Featured Letter: Get out of the way, Albany

08/24/2013 8:00 AM |

FILE PHOTO | The Greenport School District is the most diverse of North Fork schools.

To the editor:

Thank you for shining light on the potential effects of recent federal and state policies on our local schools. Common Core itself is nothing more than a list of things that students should know and be able to do by the end of each year of school. It is a noble effort to organize curriculum to best prepare kids for college and careers. Nothing too controversial there.

Related: State officials call for patience on Common Core standards

The challenges come from the way our bureaucrats have chosen to execute Common Core and its related federal initiative, Race to the Top, which includes funding for new assessments, software for tracking data about students and educator evaluation systems. The systems created by our state Legislature — in partnership with our state teachers union, governor’s office, chancellor and Board of Regents — have hamstrung local educators. They are asked to engage in hours upon hours of additional red tape and paper-pushing that neither help improve outcomes for kids nor improve the quality of teaching and learning in our classrooms. The Legislature has over-thought this process in an effort to make it “foolproof.”

Our teacher evaluation system uses assessment data as 40 percent of a teacher’s evaluation criteria. These are the same assessments identified in last week’s column, in which only about 30 percent of Riverhead’s students were deemed to be “proficient.” That means 7 out of 10 Riverhead teachers are less than effective, which I am certain almost every Riverhead parent would adamantly refute.

Our Legislature needs to know when it should get out of the way and let local communities manage quality assurance efforts in their own schools. If we want quality schools, we need support and trust from Albany, not micro-management.

Doug Roberts, Greenport

Mr. Roberts is vice president of a company providing data and assessment management technology to school districts throughout the U.S.