A Long Island, New York elementary school teacher who gained national attention for blogging that he was ashamed for his role in administering Common Core tests to students told TheBlaze he wants to see the K-12 math and science standards done away with in his state.
“I’d like to see it repealed,” said Ralph Ratto, a teacher and president of the local teachers union. “I’m not against tough standards. I’m against these standards. They have not been tested and have not been researched.”
Ratto expressed his profound frustration with the New York state Common Core exams that he said were ridiculously confusing for his class of 10-year-old students.
“Historically, my students excel on standardized tests, often finishing near the top of our district and state. Today I witnessed – no I was part of!! – a situation in which students were forced to endure what amounted to what I would call an abusive situation,” Ratto wrote on his blog “Opine I Will,” which was later republished in the Washington Post. “Today I am ashamed. I am ashamed I didn’t do enough to stop this madness.”
He told TheBlaze he will continue to work at preventing the exams from being given next year, but was unsure what he would do if ordered to administer the exam again.
New York is among the numerous states where the Common Core State Standards are hotly debated. Indiana dropped the standards altogether last month, while most of the 44 states that adopted the standards are at least debating the implementation.
The controversial standards are backed by the Obama administration and the national teacher unions – though are opposed by many local and state teacher unions.
“I was angry at my administrators for not stepping up to the plate and attempting to end this madness,” Ratto wrote. “I was angry at Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New York Education Commissioner [John] King, the N.Y. Board of Regents, my state senator, my state assemblyman, President Obama, and even my state union. I was angry that my students were victims in the abusive game to drive a political agenda.”
He said if any state official supports the Common Core testing, he will work hard for their defeat in the next election.
“I am pledging to double my efforts to stop this form of institutional abuse,” Ratto wrote.
Cuomo is running from the issue, Ratto told TheBlaze. The governor has faced numerous teacher protests across the state, with 3,000 teachers showing up to protest his speeches, he said.
“Cuomo has not done much in evaluating Common Core,” he said. “He keeps saying, ‘it’s not me it’s the state Education Department.’”
The state legislature does not evaluate students on their performance on the tests, but does evaluate teachers, Ratto said. In New York — a state that, unlike others, doesn’t have an opt-out built into the law — 30,000 parents have taken extra measures to opt out of the exams, Ratto said.
After the blog post was widely circulated, he said he has not gotten pushback on the matter.
“Not at all,” he said. “It has been surprisingly quiet so far. I didn’t target any particular administrators. I wrote about the system.”