New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has put together a review panel that he hopes will make a “total reboot” of Common Core in the state, he announced Monday.
The panel, which has 15 members including teachers, administrators, parents, and politicians, will have a wide writ to review not only Common Core’s content but also the state’s curriculum and its standardized tests. Some of the names on the panel are national education figures: Randi Weingarten is president of the American Federation of Teachers, the country’s second-largest teachers union, and Geoffrey Canada is president of the Harlem Children’s Zone and was notable as a central figure in the landmark education documentary “Waiting for Superman.”
“I have spoken to parents, teachers, superintendents, and school boards, all across the state and I know that the situation is critical – I have heard the message clearly: we must take action and we must take action now to fix our schools,” Cuomo said in a speech announcing the panel. “The agenda of the Task Force is straight forward and clear: to overhaul the Common Core system – to do a total reboot.”
Cuomo has defended Common Core in the past, and even when criticizing it he has focused on the standards’ implementation rather than content. Now, though, Cuomo is voicing many of the same criticisms of Common Core that more conservative critics have been making for years. (RELATED: Andrew Cuomo Says Common Core Is ‘Not Working’)
“There is nothing ‘Common’ about our state,” he said. “We should have New York standards developed by New York state and local professionals for New York’s students.”
Cuomo’s increasingly critical tone shows how eager he is to stem a tide of backlash that has been stronger in New York than perhaps any other state.
While many states saw limited opt-outs of Common Core-based standardized tests last spring, in New York the boycotts were a true mass movement, with about 20 percent of students refusing their exams. Besides undermining the validity of standardized tests by removing such a large chunk of the student body, the boycott also imperils millions of dollars in education funding New York receives from the federal government, because No Child Left Behind requires states to test at least 95 percent of students in math and reading in grades 3-8.
The backlash against Common Core in New York is especially notable because of the state’s strong Democratic tilt. Until now, most of Common Core’s difficulties had been in Republican states while Democratic ones largely held firm.
Despite Cuomo’s sharp rhetoric, though, some Common Core critics expect little to change, except maybe the name. There have already been several efforts to review Common Core in the state, and none of them produced substantive changes in the end. While the new panel is tasked with making recommendations, since they exist solely through an executive order by Cuomo there is no guarantee their suggestions will be adopted.
“I think it’s showboating,” Brooklyn College education professor David Bloomfield told Politico New York. Several teachers told Albany’s News10 that while the new panel will address a large number of issues, it won’t look at the one thing teachers care most about: Curbing the use of standardized tests to evaluate teachers. Cuomo has aggressively defended the use of evaluations tied to tests to hold teachers accountable.
New York Board of Regents chief Merryl Tisch has admitted that New York may simply change the name of Common Core to something more New York-centric to get away from the “politicization” of the term. (RELATED: New York Officials Think Common Core Name Change Will Totally Fool Everybody)
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