How Serious Was Cuomo About Reforming Common Core?

During New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget address earlier this year, he announced he was appointing a special panel to look at the implementation that has caused so much angst among teachers and parents in the state.

N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo delivers his nomination acceptance speech at the state’s Democratic Convention, in Melville, N.Y., Thursday, May 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Now, the chairman of the 11-member committee doesn’t know if the group will issue a final report with recommendations, according to Capital New York.

I.B.M. executive Stanley Litow, the chairman, said the full panel hasn’t met since releasing the preliminary report in March. He said only “there might be” a final report, and he’s “had a lot of contact” with other group members, “but we haven’t had a formal meeting.”

The lack of a final set of recommendations could call into question Cuomo’s commitment to reforming the standards. The governor, a likely 2016 Democratic presidential contender and up for reelection this year, is a Common Core supporter. But he has had to fend out criticism from the New York State United Teachers, the state’s largest teachers union, which has called for a moratorium.

When Cuomo announced the panel in February, he said: “The Common Core standards are a critical part of transforming New York’s schools, and the failure to effectively implement them has led to confusion and frustration among students and their families. I urge the members of this panel to work speedily in bringing forward a set of actionable recommendations to improve the implementation of the Common Core.”

Thus far, the state has done away with standardized testing for kindergarten through second grade. But teacher and parent concerns run deeper.

The Common Core State Standards are k-12 math and English standards developed by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. Though not a product of federal legislation, the Department of Education has linked adoption of the standards to school districts receiving Race to the Top grants.

Litow’s panel met just twice. The first meeting was a discussion on improving public opinion of Common Core. The preliminary report summarized what the State Board of Regents and state lawmakers had already suggested, but not new suggestions, according to Capital New York, which called it “unclear” whether the panel would complete its work.

“I think it went reasonably well,” Litow said. “I think it defused a lot of the anxiety. I think a lot of the steps that were taken in terms of slowing the rollout a little bit, ending the testing for K-2. I think it got people a lot more comfortable with it.”