Regent Roger Tilles, reads poetry to Ms. Brooke Meyers 4th...

Regent Roger Tilles, reads poetry to Ms. Brooke Meyers 4th grade class at John H. West Elementary School on Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2015 in Plainedge. Credit: Howard Schnapp

ALBANY -- Fallout over the Common Core continued Tuesday in a small but noticeable way as lawmakers ousted two longtime members of the state Board of Regents, New York's educational policymaking board.

Regents Robert Bennett of Buffalo and James Dawson of Plattsburgh each had his 20-year tenure end as the State Senate and Assembly, in a joint vote, replaced them on the influential, unpaid, 16-member board. State legislators also filled two board vacancies, meaning the board will have four newcomers -- an unusually large one-year turnaround for the normally fixed panel.

Legislators reappointed three regents -- including Long Island's representative, Roger Tilles of Great Neck, whom both Republicans and Democrats praised as "well-regarded." And they re-elected Kathleen Cashin, a Brooklyn educator and critic of linking teachers' evaluations to students' scores on Common Core tests, and Lester Young of Brooklyn.

The fall of Bennett and Dawson means three sitting regents have been ousted in the past two years. Before 2014, the last time a sitting regent wasn't re-elected was in 1988.

But widespread unrest about the Common Core academic standards and exams have turned formerly sleepy regents elections into heated battles.

"They are sending a message," Tilles, after his re-election, said of lawmakers. "I think the board hears it."

Tilles, who will begin his third five-year term on the panel, said "the three of us who were re-elected" believe the board needs more transparency and less of a "top down" approach.

"There needs to be more willingness to hear everyone out," Tilles said.

"Regent Bennett and Regent Dawson are really professional people . . . but in terms of getting people on the board who are really involved in schools, the four new regents who were elected today really fit that to a tee."Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) cited unspecific concerns about Common Core in pushing for board turnover.

Regents' elections effectively are controlled by Heastie and Assembly Democrats, who, with 106 members, have the largest bloc. But Republicans said their voices were heard in the regents' screening process.

"It's partly about Common Core but more about the overall reforms that have gone on. They are seen as not having enough input from the local level," said Assemb. Edward Ra (R-Franklin Square), ranking minority member on the Assembly Education Committee. "The new members will bring in a fresh perspective and wake up some of the others."

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