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Teachers rally in Albany over new standardized testing

Teachers continue to fight what they call the over testing and underfunding of education in New York state. Hundreds of teachers from central New York joined a rally in Albany this weekend to continue pressing the state for change.

In all, thousands of teachers were at the rally organized by the New York State United Teachers Union.

Educator Mitch Fabian is mad. He's been teaching high school English for 16 years in the Cayuga County school district of Union Springs. He calls New York state reckless, in the way it implemented the federal government's new Common Core curriculum, which involves new tests for students in grades three to eight.

"This was not done in a fashion that would have broken students into it slowly, so that teachers could adjust their teaching in order to prepare students for it," he said. "It was dropped on us, literally, like a ton of bricks."

This is common sentiment among the thousands of teachers, students and parents who descended on Albany this weekend calling for changes in state education policy.

Port Byron physical education teacher Angie Hargreaves joined the rally, not just as a teacher, but as a parent of an 8-year-old boy.

"He said to me a couple of days ago, 'mom, I don't want to go into third grade.' I said, "why is that?' 'Cause I don't want to take the standardized test,'" she recalls.

Teachers say these tests don't just stress out students, but also teachers, who find their job security is tied to performance on tests as part of new state teacher review standards.

"We have teachers everywhere that are on medication, just to come to school, because they are so overwhelmed by what's going on," Hargreaves said. "That's not healthy for anybody."

Fabian says if nothing changes soon, it'll be reflected at the ballot box next year.

"Teachers are getting very angry," he said. "And I think that it's going to be reflected definitely in the next election."

The tests were aligned to the Common Core standards that are intended to increase rigor.

State Education Commissioner John King said in a statement Friday that the more rigorous standards "will help all students graduate prepared for success in college and careers."