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Artist shows some attitude in taking on Common Core

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 7 July 2015 at 12:00 am

Photos and article by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Jennifer Ohar Scott has found a way to funnel her outrage about what she sees as the over-testing of children and stifling of their creativity.

Scott, a Medina High School art teacher, has turned to painting to vent her frustrations with Common Core and state leaders, including Gov. Andrew Cuomo and former Education Commissioner Dr. John King. He was commissioner when the state implemented Common Core.

Some of Scott’s paintings are featured in an art show at the Marti’s on Main art gallery at 229 North Main St., Albion. There will be a closing reception there on July 24 from 5:30 to 9 p.m.

The top photo shows Gov. Andrew Cuomo with a crown of hundred-dollar bills on his head. That mixed media art work is entitled “Cuomo: The Emperor of Contingent Funding.”

It is includes a column from New York Times writer Paul Krugman, who on Feb. 23, 2015, wrote “Knowledge isn’t power.” Krugman argues that a failed education system isn’t the cause of the wealth gap in the country. Click here to see the article.

Jennifer Scott created this mixed media artwork of John King, the former state education commissioner.

“The King of Standardized Testing and Unregulated Data Sharing” depicts King wearing a crown made of a test bubble sheet.

The artwork also include portions of a letter written from Medina English teacher Karen Jones to King. She sent him a six-page letter, detailing her concerns about Common Core testing. Scott said King never responded, and his lack of a response angered her.

Her Common Core-themed artwork has been featured in Buffalo galleries. She won the “People’s Choice” award for the artwork on John King at Gallery 464 in Buffalo.

“At the very least this should provoke a conversation,” said Scott, who lives in Lockport. “I feel strongly about educating parents, but I don’t want to shove my viewpoint down their throats.”

“One Size Will Not Fit All” is a statement about standardized testing.

Scott opposes the reliance on standardized tests in assessing students’ and teachers’. Those state tests don’t measure students who may learn and test better through auditory, cognitiive and other learning styles, she said.

“One style of testing is the antithesis of what I’ve learned,” Scott said. “The testing they’re doing now is not helpful. It only benefits the testing companies.”

“This is a Normal Brain” is a work by Jennifer Ohar Scott.

“This is Your Brain on Common Core” is displayed next to the other painting of a healthy brain.

Scott teaches teaches eighth grade and high school at Medina. She was recently selected as one of 25 teachers of merit by Buffalo Business First.

She said she doesn’t oppose the state wanting accountability for teachers. But she said the overreliance on test scores is not good for students, teachers or the community.

She stressed her artwork is her opinion and not the Medina school district’s. Scott said the testing issue, which prompted many students and parents to “opt out” of the most recent tests this spring, has dominated her artwork.

“Everything I’ve been doing lately is about Common Core,” she said.

For more on Jennifer Ohar Scott, visit jenniferoharscott.com.

To see the artwork at Marti’s, contact gallery owner Kim Martillotta-Muscarella at 589-6715.