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During Picketing, PJSTA President Says High-Stakes Testing is "Child Abuse"

Hundreds line the streets in front of Flanagan's office to ask for change.

On Nov. 1 hundreds of parents, teachers, and community members lined the streets in front of Senator John Flanagan's office chanting that high-stakes testing needs to change.

Educators define high-stakes testing as an exam that has important consequences. Many teachers feel the amount of testing that is being done to children through the new standards is just unacceptable. 

Port Jefferson Station Teachers Association President, Beth Dimino, said what is happening right now is child abuse. "We are here because high-stakes testing and the common core hurt children, so it has to stop. The APPR (Annual Professional Performance Review, a new standard used to evaluate teachers) has to stop. [John] Flanagan, [Kenneth] LaValle, [John] King, and president Obama hurt public education. They have to go," said Dimino. 

"As a teacher in New York State, I am a mandatory reporter of child abuse. This kind of high-stakes testing is child abuse I must report this. This is taking away educational time from the classroom to train the teachers on the material, train the students, and give the test. All of that time children are not being educated."

Miller Place Teachers Association president, Nancy Sanders, agrees with Dimino saying a change needs to be made and now. "We need to make a change because Flanagan doesn't seem to be listening to the students," said Sanders. "Testing is an important thing because you need to know what the kids learn, but high-stakes testing where you are putting so much pressure on kids to test, just for the sake of testing is not the only indication. This is undue pressure."

In an interview, Senator Flanagan said he hears and understands the frustration from parents and teachers. "I am a parent with three kids that went to public school, my kids are out of school, but I am still sensitive to that. I look at this through the eyes of the parent…I take this issue and all of these issues very seriously," said Flanagan. 

Flanagan said he worked hard to make sure voices were being heard regarding the new standards by hosting hearings in the summer throughout NY State to get feedback and hear how the process was being deployed. 

"When I listen to parents, I listen very carefully and very clearly because they are on the street level. It's important to know what parents are saying…When someone says 'I am opposed to testing' what exactly does that mean…that is the function of the meetings to gather as much information as possible and then act responsible. I am not going to just in there and say throw this out and do it this way," said Flanagan.

"I completely get the frustrations the parents have. It's new, it's significant, it's challenging… I think the implementation on this to put it mildly has been less than stellar. If we are going to act we have to act prudently and not hastily and if we do it we need to get it right."

Check out the gallery of photos from the picket above.

To see a video of the picketing click here.

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