New York State has a problem with the new Common Core Standards. Actually, it’s multiple problems. Last year, over two-thirds of public school students flunked the new state tests that are aligned to Common Core. Teachers are upset about the new curriculum and the accompanying evaluations, and parents are reacting negatively to the increased testing.
These developments have been noted by our governor and state legislators. Legislators like Assemblyman Al Graf (R-Holbrook) are holding hearings around the state to discuss Common Core, and are even proposing new legislation to fix it. Meanwhile, Governor Cuomo has called for “tougher teacher standards and improved accountability in schools,” and has “linked state grants to schools who outperform their peers”. Yet when it comes to actually doing something about the outcry against Common Core, Governor Cuomo says that the burden is on the Legislature and the Education Department. “‘It’s something we’re watching very closely, and it’s something that might be the subject of legislative changes next year… But it’s not anything that I control, so we are watching,’” said the Governor.
Ironically, when the Governor wants the Legislature to pass a bill that will help him politically (i.e. same-sex "marriage", the SAFE Act, and casino gambling) he has demonstrated a clear willingness to pressure the Legislature to do his bidding. When it comes to Common Core, however, the Governor is displaying passivity. It would seem that the Governor doesn’t want to spend political capital to really reform education in our state.
Voters expect more than passivity from their elected officials. It is up to us to communicate our concerns about Common Core to our elected officials, and to let them know what we expect them to do about those concerns. If voters send our message effectively, perhaps Governor Cuomo and others who are reluctant to take on a thorny issue like Common Core will be motivated to do more than “watch.”