LEWISBORO, N.Y. – Republican Rob Astorino wants to be the next governor of New York, and he may have landed on the issue that will help him find favor with many voters.
Last week, Astorino announced that he and his wife opted their three school-aged children out of the latest round of Common Core-aligned standardized testing.
“Our family’s protest tomorrow is a symbolic one,” Astorino said in a four-minute video, according to LoHud.com. “But as parents, we think it’s important to take a stand. Our children aren’t guinea pigs … and we want them educated by teachers – not faceless bureaucrats in Washington.”
One advocacy group reported that more than 30,000 New York families also opted their children out of the recent assessments – known as the PARCC test – though the Astorinos may be the most prominent of the group, according to RocklandTimes.com.
Astorino is highlighting his differences with Gov. Andrew Cuomo over the issue of nationalized standards by referring to them as “Cuomo’s Common Core,” LoHud.com reports.
Cuomo, a Democrat, has been a vocal supporter of the Common Core K-12 experiment, but has recently showed signs that he’s willing to reconsider how students’ tests scores are used to rate a teacher’s overall job performance – at least until the wrinkles are ironed out of the controversial PARCC tests.
That might be a long wait. If more and more students opt out of the tests (at their parents’ direction), the overall integrity of the PARCC test results will be compromised and completely unusable to rate a teacher’s effectiveness in the classroom.
And judging from the level of anger many New York families feel toward Common Core, it seems very likely that the opt-out movement will only grow in the coming years.
“I’ve been in education for more than 30 years, and I’ve never seen such a backlash, such an outpouring of anger,” South Orangetown Superintendent Ken Mitchell told RockLandTimes.com.
Other school leaders are noticing the same thing, which suggests the testing component of Common Core is facing a genuine existential crisis in New York and throughout the country. (Some states use the PARCC test, while others use the Common Core-aligned Smarter Balanced assessment.)
Though many powerful politicians and K-12 leaders support Common Core, they appear to have few viable options for saving the PARCC and Smarter Balanced tests.
Education professor and opt-out advocate Jim Slekar recently told the Heartland Institute that no state has a law that requires students to participate in standardized assessments. And given the public’s strong opposition to Common Core, it’s very unlikely legislators in any state will attempt to pass such a law in the near future.
If anything, state lawmakers are moving to weaken the tests. In New York, legislators have passed reforms that prevent Common Core-aligned test results from appearing on students’ school transcripts through December 2018 and prohibit school officials from using test results alone to determine a student’s placement, RocklandTimes.com reports.
The only thing that might save the PARCC and Smarter Balanced tests from oblivion is if competitive colleges refuse to consider any student applications that do not include standardized test scores. That might make parents re-think their opposition, though perhaps not until their children enter high school.
It might also trigger a round of lawsuits.
Here’s the bottom line: A significant – and growing – number of parents is pushing back against Common Core. Their opposition could result in the failure of the nationalized learning experiment, though how this ultimately ends is anyone’s guess.
But for now, it’s politically astute to be against the K-12 experiment. Astorino understands this and it might play a huge role in the coming election cycle. And that makes the governor’s race in the Empire State one to watch.