Updated: 12/09/2013 7:22 PM
Created: 12/09/2013 6:42 PM WNYT.com
By: Steve Flamisch
ALBANY – On what was billed as a "day of action," education groups and teachers unions demanded more money for schools and less emphasis on standardized testing.
Though New York boosted state aid to school districts by a combined $1.8 billion over the last two years, many districts were still forced to cut jobs and programs.
"The increases didn't keep up with the rate of inflation, so schools were still making classroom cuts," Billy Easton, Executive Director of the Alliance for Quality Education, told NewsChannel 13.
Easton’s group called on the governor and state lawmakers to boost school funding by $1.9 billion in the next budget, and to distribute the money equitably.
The activists and union leaders also requested a moratorium on the "high stakes consequences" of standardized testing, including the new Common Core standards.
They are not asking for the testing to stop, but they do not want the results to be factored into student placement, or school and teacher evaluations, for the next three years.
"There are consequences right now tied to a system that has not been given any… time to practice," Maria Neira, VP of New York State United Teachers (NYSUT), told NewsChannel 13.
"Usually you practice first before you assess," she said. Neira noted that NYSUT supports the new standards, but opposes how quickly they have been implemented.
Kerensa Rybak, who serves on the PTO in the Shenendehowa Central School District, said Common Core testing has been a "traumatic experience" for many students.
"Alot of the kids cry," Rybak said. "They vomit before school. They have anxiety attacks in the middle of school and have to be sent to the nurse. Some of them actually wet their pants."
The New York State Education Department had no comment on the request for a three-year moratorium on the "consequences" of standardized testing, a spokesman said.
Rich Azzopardi, a spokesman for Gov. Andrew Cuomo, issued a statement to NewsChannel 13 late Monday.
"(Cuomo) will continue to make sensible investments in education while at the same time pushing for reforms that will inject accountability and rigor into the system," Azzopardi said.
"New York can no longer be the state that spends the most per pupil, without the accountability and results that our students deserve," he said.