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New Siena Poll finds New Yorkers divided on Common Core

A new poll finds New Yorkers remain confused about the worth of the new Common Core learning standards, which schools in the state are in the process of adopting.

The Siena College poll finds voters are divided over the program, with around the same amount saying they are not confident that Common Core will result in better preparing students to be college or career ready, as those who say that the new learning standards are on the right track.

Siena’s Steve Greenberg says the numbers indicate state education officials, who have faced angry parents in several public meetings, have not done enough to sell Common Core.

“It’s clear from looking at the Siena College poll data that state Ed[ucation] did not do a particularly great job of rolling out the Common Core,” Greenberg said.

Despite the troubled implementation of Common Core, Greenberg says when voters were asked whether the state Education Department and state Board of Regents should continue to set education policy or if the governor should take it over, the vast majority, 62 to 21 percent, said leave the job to the education professionals.

“They know that the governor, this governor or any governor, is a politician,” Greenberg said. “I think they trust people who have a background in, who are charged with running education to set education policy, rather than a politician.”

In an interview, Cuomo dismissed the poll question on who should run education in New York as silly.  

The governor has appointed his own panel to study how to fix the Common Core implementation. Speaking in Niagara Falls this week, he says while there is consensus on the goals of Common Core, there’s disagreement over how to get there.

“The implementation has been flawed, and it’s been too hasty,” said Cuomo. “It’s created a lot of anxiety and we have to slow down the implementation.”

Cuomo initially backed the fast tracking of Common Core.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who has a representative on the governor’s panel, says state education officials have also made some thoughtful recommendations on how to fix Common Core. The state Board of Regents recently voted to delay the effects of the new Common Core tests on high school seniors until 2017.  

Assembly Democrats have more influence on who is chosen as a Board of Regents member, because the entire legislature elects the Regents, and Assembly Democrats have the largest numerical faction in the legislature. Silver says no one is to blame, though, for the botched roll out.

“We all share the same goal,” Silver said. “And that’s to improve our schools and help prepare our students to be successful.”

Silver says if the governor’s panel recommends further legislation to fix the adoption of Common Core, then the Assembly will consider it.

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.