Tag Archives: Common Core

Op-ed: Test less, teach more

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com


The other week I announced a way to reduce excessive standardized tests as part of Common Core while preserving the quality of learning and teaching in our classrooms. My proposal was developed over the course of several months by school superintendents and educators throughout our communities.

I believe we are testing our kids to extremes and robbing them of their creativity and curiosity. Classrooms are meant to be challenging incubators for learning and expression, not test-taking factories. Unfortunately, many classrooms today are void of teaching innovation and critical thinking because teachers and students are burdened by preparing for excessive standardized tests that promote learning through retention rather than learning by experience.

A common-sense pace of testing is essential to ensure that our students are learning what is being taught and that schools are effectively educating. But we cannot designate standardized test scores as the one predictor of future success for our students, teachers and school districts. Learning is a deeply personal experience, and we should be giving our teachers and students the classroom time they need in order to facilitate experiential learning.

That is why, with the help of Long Island superintendents, I am introducing the Tackling Excessive Standardized Testing (TEST) Act that allows states to choose an alternative testing schedule for students in grades 3 through 8. The TEST Act reduces the number of tests students must take each year and ultimately gives time back to educators to teach science, social studies, art, music and other subjects whose lessons are being cut short in order to prepare for testing.

Allotting the necessary time to foster a classroom atmosphere more conducive to creativity and collaboration will help relieve some of the stress that testing places on students and teachers. It is simply common sense to allow states to be able to choose an alternative testing schedule for students that curbs the amount of tests they have to take while still reflecting their abilities and the effectiveness of school districts.

I have two adult daughters. One is involved in marketing for the pharmaceutical industry. The other is pursuing a career in sustainable agriculture. In other words, one is in pharma and the other a farmer. Excessive standardized tests could not possibly measure the potential and the needs that each had in pursuing their dreams.

We should test less and enrich more.


Op-ed: Legislative update by state Sen. Joseph P. Addabbo Jr.

| oped@queenscourier.com


I am pleased that one of the 2014 end-of-session highlights is a common-sense reform of how the controversial Common Core learning standards will be applied in evaluating New York State’s teachers and principals.  Passage of this legislation means that the students, parents, teachers and administrators in my district who have repeatedly expressed concerns about this issue have been heard loud and clear.

Teaching is a rewarding, yet hard job and good teachers should not have to be concerned that their evaluation will include the questionable implementation of the Common Core standards. Overall, I believe this legislation is an important step forward in achieving what we all want in the end: the best possible education for our children and the best possible teachers and administrators in our schools.

In light of continuing difficulties with the haphazard and uneven implementation of the standards – which have caused great distress for children, families and educators alike – we took action in the State Budget to make sure that Common Core test results aren’t used in determining overall grades for students in grades three through eight for two years.  Now, certain teachers and principals will also be held harmless from being evaluated on Common Core exam scores during the 2013-14 and 2014-15 school years, although they will still be reviewed on the basis of other factors not related to the new learning standards.

This new two-year system will apply to teachers and principals who were rated as ‘ineffective’ or ‘developing’ on any initial evaluations which included Common Core test results. They will be given two scores, both of which parents will see: one which includes the Common Core exam results, and a second “safety net” score that is based only on local student performance and other factors apart from the new learning standards.  This is only fair, since many teachers and principals have been ill prepared – through no fault of their own and lacking needed training and resources – to properly go forward with the new instructional standards.


The state government took a positive step in addressing the serious and growing epidemic of heroin and prescription drug abuse and related deaths. This comprehensive package of legislation will provide better treatment for addicts, crack down on drug dealers, ensure the proper use of anti-overdose medications and raise public awareness of the dangers of heroin and opioid use.

Heroin abuse has been growing at a staggering rate in recent years and does not discriminate. Many families in my district have witnessed loss of life and heartbreak to this terrifying epidemic. Tens of thousands of our state’s residents, and especially those in the 18-to-24 year age range, have fallen prey to heroin and far too many are not living to tell the tale.  This legislative package, which will soon be approved by Governor Cuomo, will help us fight this fight on a variety of equally important fronts.

To highlight the severity of the epidemic, consider that there were 89,269 cases of heroin and prescription opiate treatment admissions in New York State in 2013 alone, an increase from 63,793 in 2004.  Across the nation, an estimated 467,000 people were reportedly using heroin or suffering from dependence on the drug in 2012.

In March, police seized a stash of heroin with an estimated street value of $150,000 from a home in Flushing, and last May, a drug house containing an estimated $2 million in heroin and crystal meth was raided and shut down in Corona. We can’t deny the fact that the heroin epidemic is affecting us right here in our backyard and that we all need to work together to help addicts, punish drug dealers – including crooked health care professionals – and  otherwise keep others from falling prey to drug abuse.



Queens’ Morning Roundup

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup


Monday: Sunny. High 62. Winds SE at 5 to 10 mph. Monday night: A few passing clouds. Low 44. Winds S at 5 to 10 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Restaurant letter-grade and fine system changes forum

State Sen. Jose Peralta, in conjunction with the 82nd Street Partnership, is hosting a forum for restaurateurs and small business owners to learn about proposed changes to the restaurant letter-grade and fine system and the new paid sick leave law. Officials from the city’s Departments of Health and Mental Hygiene and Consumer Affairs will detail the proposed changes and respond to questions. Representatives from the Department of Small Business Services will be on hand to talk about small business access to capital and offer help in navigating city agencies. Monday, April 21, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., at the Langston Hughes Library, 100th Street and Northern Boulevard in Corona. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Brand names in NY standardized tests vex parents

“Just Do It” has been a familiar Nike slogan for years, but some parents are wondering what it was doing on some of New York’s Common Core standardized English tests. Read more: Fox New York

Flight from JFK makes emergency landing with cracked windshield

A cracked windshield is blamed for forcing a United Airlines flight from JFK to make an emergency landing Saturday. Read more: ABC New York

Two-thirds of city’s Airbnb rentals are illegal sublets: state

Nearly two-thirds of the city apartments recently listed on Airbnb were being offered in violation of the law, an analysis by state authorities has found. Read more: New York Post

EXCLUSIVE: Gov. Cuomo builds reelection campaign team that includes ad whiz behind Dante de Blasio video

Gov. Cuomo has hired the media firm that made a star last year of young Dante de Blasio and his Afro. Read more: New York Daily News 

Kraft recalls 96K pounds of Oscar Mayer Wieners

Kraft Foods Group, Inc., a Columbia, Mo., establishment is recalling approximately 96,000 pounds of Oscar Mayer Classic Wieners because the products may contain Classic Cheese Dogs in the Classic Wieners’ packages.  Read more: NBC News

Queens’ Morning Roundup

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup


Tuesday: Considerable cloudiness. High 58. Winds WNW at 5 to 10 mph. Tuesday night: Cloudy. Low 41. Winds ENE at 5 to 10 mph.

Cops arrest Brooklyn man in connection with string of Ridgewood knifepoint robberies

Ridgewood can rest a little bit easier now, but cops are still telling residents to be aware. Read more: The Queens Courier

Common Core panel says limit time teaching to test

A panel created by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to look into New York’s rollout of the controversial Common Core curriculum is recommending capping the amount of instructional time that can be used for standardized tests and test prep. Read more: NBC New York

Unions beg Mayor de Blasio to keep horse carriages

Leaders of the city’s most powerful unions — including many of Mayor de Blasio’s staunchest allies — are balking at his plans to banish horse carriages from city streets. Read more: New York Daily News

Housing becoming more expensive for NYers: comptroller

Housing is becoming unaffordable for millions of New Yorkers amid declining incomes and increasing costs for rent and home ownership, state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said Monday. Read more: New York Post 

New ad campaign urges a ban on calling girls ‘bossy’

What goes through your mind when you hear the word “bossy?” Read more: CBS New York

State Senator Joseph Addabbo to hold town hall meeting on Common Core standards

| mhayes@queenscourier.com

The Common Core learning standards are creating a stir, and State Senator Joseph Addabbo wants to hear from parents, students and educators.

Addabbo is holding a town hall meeting on Thursday, Feb. 13, seeking input on what some have called “controversial” core standards.

Issues regarding new federal standards – including privacy concerns – and the efficacy of using standardized tests in conjunction with the core will be addressed. Also discussed will be eliminating testing in younger grades and the correlation between test results and administrative performance.

“Common Core has a noble goal: that of preparing all of our children for college and successful careers,” Addabbo said. “However, its implementation so far has been haphazard at best and nightmarish at worst, causing great concern and stress.”

This will potentially be the first meeting in a series of Common Core gatherings. It will be held at P.S. 232 the Walter Ward School from 7 to 9 p.m.

For more information or to express interest, contact Addabbo’s Howard Beach office at 718-738-1111.



Queens’ Morning Roundup

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup


Wednesday: A wintry mix this morning will become lighter in the afternoon. Temps nearly steady in the low to mid 30s. Winds NNE at 10 to 20 mph. Snow and ice accumulating 1 to 3 inches. Wednesday night: Cloudy early, becoming mostly clear after midnight. Low near 20. Winds NNW at 10 to 15 mph.


The North Presbyterian Church of Flushing and Resilience NYC Meetup will host a free screening of climate change documentary “Do the Math” from 7-9 p.m. Following the screening, there will be a facilitated discussion about how to make our neighborhoods more sustainable and resilient. A resource guide with links to existing NYC programs will be provided. The Church is located at 25-33 154th St. in Flushing. For more information call 212- 319-3750. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Another round of snow, plus sleet, freezing rain target city

For the second time this week, the city is experiencing a bout of nasty winter weather. Read more: The Queens Courier

Cops looking into death of Jamaica 2-year-old

Police are investigating the death of a toddler after he was discovered unconscious at his Jamaica home Tuesday, the NYPD said. Read more: The Queens Courier

De Blasio won’t march in NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Mayor Bill de Blasio will not be marching in the St. Patrick’s Day parade, deciding to skip one of his city’s signature celebrations because the event organizers refuse to let participants carry pro-gay signs. Read more: NBC New York

NY Assembly Speaker Silver wants to delay Common Core tests

New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has called for at least a two-year delay in the use of Common Core-aligned tests for high-stakes decisions about teachers, principals or students.Read more: Fox New York

Philip Seymour Hoffman autopsy results expected Wednesday

The investigation into actor Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death continues as detectives await preliminary results of an autopsy, which are expected to be released by the Medical Examiner’s Office on Wednesday. Read more: ABC New York

Queens’ Morning Roundup

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup


Tuesday: Clear in the morning, then partly cloudy. High of 48. Breezy. Winds from the NW at 20 to 25 mph with gusts to 30 mph.
Tuesday night: Partly cloudy in the evening, then clear. Low of 34. Breezy. Winds from the NNW at 10 to 20 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Benjamin Britten: The Complete Cello Suites

Celebrate the 100th birthday of Britain’s greatest composer with three suites for solo violoncello performed by Lost Dog cellist Emily Brausa at St. Joseph’s Church in Astoria at 7:30 p.m. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Mayor Bloomberg to sign bill banning tobacco sales to anyone under 21

Mayor Michael Bloomberg plans to sign landmark legislation Tuesday banning the sale of tobacco products to anyone under age 21, making New York the first large city in the country to prohibit sales to young adults. Read more: NBC New York

Stop-and-frisk actions down 80 percent compared with last year

The number of street stops under the NYPD stop-and-frisk policy has plummeted 80 percent in recent months compared with the same time last year, and officers are recovering fewer weapons, according to police department data obtained Monday. Read more: AP/CBS New York

LIRR-Amtrak deal to enhance East River service

Improved maintenance of the East River tunnels used by Amtrak and Long Island Rail Road is in the works following a deal brokered by Sen. Charles Schumer and Amtrak. Read more: Fox New York/AP

Parents opposed to Common Core stage nationwide protest

Parents opposed to the new Common Core standards in schools staged a nationwide protest Monday. Read more: CBS New York

Oxford dictionaries name “selfie” the 2013 Word of the Year

Michelle Obama shared one with her “first dog” Bo, Hillary Clinton tweeted one with her daughter Chelsea. Now “selfie” — the smartphone self-portrait — has been declared word of the year for 2013, according to Britain’s Oxford University Press. Read more: NBC New York

Queens’ Morning Roundup

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup


Wednesday: Partly cloudy. High of 41. Winds from the NW at 10 to 15 mph. Wednesday night: Partly cloudy. Low of 36 with a windchill as low as 28. Winds from the West at 10 to 15 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Will Rawls: The Planet-Eaters

Will Rawls: The Planet-Eaters, at The Chocolate Factory in Long Island City, is a reconfiguration of Balkan folklore that takes place somewhere between the U.S., Serbia and a space station. Wednesday, November 13 – Saturday, November 16 at 8:00 p.m. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

11 injured in four-alarm fire at Kew Gardens apartment building

A four-alarm blaze at an apartment building in Kew Gardens Tuesday night left several firefighters and residents hurt. Read more: The Queens Courier 

Angry parents meet with NY Education Commissioner on Common Core

Hundreds of frustrated parents, teachers and administrators gathered at a community forum on Long Island Tuesday to complain about the new controversial curriculum called Common Core. Read more: NBC New York

New York City’s 1 World Trade is tallest in US, committee rules

The new World Trade Center tower in New York knocked Chicago’s Willis Tower off its pedestal as the nation’s tallest building when an international panel of architects announced Tuesday that the needle atop the skyscraper can be counted when measuring the structure’s height. Read more: AP

Clinton: Let people keep health care coverage as promised

There is new pressure on the White House over a key aspect of the Affordable Care Act. Read more: CBS New York

Dante de Blasio named to Time’s influential teens list

The son of Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio has been named to Time’s annual list of influential teens, thanks in part to his now iconic hairdo. Read more: NBC New York

Francis Bacon painting sets auction record: $142 million

A 1969 painting by Francis Bacon has sold for over $142 million in New York, a record for most expensive artwork ever sold at auction. Read more: AP


Queen’s Morning Roundup

| ctumola@queenscourier.com


Monday: Overcast with a chance of rain. High of 54. Winds from the ENE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 50%. Monday night: Overcast with rain. Fog overnight. Low of 48. Winds from the ESE at 5 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 80% with rainfall amounts near 0.9 in. possible.

EVENT of the DAY: “How Much Do I Owe You?”

No Longer Empty is proud to announce its 14th exhibition in the Clock Tower in Long Island City. The iconic former Bank of Manhattan building has opened its doors, vaults and even illuminate The Clock Tower to host an immersive and ambitious site-specific exhibition. As the title implies, “How Much Do I Owe You?” is a personal and conversational exploration into the new iterations of currency, value and exchange at this time of financial flux, growing debt and job insecurity. Open now, Monday-Thursday, 1-7 p.m. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Triumph of Civic Virtue is moved to Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn

The Triumph of Civic Virtue, the controversial Queens statue that has divided local lawmakers and residents for decades, has moved to greener pastures. Read more: New York Daily News

Cuomo delivers $154 million in federal Sandy aid

Gov. Andrew Cuomo delivered the first federal aid since Superstorm Sandy hit New York – more than $114 million for New York University Langone Medical Center and $40 million to help remove debris on Long Island. Read more: ABC New York

Report: City to offer ‘bounty’ to landlords to ban smoking in apartments

Smoking has been banned in New York City restaurants since 1995, in bars since 2002, and in parks and beaches since last year. Read more: CBS New York

Teachers say they don’t feel prepared to teach new Common Core standards before April state exams

Teachers across the city do not feel adequately trained to prepare students for upcoming state exams aligned with new, more rigorous standards called Common Core, according to a survey conducted last month by the United Federation of Teachers. Read more: New York Daily News

Extell’s chief thinking tall for Midtown

Gary Barnett, one of New York’s leading developers, is planning a new Midtown skyscraper that could rise 300 feet higher than the Empire State Building, and he’s has hired the architect who designed the world’s tallest tower. Read more: Wall Street Journal

‘These tragedies must end,’ Obama says

President Obama vowed on Sunday to “use whatever power this office holds” to stop massacres like the slaughter at the school here that shocked the nation, hinting at a fresh effort to curb the spread of guns as he declared that there was no “excuse for inaction.” Read more: New York Times

Gun control debate begins to simmer after massacre

Democrats say meaningful action in the wake of last week’s elementary school shooting must include a ban on military-style assault weapons and a look at how the nation deals with individuals suffering from serious mental illness. Read more: AP