Category Archives: Information

Challenging the Attack on Public Education – postponed to March 4, 2015 7pm

**  Postponed to snow date – March 4, 2015  **

Announcement from Rethinking Testing (March 3, 2015):

Due to inclement weather, Challenging the Attack on Public Education has been rescheduled for tomorrow, March 4th at 7pm. Please spread the word! Looking forward to a great panel tomorrow.

***  Original posting below ***

Don’t miss the opportunity to attend this presentation!

Challenging the Attack on Public Education
Tuesday March 3, 2015 7pm
SUNY New Paltz, Coykendall Science Building Auditorium

While corporate education policy makers claim to be advocates of civil rights, their policies have instead undermined the civil and human rights of students, parents, educators and local communities.

The legacy of the civil rights movement to challenge injustice calls on people today to oppose high stakes testing, inequitable school funding, and the privatization of public education. Speakers will discuss this legacy and today’s movement to reclaim public education.

Speakers will include Dr.Yohuru Williams, Beth Dimino and Dr.Nicholas Tampio.

Challenging the Attack on Public Education flyer

IEP Development – Demystifying the process

An informative presentation on Individualized Education Program (IEP) development will be held for all parents/caregivers/staff in the Kingston City School District on Wednesday February 11, 2015 6:00 – 7:30pm at the Cioni Building on Crown Street.

The presentation is being hosted by the Kingston Special Education Parent Group in partnership with the Kingston City School District and Resource Center for Accessible Living, Inc. (RCAL).

Please RSVP YES to if you are planning to attend.

Contact Kingston Special Education Parent Group with any questions about the presentation on facebook or

Photo: Please RSVP YES to!


TA Center will be a new ally for college students

This article is for students with disabilities entering college. There is a new TA center that colleges will offer to help these students.

A little background is helpful to understand why the TA Center is needed. There are no IEPs in college, says James H. Wendorf, executive director of the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD). “The system of supports and rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act doesn’t extend past high school.” However, every college and university must provide accommodations to students with disabilities. They must also provide information to ensure “fair recruitment and admission” of students, says Wendorf.

But it’s often hard for students to find out what’s available and ask for support. Many colleges are also at a loss for how to best serve these students’ needs. Some administrators don’t know “how to comply with the law,” says Lindsay Jones, director of public policy and advocacy for NCLD. “It’s a confusing process for both students and universities.”

Please read the article and pass along. People need to know that there is help for people with disabilities in the college setting.

Extended school day at East Ramapo leaves students exhausted

This article reports on implementation of an extended school day in the East Ramapo school district. According to the article, the extended day is too long for the seventh and eight grade students leaving them literally exhausted so the district will be scaling the day back by 38 minutes.

If you recall, Kingston applied for the extended learning time grant but withdrew our application last spring based on parent feedback. East Ramapo was one of the nine school districts who won money for the extended learning time grant from New York State.


RTI and Parental Rights

I spoke to the Board of Education on Wednesday November 19, 2014 regarding the RTI (Response to Intervention) program and parental rights. If your children are in this program you have the right to go to CSE (Committee on Special Education) at any time. Here it is….

My Name is Maria Maritsas, I attended Coffee and Conversation on Monday and spoke with Dr. Padalino regarding the RTI program. He explained how the program consisted of 3 tiers, the teacher would first use simple strategies to help the struggling student and then see if the student needed additional supports for success. When asked about evaluations, he stated that parents could request their child be evaluated at any time and the teacher had the right to request an evaluation also. I am happy to hear that this district seems to be complying with the law. The US Department of Education sent letters to all state directors of education stating that RTI could not delay the evaluation process. I am quoting from their letter:

“It is critical that this identification occur in a timely manner and that no procedures or practices result in delaying or denying this identification. It has come to the attention of the Office of Special Education programs that, in some instances, local educational agencies may be using Response to Intervention strategies to delay or deny a timely initial evaluation for children suspected of having an disability. States and local education agencies have an obligation to ensure that evaluations of children suspected of having a disability are not delayed or denied because of implementation of an RTI strategy.” 

This brings me to one of the new goals* for teaching and learning. It is concerning to me that one of the goals is to reduce the Special Education Initial Classification Rate by 10% annually for the next three years. It is impossible to predict what will come in the future and to place a number on how many evaluations will be requested. Teachers have an obligation under IDEA to request a timely evaluation for their students if they suspect their student has a learning disability and for the student to have a free and appropriate public education. RTI data does not provide sufficient data to rule out or identify a disability. Parents have the right to request an evaluation at any time and I am hoping that the consent form for RTI reflects the information that parents CAN refer to CSE at any time in the process.

I have copies of the letter from the United stated department of education for you to view if you so choose. Thank you.

KAFE color logo

*goals presented at November 5, 2014 Board of Education meeting – click here

Common Core Fact Forum with Dr. Peg Luksik in Kingston, New York – video and pictures – Sunday September 7, 2014

The Common Core Fact Forum with Dr. Peg Luksik hosted by Kingston Action For Education on September 7, 2014 was a successful night.  We are very grateful to Dr. Luksik for her time.  What an education and awareness!

Quote of the night “In a war of intellgence, stupid people lose – so get informed!” – Dr. Peg Luksik

We had a great turnout with people from multiple school districts, both local and across the state, in attendance.  We were also pleased to have three members of the Kingston City School District board of education in attendance.  As attendees left many commented about the depth and quantity of information that they had received from Dr. Luksik.

Dr Luksik Kingston Forum2 Dr Luksik Kingston Forum

Many Kingston residents expressed a desire to attend but were unable to do so for a variety of reasons.  Video for the full Common Core Fact Forum is available thanks to the work of Mr. Mert Melfa.  There are also short videos of the opening comments of KAFEco-founders Tory Lowe, Maria Maritsas and Jolyn Safron.

Dr. Luksik suggested a number of things that can be done by those concerned about Common Core:

  • get informed – watch the video of the forum.  Be sure you know the facts.  For even more detailed information, visit
  • get involved politically – VOTE!  “When you walk into the ballot box, you are making a political speech.  it is the only one they MUST listen to.”
  • “The worst thing you can do is nothing.  the best thing you can do is something!”
  • Stay involved with other parents – Kingston Action For Education (KAFE) is a group of parents who are advocating for their children and all the children of this school district.  Their goal is to unify and educate parents and caregivers presenting factual information about the state of their community’s educational system.  When the need arises, KAFE is willing to take the action necessary to reclaim their voice in education.  Find Kingston Action For Education on facebook or at
  • Q&A – When writing a letter to the editor, pick ‘the one thing that floats your boat’, a personal story or something you feel strongly about.  Pick one issue.  Quote real information/facts.  Keep the letter under 300 words; one issue and hit it three times in the same letter.

High-Stakes Testing and Test Refusal Update

The following information related to high-stakes testing or standardized testing has been posted recently on the KAFE facebook page and is listed here for easy reference.

This woman is like a breath of fresh air. If only teachers were not so scared of the backlash it would cause.  New NEA leader to nation’s educators:  Revolt, ignore ‘stupid’ reforms

It is our fundamental right as parents to refuse testing for our children if we so desire. No administrator or school district can tell you otherwise. Knowledge is power. Our children need us now more than ever.  NYS Parents Fight to Reclaim Student Education from Excessive Testing and Data Collection:  250,000 High-Stakes Test Boycotts Planned Statewide

Here is the testing schedule for our Kingston elementary school students.

Here is the Kingston middle school testing schedule.

NYSUT challenges gag order on Common Core Tests

If my child refuses state tests, will my school become a LAP (Local Assistance Plan)?

NYSAPE RefuseTheTests

Smart Schools Bond Act

Vote No!
Why? Because it just doesn’t make sense!!!

Photo: Vote No!<br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
Why? Because it just doesn't make sense!!!<br /><br /><br /><br /><br />


Before we vote for $2 billion proposed bond for technology in November, we should all take a look at how well it worked out in Hoboken – click here - hint: the article is titled ‘Why Hoboken is throwing away all of its student laptops’.

Click here to read additional information posted at Jolyn’s Education Corner related to the Smart Schools Bond Act including the actual text as it will appear on the November 4, 2014 ballot and several articles/videos giving pros and cons.