LaValle: Common Core meeting won’t be in Riverhead

ROBERT O’ROURK FILE PHOTO | State Senator Ken LaValle is hosting a public meeting somewhere in his district Nov. 26 with New York education department commissioner John King to discuss Common Core curriculum and standardized testing.

A public forum on the Common Core curriculum scheduled with New York Department of Education commissioner John King will not be held at Riverhead High School, as previously reported, State Senator Ken LaValle said on Friday.

Mr. LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) told the Times/Review Newsgroup in an interview the decision was made due to space concerns.

Riverhead High School’s new auditorium has about 800 seats. Mr. LaValle said he’s looking to host the forum in a space that can hold about 200 more people.

He said a new location is needed in order to accommodate a larger crowd, due to the large number of people expected to attend in protest of Common Core, however it remains unclear where the meeting will be held instead.

The state’s website said as of Tuesday afternoon that Riverhead would host the Nov. 26 meeting. State education department spokesman, Tom Dunn, said on Friday that, “We are working with the senator to pick a location.”

Mr. LaValle is expected to announced the new venue in the coming days He said the originally scheduled Nov. 26 date remains the same.

The state Department of Education first announced details Oct. 30 about four upcoming Long Island meetings with Mr. King. Since then, the date for the first meeting at Ward Melville High School in East Setauket has been changed to Nov. 12.

“I want to make sure that we have a location that will accommodate as many parents and educators as possible for them to spend some time with the commissioner,” Mr. LaValle said. “I’ve invited him to come because the people I represent want to hear him and, more importantly, they would like to speak to him.”

While the details about the meeting are still being ironed out, Mr. LaValle said he’s working with the nearly 30 school districts within his legislative jurisdiction to have them arrange tickets for the event. He said he would like the audience make up to consist of at least 60 percent parents from each district.

“I want to make sure that we’re allowing as many parents to come,” he said. “They will get their tickets through their school districts … We need to know who’s coming beforehand because we want to make sure people will have a seat.”

As for scheduling the meeting two days before Thanksgiving, Mr. LaValle acknowledged the difficulty in planning such an event that would please most people. He said his biggest requirement was making sure the meeting was held at night so that the most amount of people could attend after work.

Mr. LaValle, a former educator, said he has concerns about how Common Core is being implemented, especially with excessive testing for elementary school students and students with disabilities.

He said he reached out to Mr. King and Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch to set up the meeting because more and more people have expressed frustration over the new and rigorous curriculum.

“We’ve had a really good line of communication open,” he said. “I think that the hearing Senator Flanagan had in Brentwood was really great. From that point forward, I believe the [education] department and specifically the commissioner and members of the Board of Regents have been listening.”

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