Dear Diane,

I’m the parent in the video who raised the point about Montessori school…  (Spackenkill High School. PTA Sponsored Meeting about the Common Core). I hope to set the record straight on my comments.


Mikey Jackson

As I Was Saying…

Last Thursday evening, I travelled up to Spackenkill High School in Poughkeepsie to attend the PTA-sponsored Common Core town hall where State Education Commissioner John King spoke. I made the hour-long drive by myself with nothing more than a prepared statement I had typed earlier in the day. I was not part of any group. No one lobbied me to go. I had no plans to pick a fight with Mr. King. I was there on behalf of my 8 year old son, his mother and me. I got there very early and thanked the PTA reps for organizing the event while I signed up on the list to make a statement. The PTA told me that Mr. King would not be answering any questions or responding during this portion of the night and would only be listening to concerns.

Before Mr. King gave his presentation, the crowd was told that their concerns would be heard and listened to very carefully. Mr. King went on to give an hour-long PowerPoint presentation and video about the Common Core. Some of it was very interesting. A lot of it made sense. The biggest point I took away from his speech was that we need our kids to do better in math and science to compete in the global job market. That notion makes a whole of lot of sense to me—but the plan of action that the Dept. of Education has decided on to get us there is wrong. It is completely based on number crunching and textbook publisher lobbying, etc.  The Board of Ed. can claim whatever statistics they want, but suddenly making great teachers follow scripts or “modules” in the classroom is obnoxious and leaves very little to zero room for any imagination or flexibility in educating. (Homework, for instance, consists mostly of prescribed worksheets.)

My statement was cut short at the regulated two-minute mark and the microphone was turned off. Anyone can see my full statement online, but I wanted to clear something up and finish what I was saying. The NY State Education Commissioner sends his children to private Montessori school. In Montessori, the learning is child-centered and child-specific; from my experience sending my son to Montessori preschool, the kids dictate the speed at which they learn. Common Core and everything that goes along with it could not be more different. Montessori is a proven method of learning. The kids that I know who went to Montessori have all the intellectual benefits that Common Core hopes to achieve. I had no intention of taking Mr. King to task for sending his kids to private school, and I completely understand why someone in the public eye would do so. But after listening to his informative, yet boring, presentation about how great the Common Core is—while knowing how much stress it is adding to my son’s life (and the lives of his teachers, principal, friends, and my parent friends)—I thought Mr. King did himself a giant disservice by not listening to parents’ and teachers’ very real concerns.

The school and district my son attends have always been known for having amazing teachers, arts, sports, and more. Our college rate was already good. Why fix what wasn’t broken? Mr. King, the problems in our schools are community-based problems. This is where you should be putting your attention. How can we make schools in poorer areas just as good as the schools in districts with lots of money? How can we give the districts guidelines, then make sure they know that they are just guidelines and that no teacher or school will be penalized because a seven-year old didn’t fill in a bubble fully? How can we make Art, Music, Physical Education, Technology, Social Studies and reading FICTION just as important as Math and Science? How can we keep big business from influencing how our educrats dictate policy?

This issue is NOT Liberal or Conservative or Progressive. It’s about our kids. My kid. My “Special Interest.” I want him to love school! I want to build him up and let his imagination thrive. The Common Core and the State Assessment tests are hurting our schools, and if Mr. King and the NYS Board of Education don’t want to hear the voices of parents who are on the ground fighting for their kids’ right to learn and be healthy and happy, then they should go get other jobs.

-Mikey Jackson
Cornwall on Hudson, NY
PS: Here is a picture of me and my “Special Interest” Group.