Jul 09, 2014 — The Republican running for governor this year wants to convert public opposition to controversial new education standards into votes against the incumbent governor he says is pushing them.
Republican Rob Astorino is gathering signatures to run on a third ballot line in November. In addition to the GOP and Conservative Party slots, Astorino has begun a new ballot line- called Stop Common Core. He admits it could give Democrats and others who are reluctant to vote for the Republican Party another option.
“This is an opportunity for people to either make a statement or to truly vote for me,” Astorino said, “Either one.”
Republicans around the state and grass roots groups opposed to the new learning standards are helping gather the 15,000 signatures needed. But more importantly, Astorino says, he’s committed to the issue. He says if elected governor, he would rescind, Common Core, which he fears is “dumbing down” the state’s educational standards.
The Westchester County Executive says as a parent of three school aged children, he’s experienced the adoption of Common Core, and it’s flaws, first hand. “I’m doing homework with them, and I see the frustration,” said Astorino.
He says they spent six weeks of class time preparing for the Common Core related tests. “That was six weeks, where they did not have, for the most part, any enrichment classes,” Astorino said. “They didn’t have science, they basically had limited gym and art and music.”
The Republican candidate links the new education policy to his opponent , Gov. Andrew Cuomo. “Cuomo’s Common Core has been a disaster,” he said. “The roll out and implementation speak for themselves and how bad it’s been.”
Astorino would rather go back and improve New York’s Regents diplomas, which he says were once considered the “gold standard” of education in the United States.
Cuomo initially supported the state’s fast track start up of Common Core, but in recent months has blamed the Education Commissioner and State Board of Regents for the rocky beginning.
After he and the legislature agreed to delay the effects of the Common Core related tests on students and teachers for another two years, Cuomo said, “I believe long term in Common Core, and I believe the move to Common Core is exactly right.” Cuomo said everyone now agrees the transition was “somewhat rushed,” and that they had to make “adjustments.”
In New York, governors don't directly control the Education Department or policy. The commissioner is chosen by the State Board of Regents, whose members are appointed by the legislature.
A spokesman for Gov. Cuomo’s campaign for re election, Peter Kauffman , in a statement called the new ballot line “pathetic pandering that will do nothing more than make New York students less competitive than their peers nationally.”
Cuomo will also appear on ballot in more than one place: the Democratic Party, the progressive- oriented Working Families Party and the Independence Party lines.