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GOP candidate for governor will also run on anti-Common Core ballot line

Karen Dewitt
Rob Astorino, the GOP candidate for governor, at a press conference opposing the Common Core learning standards Tuesday.

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

Republican gubernatorial candidate 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 grassroots 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 noted that his child spent six weeks of class time preparing for the Common Core 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, Gov. 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 as 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 Education Commissioner John King and the 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, after he and the legislature agreed to delay the effects of the Common Core-related tests on students and teachers for another two years. Cuomo also 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 Cuomo’s campaign for reelection had no comment on the creation of the new anti-Common Core ballot line.

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.

Peter Kauffman, a spokesman for Cuomo’s campaign for reelection, issued a statement calling the new ballot line “pathetic pandering," that "will do nothing more than make New York students less competitive than their peers nationally.”

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.