1. Adopt a district policy that limits the amount of homework that can be assigned to students in grades K-8. The increased reliance on state and local testing has resulted in excessive and destructive amounts of homework that have negatively affected family life and student love of learning.
2. Adopt a district policy mandating at least 20 minutes of recess per day in grades K-5. The increased reliance on state and local testing has resulted in decreased or eliminated recess in favor of test preparation.
3. Distribute already existing action campaigns to the public so they can take action to send letters to legislators and the Board of Regents. Recently, an action alert created by NYS Allies for Public Education generated over 300,000 letters to legislators and the Board of Regents. This is only one of many action campaigns that are available.
4. Create an electronic district newsletter available on the district website and Facebook page that highlights articles and information related to advocacy issues that parents have repeatedly expressed concerns about.
5. Join school board members from other local districts at educational seminars to learn about the severe consequences that current educational reforms are imposing on our children and classrooms.
6. Join school board members from other local districts, along with Ken-Ton parents, at rallies and protests that center around the issues of excessive high-stakes testing, student data sharing, the Common Core package, flawed teacher evaluations, excessive homework, lack of recess, and the busting of the public school ‘monopoly’. Show parents that you will stand with them rather than against them.
7. Cease collection of all student behavioral data through the PBIS program unless express permission is granted by the parent to collect this behavioral data.
8. Prominently display the fact that NYS State Law requires that NYS Grade 3-8 ELA and Math Tests CANNOT be used as the sole determination of student promotion or placement decisions. This law is found in Part AA, Subpart C of Chapter 56 of the Laws of 2014.
9. Create a parent-survey, and a separate teacher-survey, to inquire about the concerns that parents and teachers have with regard to flawed education reforms.
10. Develop a committee that includes at least 3 parent-advocates along with teachers and administrators with the specific intent of reducing the amount of local assessments that are administered in Ken-Ton Schools. These assessments have increased dramatically in recent years, and other districts are taking action to reduce local assessments.
11. Adopt a board resolution against the use of stand-alone field testing.
12. Adopt a board resolution against abusive ‘Sit and Stare’ policies that some districts have imposed on innocent children.
13. Organize informational forums for parents on the harmful effects that education reforms are having on our children and classrooms. West Seneca School District has been very successful doing this.
14. Rekindle and expand the Legislative Advocacy group that the Ken-Ton School Board began in October 2013. This idea was respected by school districts across the state, but the Ken-Ton School Board abandoned the idea only a few months after it began.
15. Meet with parent-advocates and agree to actions that the board can take without violating any mandates or laws, and then allow the public to hold the board accountable for this agreement.
16. Create a fact-sheet which acknowledges that, although there is no opt-out provision for NYS tests, the district supports the right of a parent to do what is best for their child.
17. Publicly debunk the myth that funding will be lost if the school district has less than 95% participation on state tests.
18. Provide an alternate location for students who have refused participation in state tests. Overcome the objection that there is not adequate space by utilizing cafeterias and auditoriums as other school districts are doing.
19. Remove the use of NYS Modules in ELA and Math classrooms. The district has said that these modules are being used to improve the same NYS test scores that, according to a Ken-Ton School Board resolution, are “adversely affecting students”. These NYS Modules have been thoroughly studied by other NYS school boards and are shown to be inadequate for student learning. Their real benefit is as a test-prep tool.
20. Prepare a letter written by the Ken-Ton School Board outlining the serious problems with high-stakes testing, teacher evaluations, Common Core, and data collection, and send this letter to legislators and the Board of Regents. Let the public know that the board is willing to do what they are telling the parents to do.
21. Adjust the letter from item #20 above and send this letter to the NYS School Boards Association, the NYS PTA, the School Administrators Association of NYS, and the NYS Council of School Superintendents expressing concerns about education reforms.
22. Release a public statement to the Ken-Ton community outlining the significant problems with the Common Core, high-stakes testing, teacher evaluations, and student data sharing.
23. Publicly encourage parents and community members to speak at school board meetings about their concerns with regard to current education reforms rather than scold them for sharing their concerns. Let the public know that you value their concerns.
24. Join school board members from many districts on Facebook as a private citizen. Join in discussions about education reforms. Reveal your personal opinions so that the Ken-Ton public knows exactly where you stand.
25. As a private citizen, join parents in advocating against harmful education reforms. Many school board members across the state are doing this with great success.
As a founding member of NYS Allies for Public Education, we have initiated several letter writing campaigns. In just the last 6 months we have helped the public generate over a half million letters to legislators and the Board of Regents. It is now time for the Ken-Ton School Board to do their part and follow the actions of other school boards. Beth Dimino from Comsewogue School District says this about the list above, "Proud to work for the Comsewogue BOE who has also put most of these suggestions in place! Parents, go to your BOE meetings and demand that your school boards are doing similar actions for your children. Then go to the parent organization nysape.org and download your irefuse letter and send it to your child's school tomorrow!"