Educators take a stand to reclaim public education

By Michelle Costanza

December 9, 2013 Updated Dec 9, 2013 at 11:45 PM EST

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) A statewide Day of Action was held across New York to reclaim what many say has slipped from public schools.

Teachers, union members, administrators and students took turns speaking out on Monday to bring light what they said are detrimental effects that have been plaguing public education in recent years.

The Alliance for Quality Education partnered with several other education-based groups, including the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association, to hold the national Day of Action.

Day long events were scheduled around the state and included rallies, conferences, and meetings with state officials.

The conference held at Thomas Jefferson Elementary school invited the community to lend support and inform the Board of Regents and legislators that activists are not standing down.

The promise of quality education, said many, has not been held up.

"We have found that the 10 percent of the wealthiest districts in New York State spend 80 percent more, per pupil, on educating their students. Obviously in our area we do not have that kind of wealth, so our schools have seen a loss of funding," said teacher and New York State Board Member Dona Murray.

Murray posed a question that had the crowd clapping in response; Has testing gone too far?

"School tests, standardized tests, it's become very stressful for them (students). And for the educators because we're burdened with test preparations," she explained.

Several other educators at the conference spoke to the issue, saying that "teaching to the test" was causing curriculums to become narrowed throughout New York's schools.

While calling for greater state investment and a renewed focus on teaching and learning, grassroots groups are supporting educators in their quest for a three-year moratorium oh high-stakes consequences for students and teachers from standardized tests instituted by the state.

"We think that it's time to slow the process down, and get it right," said Murray.

Supporters wore blue throughout the day to show their solidarity, and to continue the protest of budget cuts.