Forum addresses Common Core and special needs

GUILDERLAND, N.Y. – Parents, educations and lawmakers gathered at Farnsworth Middle School Tuesday night to discuss how the Common Core curriculum is impacting children with special needs.

The State Board of Regents approved measures Tuesday that were designed to improve the implementation of the Common Core learning standards. Included in those measures was an increase in resources for parents with special needs children.

But many of those parents think the measure is not enough.

Single mom Meredith Gavin was a key speaker at Tuesday night's meeting. She was not happy with the Common Core recommendation made by the Board of Regents.

 "Why wasn't this initially thought of?" she questioned. "Why is this an afterthought?"

Gavin has a 10-year-old son who has autism. She urged lawmakers to put a pause on Common Core.

"It assumes all children learn at the same pace," she said.

Gavin said working with her son and his homework is a struggle every night.

"He learns in a very different way," she said. "There have been tears from both of us because I'm just as frustrated as he is."

The Board of Regents tried to step back as they approved a number of recommendations centering on special needs education, including smarter testing options and ensuring individualized education programs are appropriate to each student.

"My fear is that the IEPs are going to become standards-based instead of skills-based," Gavin explained.

She said one size does not fit all when it comes to education.

"There's a reason it's called special education, and there's a reason it's called individualized education," she said. "And the two first words – special and individualized – need to stay there."

Assemblyman John MacDonald attended the meeting, and he said all the suggestions presented will be brought to an education assembly as soon as possible.


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