Solidarity above All Else

While I hate bringing politics into our discussions, this year’s run for NY Governor is going to be hot with educational issues. I want to urge you not to allow political differences to divide you.

Yesterday Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, the candidate for governor of New York State for the Republican and Conservative parties, announced the beginning of the Stop Common Core independent nominating petitions to be circulated around the State of New York.

Astorino makes some good sound bytes in regards to his opposition to Common Core.  The Green Party’s Howie Hawkins is also opposed, as is Zephyr Teachout in her run against Cuomo in the Democratic primaries. But there is more to this debate than simply a myopic dislike of Common Core (by the way, I hate it too). As these candidates develop their platform and their detailed positions on education (some are already well on their way), we need to be critical and ask tough questions. How do they view charters? What is their position on teacher tenure and do they really understand what tenure is and why it is in place? If not Common Core, then what? How will they relieve our children of the burden of overtesting–both Common Core tests and other standardized forms of assessment. How do they plan to provide the funding so desperately needed by our public schools? What is their view on the rights of parents to opt out of testing? What is their position on the business-as-usual mentality of the NY Board of Regents? The issues are heavily nuanced and there are many questions to be asked. All we know for sure right now as that incumbent Governor Andrew Cuomo has not been listening to the pleas of parents and educators across the Empire state when it comes to issues in education.

There are other things to consider as well. Many do not have the luxury of voting based on one issue. Regardless of the candidate that you believe will perform best as governor of our great state, I urge you to maintain respect for and open discourse with one another regarding educational issues. My fear is that an election, especially one loaded with a Common Core ballot line is going to open up wounds between advocates that have nothing to do with education. Vote with your mind, your moral conscience, and your philosophical beliefs in the forefront, and be respectful to those with different views. They may not vote the way you want them to or use the ballot line you believe in, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re on the reformer’s side. Let us not reduce these issues to something simplistic. They are complex, and I believe that regardless of the man or woman in office, the real power will always lie in the hands of parents and teachers who are acutely aware of their roles in education and their rights to act in the best interests of children.