A usually routine re-election vote for four members of the state Board of Regents scheduled for Tuesday has taken on drama amid widespread furor over the rollout of tough new academic standards.
Lawmakers facing election this year are feeling the heat from parents and educators on Common Core, a tougher curriculum standard in English and math designed to improve students’ college and career readiness. Teachers have said they weren’t given sufficient material and guidance to teach the new Common Core standards.
The Regents, elected for five-year terms, oversee state educational policy. Two at-large members, Wade Norwood and James Cottrell, are up for re-election along with Christine Cea, who represents Staten Island, and James Jackson, who represents the Albany area.
There are 17 Regents, one from each of the state’s 13 districts and four who serve at large. The Regents are chosen by the majority of the state’s 63 senators and 150 Assembly members, meaning 107 votes are needed to win. Democrats in control of the Assembly typically control the vote, but because of vacancies have only 99 seats.
Senate Democratic Conference Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said she will not be voting for the incumbents.
“These four individual Regents are good people, but it is hard for me to support incumbents who were unable to recognize the need to reevaluate the flawed implementation of Common Core,” Stewart-Cousins said Friday.
A spokesman for the Senate Republicans said Monday they were conferencing on what stance to take on the Regents vote. It is still unknown how the Independent Democratic Conference, a group of Democrats who run the Senate with the Republicans, will vote.
The Assembly last week passed a bill that would delay portions of the Common Core for two years. The bill prevents schools from using Common Core-based test scores on teacher evaluations and prevents schools from using the scores to decide whether a student will advance to the next grade. The bill was delivered to the Senate, where it has no sponsor.
Some Republicans tried to amend the bill to establish a panel on whether to use the testing standards but were rapidly defeated when lawmakers said it could jeopardize the state’s nearly $700 million federal Race to the Top grants.