Shelter Island Reporter Editorial: United at last

GETTY IMAGES/STOCK PHOTO | Almost half of Island students opted out of recent standardized tests.
GETTY IMAGES/STOCK PHOTO | Almost half of Island students opted out of recent standardized tests.

When historians come to assess the political era Americans are slogging through at present, the word that will lead the written record will be “polarization.”

The grim comedy of ill manners playing out in Washington has become so ludicrous that a perfectly qualified candidate for U.S. Attorney General, who all sides find to be a person of honor and integrity, is still waiting months after being nominated to be confirmed by the Senate. Seems this is a good way, one political party thinks, to stick their finger in the president’s eye, whom they loath personally, and for being a Democrat.

In the halls of Congress we’ve seen grown adults acting like pre-teens, gripping their fists, holding their breath and stamping their feet, driving the government to the brink of shutdown because they’re not getting their way.

Politically, the right and left today might as well be oil and water.

But on one issue, Americans of all political stripes are uniting on how children should be educated.

Protests are rolling across the country over Common Core Standards, the top-down imposition of testing standards that has enraged the left, the right, teachers, parents and students.

Parents all over the state have protested by having their children “opt out” of the standardized tests.

Almost half of Shelter Island parents instructed their children to boycott the tests.

Common Core has good intentions, as does the paving on the road to hell. The program is aimed at creating a curriculum that will put students on firm footing in the realm of critical thinking.

There’s no question that a community should demand accountability from schools preparing child­ren for college and life in the 21st century job market. But a one-size-fits-all solution is both a lazy and flawed method of assessing schools.

Linking test scores to teacher assessments — especially assessments under a new system introduced at the same time CCS was implemented — is one of many mistakes the State Education Department has visited upon our schools.

Is it fair for a teacher of students with learning disabilities to be judged inadequate, at least in part because of lower test scores those students are inevitably going to achieve?

What about teachers educating children whose English is a second language? Low scores don’t mean those students shouldn’t be given every opportunity to succeed educationally. And holding their teachers accountable for their scores is to potentially punish able educators.

We applaud the parents and students who have opted out of Common Core.