Tag Archives: Rob Astorino

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.

Keep in place the StopCommonCore ballot line name

If you signed a petition last July 2014 for the new StopCommonCore ballot line or voted on the StopCommonCore ballot line in November to help it become a party, please check out this petition.

It has recently come to light that the Stop Common Core party/ballot line is, or will be, changed to the “reform party”.

This is being done without the advice and consent of the parents of NY state who went out and pounded the pavement to gather the signatures to make a petition a party.

These parents did so on the promise that this party would be all about saving their children from the educational takeover called the common core.

We The People, of NY State, hereby demand an immediate cease and desist of all efforts to change the Stop Common Core Party to anything other than it’s promised intention of being the non partisan political voice if the children of NY State.

From my perspective as one of the people who helped collection signatures for the ballot line, the StopCommonCore ballot line was created to draw attention to the problems with Common Core. The people who signed the petitions and voted on the ballot line did not necessarily agree on other issues but were united in their desire to get rid of Common Core. This ‘party’ does not represent other issues and therefore should not be repurposed. The focus should stay on getting rid of Common Core and when Common Core is gone, the party can then go away as well. If you agree, please sign the petition.

Cease and Desist StopCommonCore Ballot Line

The impact of High-Stakes Testing on Students and Families

I was probably like your average parent with regards to high-stakes testing until October 2012.  I knew that kids took some state tests but didn’t give it too much thought and figured they were good for the kids/schools.  At our October 2012 middle school PTO meeting, two teachers came to share a resolution from the Niagara Regional PTA to stop over-testing of students in New York State schools and as they discussed the resolution, they shared that our students would spend 14 days taking tests that school year!  That number struck me as huge!  14 days spent taking tests instead of receiving instruction – what a waste of time!  What was the point?  What benefit did this provide for the students?  As I started to investigate I learned that there was no benefit to the student and in fact there were actually many concerns associated with standardized testing/high-stakes testing.

Many, many articles have been written regarding the various problems with high-stakes testing.  Here are a few that I found when I first started investigating the issue:  Common Core tests are Not Good for Children or Other Living Things by Anthony Cody, What big drop in new standardized test scores really means by Valerie Strauss/Carol Burris, A Hero Principal:  Every Principal Should be this Honest by Diane Ravitch.  The various problems include:

  • stress placed on the children taking the tests
  • the fact that the tests are not an accurate measure of either teacher or student performance
  • parents and teachers do not have access to the tests and/or results in a timely fashion to use them as teaching tools
  • inappropriate levels of testing for special education and English Language Learner students
  • and more

Please read these articles and if you still don’t understand the problems with testing, google the various authors and you will find a wealth of other articles.

In addition to being an officer for the Bailey Middle School PTO in 2012, I was co-chairwoman of District Wide Parents’ Council.  DWPC began to discuss the issues associated with high-stakes testing and authored a resolution against high-stakes testing in March 2013 – DWPC High-Stakes Testing Resolution as well as hosted a high-stakes testing forum in March 2013 and invited parents/teachers from the various school districts in Ulster County.  Parents were concerned about high-stakes testing and there were groups encouraging parents to refuse the state tests.  However parents in Kingston were concerned as to what impact there would be on our title 1 funding if students did not take the state tests and our district is heavily dependent on our title 1 funding.  Also the parents who did want to refuse the tests received letters from the school district administration that felt ‘threatening’ and said that they, the parents, could not refuse the tests and there was nothing the school district could do to help them – the parent would have to take it to Albany.  I was provided with copies of the letters by a couple parents TestingLetterBailey TestingLetterMiller TestingLetterSophieFinnbut parents were so concerned about ‘getting in trouble’ that we had to cross out any identifying information in the letters.  There was a definite feeling of intimidation towards parents whether it was intended or not.

My daughter, who was in sixth grade, did not refuse the state tests in 2013 because we were concerned as a family about whether it would cause some adverse consequences for her and we did not want her singled out for scorn or punishment.  She however decided to begin a petition herself among her friends against the state tests and gathered several pages of signatures against the tests.  Some students even included why they did not like the tests.  She also heard about the Lace to the Top movement to wear green shoelaces in protest of the testing and purchased green shoelaces for her shoes and wore them for a year straight! Green Laces Our children really do understand for themselves that there are problems with the testing and we need to listen to their concerns and not think that only the adults understand what is going on.

Fast forward now to 2014 – parents have had a year to think about testing, read articles about it and more people have started to hear about the impact/consequences of high-stakes testing.  Many Kingston parents would like to have their student(s) refuse the state tests but there are a number of unanswered questions:

  • will the students be kept from taking honors courses if they do not take the state tests?
  • will the students be forced to ‘sit-and-stare’ during the test if they refuse the test?
  • will the student be required to verbally state that they are refusing the test or will a written refusal letter from the parent be accepted as the refusal?

DWPC requested answers for these questions and the Kingston school district responded with a ‘sit-and-stare’ policy (children would not be forced to sit-and-stare – see my blog post about the district response here) before the ELA test.  10.7% of the Kingston students in grades 3-8 refused the state ELA test even though there was no concerted effort by parents to make this happen in the Kingston school district.  My daughter was one of the refusals but we did not make the final decision until the day before the ELA test was scheduled to begin. As it turns out almost 200 students at my daughter’s middle school refused the test which caused her school to fall below the 95% participation rate.  The Kingston schools put students refusing the tests in separate locations so they did not have to ‘sit-and-stare’ but they still had to sit through the entire test time.  My daughter loves to read so she did not mind reading for 9 hours during the ELA test but it was still a long time away from regular instruction and she said that some students didn’t remember to bring books.  The students at her school had to sit for 9 hours (3 hours each of the 3 testing days) because there was no room for the students with double-time accommodations to go to alternate locations so everyone had to stay in the testing rooms until the full 3 hours were completed each testing day.  After the first day, students were limited to one bathroom pass as well because bored students were taking too many bathroom breaks.  The refusal students did not have a ‘sit-and-stare’ situation but it was still definitely less than ideal although I suspect that it was the best that could be done in a school that has been struggling with overcrowding for the entire year.  Kingston parents were happy to not be Saugerties school district parents however because Saugerties chose to enforce a sit-and-stare policy for students refusing the test!  Saugerties students whose parents refused the test for them had to sit in the same room with the students taking the test and do nothing but stare at the walls for the duration of the test period.

The honors course admission question was not answered until after the ELA state test.  The answer came back that a variety of criteria are used for honors courses with the state tests being just some of the options – see full answer in this blog post.  The Kingston school district seemed to be providing information to parents and allowing us to refuse as we deemed appropriate and then the KCSD Statement on Testing was issued prior to the math state test!  You can read the statement and my personal response to the statement here but it felt like another round of parental intimidation.  The district needed to tell the parents why they should make sure that their students took the state test regardless of how the parents felt about the tests.  Fortunately the KCSD statement didn’t seem to have a huge affect on parents since the superintendent reported to the Kingston board of education that 24% of Kingston students grades 3-8 refused the math state test.  The percentage was highest in the two middle schools with both middle schools having about a 30% refusal rate.  8 of the 9 Kingston schools fell below the 95% participation rate.  Parents tried to find out the actual number of students refusing the tests when the tests were being administered but were told that the information could not be given out – more parental intimidation?  Maybe not but definitely not good communication between parents and the school.  The sense of trust that parents should have in the school district has been lost thanks to all of this testing and the problems that have arisen associated with it.  There are even reports from parents that their students were forced to take the state test even though the parent sent in a note refusing the test.

Such reports have continued with the administering of the scantron/STAR test in Kingston since the state testing completed.  Some parents wanted their children to not take any standardized tests including the scantron/STAR tests and submitted letters stating such but have been told that these are local assessments and they are not allowed to refuse.  Where did the progress that was made between 2013 and 2014 with the state tests go?

There are two testing related issues in other school districts that I want to point out that have occurred very recently.  The first one is from the Middletown school district.  600 K-2 students and their parents learned the day before school ended that the students were being required to attend summer school based on their scores from the MAP test that the students took 3 times throughout the school year (see blog post here).  I personally spoke with a parent Lucy from the school district who was in touch with her 2 kindergarten students’ teacher throughout the entire year and constantly asked if they were doing okay, if there was any reason why they would not be ready for the next grade.  The teacher assured Lucy that the students were doing just fine and then Lucy received a letter on the day before school ended that her children would have to go to summer school in order to be allowed to go to first grade!  She felt betrayed!  Where had the communication gone awry from the district?  She is not opposed to summer school if her students are going to learn more sight words or something that will really benefit them but she believes they will just learn how to pass the MAP test.  She didn’t even know her students were taking the MAP test or she would have refused the test for them!  The Middletown superintendent said

The children in the summer program are identified based on local math and English language assessment tests administered three times a year, Eastwood said. He said the district is committed to addressing academic insufficiencies in grades K-2 to head off academic failure, and that’s where summer school money will be allocated.

We’ve never had standards like we do now, we have to get these kids ready for academic challenges, we have to do something significant.  – recordonline.com

The superintendent has apologized that the parents didn’t have more notice but is standing firm that the students have to go to the summer school based on the results of a computerized test taken by students who many parents feel have no understanding of the consequences of a “test’ that they took on the computer.  How can these tests really be reliable?  Why are teachers and parents not being allowed to make decisions based on teacher observation and things that we know are accurate indicators of student progress?

The other district of concern is the Utica school district where 5 schools (2 middle schools and 3 elementary schools) learned that they ‘won’ the Extended Learning Time grant the day before school ended.  Students in these schools will have their school day extended from 9am to 5pm starting in September and parents had no idea that this change was coming!

[The superintendent] says the purpose is to enhance academics and increase test scores.  He says that their mission is to educate students and to make certain that they are … learning, achieving, and scoring the best possible test scores that they can and that is our number one mission.” –  WIBX Exclusive

Kingston City School District applied for the Extended Learning Time grant but as a result of public outcry when parents learned of the grant application and its implications thanks to the efforts of Kingston Action For Education, the Kingston school district withdrew their application.  However, we are feeling very sad for Utica parents who are now facing such long days and drastic changes without parental input as a result of their school administration trying to achieve better test scores!  When will parents be consulted?  When will parents’ voices be heard regarding what is important in our children’s education?

People in leadership around the state are starting to speak out regarding high-stakes testing.  Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin challenged New York State parents to refuse the state tests in 2015! (blog post here)  Gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino and Congressman Chris Gibson refused the state tests for their children in 2014.  How do we encourage all New York parents to refuse the state tests in 2015 and break this pillar that is holding up Common Core?  How do we support parents who feel intimidated or don’t know that they have the right to refuse the tests?  We need to spend the upcoming school year talking about high-stakes testing, the problems associated with the tests and how we as parents can refuse the tests and stop this madness that has been brought upon our children in the name of Common Core!

I was honored to speak regarding High-Stakes Testing as part of a bi-partisan, grassroots Education Conversation in Schenectady on Saturday July 12, 2014.  I presented a lot of the information above – video here.  I didn’t have time to share it all.

Other presenters spoke about the history of Common Core and how it is manipulating our children/teachers/schools, how parents and mothers in particular are advocating for their children, the social-emotional impact of Common Core on children, special education, charter schools, annual professional performance review (APPR) and the cost of Common Core.  Candidate for governor Rob Astorino also spoke about his stand against Common Core.  Here is a link to the video playlist from the forum – Education Conversation video playlist and some pictures from the forum if you are on facebook.


New York Gubernatorial Televised Debate – Wednesday October 22, 2014 8pm

If you want to see a televised debate between Andrew Cuomo and Rob Astorino, your one chance is tomorrow night Wednesday October 22, 2014 at 8pm.  Howie Hawkins and Michael McDermott will also participate in the debate.

Check below for your local television market and channel. Please join the conversation on Twitter using #nygov or follow along on robastorino.com.

November 4, 2014 Voter update

I have posted a variety of information related to the upcoming election on November 4, 2014 in past weeks.  I thought I would pull some of the information together in one place to make it easier to access.  This is definitely not all-inclusive and it is also not intended to be totally unbiased.  I definitely have personal opinions although I will try to refrain from stating too many of them here.  Also my focus is on where candidates stand with regards to education since the state of education in New York State is my primary concern at this time.

New York State Governor:  

  • Candidates for Governor and Lieutenant Governor include:  Incumbent Governor Andrew Cuomo/Kathy Hochul (Democractic party, Working Families party, Independence party, Women’s Equality party), Rob Astorino/Chris Moss (Republican party, Conservative party, StopCommonCore party), Howie Hawkins/Brain Jones (Green party), Michael McDermott/Chris Edes (Libertarian party), Steven Cohn/Bobby Kalotee (Sapient party)
  • There are a variety of reports regarding debate discussions between Governor Andrew Cuomo and Rob Astorino but no debates have been confirmed.
  • I wrote a blog post in early September regarding various gubernatorial candidate’s stands on educational issues – click here – which included a scorecard from New York Allies for Public Education.  You can also check the ‘Governor Cuomo’ and ‘Rob Astorino’ tags in the right sidebar here for additional blog posts that I have written related to these two candidates including this one with video of Rob Astorino’s visit to Kingston on September 24, 2014.

New York State Senator – 46th Senate District:

  • Incumbent New York State Senator Cecelia Tkaczyk and George Amedore are facing off again (they challenged each other in 2012 as well) for representation of the 46th senate district which includes the City of Kingston and the towns of Esopus, Hurley, Kingston, Lloyd, Marbletown, Saugerties, Ulster and Woodstock within Ulster County.
  • Debates are being held between Senator Tkaczyk and George Amedore.  I attended one sponsored by the Ulster County Chamber of Commerce on September 23 and here is the video of the hour long debate.  Common Core and education funding were discussed briefly by both candidates.
  • George Amedore is on the StopCommonCore party line.  Senator Tkaczyk collected signatures for the Women’s Equality party line but ran into a challenge with some of the signatures so will not be on the party line.

New York State Assembly – Assembly District 103:

  • Incumbent Assemblyman Kevin Cahill and Kevin Roberts are running for the seat in the 103rd Assembly District which covers most of the Kingston City School District.
  • I have not heard any debates yet between the two candidates but here is a little Common Core related information.  Kevin Roberts supports full repeal of Common Core in New York State per his campaign materials and personal conversations with him.  From a conversation with Assemblyman Cahill at a lobby day back in June, I know that he stated there were problems with Common Core but feels that the actions of the Democratic legislative majority are adequate to deal with any issues and the bill A8844 to halt Common Core that was presented by Assemblymen Ra and Graf had ‘problems’ and there was no way it could pass.  Here are posts about the Ra/Graf bill if you are not familiar with it – here and here.

U.S. Congress – New York State’s 19th Congressional District:

  • Incumbent U.S. Congressman Chris Gibson and Sean Eldridge are running for New York’s 19th Congressional District which includes all of Ulster County.
  • U.S. Congressman Chris Gibson and Sean Eldridge will hold a debate locally next Monday October 6, 2014 at Miller Middle School.  Doors open at 6pm I have been told but having a hard time finding exact info.  This article has some details but the name of the school is wrong – the event is definitely at Miller (since we don’t have a ‘Lake Katrine Middle School’ in Kingston).
  • I have had personal contact with Congressman Gibson and know that he is opposed to high-stakes testing and Common Core.  I am not familiar with Mr. Eldridge’s educational stands and look forward to hearing his thoughts at the debate next week.

New Parties on Ballot:

  • There are two new parties on the November 4 ballot – the StopCommonCore party and the Women’s Equality party.  You can read details here.

Smart Schools Bond Act of 2014:

  • A referendum will be on the November 4 ballot asking the New York State voters to approve a 2 billion dollar bond act for school technology.  You can read details of the bond act here as well as the thoughts of those for and against the bond act.

Are you ready to vote?

If you have never voted, have not voted in a long time or have recently moved, you will need to register to vote.  You can pick up a voter registration form at the Board of Elections on Wall Street in Kingston or you can register online at New York State Board of Elections Register to Vote.  In order to vote in the November 4, 2014 election, you need to be registered by October 10, 2014.

Post updated on 10/6/14 – Kevin Roberts supports full repeal of Common Core but is not on the StopCommonCore ballot line.

Gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino visits Kingston, New York

Check out gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino’s visit to Kingston last Wednesday.

Jolyn with Rob Astorino
Jolyn with Rob Astorino
Jolyn with U.S. Congressman Chris Gibson
Jolyn with U.S. Congressman Chris Gibson

Various local people were introduced by the Ulster County Republican committee chair (including me – I was sure surprised!) and then Congressman Chris Gibson spoke at about 6 minutes into the video to introduce Rob Astorino. Congressman Gibson spoke about Common Core and the Safe Act as well as introducing Rob Astorino so be sure to listen to Congressman Gibson’s remarks as well as Rob Astorino’s comments which start at 12:30 minutes into the video.

Congressman Gibson and Rob Astorino are both opposed to the Common Core Standards that are currently being used in New York State and Rob Astorino has a plan to get rid of Common Core when he becomes governor of New York State.

Astorino/Moss education plan

Rob Astorino’s Education Plan for New York State

Rob Astorino is running for Governor of New York State and he has vowed to Stop Common Core if elected as Governor.  His 15 point education plan presents what he will replace Common Core with as well as his vision for education over all in New York State.

This bold plan will replace Common Core with high standards achieved at the local level, with the input of parents and teachers, and it will make the governor’s office directly responsible for school improvements through an executive-appointed State Education Commissioner.”

Astorino’s plan also calls for, among other things, increased vocational training and greater availability of science, technology, engineering and math programs. It also would reduce reliance on “high stakes assessments,” and increase “life skills training,” such as nutritional and financial literacy instruction.  – Daily News, September 2, 2014

The 15 points are:

Astorino’s plan:

1 – Replace Common Core and with standards and curriculum developed by in-state educators with input from parents.

2 – Develop more accurate measures of student, teacher and school performance, reducing reliance on high stakes assessments.

3 – Reform Board of Regents by creating an elected 13-member board.

4-  The governor appoints education commissioner who must be confirmed by the Board of Regents with a majority vote.

5 – Increase availability of vocational training in schools for careers in home economics, carpentry, mechanics, electrical, etc.

6 – Increase coordination between community colleges, local school districts and local industry.

7 -Increase Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education in schools.

8- Create three new diplomas: Career and Technical Education (CTE); STEM Regents; Academic Regents.

9 – Ensure full funding for special education services.

10 – Increase life skills training in schools, such as nutritional literacy instruction in middle school and financial literacy instruction in high school.

11 – Provide more school choices for parents of children in schools determined to be failing, including more charter school availability and vouchers for private or religious school.

12 – Pass the Education Investment Tax Credit to encourage more private donations to public and private schools.

13 – A new marketing campaign to encourage greater parental involvement in their child’s education.

14 – Combat chronic absenteeism.

15 – Begin foreign language instruction in elementary school.

Daily News, September 2, 2014

and the full plan can be read here.

Two new parties on the November 4, 2014 ballot

There will be two new parties on the November 4, 2014 New York State ballot – the StopCommonCore party and the Women’s Equality party.

Rob Astorino, Republican gubernatorial candidate, spearheaded the StopCommonCore ballot line initiative that netted in excess of 62,000 signatures (15,000 signatures were required).

According to Casale, this effort brought together volunteers from across the state – Democrats, Republicans and independents; teachers, students and parents – all united in their opposition to the controversial new standards.

The issue certainly resonates with voters. Yesterday’s Siena poll found 49 percent of New York voters – including 53 percent of independents and 60 percent of Republicans – believe the Common Core standards should be stopped, which is something Astorino has pledged to do if he’s elected. – Stop Common Core effort a boon for GOP

All candidates appearing on the StopCommonCore party line have pledged their support to ending Common Core.  Chemung County Sheriff Chris Moss running for Lieutentent Governor, Onondaga County Comptroller Bob Antonacci running for State Comptroller and John Cahill running for State Attorney General will also appear on the StopCommonCore party line in addition to the Republican party line.

Astorino says Common Core standards are experimental, were conceived in secrecy with no public hearings on draft standards, and never tested. He said few teachers were involved in writing the standards. He said Common Core is considered by many to be developmentally inappropriate in the early grades and not based on well-researched child development knowledge. He also said Common Core actually lowers standards.

Astorino started the StopCommonCore line idea in his high-profile race against Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and many other GOP candidates have run with the idea. Astorino says if enough people sign petitions for the independent party line, Democrats and independents who oppose Common Core could use the ballot line to vote for Astorino without actually voting Republican.

Some candidates take aim at Common Core, The Leader-Herald

George Amedore, who is running against incumbent New York State Senator Cecilia Tkaczyk representing Kingston, will appear on the StopCommonCore Party line in November.

Amedore spokeswoman Eileen Miller in Niskayuna said Amedore wants more local administrative control of educational standards.

“He obviously supports high standards in the classroom,” she said.

But she said Amedore wants local school districts and education officials – instead of Washington – to control teaching standards.

“Common Core is deeply flawed,” Amedore says on his website. “We should not use our children as experiments. They deserve better from Albany. We must set high standards for education – but the implementation of curriculum must be vetted by our teaching professionals, not a board of political appointees. Parents, educators and administrators must be heard – not denied. Let’s scrap Common Core in favor of a common-sense approach with even higher standards for our children.”

Kevin Roberts who is running against New York State Assemblyman Kevin Cahill representing Kingston submitted petitions for the StopCommonCore ballot line but a challenge has been raised regarding the petitions per this article.

The Women’s Equality party was brought to the ballot by Andrew Cuomo to raise issues regarding health and workplace rights during the election year.

The formation of the ballot line signals a renewed focus by Cuomo’s re-election campaign on the 10-point women’s agenda, which includes a provision designed to codify the Roe v. Wade decision in state law. – Democrats unveil Women’s Equality Party

Republicans and some Democrats display cynicism regarding Governor’s Cuomo’s reason for creating the party (here and here) but regardless Governor Cuomo received more than enough support (90,000 signatures – article here) to have his name appear on the new Women’s Equality ballot line in addition to the Democratic, Independence and Working Families party lines on the November ballot giving him, in total, four party lines.

Several New York State Senators collected petitions for the Women’s Equality party as well (including Senator Tkaczyk who represents Kingston) and will appear on the ballot line if the challenges that have been raised against their petitions are not successful – see article here.

If either of the new parties garner 50,000 gubernatorial votes in the November 2014 election, then the party will be entitled to appear on the printed ballot next year without going through the petition process again.

Governor’s Debate: Teachout Vs. Astorino

Governor Cuomo won’t debate Zephyr Teachout before the Democratic primary next Tuesday September 9, 2014 (Democrats – don’t forget to vote!) so Rob Astorino and Zephyr Teachout arranged to debate each other to get their thoughts out and open up some discussion on important issues.

Talk show host Brian Lehrer made an interesting comment at the beginning of this program about Governor Cuomo trying to stifle discussion on important issues by refusing to debate. Mr. Lehrer said “my job is to make sure important issues get discussed during election session… If the governor is lying low and refusing to debate in order to minimize discussion as a political strategy, … then I am all for it” (having a debate in another way). I am so glad that Mr. Lehrer and the WNYC 93.9 radio station are willing to help prevent that stifling of discussion from happening!

GOP Gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino (L) and Democratic challenger Zephyr Teachout debate in the WNYC studios. (Jody Avirgan/WNYC)
GOP Gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino (L) and Democratic challenger Zephyr Teachout debate in the WNYC studios. (Jody Avirgan/WNYC)

Listen to the debate here.

The Common Core discussion/education policy begins at approximately the 15 min mark.


Educational platforms of New York State gubernatorial candidates

Kids go back to school in Kingston tomorrow and education is on the minds of our politicians (or should be).

New York Allies for Public Education has just released a scorecard with information on where the candidates for New York State Governor stand on various educational issues – click here to view the scorecard. Governor Cuomo doesn’t fare so well unfortunately.  Check the scorecard to see where all five of the gubernatorial candidates (Governor Cuomo, Rob Astorino, Zephyr Teachout, Howie Hawkins and Randy Credico) stand on the Common Core Standards, teacher tenure, APPR, standardized testing, educational spending and charter schools.

Gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino has just released his educational platform and you can view it here.

Zephyr Teachout is looking to get on the ballot by winning the Democratic primary on September 9, 2014.  Her educational platform has been available for quite some time on her website – click here to view her platform.

I have not been personally following the campaigns of Howie Hawkins (Green party gubernatorial candidate) or Randy Credico (also looking to win Democratic primary) but their campaign platforms are available at the following links:  Howie Hawkins platform and Randy Credico platform.  I did not find education specifically mentioned on Randy Credico’s campaign website.

Remember that you have the opportunity to make YOUR voice heard regarding education in the upcoming elections.  If you are a registered Democrat, you can make your voice be heard in the Democratic primary on Tuesday September 9, 2014.  ALL registered voters can speak loud and strong by casting your vote at the polls in the general election on Tuesday November 4, 2014.