Tag Archives: Governor Andrew Cuomo

Refuse NYS testing because Common Core is broken

I have read many articles about why parents should refuse the New York State tests this year but this one by William Farmer is the one that I wish I would have written.

Will has captured my belief that the real problem is not the tests but the Common Core standards that the tests are designed to enforce as well as the refusal of many New York State officials, including Governor Cuomo, former NYS Commissioner John King and some members of the NYS Assembly, Senate and Board of Regents, to listen to the concerns raised about the Common Core standards, the tests and other associated educational changes.  There are problems with the NYS standardized tests themselves but just fixing the tests will not fix our education problems.

The key here isn’t that kids are spending too much time on “test prep” or the tests themselves. Rather, it’s that the standards upon which the tests are based are flawed and must be fixed.

It took a massive opt-out for the state to actually discuss correcting the problems they created.

New York state has admitted there are serious problems with the standards and it took four years to get to this point. The Education Department either lied to us or they were grossly negligent when rushing into Common Core.

Either option does not inspire parents to place our trust they will now do what is in the best interest of the students.

Like Will, I do not have much faith in the state officials who have discounted the voices of parents for the past four years.  Even now Commissioner Elia, while stating that parents do have the right to refuse the state tests, is still committed to the Common Core standards allowing for only minor adjustments as well as to the benefits of standardized testing.  I would like to believe that I can trust the promises for change that Commissioner Elia and Governor Cuomo have made but until I see real changes, codified in law, I believe that parents will need to continue to make their voices heard by opting-out/refusing the state tests.

 

How much testing is too much?

President Obama issued a statement on October 24, 2015 that testing has gone too far and needs to be reduced to at most 2% of classroom instruction time.

Governor Cuomo followed up with a press release praising President Obama’s Testing Action Plan and detailing what he believes New York has already done to make testing less onerous.

Unfortunately as Diane Ravitch points out based on a piece written by Tim Farley, for states like New York where we already require 2% or less of instructional time to be spent on testing, the new Obama testing policy might increase the time spent testing students.

From Tim Farley:

In New York, as Cuomo has reminded us, we already have a two percent cap on time spent on standardized testing. What does that actually mean? New York requires 180 school days and an average school day runs about 6.5 hours. Do the math and the result is 180 x 6.5 x 2% = 23.4 hours of testing. So, by law, we cannot exceed 23.4 hours of standardized testing in grades 3 — 8.

This begs the question — how much time do kids in grades 3–8 spend on the state tests in English Language Arts and math? If you are a general education student, you will spend roughly nine hours in a testing room for both the ELA and math tests. If you are a student with a learning disability (SWD), and you have a testing accommodation of “double time,” you get to sit in a testing location for eighteen hours. As insane as that seems, it is still 5.4 hours short of the time allowed by law. A 2% cap isn’t a step forward, it’s a giant leap backward. …

How much testing is too much? I don’t know the magic number that will give the state education departments and the U.S. Department of Education the data they supposedly need in order to determine the effectiveness of the schools, but I do know that nine hours of testing is too much for a nine-year-old, eighteen hours is abusive for nine-year-olds with a learning disability, and 23.4 hours of testing for a child at any age is criminal.

 

More teaching less testing

Articles announcing President Obama’s Testing Action Plan:

Additional responses to the federal/New York State statements on reducing testing time:

By the way if you are not a regular reader of Mr. Greene’s posts, ‘BS Tests’ stands for ‘Big Standardized Tests’.

Ending the Gap Elimination Adjustment

Governor Cuomo announced in his State of the State address on Wednesday “once and for all, let’s end the Gap Elimination Adjustment”. I must admit that I sputtered a bit when these words came out of his mouth since he has held onto the GEA throughout his entire tenure as governor despite cries for relief from every corner. Regardless I am glad that he has finally seen the light. However getting rid of the GEA will not solve all of our schools’ financial woes.
 

The other piece of the financial puzzle is Foundation Aid and is owed to schools as a result of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity. You can use the tool at this website to determine how much each school within a district is owed. Kingston is actually owed a relatively small amount (just $8,795,875.13 if I didn’t mess up the addition of the numbers for the 10 schools) compared to many other districts and we have benefited more by having the GEA restored. However school districts need to be able to know how much school aid they can count on from year to year and the Foundation Aid Formula allows for that information to be known.

New York State has been shirking its legal responsibility to our public schools by not using the Foundation Aid Formula.  When New York State starts using the Foundation Aid Formula, school districts will have a sound basis to create yearly budgets.  The districts will know how much money they can count on receiving each year from New York State and can focus on the important task of crafting the school budget not speculating about how much money the state will decide to give them.

Common Core Task Force Public Meeting Schedule

Does the Common Core Task Force seated by Governor Cuomo really want to hear about the problems with Common Core?  They aren’t giving people a whole lot of time to prepare comments for or to attend the public meetings being held around the state.

Last week, the task force announced its first public meeting (in New Rochelle) just two days before the event was held. And on Tuesday, the task force announced it will host five listening sessions on Friday from 3 to 5 p.m. in regions across the state to taking testimony from the public on the standards.

The task force’s website, however, had incomplete information about the meetings and faulty links. After POLITICO New York made inquiries about the schedule with the governor’s office on Tuesday afternoon, the times and locations were removed from the site entirely and were later replaced.

“Advocates question Common Core task force schedule” November 3, 2015

The article continues with a number of concerns about the announcement of and timing of the five public meetings being held day after tomorrow (Friday November 6, 2015).  Ten total meetings were promised.  A meeting in Erie County on November 18 has apparently been posted since the article referenced so that means here are four more yet to be scheduled.

Here is the email invitation received by some people for the November 6 meetings:

*****

The Common Core Task Force cordially invites you to attend a Regional Common Core Listening Session

Friday, November 6, 2015
3:00 PM — 5:00 PM
Check-in will begin at 2:30 PM.

Participants will have the opportunity to deliver up to three minutes of timed testimony to selected Task Force members and staff.

Meetings will be held in the following regions. We anticipate that additional sessions will be scheduled in the near future.

Long Island
Stony Brook University Research and Development Park
Center of Excellence in Wireless and Information Technology (CEWIT)
1500 Stony Brook Road
Stony Brook, NY 11794-6040

New York City
LaGuardia Community College
Poolside Café
31-10 Thomson Avenue
Long Island City, NY 11101

Hudson Valley
SUNY Purchase College
Humanities Building, Theater
735 Anderson Hill Road
Purchase, NY 10577

Capital Region
Crossings of Colonie
Large Meeting Room
580 Albany Shaker Rd
Loudonville, NY 12211

Finger Lakes/Western New York
Genesee Community College
Conable Technology Building, Room T-102
One College Rd.
Batavia, NY 14020

We encourage you to R.S.V.P here.

R.S.V.P is appreciated but not required and all guests are welcome as space permits. Any attendee wishing to deliver testimony will be invited to do so, within the time available. Written testimony will also be accepted at the event, or can be uploaded to our website here.

For details on event location and parking, or to learn more about past and upcoming events, please visit our website.

Thank you!

Editorial: Finally, testing obsession is under review

This editorial from lohud is an excellent summary of the state of testing and Common Core in New York right now with a bit thrown in about President Obama’s about-face on testing last week.

At the first public meeting of Gov. Cuomo’s Common Core Task Force on Thursday, a Bronx principal named Jamaal Bowman displayed a picture of his young daughter on a big screen and said he would not send her to a public school in New York because of our “test-and-punish culture.” The task force members, including state Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia, sat impassively at the College of New Rochelle as Bowman, an invited speaker, decried an overemphasis on standardized testing at the expense of innovation, creativity and richer methods of measuring student achievement.

Read the rest of the article here.

I would like to highlight the following points where parents have made a difference as noted by the editorial staff:

  • Cuomo’s task force is charged with reviewing New York’s testing program and its close ties to the Common Core standards by year’s end.
  • Cuomo just named Bedford Superintendent Jere Hochman his deputy for education. Hochman has sharply criticized New York’s focus on “high-stakes” testing and has called for the state’s widely disliked teacher evaluation system, tied to student test scores, to be torn up and replaced.
  • Longtime Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch, who has overseen the state’s test-centric “reform” agenda, will leave the board when her term is up in March.
  • The state Education Department is also reviewing individual Common Core standards — but not the role of the Core itself.
  • The Board of Regents plans a serious review of the teacher evaluation system, which Cuomo and legislators have essentially taken control of in recent years.
  • Congress is trying —struggling, really — to rewrite the federal No Child Left Behind law to reduce the federal role in education while maintaining accountability measures for school systems.

The battle for the education of our kids has been long and hard and there is still much to do.  We don’t know yet if those in charge of ‘education’ are really going to start listening but we can hope that this is a step on the path to dealing with the testing mess and Common Core.  Do not despair and continue to do what is best for the children.

It’s debatable how much Obama’s new posture will help. But he knowingly gave a shot in the arm to parents, teachers and others who are fed up with federal and state prescriptions for saving our supposedly failing schools.

Have no doubt that New York’s opt-out movement forced Cuomo, legislators, the Regents and newcomer Elia to reconsider testing and related policies. Tisch and Elia may condemn opting out as counterproductive, but when 1 in 5 bubble sheets are not filled out, which is what happened in New York last spring, you’ve got a big problem on your hands.

******

In case you can not access the lohud editorial, here is a PDF containing the article – Editorial_ Finally, testing obsession is under review

 

Contact Cuomo – Put Ra/Graf on Common Core Commission

NYS Assemblymen Al Graf and Ed Ra have been fighting Common Core for years and have already conducted the panel that Governor Cuomo is proposing (but with the RIGHT PEOPLE!)

Assemblyman Al Graf and Assemblyman Ed Ra need to be on Cuomo’s Common Core review panel. Contact Governor Cuomo now!

  1. Call Governor Cuomo – (518) 474-8390
  2. E-mail Governor Cuomo – Use this website:  http://www.governor.ny.gov/contact
  3. For snail mail, the address is:

The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo
Governor of New York State
NYS State Capitol Building
Albany, NY 12224

 

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Notes:

Assemblyman Al Graf’s facebook posts (dated September 20, 2015) urging us to contact Governor Cuomo regarding the Common Core Commission:

So the regents think they have finally figured out the problems with common core. They have come up with a solution. They have decided to just re-name it. How stupid are these people? Calling it something else is not going to fix the problem! Call the Governor’s office and tell him to put Ed Ra and me on the panel to review common core. Ask your friends to call. Write a letter to the Governor, send an email, or do all three. Apparently the regents could not find a clue to the problem if it was strapped to their back.

Colette my degree is in elementary education. Ed and I put together a panel which included teachers, school administrators, school councilors with clinical experience, parents, principals and others involved in education. The purpose of us being on the panel is to bring them in. Ed and I have been fighting beside parents from the beginning.

Assemblyman Ed Ra’s statement regarding review of Common Core:

Ra Pleased With Push For New Common Core Standards

September 3, 2015
Assemblyman Ed Ra (R-Franklin Square) today reiterated his support for a comprehensive review of the implementation of the Common Core Standards in light of Gov. Cuomo’s recent comments on the issue. Ra stressed that while he is glad the governor is finally making necessary steps to remedy Common Core’s implementation, the Assembly Minority Conference has been pushing for a solution for years.
“I’m glad Gov. Cuomo is finally taking action and convening a process to provide a comprehensive review of the implementation of the flawed Common Core curriculum,” said Ra. “I hope the governor will convene a proper cross-section of stakeholders and allow a thorough and honest process with no preordained outcome. My colleagues and I in the Assembly Minority Conference have been offering solutions to Common Core and calling for action on this issue for years; it’s frustrating that it took the governor this long to come around, but I’m happy we are finally going to do right by our children, parents and teachers.”
Ra has been at the forefront of education reform in New York State. Ra and the Assembly Minority Conference first introduced The Achieving Pupil Preparedness & Launching Excellence (APPLE) Plan in the Assembly in 2014. The APPLE Plan would help ensure state education standards are age- and grade-appropriate and provide proper flexibility for special student populations.

NY State attempts to turn Poughkeepsie schools around through Receivership

As part of Governor Cuomo’s 2015 state budget package, a number of schools throughout New York State are being put into ‘receivership’ in an attempt to ‘turnaround’ the schools.  NYS Commissioner of Education Elia declared her commitment to these take-overs in the Buffalo area within days of beginning her new job.

We don’t have to go all the way to Buffalo to see what the impact of receivership might be however.  Poughkeepsie Middle School and Poughkeepsie High School, just across the river, are in receivership right now.

From the Poughkeepsie school district website:

The new law appoints a “receiver,” initially, the superintendent, to oversee the turnaround of the identified schools, and sets a deadline by which the schools have to make demonstrable improvement. Receivers are authorized implement changes, including lengthening the school day or school year, making curriculum modifications and, replacing staff.

Poughkeepsie High School and Poughkeepsie Middle School have two years to show “demonstrable improvement” within the guidelines of the Receiver. The state will set demonstrable improvement targets for each school. If a school does not meet those goals during that time, the state will require the Board of Education to appoint a state-approved outside receiver, removing the district’s ability to control future decisions about the school.

This process is baffling to me.  The initial ‘receiver’ (the person who is in charge and can make drastic changes) is the district superintendent per the new New York State law.  Not quite sure how this makes sense.  If the superintendent couldn’t make things work in the district before receivership, then how does one expect that he/she is going to have new ideas or plans to make things better when the district is in the receivership state?  Receivership seems to assume that the ‘education failure’ is either the fault of the school teachers/staff whom the superintendent receiver can fire or make reapply for their jobs or the school board of education whose decisions (budget/curriculum/any other decisions) can be overridden by the superintendent.  Apparently the superintendent is above fault but I suppose that makes sense or else the school board should have already fired/replaced him/her before the district went into receivership?  This doesn’t sound like a process likely to bring about positive change to me.

Here is discussion of the superintendent receiver from the perspective of the superintendents themselves as reported by NYSSBA (New York State School Boards Association).  Some Kingston parents are not going to agree with the superintendents regarding extended school day and community schools**.

“There is nothing in here that is a surprise,” said Marguerite Vanden Wyngaard, superintendent of the Albany school district. “All the things in the receivership law are things we know we need to do. We need to extend the school day. We have to differentiate learning better so that we can concentrate on a variety of needs for students. We know that the community school model is effective for providing medical and mental health services. We have bits and pieces of those things already in place.”

But the title of receiver communicates a sense of urgency, superintendents told On Board.

“I see receivership as a key lever, right now, to galvanize our community,” said Nicole Williams, superintendent of schools in Poughkeepsie. She said her new title of receiver of two schools communicates the need for teachers, community members and district leaders to redouble their efforts.

The NYSSBA article points out that superintendent receivers who are receiving money from New York State to help with the turn-around seem a little more hopeful about being successful as superintendent receivers.  Poughkeepsie is not receiving any extra money to help with the turnaround.  Superintendent receivers also have different thoughts about what plans they will implement including the wisdom of replacing large numbers of school staff.  Refer to the article for details.

In Poughkeepsie, which has a struggling high school and struggling middle school, Superintendent Nicole Williams noted that school improvement is far from a new priority. She points with pride to an intensive focus on literacy that earned Poughkeepsie a spot on the program at this summer’s Model Schools Conference in Atlanta. She reeled off other initiatives including peer tutoring, participation in the state’s P-TECH early college high school program and student internship opportunities through a new partnership with the Dutchess County Chamber of Commerce.

… “We are on the right trajectory,” Williams said, and “we can ratchet up those practices under receivership, certainly.” She added that she “would welcome additional resources” to help support the district’s ambitious plans.

Spring, the Schenectady superintendent-receiver, questioned what assumptions legislators and the governor held when they created the receivership law.

“The state is expecting these schools to make things dramatically different in a short period of time when all the state is threatening them with is a bigger stick,” he said. “That supposes that people in these schools have not been sufficiently scared to do what they need to do. I just don’t think that’s true.”

Is the receivership stick going to be successful at ‘scaring’ the stakeholders (parents, teachers, administrators and school board members) at Poughkeepsie Middle School and High School into ensuring that the students get better test scores and more students graduate this year and next year so they can get out of receivership or will this be another case where the schools will continue to ‘fail’ (as so many students are ‘failing’ the New York State tests) and control will be passed off to an outside receiver even more removed from the situation making things worse and worse?  Only time will tell.

**Note that one of the decisions the superintendent receiver can make is to convert the school into a ‘community school’.  Some local parents have concerns regarding ‘community schools’ due to the ever-increasing government influence and potential decreasing parental ability to make decisions regarding student services such as health care. The superintendent receiver is not required to convert a school into a community school but is allowed to do so if he/she wishes.  If the process moves to an independent/outside receiver (the superintendent can’t fix the problem in the allotted one or two years), then the school MUST be converted to a community school.

Definition of Community School

A school that partners with one or more state, local or other agencies to:

  • Address social service, health and mental health needs of students in the school and their families in order to help students arrive and remain at school ready to learn;
  • Provide access to child welfare services and, as appropriate, services in the school community to promote a safe and secure learning environment;
  • Offer access to career and technical education and workforce development services to students in the school and their families in order to provide students and families with meaningful employment skills and opportunities;
  • Offer mentoring and other youth development programs.

 

 

CLASS goes to Albany

I recently joined CLASS, or Coalition for Legislative Action Supporting Students, to examine legislation presented by Senator Flanagan (bill S5124) and Assemblywoman Nolan (bill A7303A) in response to Governor Cuomo’s education reforms included in the state budget.  Our goal was to develop a list of parent education issues and suggested revisions to the legislation addressing the key concerns that parents throughout New York State are expressing.

Representatives of United to Counter the Core and CLASS headed to Albany yesterday May 27, 2015 to meet with members of the Senate and Assembly education committees to discuss current education policy.  We wanted to thank the committee members for moving in the right direction on various education issues and ask them to consider additional changes that would further address parental concerns as well as to consider parent issues that are not addressed at all by the proposed legislation.

The recommended changes and legislative initiatives presented by CLASS included:

  • Cease the use of VAM (value added model) in calculating students’ growth and for teacher evaluations
  • Decouple the school district funds from implementation of the education reforms proposed by Governor Cuomo
  • Ensure released test questions accurately and cost effectively reflect the nature of the test
  • Develop fair assessment methods for SPED/ELL teachers and students
  • Make changes to the appointment and terms of New York State Regents restoring local control and parent voice
  • Changes to the comprehensive review of the education standards being used in New York State (Common Core) particularly the make-up of the review committee
  • Support for the Common Core Parental Refusal Act
  • FERPA-HIPPA changes to protect student data privacy and restore parental control

I personally met with representatives from the offices of Assemblymembers Steve Englebright, William Magnarelli and Phil Ramos and Senators Betty Little and Hugh Farley.

  • The aides from Assemblyman Ramos and Senator Little’s offices just took notes and were not able to speak to the issues we raised.
  • In general the aides from the other offices indicated that the legislators were concerned about education issues but I did not get a strong sense that they were willing to act beyond what they have already done regarding education legislation.  I believe they will need to hear from additional constituents to generate legislative action.
  • Assemblyman Englebright voted against his majority party with a “No” vote for the state education budget (very few assemblymembers were willing to stand against Governor Cuomo and vote “No!” so this was a strong statement for the students on Assemblyman Englebright’s part) and he also is a co-sponsor on the Nolan parental test refusal bill A6777.  We asked that he consider an amendment requiring that school districts inform parents of their right to REFUSE the state tests.
  • Assemblyman Magnarelli’s aide indicated that Magnarelli voted to move both of Nolan bills A6777 and A7303A out of the education committee.  The aide has to consult with Asseblyman Magnarelli to determine if he is willing to take any further action on the items CLASS requested.
  • Senator Farley’s aide indicated that the senator is very opposed to Common Core and ran on the Stop Common Core ballot line last fall.  Parents need to continue to be vocal about our concerns – do not stop, “keep it up” the aide said.  In addition to contacting the education committee members, we also need to contact our own assemblymember and senator to share our education concerns and request that our representatives communicate our concerns to their colleagues including those on the education committee.

In total, parents met with 16 of the majority education committee members from the assembly and the senate including: Assemblymembers Cathy Nolan, Carmen Arroyo, Barbara Clark, Barbara Lifton, Shelley Mayer, Amy Paulin, Linda Rosenthal, Sean Ryan and Matthew Titone and Senators Kenneth Lavalle and Joseph Robach.

We ask that you now join CLASS in requesting legislative action to support our students.

Please contact the following legislators to let them know that you agree with the changes presented by CLASS.  Also contact your NYS Assembly member and NYS Senator, even if they are not on the education committee, and ask them to voice support for these educational issues with their colleagues.

Assembly Education Committee Majority Members:
Catherine Nolan – 518-455-4851
Carmen Arroyo – 518-455-5402
Michael Benedetto – 518-455-5296
James Brennan – 518-455-5377
Barbara Clark – 518-455-4711
Steve Englebright – 518-455-4804
Earlene Hooper – 518-455-5861
Ron Kim – 518-455-5411
Barbara Lifton – 518-455-5444
William B. Magnarelli – 518-455-4826
Shelley Mayer – 518 455 3662
Michael Miller – 518-455-4621
Walter Mosley -518-455-5325
Daniel O’Donnell – 518-455-5603
Amy Paulin – 518-455-5585
Phil Ramos – 518-455-5185
Linda Rosenthal – 518-455-5802
Sean Ryan – 518-455-4886
Matthew Titone – 518-455-4677
Michele Titus – 518-455-5668

Senate Education Committee Majority Members:
Hugh Farley – (518) 455-2181
Andrew Lanza – (518) 455-3215
Kenneth Lavalle – (518) 455-3121
Betty Little – (518) 455-2811
Carl Marcellino – (518) 455-2390
Michael Ranzenhofer – (518) 455-3161
Joseph Robach – (518) 455-2909
Sue Serino – (518) 455-2945
James Seward – (518) 455-3131

Election 2014 Wrap-up for the Kingston City School District

The November 4, 2014 election is over and before I put all my campaign posts to bed, I wanted to summarize regarding the various candidates and their educational stands.

For some reason I never posted this after writing it back in November 2014.  I am posting it now (May 2015) even though quite a bit of time has elapsed.  I thought it might be interesting to look back on what the various candidates had to say about education now that we are almost six months into their current term.

Some of the candidates who I have advocated for won and some did not.

Regardless of who won and who lost, our job as citizens is not done.  We must continue to interact with our elected officials and make sure that they are representing us properly in government.  We need to remember what they said during their campaigns; make sure they are sticking to the promises they made; work with them to determine if we can change their perspectives or come to satisfactory compromises if they have stands with which we do not agree.  We can not just wait until the next election and then vote.

New York State Governor – Andrew Cuomo defeated Rob Astorino but by a much smaller margin than many would have anticipated.  Rob Astorino actually ‘won’ the majority of the vote in Ulster County (46.6% for Astorino versus 41.7% for Cuomo according to politico.com) by a slight margin and the margin increases if the votes for Green party candidate Howie Hawkins (11%) are included.  These leads me to conclude that a number of people in Ulster County are not thrilled with Governor Cuomo and I like to think at least some of that discontent is due to his educational policies.  Governor Cuomo stated right before the election that he intends to ‘break the public school monopolty’ (read here) and his actions regarding education is an issue that we will need to keep an eye on in the upcoming months.  I personally liked many of the aspects of Rob Astorino’s education platform and will be keeping it in mind to see if there are ways they can be incorporated into New York’s educational policy even though Rob Astorino did not win the position of Governor.  Astorino-Moss Education Plan 2014

New York State Senator – 46th Senate District:  George Amedore defeated incumbent Senator Cecilia Tkaczyk.  Senator Tkaczyk made education a significant part of her focus during her time in office so George Amedore is going to have to step up and take a stand on the educational issues as he moves into his new position as Senator for the 46th Senate District.  He ran on the new StopCommonCore party line and will be held accountable in that area.  There are many areas of concern in education beyond Common Core that he will also need to address including school funding and unfunded mandates.

New York State Assembly – 103rd Assembly District:  Incumbent Assemblyman Kevin Cahill defeated challenger Kevin Roberts to retain his seat as representative for the Kingston City School District.  As with the governor position, I would like to see if there are ways that we can work with Mr. Cahill to change some of his perspectives on education to achieve the goals that Mr. Roberts would have taken with him to Albany had he won the assembly seat.  This  video provides a clear distinction between the two on their education stands.

U.S. Congressman New York State’s 19th Congressional District:  Incumbent Congressman Chris Gibson defeated newcomer Sean Eldridge and will be returning to Washington D.C. to represent the 19th Congressional District.

Smart Schools Bond Act (proposition 3):  The Smart Schools Bond Act passed and we will have to wait and see how Kingston City School District will use the money and how much it will cost the taxpayers.

StopCommonCore party line:  The new StopCommonCore party line received just over 50,000 votes and is therefore eligible to be its own party and to appear on the ballot as a party for the next four years.

Read here for a summary of campaign platforms and campaign videos about the various candidates.

This summary is focused on the Kingston City School District but I would like to highlight one other post that has Ulster County wide information regarding the Assembly candidates for four districts (assembly districts 101, 102, 103 and 104) since the candidates had such clear and differing stances regarding Common Core/education.  Click here to access the post.

How the Senate Republican Majority Leader debate affects education

Regardless of your political persuasion, the current situation regarding the Senate Republican Majority Leader in Albany matters if you are concerned about education in New York State.

Senator Skelos, who has been the Senate Republican Majority Leader, was arrested on federal corruption charges last week Monday May 4, 2015.  He indicated right after his arrest that he would not step down as Majority Leader despite the charges.  Since then as some Senate Republicans including Senator Amedore have called for him to step down, Skelos has gone so far as to threaten that he would resign his Senate seat as well if he is forced to step down.  This would put the Senate Republican majority in danger which of course the Republicans want to avoid.  Read here and here.

Senator Skelos is innocent until proven guilt and will have his day in court, however I do not believe that he can adequately serve any longer as the Senate Majority Leader.  He will be distracted by defending himself and so will everyone around him.  Proper attention will not be placed on the work that the New York State Senate should be accomplishing if he remains as Senate Majority Leader.

The next question is who should become the new Senate Majority Leader and the story just keeps getting crazier!  Both Senator Skelos (who has been charged with a crime) and Governor Cuomo believe that they should have a say in the selection of the next leader – read here.  Their pick is Senator Flanagan who has consistently stood in support of the current education reforms/Common Core in New York State.  I am sure you can see why I am opposed to Senator Flanagan becoming the next Senate Majority Leader.  As Senate education committee chair, he has been stifling any bills that would bring relief from Common Core and if he becomes the Senate Majority Leader, he will just have more power!

A number of the Republican Senators are leaning toward selection of Senator DeFrancisco as the Senate Majority Leader over Senator Flanagan.  Read about Senator DeFrancisco here and here.  I do not know where Senator DeFrancisco stands specifically regarding Common Core but my hope is that he will at least be open to listening to the concerns of parents and teachers, concerns which Senator Flanagan has essentially ignored.

Please contact Senator Amedore and let him know that you want to see a new Senate Majority Leader and that you support the selection of Senator DeFrancisco over Senator Flanagan as the next Senate Majority Leader.

Senator George Amedore  518-455-2350

UPDATE May 11, 2015 11:30pm  I am disappointed to report that Senator Flanagan has been selected as the new Senate Republican Majority Leader – report here and here.

It appears the vote was unanimous based on this letter from Senator LaValle so that means Senator Amedore voted for Senator Flanagan?

LaValle unanimous for Flanagan