Klein: ‘Everyone agrees’ on Common Core moratorium
ALBANY—Senate Independent Democratic Conference Leader Jeffrey Klein said Tuesday that Governor Andrew Cuomo and other top lawmakers plan to institute a moratorium on implementation of the Common Core standards, for “at least three years.”
Klein, who co-leads the Senate majority and is therefore one of the four men in the room for budget negotiations, said Common Core changes will "probably" be part of the state budget, as well as a provision to end the state's relationship with a controversial data company.
“I think it's very clear, I think everyone agrees that we have to sort of put a moratorium on the implementation of Common Core, at least three years,” Klein told Capital Tuesday before the Senate went into session. “I think everyone understands that the standards are important, but the implementation was just terrible. So I think we need to slow down the process and get it right.”
Following a lobbying effort from the statewide teachers' union, many lawmakers have called for a “moratorium” on the Common Core. But because the implementation of the new English and math guidelines is complex, there are many explanations of what such a delay would entail. Klein said state leaders are discussing how to hold harmless both students and teachers from the rocky rollout of the standards.
“The teacher evaluation system we have in place already, and it's actually negotiated according to each school district,” Klein said, “but, again, I think it's difficult for them to be judged by the standards of Common Core when Common Core wasn't implemented properly.”
Cuomo has said it is his priority to protect students from negative consequences associated with Common Core-aligned exams, such as high-stakes decisions like promotion or placement. But the governor has staunchly opposed removing exam scores from consideration in teacher evaluations. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said state leaders might leave any concerns about teacher evaluations to the State Board of Regents, an education policymaking panel.
There is more urgency to make changes that would affect students, as third through eighth graders begin taking a second round of Common Core-aligned exams on April 1.
"We are discussing doing something before the first round of tests ... so, probably within the budget,” Silver said after a leaders' meeting Tuesday night, although he didn't rule out additional legislation that would stand alone.
Klein also said leaders want to cut ties with inBloom, Inc., a non-profit company under agreement with the state to build a database of student information.
A panel formed by Cuomo to examine Common Core implementation and other related issues recommended ditching inBloom specifically but largely embraced using data for educational purposes. The Assembly voted for a temporary moratorium on the state's work with inBloom as well as a provision that would allow parents to opt out their children from data collection.
The state Education Department and school groups have argued the “opt out” provision is problematic, because it might affect routine procedures for which schools use data. Klein said the leaders would address this concern.
“We have to be careful, because there are some sources of data that are useful, like how many students use bus transportation, get lunch or things of that nature,” Klein said. “But I think, clearly, the inBloom is a terrible situation. I think it has to end.”
Klein said leaders are close to compromising on Common Core-related issues, but other leaders said education issues are largely unresolved.
Senator John Flanagan, who chairs the chamber's education committee, said negotiations over Common Core implementation would drag on throughout the week, as the April 1 budget deadline approaches.
“I do believe there is some movement on Common Core issues, but it would be premature for me to say that it was resolved,” Flanagan said.
Assemblywoman Deborah Glick, a senior member of the chamber's Democratic majority and chair of its higher education committee, said, “Nothing is really settled.”