ALBANY -- Republicans Tuesday delivered a petition with 62,000 signatures aimed at stopping Common Core in schools, while providing the GOP with another critical line on the ballot in November.
The petition delivered to the state Board of Elections would create a "Stop Common Core" ballot line. The line would allow voters to weigh in on the Common Core's higher academic standards, which are vexing some parents and teachers, while giving Republican candidates another way to attract votes from Democrats and voters not enrolled in a party.
"The implementation has been nothing but an absolute failure," said Rob Astorino, the Republican candidate for governor, at a news conference in front of Mineola Middle School. "It needs to be done in a way that brings parents and teachers to the forefront of the process."
Cuomo supports the Common Core, but agrees its rollout was flawed. His campaign wouldn't comment, but directed reporters to an advocacy group, StudentsFirstNY. The group accused Republicans of "a cheap political stunt" to snag votes on a "sham ballot line" amid confusion about Common Core.
Astorino "shows that he's not serious about the challenges facing public education; he's not serious about the standing of American students in a competitive global marketplace; and he's not serious about what it takes to be governor," the group said.
The state Board of Elections received the 4,403 pages of signatures Tuesday. General objections to any of the signatures can be made within three days, followed by specific objections within six days after that, said board spokesman Thomas Connolly.
"This is one of the biggest reform movements in New York State history and let Cuomo's attack dogs go after the parents who are behind this," Astorino, the Westchester County executive, said in an interview. "This is such a disgraceful argument by the other side to say, 'If you are not for Common Core, you are not for higher standards.' "
Astorino said he favors a state Board of Regents' initiative that was interrupted by the nationwide Common Core effort. He said the Regents plan would reduce testing while giving local administrators more control over raising standards.
Democrats plan their own independent ballot line. The Women's Equality Party intends to show support for the Democrats' women's agenda which includes added protection for the law allowing late-term abortions. A spokesman said the Democrats haven't yet filed their petition to get the ballot line.
Parent and teacher outrage this year led Cuomo and the legislature to delay using tests aligned to the Common Core in the promotion of children or in evaluating teachers.
Republicans said "Stop Common Core" is surpassing the 1994 anti-tax campaign by then-candidate George Pataki. Pataki's petition attracted more than 50,000 signatures and helped the Republican beat Gov. Mario Cuomo.
New York adopted the Common Core in 2010 as the state sought nearly $1 billion in federal aid under the federal Race to the Top competition. In exchange for the extra aid, states had to implement new ways to improve instruction.
State Education Commissioner John B. King Jr. has highlighted several districts where teachers and administrators said the higher standards of the Common Core have already improved instruction.