Government Finally Worked The Way It Should And Our Students Are The Beneficiary

Legislative Column from Assemblyman Brian Miller (R,I-New Hartford)
September 14, 2017

For years, the complaints of parents, students and teachers throughout New York state seemed to go unheard. Or perhaps the complaints regarding the substantially flawed Common Core standards were simply ignored by the State Education Department and the Board of Regents?

Parents from Western New York down to Long Island - especially those in the Mohawk and Hudson valleys refused to be silenced. Members of the Assembly Minority Conference joined their voices with those of concerned parents and continually called for a repeal of Common Core and a process to include the input of educators and parents to develop a replacement that is developmentally appropriate and not one-size-fits all. Education leaders have finally listened and it seems government has finally worked for the people.

This week, the Board of Regents approved the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan, which will dramatically overhaul learning standards in New York state and place an emphasis on early learning, allowing younger students to be inquisitive, play and interact with others.

The main issues with Common Core raised by Assembly Minority, parents and teachers alike included:

  • The implementation process;
  • Lack of professional development for teachers;
  • A one-size-fits-all approach to curriculum; and
  • Age appropriate curriculum.

These issues have been addressed with the new ESSA learning standards. Educators will have three full school years of professional development to learn the curriculum and it will be implemented in classrooms starting in 2020. This is in stark contrast to the manner with which Common Core was rushed out to obtain federal funding.

Another positive change in the standards is that there will now be an emphasis on play-based learning in the early grades. The state had gotten to a point where it forgot that our younger students are still children and play is an important part of their development. A new taskforce was developed with that in mind.

I applaud Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia and the Board of Regents for this move and thank them for listening to the parents, teachers and legislators who called for these much needed changes for years. It is my sincerest hope that these new learning standards will lead our state forward and once again put New York at the top of the list for offering the best education in the country.