Green Party gubernatorial candidate Howie Hawkins said today that Republic Rob Astorino's plan to run on a Stop Common Core ballot line is a "bait-and-switch diversion designed to channel legitimate concerns over Common Core behind the Republican agenda of underfunding and privatizing public education."
“This is bumpersticker sloganeering at its worst,” Hawkins said. “Voters shouldn't fall for this ploy to siphon off votes to the Republican column.”
Hawkins called on media and civic organizations to sponsor a gubernatorial debate focused solely on education as one in a series of debates.
“We know what Astorino is against. But what is he for?” asked Brian Jones, Hawkins' Lt. Governor running mate. “Astorino said he will release his ideas on curriculum reform in the fall. My state union federation, NYSUT, will make its endorsement in August. It's clear Astorino doesn't care what we educators think.”
Hawkins said that a debate focused on education would show that both Governor Cuomo and Astorino would underfund public schools, especially in property-poor inner city and rural communities. He said the high-stakes testing linked to Common Core is designed to fail public schools in disadvantaged communities and convert then into privately-managed charter schools.
“I want to fully fund public schools. We need to end the property tax cap and the Gap Elimination Adjustment, which has balanced the state budget on the backs of our children by cutting state aid to schools for the last five years. We need to stop competitive grants for school funding, which puts the poorer school districts at a further disadvantage. New York schools are the most segregated in the nation. Many are overcrowded. Class sizes are growing. That's hurting children's education. Politicians are blaming teachers instead of themselves for these conditions. Now a lawsuit seeks to take away New York teachers' due process rights under tenure rules. These issues, as well as Common Core, need a full debate,” Hawkins said.
“The biggest problem with Common Core is that it is linked to high-stakes tests that can be used to hold students back, deny diplomas, fire teachers, and close schools,” Hawkins said. “This test-and-punish regime needs to be replaced with a support-and-improve approach. We need qualitative assessments of students and teachers, not simplistic standardized tests designed more for the convenience of testing technology vendors than for educational objectives.”
“We need standards, but educators should design them, not private contractors with lucrative contracts. All the outsourcing for curriculum design and testing for Common Core is wasting public school resources,” Hawkins added.