Regents board fight looms
Democrats oppose re-election of four
CAPITOL Four members of the state Board of Regents are up for re-election next week, and several Democrats in the Senate are looking to replace them following the implementation of the Common Core.
Sen. Cecilia Tkaczyk, D-Duanesburg, said she would not vote for the incumbent Regents members on Tuesday. Instead, she is looking to choose among the 20 challengers to fill their seats.
“I think I am sending a message by voting no,” Tkaczyk said. “I think they have done a very poor job of rolling out the Common Core. I really want to see people on the Regents who have a better understanding of what our public schools are dealing with and the challenges they are facing.”
Tkaczyk and fellow senators George Latimer, D-Rye; Terry Gipson, D-Rhinebeck; and Timothy Kennedy, D-Buffalo, plan to vote against the incumbents. But Tkaczyk said she is unsure if the Legislature would have enough votes to do so.
Regents members are elected by the state Legislature in a joint session. The Assembly, which houses a majority of Democrats, typically dominates the process. Candidates require 107 legislators’ votes to be re-elected.
Four members of the board are up for re-election, including James Cottrell and Wade Norwood, who represent the entire state, as well as Christine Cea, who represents Staten Island, and James Jackson, who represents the Capital Region. Their terms range from three to five years.
“We have schools in Schenectady that are facing a $10 million budget deficit. That to me is a crisis,” Tkaczyk said. “We have schools that have to cut kindergarten. That to me is also a crisis. The Regents has done a really poor job so far, and we need to hold them accountable.”
Tkaczyk said all of the schools in her district are calling for more funding in the 2014-15 state budget to sustain their current programs and staff. She said schools are not able to meet the Common Core standards without adequate resources.
In Westchester County, Latimer said he is hearing similar concerns with many educators and parents “angry and upset” about the standards. He said the state should not be discouraging students from going to school.
“Kids are saying they don’t want to go to school because they are tested all of the time,” Latimer said. “The incumbents are not bad people, but none of them are willing to address the problems and negative feedback.”
The Regents and State Education Department have received widespread criticism over the rollout of the Common Core learning standards. Earlier this week, the Assembly passed a bill to delay and change portions of the Common Core. The Assembly is calling on the Senate to do the same.
“The legislation that the Assembly passed, I’m not sure if in that form it would get to the Senate floor,” Tkaczyk said. “There is a lot of moving parts. I think we need to help put in legislation that would benefit our kids in the classroom and adjust to these new standards.”