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Sen. Lee Zeldin joins lawmakers seeking to delay Common Core

State Sen. Lee Zeldin at a news conference.

State Sen. Lee Zeldin at a news conference. (April 24, 2012) Credit: Newsday / Karen Wiles Stabile

State Sen. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) wants to delay implementing tough, new academic standards known as the Common Core, calling its rollout "terribly executed."

The education program, adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia, was created with the goal of better preparing students for college and the workforce.

But thousands of Long Island parents told state education leaders at raucous town hall meetings last year that the program requires too much testing and leaves children feeling discouraged.

"It is a major issue in my Senate District," Zeldin said in a statement. "Securing a delay remains my top education priority."

Zeldin joins Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who has also called for the delay of Common Core, and other state legislators looking to halt the program at least temporarily.

Sen. John J. Flanagan (R-East Northport), chairman of the New York State Senate Standing Committee on Education, said in a statement Tuesday he supports legislation that would reduce testing associated with the Common Core and that it is time "to make the changes our students, parents and teachers need."

But state officials stand behind the program, which New York adopted in July 2010.

"Turning away from the Common Core would put our students at a severe disadvantage, not only with the rest of the nation but with the rest of the world," said New York State Education Department spokesman Jonathan Burman.

Zeldin said participation in Common Core has caused the state to give up local control, and teachers were not prepared for its implementation.

"When voicing my opposition to Common Core, I have been told by some that we 'just need to give it time,' " said Zeldin, who will challenge Rep. Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) later this year. "I oppose that line of thinking. Our students are not guinea pigs and this experiment needs to stop."

New York State United Teachers, the state's largest teachers union, is grateful for Zeldin's remarks. Union president Richard C. Iannuzzi said the Common Core standards are too rigid and local schools shouldn't have to undergo a complete overhaul to comply.

"We got off on the wrong foot and continue to go in the wrong direction," with Common Core, Iannuzzi said. "And the minor adjustments made in Albany are unacceptable. There are certain things that cannot be fixed while in motion."

He will soon ask the union for a no-confidence vote against state education Commissioner John B. King Jr., who has pushed hard for the change.

King has said the new standards are challenging but that many schools, including those on the Island, are thriving under the Common Core.

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