Gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon made a campaign appearance in Port Washington Tuesday evening to meet with more than two dozen education activists involved with Long Island’s state test opt-out movement.
Nixon arrived in the North Shore hamlet by Long Island Rail Road just after 5 p.m., stopping into a nearby Starbucks for iced green tea before going to an intimate gathering at the home of Allison White, a civic organizer and a steering committee member of Long Island Opt-Out, a grass roots group of mostly parents of students who boycott the state tests.
“I’m here to see if there’s a better way to opt out of this testing culture that is so driving our public education,” Nixon said. “And to fight for things that students really care about — and families really care about — not just math and English, but science and social studies and art and music and gym. All of the things that give you a rich education, not just test prep.”
Nixon, 52, is challenging Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in the Democratic primary on Sept. 13.
An activist and actress, Nixon is best known for her role as Miranda Hobbes on the TV and film series “Sex and the City.” She has framed herself as the progressive alternative to Cuomo, who has the backing of many in the Democratic Party, including former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former Vice President Joe Biden.
Nixon has been endorsed by the Working Families Party. Jeanette Deutermann, founder of Long Island Opt-Out, said while the group does not formally endorse political candidates, it has a vast network and will make a recommendation if it believes a candidate shares similar values. The group has nearly 25,000 followers, according to its Facebook page.
“I have met with hundreds of politicians over the last five years and you get a sense of who knows what they’re talking about,” Deutermann said. “You don’t have to start from scratch with her, she really knows what’s going on and is on the right side of every issue we discussed.”
Long Island leads the state in the number of students who refused to take the state English Language Arts and math exams.
About 49 percent opted out of the ELA tests and 46 percent opted out of math tests last month, according to data gathered by Newsday.
White, the host of the event, said she supports Nixon because “she has a fresh perspective on public education.” She said she does not believe Cuomo has listened to parents “who have been trying to make our feelings known about how disastrous this testing has been.”
Cuomo representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.