Tag Archives: Senator George Amedore

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

Urgent! Call Albany NOW 3/31/15 to protect our children from testing tied to the budget!

If the information presented by the Cuomo official in this article as of 10pm Monday March 30 (here and at the end of this post) is accurate, this is very bad news for the children of New York.

Not only will the children continue to be tested in order to determine whether their teachers get to keep their jobs or not, a second test might be added to assist with this determination. BUT the extra test will not be mandated by NYSED so if a district decides to use it, the extra testing is on the district NOT NYSED (thanks a lot Governor Cuomo and legislators!) Regardless of how well the teacher does on the observation portion of the evaluation, if their students do not show growth based on the test scores, the teacher can NOT receive an effective or highly effective rating. Not in this article but from earlier reports (here and here), if teachers are rated ineffective for two or three years in a row, they can be fired (within 90 days unless they can justify not being fired for two years of ineffective ratings; mandatory firing in 30 days for three years of ineffective ratings unless the teacher can prove fraud).  That sounds like an awful lot of pressure to put on a child’s test score to me!

Have the people in power in Albany been listening that these tests are developmentally inappropriate; that they cause harm to children; that they are statistically invalid for evaluating teachers; that there are so many problems with these tests that they should NOT be used in any way shape or form (read here for a sampling if you are not familiar with the various testing issues) let alone be the gatekeeper on whether a teacher gets to keep their job?

Apparently the education portion of the budget bill is not yet available (as of 10pm Monday) so we do not know what the exact language is in the bill. Senator Amedore’s office reminded me of this when I spoke to them at 9pm tonight. However Governor Cuomo is willing to waive the three-day waiting period requirement so the budget bill can be passed on time, therefore once the bill hits the legislator’s hands, I expect that it will be voted on very quickly so we will not have the luxury of waiting to see what the bill actually says and then leisurely voicing concerns.

Several of the New York State senators’ offices have been insisting that school aid will not be linked to any of the education reforms but as of the publishing of this article at 7:30pm this evening Monday March 30, 2015, Ken Wagner, an official from NYSED is stating that the aid is indeed linked.

School funding and teacher evaluations are linked after all, a top official with the state education department said late Monday.
I regret the inconvenience this will cause to our legislators’ aides but the phones need to be ringing off the hooks so that our senators and assembly members know that inclusion of any of these items in the budget will be considered by parents as a failure to support what we want to see for the education of our children:
  • increased reliance on testing
  • setting teacher evaluations as part of the budget process
  • receivership for schools – I have not focused on this due to the testing concerns but it is a total destruction of local school control
  • anything tying school aid to Cuomo’s education reforms

Please call both your senator and your assembly member as well as the speaker of the house Assemblyman Heastie and senate majority leader Senator Skelos.  Senator Amedore and Assemblyman Cahill represent the majority of families in the Kingston City School District.

Senator George Amedore (518) 455-2350

Assemblyman Kevin Cahill (518) 455-4436

Budget hook

Regarding school funding, it looks like neither the senate or the assembly stuck to their guns and we will not get the $1.8 billion that the assembly was pushing for or the $1.9 billion that the senate put forward.  Reports seem to be settling around $1.3 or $1.4 billion with Senator Skelos being quoted here that schools would get half of the GEA back this year and the rest next year.  Senator Amedore also issued a statement regarding elimination of more than 50% of the GEA.  Please thank him for supporting elimination of the GEA when you call.

Schools also need the Foundation Aid formula to be updated and used each year because this is what will give the school districts a reliable revenue that they can count on from year to year.  Not sure what portion of the school aid will be considered foundation aid.

***

ALBANY—The final plan for a new statewide teacher evaluation system will require observations by an “independent” evaluator, a Cuomo administration official said during a briefing with reporters late Monday.
It’s hard to say definitively what will be in the bill, since it hasn’t been introduced, and leaders of the State Senate and Assembly did not immediately return a request for confirmation that they have agreed on specifics of the deal. But the administration official, speaking on background, presented the plan in great detail, some of which Capital has already reported, arguing the deal was solid.
According to the briefing, the evaluation system will have two components: observations and student performance on state tests.
There will be two required observations, from a teacher’s principal or administrator and an “independent” evaluator, who could be a principal, administrator or “highly effective” teacher from another school or district. As Cuomo originally proposed, a college professor or retired educator could also serve as the independent evaluator. A peer observation will be optional.
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The official argued against critics’ characterization of the “independent” evaluator as an unfunded mandate. If schools or districts agree to swap evaluators, neither would have to pay for the other’s services, the official said.
Student growth on state-administered, Common Core-aligned English and math exams in third through eighth grades and Regents exams in high school will be required components for the evaluation system.
Districts and local unions may choose to include an additional test, which would be designated by the State Education Department. Contrary to how the extra test was described before, it would not have to be designed by the state, which is a costly and time-consuming process.
The additional exam would address concerns about teachers being rated based on a student’s work on one day or over one test-administration period, the administration official said. But the test would be optional, so parents wouldn’t be able to blame the state for additional testing. the official said.
While the State Education Department will be charged with determining how performance indicators translate to “ineffective,” “developing,” “effective” or “highly effective” ratings, the budget will include certain rules that “trump” the outcome of the department’s calculation.
For example, if teachers are evaluated using only the traditional state exam and are rated “ineffective” based on student performance on that exam, they may not be rated “effective” overall; they may only be rated “ineffective” or “developing.” For teachers at districts that opt to use two tests, if teachers’ rating based on both tests combined is “ineffective,” they must be rated “ineffective” overall.
If teachers are “ineffective” based on observations, they can’t be “effective” or higher overall.
The budget will also include new requirements for continuing education or professional development. While teachers are already required to complete 100 hours of professional development annually, there will be stricter state guidelines for what constitutes professional development. Teachers will have to complete the state-approved development in order to retain their certification.
The budget will also include $20,000 bonuses for high-performing teachers.
MORE: ALBANY EDUCATION 2015 STATE BUDGET ANDREW CUOMO EDUCATION EDUCATION REFORM NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLY NEW YORK STATE SENATE STATE BUDGET TEACHER EVALUATIONS

Details begin to emerge on new teacher evaluation system capitalnewyork.com 10:07pm March 30, 2015

Urgent! Call Albany today about school funding in the state budget!

Budget negotiations are coming down to the wire in Albany and school aid/how our kids will be educated hangs in the balance.

Please call your legislators today to state the following points:

  1. Stop holding our school funding hostage for the Governor’s bad plan on testing and teacher evaluation.  Pass the budget without ANY of the education reforms Governor Cuomo is trying to shove through.  Education reform needs to be dealt with separate from the budget.
  2. The Senate must increase school funding to at least the $1.8 billion in the Assembly version of the budget and the budget needs to use foundation aid to prioritize high needs schools along with GEA reductions.

Senator George Amedore (518) 455-2350

Assemblyman Kevin Cahill (518) 455-4436

Your voice matters

Here is more information pertaining to the points above if you have time to read the details before you make your phone calls.

Current news on the street is that Senator Skelos is considering a deal with Governor Cuomo that would delay any increase in school aid to June 2015 when an appointed commission would unilaterally determine the final teacher evaluation system.

Although no one really has details, you can read about the possible teacher evaluation commission here and here.

I personally am not in favor of a commission as being discussed even if it is decoupled from the budget.  I do not believe it would adequately represent the stakeholders nor am I convinced that the legislature/Governor Cuomo are the appropriate people to determine how teachers are evaluated even if the legislature gets to vote on the results of the commission and it is not clear if the legislature would vote on the results or not.  I have included a letter I sent to Senator Skelos below.

While the Senate Republican budget is being reported as putting $1.9 billion in for education, it really only works out to $1.4 billion according to Alliance for Quality Education.  The Senate needs to come up to at least the $1.8 billion that the NYS Assembly has in their budget.  In fact the Board of Regents asked for $2 billion and AQE says $2.2 billion is needed but I do not expect we will get to those numbers since the Governor only proposed $1 billion IF the legislature went along with his reforms and the assembly is only proposing $1.8 billion.

I am asking that you call Senator Skelos’ (majority chair) and Senator Flanagan’s offices as well as your local legislators to let them know your opinion on the creation of the teacher evaluation commission and the possibility of school funding being tied to it.

Senator Skelos (518) 455-3171

Senator Flanagan (518) 455-2071

I have contacted the three Senate offices regarding the teacher evaluation commission and was told the following that you can use to inform your comments as you make your calls:

  • Senator Amedore’s office – the commission is being discussed but they are confident that it will not be tied to school aid/the budget and pointed to a statement by Senator Flanagan in this article when I asked for public support of Senator Amedore’s confidence in the Republican coalition.
  • Senator Skelos’ office – on Wednesday the aide would not report where the Senator stood on private negotiations with the Governor but would add my zipcode to the list who had called about the commission
  • Senator Flanagan’s office – the aide told me that the commission has been discussed but stated emphatically that Senator Flanagan does not support anything that will delay school aid

Even if it seems that the legislators are supporting your wishes regarding the education aspects of the budget, please make these phone calls.  With the ongoing negotiations, things are changing moment-by-moment and the legislators need to be reminded that they are serving at our pleasure and we are watching and will indeed hold them accountable.

***

I sent this email on Tuesday March 24, 2015 before the report came out that they might actually delay the funding.

Dear Senate Majority Leader Skelos and Senate Education Committee Chair Flanagan,
 
I have just read that Senate Republicans might be close to working out a deal with Governor Cuomo regarding the education reform agenda including in the budget.  http://www.nystateofpolitics.com/2015/03/senate-republicans-close-with-cuomo-on-education-reform/
I hope that this means the education reform agenda has been decoupled from the budget and will be dealt with separately as it should be.  I am very dissatisfied with this behind-closed-doors dealings regarding the education of our children.
 
The creation of a commission to develop teacher evaluation criteria is concerning to me as well.  Legislators and the governor should not be determining how to evaluate teachers, particularly without educators involved in the process, and it definitely should NOT be done in a rush or as part of the budget process.
 
I want my student’s teachers evaluated by local educators who know them and the job they do and know how to help them improve IF there are areas where they need to improve NOT by people who assume that they are doing a pathetic job and try to figure out how to fire them!  I also do not want my student’s state test scores used as any part of a teacher’s personal evaluation and just to make that TOTALLY CLEAR, I will be REFUSING the tests until they are no longer used as part of a teacher’s personal evaluation.  I am not a teacher nor am I funded in any way by a union so please do not say that unions and teachers are the only ones against using standardized test scores as part of the teacher appraisal system.  I am simply a parent who wants the best education for the children of New York and I will fight until we arrive at that place in this state.
 
The entire education reform agenda needs to be dealt with openly and with all stakeholders represented fairly and honestly at the table (students, parents, teachers, administrators, legislators, NYSED, governor, anyone else who is a player/has a stake?) not just the teacher evaluation criterion.  Stop this behind-closed-doors dealing about the education reform!  Tell Governor Cuomo that we will NOT accept his ‘education reform’ as part of the budget.  Pass the budget with the educational funding that we need for our schools and then lets get down to open and honest discussions about what we need to do to get rid of the mess that has been made in New York State by all this ‘education reform’.
 
If a commission is needed, let me suggestion the Blue Ribbon Commission that is part of the Apple Plan presented by the New York State Republican Assembly in bill A3656.
 
Jolyn Safron

NY State Senate supporting Governor Cuomo’s Education Reforms – Contact Senator Amedore to say NO! UPDATED 3:30pm

Okay Kingston, Senator Amedore’s phone needs to be ringing off the hook today and throughout the weekend.  His phone number is (518) 455-2350 and the local office is 331-3810.

He is a very strong supporter of getting rid of the GEA and we should be thanking him for that.  BUT we also need a consistent and predictable Foundation Aid formula put in place that is set in law and runs properly every year.

Apparently the Senate Republicans are under the misguided idea that the majority of Governor Cuomo’s education reforms are a good thing.

UPDATE March 13, 2015 3:30pm:  I have spoken with Senator Amedore’s office and have been told that the article stating that the Republican Senators will support Governor Cuomo’s proposal to increase use of state test scores to 50% of the teacher evaluation is not correct.  This article in the Times Herald Record from March 2, 2015 quotes Senator Amedore:  “I have concerns over the governor’s proposal to base 50 percent off test scores. Not every student learns the same, and teachers need to be able to teach to the ability of their students.”  His office said that his primary concern is with how the tests affect children with disabilities.  I am now expecting that should anyone within the New York State Senate attempt to associate any additional consequences with high-stakes testing or should they attempt to support Governor Cuomo’s attempt to punish teachers further by placing more emphasis on high-stakes testing, that Senator Amedore will be there vigorously working to ensure that this does not become law.  Of course I will be working to totally get rid of the consequences associated with high-stakes testing and will be continuing to urge all parents to REFUSE the state tests in April!   – end of UPDATE

According to this article the New York State Senate has released its proposed budget which

  • gets rid of the GEA (good thing)

but also supports the following from Governor Cuomo’s reform package (bad things):

  • lifting the cap on the number of charter schools as well as increasing funding to charter schools even more than Cuomo proposes (I know many like the charter schools because of ‘school choice’ – for me the problem is the fact that so many fail, unfairness and lots of other issues I have not had time to write about)
  • several tax credits/tax deductions (mixed thoughts on this – I could accept some of these as okay)
  • using test scores as 50% of a teacher’s evaluation (although this would be part of a separate bill, not part of the budget – regardless have they NOT been listening?  High-stakes testing is BAD!  Right, of course not, Senator Flannigan had his 5 forums last year and thought all was right with education just like Commissioner King did!)  **see UPDATE above**
  • teachers will only receive tenure after 5 consecutive years of effective or highly effective ratings (in separate bill)  (again high-stakes testing which ratings are based on is BAD!)
  • teacher preparation programs will be closed in which 50% of the graduates do not pass the certification exam (in separate bill)

In the article, NYSUT gives credit to the Senate Republicans for at least separating out the bad parts of what they are proposing so that children are not being held hostage.  However as a Republican, my feelings are more along the lines of “with friends like these NYS Senate Republicans and Jeb Bush who supports Common Core, who needs enemies?”

Whether you are a Republican or a Democrat, please call your state legislators and let them now what YOU think about these educational issues.  The legislators are there to SERVE THE PEOPLE, not to line their pockets with donations from the lobby groups or even just to do what they think is in the best interest of the state.  It is OUR JOB as their CONSTITUENTS to DEMAND how they VOTE ON  OUR BEHALF!!!

While you are making phone calls, give a call to Assemblyman Cahill’s office and thank him for the New York State Assembly budget proposal that boosts education aid to $1.8 billion (not the $2.2 billion that AQE said we should advocate for but better than what Cuomo is offering dependent on accepting the ‘reforms’) and saying ‘No’ to Cuomo’s reforms.  Urge Assemblyman Cahill and the rest of the Assembly to stand strong against Governor Cuomo (and now the New York State Senate).

New York State of the State Address – January 21, 2015

Governor Andrew Cuomo presented a combined State of the State and budget address on January 21, 2015 which he called the “2015 Opportunity Agenda”.

Gary Stern, a reporter for lohud wrote an article the end of December 2014 with some speculations about what Governor Cuomo might include in his State of the State address.  Mr. Stern included some dire predictions and some hopeful possibilities.

Unfortunately the dire predictions are what came true and they revolve around the loss of local control of our schools, an increase in state testing and an attack on the teaching profession.  Plus, the original budget called for an increase of $377 million but Governor Cuomo has said that, if and only if, all of his proposed education ‘reforms’ are accepted/implemented, he will raise state aid by $1.1 billion.

I am going to save the full extent of my personal thoughts regarding the “2015 Opportunity Agenda” for another post but would like to share the following reactions from various individuals and organizations for your consideration.

Here are links so that you can start by reading/watching Governor Cuomo’s remarks yourself if you are not already familiar with the content of the State of the State address:

  • transcript of the 2015 State of the State address
  • presentation of the State of the State address – this link contains background information as well as the video of the speech

Reactions from various individuals and organizations that I have come across:

There are probably some people who liked Governor Cuomo’s education proposals but I have not come across them.  $1 billion dollars is no where near enough to provide the education that the children of New York State deserve and we must NOT hand our schools over to Governor Cuomo!

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.

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.