Though Beltway pundits once laughed off the notion that the school initiative known as the Common Core standards would be a deciding factor in the 2014 elections, New York State residents are trying to determine if their frustration with the controversial standards will translate into votes.
According to the Poughkeepsie Journal, worried and angry parents and teachers have been filling board of education meetings across the state and organizing social media campaigns against the Common Core standards. Thousands of parents have also opted their children out of the new state tests that have been aligned with the Common Core.
New York is a governing member of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), one of the two federally funded Common Core test consortia.
The governor’s race pits incumbent Andrew Cuomo (D), who supports the Common Core standards, against Republican Rob Astorino, who is adamantly opposed to the nationalized standards and has secured a “Stop Common Core” ballot line for the November general election, as Breitbart News reported in August.
According to the Journal report, Rochester Teachers Association President Adam Urbanski said that while “teachers are very frustrated,” he is inclined to think they will not turn out to vote at all, with Democrat Cuomo not supporting their position against the Common Core standards.
“This is a dilemma. I wouldn’t be surprised if most of them did not vote, which is tragic because … how you bring about change in a democracy is through the ballot box,” Urbanski said.
In 2013, New York State parents, teachers, and students saw test scores on the new tests plummet, with only 31 percent of New York State students passing both reading and math, compared with 55 percent in reading and 65 percent in math in 2012 – prior to the use of the Common Core-aligned assessments.
As Breitbart News reported in August, the latest test scores in the state showed most students still scoring below the proficiency level in both math and English Language Arts (ELA), creating even more frustration for parents, as well as anxiety for teachers, who, ultimately, will have part of their performance evaluations contingent upon student success on the new tests.
“We’re now saying to the public education system: You have to perform, and you’re not just going to get funded for process,” Cuomo told reporters Wednesday in Albany. “You’re going to get funded for performance. That is a big deal, and that is a big shift when you’ve had a public monopoly since its existence.”
Astorino, however, has pledged to rescind the Common Core standards in New York State and replace them with in-state developed standards.
“Now we know what we’re getting into (with Common Core): a true experiment, an experiment where we may not get the answers for 10 or 15 years to see if it ever worked,” Astorino said last month when he discussed his education views. “And in the meantime, we’re subjecting a generation of kids to something they can never get back.”
Common Core is the “No. 1 issue why I will be voting,” said Julie Fajardo, a mother of three from Gang Mills in Steuben County. “I am so completely against it. I want it taken away from my schools. I’m tired of the loss of local control and we have no voice in our children’s education.”
Similarly, Lisa Rudley, whose children attend the Ossining school district in Westchester County, said she believes frustrated parents will not support Cuomo, and, instead, will vote for either Astorino or Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins, who is also against the Common Core standards.
“I think you will see a lot of votes that otherwise would have gone to Cuomo who will go to Astorino and Howie because of this issue,” said Rudley, who is co-founder of New York State Allies for Public Education. “I think parents are more engaged than ever.”