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Newly Elected Regents May Signal Change On Common Core

Christine Armario

The New York State Legislature elected three new members to the Board of Regents last week. Now the majority of the Board disagrees with the previous leadership, which pushed the Common Core learning standards and the tests linked to them. That policy met with resistance from parents and teachers. It also spurred a boycott called the “Opt Out” movement that resulted in 20 percent of eligible students in New York to sit out the tests last year.      

Luis Reyes is one of the new Regents. He’s a Spanish Language professor and director of education at the Center for Puerto Rican Students at the City University of New York. His election was backed by the Opt Out movement.

Reyes has worked for the rights of bilingual immigrant children, and he represented Manhattan on the City Board of Education for eight years.

"I certainly support the right of parents to opt out, with full information about what their options are, and I believe that the Regents and the Commissioner should take seriously why there is an Opt Out movement, because it is growing throughout the country," Reyes says.

Reyes does not expect his election or those of the other new Regents to immediately quiet the movement. He says the Board has to rebuild and re-earn the confidence of the public again.

Lisa Rudley is a founding member of the Opt Out movement group, New York State Allies for Public Education. She says she's encouraged by the election of the new Regents.

"We've been seeing a change with the Board of Regents for the last three years, and there's been about essentially a 50 percent turnover of the members of the Board."

But she says the state will still be giving the students basically the same exams this spring as last year.

The state's new education commissioner, MaryEllen Elia, has shortened the tests and will give students more time to complete them.

But Rudley says she wants to see more changes first before she and others are ready to buy back into the system.

Karen has covered state government and politics for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 New York and Connecticut stations, since 1990. She is also a regular contributor to the statewide public television program about New York State government, New York Now. She appears on the reporter’s roundtable segment, and interviews newsmakers.
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