New York Union Repudiates Common Core, Calls for State Chief’s Ouster

By Stephen Sawchuk — January 26, 2014 2 min read
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The New York State United Teachers’ board of directors on Saturday passed a resolution withdrawing its support for the Common Core State Standards in New York due to poor implementation—and coupled it with a vote of “no confidence” in state Commissioner John King.

The state’s “implementation plan in New York state has failed. The commissioner has pursued policies that repeatedly ignore the voices of parents and educators who have identified problems and called on him to move more thoughtfully,” said NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi in a statement. He went on to call for King’s removal.

The action makes good on NYSUT’s tough talk towards King several months ago, as Teacher Beat then reported. The 600,000-member union has been particularly riled up about the Regents’ decision to administer assessments aligned to the common core before materials and curricula were widely disseminated and taught. (Students posted dismal results on the test last August.) It wants a three-year moratorium on the use of test results for judging students, schools, or teachers.

While the call for King’s ouster is largely symbolic and unlikely to have any real consequence, the union’s about-face on the common core potentially signals new worries for the standards’ supporters. The standards have been buffeted by political critiques by both right and left in recently months.

To be clear, none of the 46 states that has adopted the standards has yet “un-adopted them,” though there are murmurs of that in South Carolina and Indiana. Testing, though, is in a more precarious situation. Several states have pulled out of the two federally funded consortia developing exams related to the standards, or have backed off promises to use the exams.

NYSUT’s move is also notable because both of its parent unions have been among the strongest supporters of the new expectations. The American Federation of Teachers has dedicated issue after issue of its American Educator magazine to them, and the National Education Association’s president gave an impassioned defense of the common core recently. And both unions have put member dues behind curriculum and training on the standards.

The resolution next goes to NYSUT’s delegates before it’s officially a done deal.

Here’s one thing to mull over: Could there be a similar resolution introduced at the American Federation of Teachers’ convention this summer? Politically, the AFT is in a bit of an upheaval, with rumors of a split between Iannuzzi and the president of AFT’s New York City local promising to make this year’s session much more dramatic than usual.

I have raised the question before, but it bears repeating: In their effort to win breathing room on testing, are the unions risking bringing down the entire common-core house of cards?

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.