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Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo met Thursday with teachers who had protested his education policies at a large rally just 10 days ago. The governor said afterward that straightening out the state’s teacher evaluation system was the “most pressing” education problem the state faces.
On April 28, Connetquot Teachers’ Association president Tony Felicio Jr. led a large protest that criticized Cuomo’s education policies, especially the use of exams tied to the Common Core standards and curriculum to evaluate students and teachers. Newsday reported that the governor's office had offered a meeting with Cuomo if the teachers called off the rally. Thursday, he and other teachers sat down with the Democrat, according to the governor’s office.
“Today we had a productive meeting with NYSUT leaders from Long Island,” Cuomo said in a statement, referring to the New York State United Teachers, the state’s largest teachers’ union.
“I thank Connetquot Teachers Association president Tony Felicio for organizing the meeting,” the governor continued. “I have also been meeting with the new NYSUT president, Karen Magee, and have had a positive dialogue.”
Felicio couldn’t be reached for comment.
Education is looming as an issue in the gubernatorial race. Parents and teachers have been critical of increased standardized testing tied to the new Common Core standards and curriculum. Teachers have been critical of Cuomo and state legislators’ action to tie their evaluations to the exams. Meanwhile, Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino has tried to tie Cuomo to the controversy.
Cuomo and legislators earlier this year passed a new law that delays the use of Common Core tests to evaluate students. And he recently hinted that he’s open to delaying it for teacher evaluations as well, after first opposing such a delay.
On Thursday, Cuomo went a step further, saying the “most pressing” education issue is the “impact of Common Core scores on the teacher evaluations.”
Said Cuomo: “I think everyone supports teacher evaluation, including most teachers, but they need to be fair and accurate. Flawed Common Core implementation has severely damaged confidence in the accuracy of evaluations. I believe we must work diligently to remedy that situation with a legislative solution this session. While I know time is short, I believe it is possible to find a reasonable solution and implement it. I will do my best to bring the parties together to get it done.”