Cuomo, self-declared 'student lobbyist,' sees school issues boil

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Spin Cycle

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Across New York, school issues appear to be at a boiling point.

Whether it’s the Common Core curriculum, online student data or teacher and principal job reviews, parents have voiced anger and frustration statewide and on Long Island this fall. There’s sure to be political blowback at some point.

Even though he doesn’t control education in New York, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo once declared himself  “the students’ lobbyist”  when pushing through legislative changes he favored. Perhaps because of that, the governor these days is getting grilled during public appearances.

So far, Cuomo is trying to keep his distance from the issue. For instance:

“The governor is not in charge of the state Education Department. Most people think the governor is in charge,” Cuomo said in Lake Placid when asked about the Common Core implementation.

“No, I don’t think he should resign. I don’t think it’s my place to decide if he should resign or if he should stay. It’s not my place. I don’t appoint him as you know,”  the governor said in Albany when asked whether Education Commissioner John B. King Jr. should step down.

This is a different approach from the one Cuomo took in 2012, when he forced and took credit for changes in the teacher-evaluation system.

Meanwhile, anger grows.

In November, about 1,500 people booed King and slammed the Common Core at a forum at the Three Village School District in East Setauket; 600 people did much the same at Manorville last Tuesday. And some New York City parents sued to block the Education Department from sharing data with a company that has a “cloud”-based data depository.

A number of politicians, including state Sen. Jack Martins (R-Mineola), have called for King’s resignation. Another Long Islander, Assemb. Al Graf (R-Holbrook), has introduced legislation and a petition that calls for New York to withdraw the Common Core.

Sen. John Flanagan</MC> (R-East Northport) has predicted that lawmakers will introduce other measures to deal with the Common Core and student data security. “I do believe there’s going to be a strong push to put the brakes on,” he said on a recent cable TV interview, referring to Common Core and testing. Flanagan, who has held hearings around the state this fall on school issues, said Cuomo should be more involved.

“There’s no question the governor should be more active,” Flanagan continued. “He certainly bears responsibility in terms of the budget. The governor refers to himself as the students’ lobbyist, so I think there’s a compelling argument that he should weigh in.”

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