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Day of Action spurs calls for state education reform

Chris Caya/WBFO News

In a show of solidarity, parents, teachers and students across New York are dressed in blue today as part of the National Day of Action to Reclaim the Promise of Public Education.During a press conference Monday morning at the West Seneca School District Office, New York State United Teachers Secretary Treasurer Lee Cutler said the state education department should impose a three-year moratorium on high-stakes standardized testing.

"We have a crisis here and when you're facing a crisis, the best thing to do to is to take a deep breath, step back, take three years [and] get it right. We can't figure out why there's so much resistance to that. If they would join us, you would see this turn around in a way that would be a model for the rest of the country," Cutler said.

Events were also planned today Albany, Binghamton, Rochester, Syracuse, New York City and at least two dozen other states.

"Until the State Education Department gets testing right, I believe you are going to see a parent uprising. Every parent has the constitutional right to advocate for their children. We know, in our hearts, that excessive testing is leading our children and public education in the wrong direction," said parent Molly Dana.

West Seneca Superintendent Dr. Mark Crawford said the people speaking out are not a "vocal minority."

"If you're going to test the curriculum, make sure it's fully implemented. We have been giving children tests that they have not had material for. It's wrong. It's backward. It's like the cart is before the horse. And then, we're going to tie teacher evaluation to the performance of standardized tests," Crawford said.

Crawford says the West Seneca School Board is also opposed to the state sharing all student's test data and other personal information with InBloom, a national database.

The Buffalo Teachers Federation says it will stage a protest this afternoon in front of the Town of Tonawanda home of Regents Chancellor Emeritus Robert Bennett.

The union says Bennett's educational initiatives, in concert with State Education Commissioner John King and the Board of Regents, are "destroying students' joy of learning and teachers' joy of teaching."

Bennett says he disagrees with the union. He believes the Common Core standards are working well in many schools across the state.

"It encourages creativity and it encourages different styles of teaching, including full student engagement. So, I don't accept that argument at all, because I've seen so many best practices around my district and around the state," said Bennett.

Bennett says he will not be home during the rally, but he says it wouldn't change his position either way. He adds that he hopes the protest is peaceful.

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