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State Republicans expected to vote against Regents to protest Common Core

The New York State Assembly will vote on appointing members to the Board of Regents Tuesday.

State Senate Republicans say they will break a long-standing tradition of boycotting the election of new Regents. They now say they will attend a joint legislative session, and that many will vote “no” over dissatisfaction with the Common Core.  

It’s uncertain whether all four of the incumbent Regents members will be re-elected.  

Senate Education Chairman John Flanagan says Republican Senators will be attending a joint session of the legislature Tuesday to appoint members to the New York State Board of Regents to new terms. But he says many GOP members plan to vote no.

“There’s a very strong feeling that not enough has been done,” Flanagan said. “And they’re still not listening and acting the way that they should.”

Flanagan, who says he expects a lively dialogue says he will also urge state education officials to seek a waiver from some of the testing associated with the Common Core. He says the state of California recently was granted permission by the federal government for an exemption of some of  the Common Core requirements.

“What happened in California should be the clarion wake up call for the state of New York,” Flanagan said.

In past Regents elections, Assembly Democrats have had enough votes to approve Regents members of their choice. This year though, because of several vacancies, the Assembly Democrats will need help from other factions.  In addition to nearly all Republicans in the legislature being expected to vote no, many Democrats in the Senate also say they won’t back the Regents nominees.  

Sen. George Latimer, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Education Committee, says he won’t be endorsing any of the Regents candidates. Latimer compared the on-going implementation of Common Core to the disastrous voyage of the Titanic.

“You’re going across the North Atlantic at breakneck speed, you have reports of icebergs out there, you’re not slowing down, you’re not accessing what jeopardy exists there,” said Latimer. “We’re making a mistake for large number of students all across this state. And I don’t want to be part of making that mistake.”

There are also indications that even the Assembly Democrats may reject at least one of the incumbent Regents, seeking to make a statement about widespread dissatisfaction over the implementation of the Common Core learning standards.  

Meanwhile, late on Monday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo released the recommendations from a panel that he appointed to fix Common Core. Their recommendations include ensuring that the new Common Core test results for third through eight graders will not count on students’ permanent records, and an end to the State Education Department’s contract with a private company, called InBloom, to input students’ personal records and data.  The panel does not recommend a moratorium on using the test results to evaluate teachers.

Flanagan says he expects a new law by end of the month to fix some of the problems stemming from Common Core.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.