The rainy-day rally of Long Islanders had a specific message: refusal.
Teachers, parents and children gathered Saturday to voice their opposition to the Common Core, just days before third- through eighth-graders across New York are scheduled to take the state's English Language Arts test.
Called "iRefuse -- The Great American Opt Out Rally," organizers said it was the first of its kind in New York to call for parents and children to opt out of state testing. A couple hundred supporters Saturday trickled into the auditorium at Comsewogue High School in Port Jefferson Station.
They carried signs and murmured in agreement as a psychotherapist, a superintendent, an upstate principal, a stay-at-home mom, teachers, activists and others launched into fervent criticisms of the Common Core standards and curriculum.
Richard Iannuzzi, president of New York State United Teachers, was cheered as he began by stating a rallying cry coined in opposition to Common Core: "Stop it, fix it, scrap it -- or I refuse it."
And Rob Astorino, the Republican Westchester County executive and gubernatorial hopeful, showed up to pledge his own refusal of the program.
"Since becoming a candidate for governor, I have received more emails and letters on Common Core than any other topic," Astorino said. "On balance, 95 percent of them are against Common Core."
Speakers told stories of children having breakdowns, crying during homework, and becoming afraid of school and test-taking. Mark Ferraris, a parent who founded Take Action Against Common Core, was the emcee yesterday. "What we were refusing today was the standardized high-stakes testing and the abusive Common Core curriculum," Ferraris said. "Our children excel without all this abuse."
A state budget deal announced this weekend has some delays in the Common Core program, including delays in using standardized test scores to determine placement of students. Ferraris and others at the rally said they're hoping for a full repeal.
"Will we get that right now? If you offered a starving man crackers and he asks for lobster, then he's a fool," Ferraris said. "We're going to take what we can get right now."