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GOP's Astorino says Cuomo flip-flopping on Common Core (Updates)

Rob Astorino promotes the "Stop the Common Core"

Rob Astorino promotes the "Stop the Common Core" ballot line as the Republican nominee for governor campaigns outside Mineola Middle School in Mineola on Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2014 Credit: Howard Schnapp

ALBANY - (Updates with comment from Cuomo's office)

Former Republican nominee for governor Rob Astorino said Wednesday that it is too early to say if he will mount a potential rematch against Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in 2018, but Astorino took some shots over what he called a flip-flop by the Democrat on the Common Core in schools.

In the 2014 campaign, Astorino, who is the Westchester County executive, promoted a ballot line called "Stop the Common Core." Astorino had referred to the higher academic standards and testing set in Washington as "Cuomo's Common Core."

On Sept. 3, Cuomo said the Common Core is not working and created a panel of experts to do a comprehensive review of the program. The Common Core is part of education reforms pushed by the Democratic Obama administration, which New York accepted before Cuomo was governor in exchange for more than $700 million in additional federal funding.

"The fact is that the current Common Core program in New York is not working, and must be fixed," Cuomo said Sept. 3.

During the 2014 campaign, Cuomo supported the higher standards of Common Core, but blamed the state Education Department under the state Board of Regents for a poor "rollout" of the standards that outraged parents and politically powerful teachers' unions. Astorino had called for scrapping Common Core and called for standards to be raised with far more involvement of local schools and parents.

"We're getting lots of vindication," Astorino said Wednesday in Albany, where he attended meetings as county executive. "This is not a fringe movement."

Astorino said Cuomo's new panel to explore changes to the Common Core will follow a trend in which Cuomo tries "to have it both ways. He's trying to confuse everyone" by renaming Common Core and only making "cosmetic changes," Astorino said.

Supporters of Rep. Chris Gibson (R-Kinderhook) are urging him to take on Cuomo or the Democratic nominee in 2018. Astorino said he will focus on being county executive for now and that Gibson should concentrate on his duties in Congress.

Cuomo beat Astorino handily in the state where Democrats have a 2-to-1 enrollment advantage, though Astorino beat some expectations by winning about 40 percent of the vote in the low-turnout race and by winning many upstate counties.

"If Astorino wants to continue to relive his failed campaign, hey, this is America," said Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi.




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