Astorino schools plan: Replace Common Core, offer 3 types of diplomas

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Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino, outside Mineola Middle

Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino, outside Mineola Middle School in Mineola, announces his effort to create a Stop Common Core ballot line on Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2014. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

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Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino unveiled an education plan Tuesday that calls for replacing the controversial Common Core curriculum, enacting a tax credit for school donations and creating a three-diploma system for high school students.

Astorino also backs more vocational and technical training. He also called for changing the way state Board of Regents members are selected, making them elected positions rather than appointed by the state Legislature -- an idea lawmakers almost are certain to oppose. The governor, rather than regents, would then select a state education commissioner.

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“Sadly, though, politics and bureaucracy have stifled the ingenuity of teachers in the classroom, and a one-size-fits-all mentality, in the form of the experimental Common Core curriculum, has come down on high from the bureaucrats in Washington, all but negating what's unique in each student,” Astorino said in a statement. “This bold plan will replace Common Core with high standards achieved at the local level, with the input of parents and teachers, and it will make the governor's office directly responsible for school improvements through an executive-appointed State Education Commissioner."

Astorino has long criticized Democrat Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo over Common Core assessments. The Republican even started an independent ballot line dubbed “Stop Common Core.”

Cuomo has backed the Common Core, but has blasted its rollout by the regents. Cuomo and state legislators have delayed the use of Common Core tests for students, but not teachers.

Cuomo faces Fordham University professor and liberal critic Zephyr Teachout in a Sept. 9 Democrat primary.

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Astorino would create three types of diplomas for high students: an “Academic Regents” diploma that generally mirrors the current diploma; a “STEM” (science, engineering, technical and mathematics) diploma; and a “career and technical education” diploma.

The Republican also called for an “education investment tax credit” that would allow credits for donations to private schools. Catholic schools have been the most prominent proponents of the initiative.

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