ALBANY, N.Y. (AP/WBEN) - Josephine Victoria Finn, a Monticello village justice and former community college associate professor, is replacing former Board of Regent member James Jackson who withdrew his bid for re-election.
The joint Legislature on Tuesday overwhelmingly supported Finn, who needed a majority vote of 107 from both the Assembly and the Senate. The Assembly Democrats typically control the vote but because of vacant seats only had 99 votes.
The state education policy-setting Board of Regents has been under fire by parents, educators and lawmakers for the poor rollout of the Common Core, a new tougher testing standard.
At-large members Wade Norwood and James Cottrell, who represent the entire state, and Christine Cea, who represents Staten Island, were re-elected.
Local lawmakers were not in favor. “After the disastrous rollout of Common Core, none of the current Regents deserved to be re-elected. My vote against all the incumbents is a strong denunciation of their handling of Common Core and the direction in which our education system is heading,” says Assemblyman John Ceretto. “Walter Polka, on the other hand, has decades of experience and is the right man to fix what has been broken. He has been a great influence on my career and I am proud to call him a friend and a mentor."
“The roll out and implementation of Common Core encountered numerous problems and has had a negative effect on our students, parents, teachers and schools. Residents and community members have voiced their dissatisfaction,” says Assemblyman Joseph Giglio. “As a result, I decided to vote against the incumbent regents candidates not only because of the political selection process, but also because of the disconnect demonstrated between the regents and our communities. New York’s education system is in need of an overhaul, and today we missed out on that opportunity. “The bottom line is that the Assembly Majority should not have the ability to hand-pick candidates without any consequence. This should be a process of selecting candidates who will represent the best educational interests for our children."
"I voted against each one of the Board of Regents incumbents. In light of the complete failure of the Common Core rollout and implementation, I cannot and would not support these individuals. They must be held accountable for this failure. Too many schools across New York are failing their students not because of a lack of passionate, qualified educators in the district, but due to the lack of leadership among the Board of Regents and the state Education Department," says Assemblyman Ray Walter.
"The fact that so many state legislators voted “no” during today’s Board of Regents vote speaks strongly to the fact that educators, parents, students and taxpayers across our state have very real concerns about the direction of the board – and that we, as your representatives, hear you," says Assemblyman Jane Corwin. "In the midst of a confusing and anxiety-ridden Common Core implementation, there is no better time for Albany to restore public confidence by conducting this process with transparency and accountability. Accountability for the state Department of Education begins and ends with the Board of Regents, and I believe there must be greater transparency in this process if we are to change the status quo. However, that was sadly not the case today."
"The roll-out of Common Core has been profoundly flawed, and the State Education Department and Board of Regents are responsible for this mess," says State Senator Mark Grisanti. "Today's vote sends a loud and clear message that our students deserve better and that this bureaucratic disaster needs to be fixed. New York State must return its focus to one overriding goal: providing a quality education that helps every child achieve a bright, successful and rewarding future."
“In Buffalo and Western New York, families have been clamoring for real change within the State Education Department,” says Senator Timothy Kennedy. “The current members of the Board of Regents who presided over the extremely flawed implementation of the Common Core must be held accountable. The future of our children is at stake. The status quo simply is not working for our schools, and change is urgently needed. The deck was stacked in favor of the incumbent Regents today, and I took a stand to protest the ongoing failure of the Board of Regents to fulfill their responsibilities on behalf of our children. Given recently exposed flaws and the woeful implementation of the Common Core, it is long past time to make major changes at the State Education Department. I am frustrated that many of my colleagues in the Legislature were unwilling to join me in opposition to the incumbent members who were up for reappointment. This was our opportunity to bring fresh perspectives to the lingering challenges facing schools across our state. The State Education Department is in dire need of strong, responsive leadership to help restore the promise of our schools. I urge the members of the Board of Regents to stand up for students, parents and educators and to take reasoned and decisive actions to ensure every student across the State of New York receives a world-class education.” Kennedy said there may be a slight silver-lining – and that is the grassroots advocacy building momentum behind this movement to improve our schools. “Previously, this process of reappointing regents had been largely ignored and was rarely given the attention it was due. I am pleased there is now heightened awareness of the challenges facing our schools, and I am thankful that New Yorkers across this state are engaged and in tune with the direction of education policy,” Kennedy said. “This grassroots advocacy is making a real impact in the development of policy and the implementation of solutions. Despite today’s disappointment, we must keep moving forward in our collective work to improve our schools and strengthen our children’s future.”
Regent Bob Bennett says he's pleased with the re-election of the regents. "I don't think there was any delay on common core," says Bennett. "The vast majority of districts are implementing the common core and are doing a good job of it." Bennett adds there is a misconception about common core. "Common core gets wound up with teacher evaluation and testing. That's a misdirection and it should not be confused."