school social studies teacher.

"I think just testing 5- and 6-year-olds at all on a computer two weeks, three weeks into the school year is just ludicrous," added teacher Frank Decelie.

"They have no preparation for this," said Patrice Davidson, a parent from West Islip.

The objective, state officials say, is to teach kids to reason, not just memorize, and to improve success in college and in their careers. That is a noble goal, but the testing and teacher evaluations were implemented too quickly, some educators said.

"The rollout with the increased rigor of the tests are really what is the stumbling block," said Mineola High School Principal Ed Escobar.

At Wednesday's form, 240 questions were submitted by concerned parents and educators.

"I will tell you as a teacher I find this absolutely unhelpful in terms of improving my own instruction," one educator said at the forum.

"I urge you to slow down the implementation of the Common Core standards," said Manhasset School Board President Regina Rule.

King said he is listening to concerns, but that Common Core is here to stay. He said it took the state seven years to roll out the curriculum.

"We're absolutely committed to the Common Core," he said. "Again, we see the Common Core as a path to ensuring that more of our students are college- and career-ready."

Forum moderator state Sen. Jack Martins (R-Garden City Park) said Common Core doesn't work.

"When there are that many people who are against something, maybe they're on to something," he said. "Maybe it's time we took an opportunity to take a step back (and) re-evalua

On Tuesday night, about 1,500 people packed a forum at Ward Melville High School in East Setauket.

The crowd cheered speakers who assailed state testing and Common Core academic standards and booed King as he tried to speak, Newsday reported.

King urged the crowd to give Common Core a chance to be successful and tried to explain how student test scores are used to weigh teachers' performance evaluations under a controversial system that became law this year.

Parents there, too, called the new testing system abusive and unfair.

"It's almost like a perfect storm that overwhelms both the teacher, the student and the school system," one parent said.

The forums are among about a dozen statewide. State officials describe them as opportunities to air concerns over the Common Core standards, teacher job evaluations and protection of student data.

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