Regents chancellor defends Common Core

May 20, 2014

Much controversy the past year in school districts across the state centered around Common Core Learning Standards.  Many educators and parents have been outraged at the way the state handled its rollout. In our Focus on Education report, WBFO's Eileen Buckley says State Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch insists New York had to raise its standards in student performances.

Students in a Buffalo classroom.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

"We spend $57 billion a year in New York State on education and quite franking, our performance is falling off the cliff.  We had to do something," said Regents Chancellor Tish during a recent appearance at a Buffalo Public School.       

NYS Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch & Regents Robert Bennett appearing in Buffalo.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

Tish said long before Race to the Top there were concerns about the state raising its learning standards.

"We had an opportunity to get a grant from the federal government to implement standards that we had been part of developing to a very large extent," noted Tish.

But many have questioned the state for using those ffederal standards from Race to the Top play in pushing the state to roll out common core.  The state received Race to the Top funding in 2010. It helped the many struggling school districts that took big cuts from the state's fiscal crisis in 2008.

Tish makes no apologies for accepting the federal race to the top funding with a promise to begin Common Core.

"We are well aware of the fiscal complications school districts on in now for a variety of reasons. We are well aware of the challenges," said Tish.

The Regents Chancellor said she realizes there has been much disdain about Common Core, but in the long-run Tish truly believes it will work. Other states actually came to Regents asking to use their tests. 

Buffalo School students in a classroom
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

WBFO News also questioned Tish about parents telling their child to opt out of standardized testing.

"The opting out kind of breaks my heart for a variety of reasons," said Tish. We couldn't mandate what to do."

Districts are allowed to decide on their own opt out policy -- some allow students to read or study, but others only allow  'sit and stare'.  

Tish is encouraging all parents not to opt out of those tests for their children.