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GOP Candidate For Governor Will Also Run On Anti-Common Core Ballot Line

The Republican candidate for Governor is petitioning to run on a new ballot line that capitalizes on public opposition to the new Common Core learning standards.

Republican candidate for Governor Rob Astorino is gathering signatures to run on a third ballot line in November.  In addition to the GOP and Conservative Party slots, Astorino has begun a new ballot line- called Stop Common Core. He admits it could give Democrats and others who are reluctant to vote for the Republican Party another option.

“This is an opportunity for people to either make a statement or to truly vote for me,” Astorino said. “Either one.”

Republicans around the state and grass roots groups opposed to the new learning standards are helping gather the 15,000 signatures needed. But Astorino says, more importantly, he’s committed to the issue. He says if elected governor, he would rescind, Common Core,  which he says he fears is “dumbing down” the state’s educational standards. The Westchester County Executive  says as a parent of three school aged children, he’s experienced the adoption of Common Core, and it’s flaws,  first hand.

“I’m doing homework with them, and I see the frustration,” said Astorino, who said his child spent six weeks of class time preparing for the Common Core related tests.

“That was six weeks, where they did not have, for the most part, any enrichment classes,” Astorino said. “They didn’t have science, they basically had limited gym and art and music.”

The Republican candidate links his opponent , Governor Andrew Cuomo, with the new education policy.

“Cuomo’s Common Core has been a disaster,” he said. “The roll out and implementation  speak for themselves and how bad it’s been.”

Astorino says he’d rather return to the Regents diplomas, that were once considered the “gold standard” of education in the United States, and improve upon them.

Cuomo initially supported the state’s  fast track start up of Common Core, but in recent months has blamed the Education Commissioner and State Board of Regents for the rocky start up.  Cuomo spoke after he and the legislature agreed to delay the effects of the Common Core related tests on students and teachers for another two years.

“I believe long term in Common Core, and I believe the move to Common Core is exactly right,” said Cuomo, who said everyone now agrees the transition  was “somewhat rushed”, and that they had to make “adjustments”.

In New York, governors do not directly control the education department or policy. The education commissioner is chosen by the State Board of Regents, who are appointed by the legislature.

A spokesman for Governor Cuomo’s campaign for re election , Peter Kauffman , in a statement called the new ballot line “pathetic pandering will do nothing more than make New York students less competitive than their peers nationally”. 

Cuomo will also appear on two other ballot lines in addition to the Democratic Party. The governor will also be on the progressive- oriented Working Families Party and Independence Party lines.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of public radio stations in New York state. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.
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