Cuomo TV ad pushes his Common Core stance

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo at the New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo at the Capital on July 18, 2013. Photo Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams, Jr.

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ALBANY -- Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo will start airing a statewide television ad this week to push his reforms to the Common Core curriculum so students won't unfairly be hurt by test scores under the new, higher standards, a spokesman said Sunday evening.

The governor's push comes amid a move by Assembly Democrats to delay aspects of the highly criticized Common Core standards for two years.

Cuomo speaks directly into the camera in the ad, which is designed to underscore his proposal to better train teachers and prepare students and their parents for the national Common Core initiative. Cuomo supports the higher standards, but said the uproar in recent months by parents and teachers shows the rollout by the state Education Department was flawed.

"While the state's new Common Core curriculum is heading in the right direction, testing on it is premature," Cuomo tells viewers. "It creates anxiety and it's just unfair. And their [children's] scores should not be counted against them."

Such TV ads aren't uncommon for governors seeking to gain public support for their proposals. A Cuomo spokesman said the ad will be paid for by Cuomo's campaign.

Cuomo has created his own commission to find a way to better inform parents and students, and better train teachers to adjust to the higher standards. Cuomo also wants students in kindergarten through second grade to be exempt from standardized tests, which critics say are stressing students in all grades.

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The ad comes as the Assembly's Democratic majority plans to introduce a bill that would delay teacher evaluations conducted under the Common Core effort for two years, defying Cuomo's plans. The Democrats, including Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) and Education Committee chairwoman Catherine Nolan (D-Ridgewood), are scheduled to discuss the proposal in closed-door conference Monday and perhaps vote on it this week.

"We will be discussing our bill with members this week," Silver spokesman Michael Whyland said in an email Sunday night.

A Cuomo administration official Sunday night said the ad isn't a reaction to the Assembly's action and the ad doesn't mention delays in implementing teacher evaluations. Cuomo's teacher evaluations are a major element of his re-election campaign.

Cuomo forced the implementation of job evaluations for teachers and principals that include test scores as part of the requirement of accepting federal aid.

Under a state law championed by Cuomo, 20 percent of a teacher's or principal's evaluation is based on student achievements on standardized tests.

The state Board of Regents themselves proposed a two-year delay in February. But after Cuomo criticized the Regents, who are appointed by the legislature, the board dropped its proposal.

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