Thursday, March 06, 2014
vote NO on current Regents up for re-appointment
All parents should contact their legislators to vote NO on current Regents up for re-appointment who should be held accountable for their incompetence and refusal to listen to the view of parents and teachers; the vote will take place March 11.
Lawmakers unsure if they'll replace regent incumbents
Gary Stern, TJN 6:16 p.m. EST March 5, 2014
Says the Regents must be held accountable for the much-criticized rollout of the Common Core standards.
Despite widespread criticism of the state Board of Regents for driving the troubled Common Core rollout, it's far from clear that lawmakers will replace any of four incumbents seeking re-election on Tuesday.
Democratic legislators are trying to figure out whether there are enough votes between the Assembly and Senate to support any of close to 20 other candidates for the four seats. If not, the incumbents are likely to be given new five-year terms on the board, which sets education policy for New York.
"The question is which candidates can get enough votes," said Assemblyman Thomas Abinanti, D-Mount Pleasant, who has been harshly critical of the regents and the state Education Department. "This is not just a negative — a case of replacing people. We have to fill the seats."
Regents are elected by an unusual majority vote of the state Assembly and Senate, which traditionally receives little attention. This year, though, the process is being watched closely by parent groups and others because of the regents' aggressive reform agenda, which has created statewide controversy.
Assembly Democrats dominate the process because of their large numbers, with their leadership choosing the initial nominees. But Senate Democrats could play a key role this year in forming a coalition to support or oppose a candidate.
Senate Democratic Conference Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, D-Yonkers, said Wednesday that she expects to vote against the four incumbents, even if it will be difficult to gather the votes to support other candidates.
"It's important to send a message that we're paying attention and understand the important role of the regents," she said. "The implementation of the Common Core has been so disastrous, and I understand the anger and frustration in our communities."
On Wednesday, Sens. George Latimer, D-Rye, Cecilia Tkaczyk, D-Schenectady County, Terry Gipson, D-Rhinebeck, and Timothy Kennedy, D-Buffalo, became among the first lawmakers to say they will vote against the incumbents because the regents must be held accountable.
"The incumbents are not bad people, but none were willing to fundamentally reassess the direction we are going in with respect to the Common Core," said Latimer, who attended hours of candidate interviews last month.
The four regents seeking re-election are Christine Cea, who represents Staten Island; James Jackson, who represents Albany; and two at-large members, James Cottrell of Brooklyn and Wade Norwood of Rochester. All four have been generally supportive of the reform agenda promoted by regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch and Education Commissioner John King.
No incumbent has been rejected in memory.
The challengers are mostly self-nominated candidates with a wide range of experience who drew mixed reviews from legislators. Among them is David Levin of Pomona, a high school math teacher in the Bronx.
Candidates will need the support of 107 legislators to be elected. Republican senators generally boycott the vote because of their lack of say in the process.
Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, D-Scarsdale, a member of the Assembly Education Committee who has been very critical of the sweeping changes brought by the regents, said it is unclear who the Assembly leadership may nominate or whether there are enough votes to defeat the incumbents.
One key factor, she said, is that Cea and Jackson are supported by their local legislative delegations.
Paulin, who also attended hours of interviews, said there has been tremendous discussion among Assembly Democrats about how the voting process might go.
"This is a puzzle that hasn't come together yet," Paulin said. "You don't want to scapegoat these four regents, but they were part of the decision-making or ignored it. I'm trying to work with my colleagues to figure out what's best for our schools in the long run."