Shelter Island School Superintendent Leonard Skuggevik has applauded Congressman Lee Zeldin’s recent success in getting an amendment passed in the House of Representatives allowing local school districts to opt out of the Common Core Curriculum without facing the loss of federal funds.
The legislation now goes to President Obama for his signature.
Mr. Skuggevik said the bill is “a great step” in the right direction of keeping local control of education intact.
The superintendent has been invited to join a group of educators to meet with Mr. Zeldin some time within the next two weeks to discuss concerns about Common Core and other issues relevant to maintaining local control.
Part of the Common core program is the implementation of standardized student testing.
“Anytime we can get our voice heard at the federal level or the state level is good,” Mr. Skuggevik said.
Mr. Zeldin (R-Shirley) announced last week that his amendment to the Student Success Act (HR5), a draft law the House approved in July, aims to replace the much-criticized No Child Left Behind Act.
“One of the biggest arguments against the repeal of Common Core in New York state has been that New York would lose out on several hundred million — if not billions — of federal dollars,” the congressman said. “The Zeldin Amendment is the single most effective way for the federal government to permit New York and other states to withdraw from Common Core without fear that there will be any loss of federal funding as a result.”
Mr. Zeldin has described the Common Core rollout as “rushed.” He said the state Department of Education failed to address concerns about the curriculum.
For the past few years, parents and educators have rallied against the state’s latest system of so-called high-stakes testing, which is tied to the controversial Common Core Standards, through a movement known as “opt out” where students refuse to take mandated assessments.
Mr. Zeldin said a preventative measure is also included in the bill to stop the federal government from penalizing states from dropping the standards.
“Another important aspect in the fight to improve our education system is restoring local control and flexibility to our parents and local educators,” the legislator said. “We must shift the focus in our classrooms from testing to teaching to ensure our children never lose their love of learning.”
The state adopted Common Core standards in 2010 to qualify for a $700 million portion of the president’s “Race to the Top” initiative, a federal grant program Mr. Obama unveiled in 2009.