Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino says his three school-aged children won't be participating in new testing standards as part of the Common Core exams starting this week. The Republican candidate for governor of New York released a video statement on his website Monday explaining he made the decision along with his wife Sheila, a special education teacher.
Common Core is being implemented in schools across the country, but it has been heavily criticized by many parents and educators.
In the video, Astorino slighted the origin of the new Common Core standards. "Common Core didn't come from parents. It didn't come from teachers or school administrators. It came from [Bill] Gates and, later, Washington bureaucrats -- the geniuses who brought us Obamacare."
Emily Karol with the Alliance for Quality Education responded to a request for comment by email, stating "We think it's the right of any family, including Astorino's, to opt out."
Pro-charter school education reform group StudentsFirstNY Executive Director Jenny Sedlis countered, berating Astorino for using his children as political props. "Choosing to opt out of higher standards for New York students is a shockingly irresponsible thing for a statewide candidate to do. Governor Cuomo and the state legislature showed incredible leadership by standing up for the higher standards. Either Rob Astorino doesn't understand what it will take to prepare kids for today's economy, or he's purposely trying to score cheap political points."
Astorino refers to the as standards "Cuomo's Common Core" and believes New York's parents and teachers will lose local control over classrooms. The governor for his part has called for Common Core rollout “flawed” and appointed a panel to review it. "Andrew Cuomo ate it up, calling it 'state-of-the-art.' New York fast-tracked Common Core, handing over the keys to your children's classrooms, without any knowledge of whether it would help or hurt our kids. You know why? Albany wanted the federal dollars, which will soon run out. So we're risking our children's futures for a few scraps from Washington."
Several parent groups argue Common Core is causing undue stress on children by emphasizing competitive test scores over the well-being and individual learning needs of students. Lisa Rudley is co-founder of the New York State Allies for Public Education. "As we are increasing test-driven environments, parents across the state are saying 'no more' and we're seeing record numbers of parents opting out their children from these state tests."
Neither the Cuomo Administration nor the Board of Regents returned calls for comment.