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Teachers union head challenges education chief

NYSUT president Dick Iannuzzi speaks at Nyack High

NYSUT president Dick Iannuzzi speaks at Nyack High School. (Dec. 9, 2013) Credit: Eric F. Krieger

The head of the state's largest teachers union will ask its leadership to bring a no-confidence vote against state Education Commissioner John B. King Jr., officials said Friday.

The move represents a "mounting frustration" among educators about the rollout of tough new academic standards known as the Common Core.

New York State United Teachers has more than 600,000 members statewide. Its president, Richard C. Iannuzzi, will ask its board of directors late this month to support the vote; it would then go before the group's 2,000 delegates in April.

NYSUT spokesman Carl Korn said the vote would "represent the mounting frustration that parents and teachers feel about the state Education Department's botched implementation of the Common Core and, perhaps even more, the department's failure to listen to the concerns from the field and make the necessary course corrections."

Thousands of parents and educators from across Long Island packed local school auditoriums in recent months to express their concerns about the Common Core, telling King that curricula tied to the standards were rushed into classrooms and children who felt they couldn't measure up were discouraged.

The Common Core, adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia, is meant to better prepare students for college and the workforce so they can be more competitive in a global economy, proponents say. Critics, including the teachers union, have asked to delay its implementation.

"The moratorium NYSUT wants would require a change in state law," state Education Department spokesman Dennis Tompkins said Friday. "But talk of a moratorium is a distraction. The focus should be on our students. Every year, 140,000 high school students leave high school without the skills they need to succeed in college or a career."

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