Confidence-defeating work and testing stemming from the Common Core rollout in New York State is still a top concern for Mineola parents.
Dozens gathered at Mineola Middle School Tuesday evening as Superintendent Michael Nagler and a panel of educators took them through an overview of the new standards and heard their concerns.
"I believe in standards, I believe in the curriculum our teachers have created, and I believe our teachers will do the right thing by your children," Nagler said. "We strive to make school a stress-free place."
Nagler was critical but supportive of the aim of the new standards. While he believes testing will not yield reliable data for several years, he said the new standards allow children to "know what they don't know" so they have a more active part in their progress.
Parents who spoke at the meeting voiced a common concern over work they believe is crushing the confidence of their children.
"How do you build the confidence of a child who now realizes they are not doing well," asked Carmela Solomon. "We all know that when they lose confidence, it takes three times the effort to build them back up."
Several parents asked about the new math standards and workload, many of them saying they themselves had trouble with the confusing directions and multiple methods. Children with different needs, they said, all had some trouble with the homework, saying they were becoming either restless out of boredom or overwhelmed.
"It sounds like everyone is having trouble with it either because it's too difficult or because it's boring and [tedious]," said Caroline Paul. "My daughter could do math inside and out and she has an amazing teacher now, but she's taking hours to do it because she has to do the work in five different ways…She says, 'Mom, I'm bored.'"
Multiple parents questioned the lack of practical work young students are doing, asking if they were learning simple things like tying their shoes or learning to count money in coins, though the panel members said such real-life topics were still being taught and would show up on the new report cards. Students in elementary and middle schools will receive standard-based report cards, while high schoolers will retain the old grading formula.
"You've heard the standards 'set the bar.' Well for some students, it's a hurdle, and for others it's a high jump or a pole vault," said Nagler. "Some need assistance getting over that bar, and the standards will give them the training to do that. They may find they were doing well with the hurdles but they need to train in a completely different way to get over that high jump."