New York Teachers Union Says 'No' To New Education Standards

Richard Iannuzzi, president of New York United Teachers union, talks to reporters at the Capitol on Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013,
Richard Iannuzzi, president of New York United Teachers union, talks to reporters at the Capitol on Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013, in Albany, N.Y. New York's largest teachers union says it's suing to overturn the state's property tax cap, which it says is unconstitutional and perpetuates funding inequities between affluent and poor districts.(AP Photo/Mike Groll)

During the 2012 - 2013 school year, New York educators became some of the first in the nation charged with bringing the Common Core Standards into the classroom, but now they are pushing back against the new guidelines with resounding force.

Over the weekend, the board of directors for the New York State United Teachers, the state’s largest teachers union, voted to withdraw support for the Common Core as it is being implemented in New York and declared “no confidence” in the state’s education commissioner, John King.

The Common Core Standards have been adopted in 45 states in an effort to make sure students across the country are being held to the same benchmarks. The initiative –- and the standardized tests that are being used in conjunction with it -– are supposed to emphasize critical thinking and deeper learning.

According to the union, the Common Core implementation process is being rushed and conducted without adequate transparency in New York. Though King has recently attempted to open the lines of communication on the subject through a series of forums around the state, the NYSUT contends that the politician has continually ignored the voices of parents and educators.

In a statement released over the weekend, the board of the NYUST said it would like to see the state make major changes in the Common Core’s implementation process, including putting a moratorium on consequences for students and teachers in connection to the program's high-stakes tests. Other proposed changes include the release of test questions associated with the Common Core for teachers to utilize for instruction purposes, and more engagement with local parents.

"Educators understand that introducing new standards, appropriate curriculum and meaningful assessments are ongoing aspects of a robust educational system. These are complex tasks made even more complex when attempted during a time of devastating budget cuts,” NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi said in a statement. “[The state education department's] implementation plan in New York state has failed.”

On a national scale, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten supports the Common Core mission but has condemned places like New York for disastrous implementation processes. Weingarten supports the actions of the NYSUT, which is an AFT affiliate, and told The Huffington Post that she is not surprised by the vote.

"NYSUT's position is perfectly consistent with where they've been. They said over and over to John King you have to do the following 10 things, there are 10 kinds of adjustments that need to be made," Weingarten said over the phone.

The National Education Association, the nation's largest teachers union, has also supported the NYUST vote, despite generally backing the Standards.

“The new Common Core State Standards provide real opportunities for the students in our nation’s public school system, but we owe it to them to provide teachers with the time, tools, and resources to get it right. Educators in New York were given no choice but to make a strong statement against the inadequate implementation of the standards,” NEA President Dennis Van Roekel said in a statement Monday.

After the vote, there are no signs that King plans to step down.

Together with the Board of Regents, the Governor, and Legislature, we will make necessary adjustments and modifications to the implementation of the Common Core, but now is not the time to weaken standards for teaching and learning,” King and Board of Regents Chancellor Meryl Tisch said in a joint statement, according to Capital New York.

Joy Resmovits contributed reporting to this article.