New York

A behind-the-scenes look at how new Common Core meetings are being organized

An upcoming opportunity to discuss education policy on Long Island with Commissioner John King is invitation-only and has a cap on the number of parents who can attend, according to an email sent out this week by a district superintendent who is participating in the event. 

The meeting will include 15 Long Island districts, all of which are allowed to invite 50 people, according to the email. Each district is allowed to invite a limited number of parents (15), teachers (12), administrators (12) and board members (7). Tickets are reserved for four students per districts as well. 

The email, which was shared with GothamSchools, was sent out by Port Washington Superintendent Kathleen Mooney to school board members and district employees after she was briefed on the forum’s details in a meeting with state Senator Jack Martins, who is helping to coordinate the event. The forum is scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 13 at Mienola High School from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm.

The planning details outlined in the email are a sign of just how concerned state officials have grown about the push back that King has received in meetings with parents and school community members. The meetings are designed to discuss contentious issues like the state’s Common Core rollout, increased testing, and student privacy.

A local meeting with King earlier this month was derailed by raucous crowds who heckled the commissioner. The incident prompted the state to call off the remaining forums and start planning their own, a move that drew criticism.

The new forums are being organized in partnership with state lawmakers, and King has promised they would happen more frequently and include more intimate policy conversations with parents. 

From: Kathleen Mooney 

Subject: Commissioner King Forum – Nov. 13, 2013

Date: November 6, 2013 at 1:16:20 PM EST

Some of you may be aware that Senator Jack Martins is hosting a forum with Commissioner King for the 15 school districts in his area.  The forum is scheduled for:

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Mineola High School

4:00PM to 6:00PM

The event is by invitation only.  I attended a meeting earlier today with Senator Martins and the other superintendents of the districts involved to find out the details of how this forum will be structured.  The details are as follows:

The forum will be divided into four 30 minute question and answer sessions.  The four topics will be the Common Core Learning Standards and their roll out/implementation, APPR, Testing/Assessments, and inBloom/student privacy.  Each superintendent was asked to submit 10 questions on each topic to Senator Martins by Tuesday, November 12, 2013.  The questions are to include the name of the person asking and the person’s role.  Each district will be provided with the opportunity to ask at least two questions during the forum and the person who submitted will be called upon to ask it directly to the Commissioner.

Because of the short turnaround time, I will need your questions by Friday, November 8, 2013 in order to collate them and have them ready to give to Senator Martins by Tuesday.  In addition, each district was provided with 50 tickets, that are numbered,  to be distributed among various constituencies.  The distribution is as follows:

BOE members     7

Administrators     12

Teachers             12

Parents               15

Student Leaders    4 (2 from Schreiber, 2 from Weber)

I am asking the leadership of each group to determine who will receive these tickets and to let me know by Friday, November 8, 2013.  Since the number of tickets is limited, those who accept must attend.  If you are unable to distribute all of your tickets, please let me know and I will offer them to other groups who may have a waiting list.  Once the invitees have been identified they will receive their numbered ticket from my office.  You can let people know that the event will be livestreamed and can be viewed on the Mineola School District website.  The atmosphere is to be civil and dignified.  No placards or banners will be permitted.  Senator Martins is the moderator.

I apologize for the short notice, but I have only learned of the specifics for the forum late this morning.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.


call out

Our readers had a lot to say in 2017. Make your voice heard in 2018.

PHOTO: Chris Hill/Whitney Achievement School
Teacher Carl Schneider walks children home in 2015 as part of the after-school walking program at Whitney Achievement Elementary School in Memphis. This photograph went viral and inspired a First Person reflection from Schneider in 2017.

Last year, some of our most popular pieces came from readers who told their stories in a series that we call First Person.

For instance, Carl Schneider wrote about the 2015 viral photograph that showed him walking his students home from school in a low-income neighborhood of Memphis. His perspective on what got lost in the shuffle continues to draw thousands of readers.

First Person is also a platform to influence policy. Recent high school graduate Anisah Karim described the pressure she felt to apply to 100 colleges in the quest for millions of dollars in scholarships. Because of her piece, the school board in Memphis is reviewing the so-called “million-dollar scholar” culture at some high schools.

Do you have a story to tell or a point to make? In 2018, we want to give an even greater voice to students, parents, teachers, administrators, advocates and others who are trying to improve public education in Tennessee. We’re looking for essays of 500 to 750 words grounded in personal experience.

Whether your piece is finished or you just have an idea to discuss, drop a line to Community Editor Caroline Bauman at [email protected]

But first, check out these top First Person pieces from Tennesseans in 2017:

My high school told me to apply to 100 colleges — and I almost lost myself in the process

“A counselor never tried to determine what the absolute best school for me would be. I wasted a lot of time, money and resources trying to figure that out. And I almost lost myself in the process.” —Anisah Karim     

Why I’m not anxious about where my kids go to school — but do worry about the segregation that surrounds us

“In fact, it will be a good thing for my boys to learn alongside children who are different from them in many ways — that is one advantage they will have that I did not, attending parochial schools in a lily-white suburb.” —Mary Jo Cramb

I covered Tennessee’s ed beat for Chalkbeat. Here’s what I learned.

“Apathy is often cited as a major problem facing education. That’s not the case in Tennessee.” —Grace Tatter

I went viral for walking my students home from school in Memphis. Here’s what got lost in the shuffle.

“When #blacklivesmatter is a controversial statement; when our black male students have a one in three chance of facing jail time; when kids in Memphis raised in the bottom fifth of the socioeconomic bracket have a 2.6 percent chance of climbing to the top fifth — our walking students home does not fix that, either.” —Carl Schneider

I think traditional public schools are the backbone of democracy. My child attends a charter school. Let’s talk.

“It was a complicated choice to make. The dialogue around school choice in Nashville, though, doesn’t often include much nuance — or many voices of parents like me.” —Aidan Hoyal

I grew up near Charlottesville and got a misleading education about Civil War history. Students deserve better.

“In my classroom discussions, the impetus for the Civil War was resigned to a debate over the balance of power between federal and state governments. Slavery was taught as a footnote to the cause of the war.” —Laura Faith Kebede

Weekend Reads

Need classroom decor inspiration? These educators have got you covered.

This school year, students will spend about 1,000 hours in school —making their classrooms a huge part of their learning experience.

We’re recognizing educators who’ve poured on the pizazz to make students feel welcome. From a 9th-grade “forensics lab” decked out in caution tape to a classroom stage complete with lights to get first graders pumped about public speaking, these crafty teachers have gone above and beyond to create great spaces.

Got a classroom of your own to show off? Know someone that should be on this list? Let us know!

Jaclyn Flores, First Grade Dual Language, Rochester, New York
“Having a classroom that is bright, cheerful, organized and inviting allows my students to feel pride in their classroom as well as feel welcome. My students look forward to standing on the stage to share or sitting on special chairs to dive into their learning. This space is a safe place for my students and we take pride in what it has become.”

Jasmine, Pre-K, Las Vegas, Nevada
“My classroom environment helps my students because providing calming colors and a home-like space makes them feel more comfortable in the classroom and ready to learn as first-time students!”


Oneika Osborne, 10th Grade Reading, Miami Southridge Senior High School, Miami, Florida
“My classroom environment invites all of my students to constantly be in a state of celebration and self-empowerment at all points of the learning process. With inspirational quotes, culturally relevant images, and an explosion of color, my classroom sets the tone for the day every single day as soon as we walk in. It is one of optimism, power, and of course glitter.”

Kristen Poindexter, Kindergarten, Spring Mill Elementary School, Indianapolis, Indiana
“I try very hard to make my classroom a place where memorable experiences happen. I use songs, finger plays, movement, and interactive activities to help cement concepts in their minds. It makes my teacher heart so happy when past students walk by my classroom and start their sentence with, “Remember when we…?”. We recently transformed our classroom into a Mad Science Lab where we investigated more about our 5 Senses.”


Brittany, 9th Grade Biology, Dallas, Texas
“I love my classroom environment because I teach Biology, it’s easy to relate every topic back to Forensics and real-life investigations! Mystery always gets the students going!”


Ms. Heaton, First Grade, Westampton, New Jersey
“As an educator, it is my goal to create a classroom environment that is positive and welcoming for students. I wanted to create a learning environment where students feel comfortable and in return stimulates student learning. A classroom is a second home for students so I wanted to ensure that the space was bright, friendly, and organized for the students to be able to use each and every day.”

D’Essence Grant, 8th Grade ELA, KIPP Houston, Houston, Texas
“Intentionally decorating my classroom was my first act of showing my students I care about them. I pride myself on building relationships with my students and them knowing I care about them inside and outside of the classroom. Taking the time to make the classroom meaningful and creative as well building a safe place for our community helps establish an effective classroom setting.”


Jayme Wiertzema, Elementary Art, Worthington, Minnesota
“I’m looking forward to having a CLASSROOM this year. The past two years I have taught from a cart and this year my amazing school district allowed me to have a classroom in our school that is busting at the seams! I’m so excited to use my classroom environment to inspire creativity in my students, get to know them and learn from their amazing imaginations in art class!”


Melissa Vecchio, 4th Grade, Queens, New York
“Since so much of a student’s time is spent inside their classroom, the environment should be neat, organized, easy to move around in but most of all positive. I love to use a theme to reinforce great behavior. I always give the students a choice in helping to design bulletin boards and desk arrangements. When they are involved they take pride in the classroom, and enjoy being there.”