Typically elections for the New York State Legislature are held in even numbered years. However this year there will be a special vote held for New York State’s 2nd Assembly District on election day. Former Assemblyman Dan Losquadro stepped down earlier this year to become the Brookhaven Superintendent of Highways, leaving the 2nd Assembly District without representation in the New York State Assembly. That will change following Election Day when residents of the 2nd Assembly District will vote for either John McManmon or Anthony Palumbo.
Like many of our PJSTA members, I am a resident of the 2nd Assembly District, which begins just to the east of Comsewogue and extends out through the North Fork. With the current education climate being what it is and knowing the importance of the state legislature’s role in it, I decided to reach out to each of the candidates to see where they stood on education issues. I made it clear that as a voter my decision of who to vote for would be made based on their stances on education.
Mr. McManmon, who grew up in Riverhead and currently resides in Aquebogue, responded with the following (emphasis mine)…
As you know, implementation of the Common Core in New York has been deeply flawed. I was profoundly disappointed that Commissioner King cancelled community meetings to discuss this issue and am pleased that some have been rescheduled. I have asked Commissioner King specifically to hold at least one public meeting on Eastern Long Island.
My concern about the Common Core stems from my belief that our children’s education is essential to their success in a global economy. To that end, I have called for comprehensive reform of the Common Core in New York State, including (1) reduction in high-stakes testing, which is particularly inappropriate for younger students and their teachers, (2) de-coupling of test scores from teacher, student and school evaluation, (3) limited the data collection and dissemination by private entities and (4) rethinking from the ground-up (not top-down) how best to implement the Common Core, if at all.
Education is very close to my heart. In my immediate family are public school teachers who face many of the issues you describe below. In my pro bono legal practice, I represent families of autistic children seeking the best possible education in our school system.
Our children’s education is, quite literally, our future. In the Assembly, I will be an staunch advocate for education reform and a loud voice for the dedicated parents seeking to provide their children with the skills to succeed in the 21st century.
Mr. Palumbo, who grew up in Patchogue and currently resides in New Suffolk, responded with this…
As your Assemblyman, I will be an unrelenting advocate for our children and our education system. Though we pay among the highest taxes in the state and nation, the majority of state education aid continues to be funneled into New York City. We simply do not receive our fair share. As your Assemblyman I will advocate not only for an increase in education aid for our communities, but for a complete restructuring of the formula by which state aid is calculated.
I also believe more must be done to help school districts, students and parents come to terms with the Common Core curriculum and I think all options should be left open. One proposal put forward in the Assembly is to review the Common Core and evaluate the program’s strengths and weaknesses. I believe this could be a positive step—if it takes into account the input of parents, teachers and administrators. Another proposal put forward would be to opt out of the Common Core curriculum entirely. While there are some merits to this position, that decision ultimately lies with the State Board of Regents.
In the meantime, I believe the state can be doing more to ease the transition. This program is yet another unfunded mandate by Albany, but I feel that if the state is going to require it, they should pay for it. I will strongly advocate for state government picking up the cost of testing, the cost to implement the program and the cost of training teachers, should the Common Core system continue.
I heard better things from both candidates than I was honestly expecting. I was particularly impressed with Mr. McManmon’s ideas of reducing standardized tests, de-coupling of test scores from teacher evaluations, and re-thinking “from the ground-up (not top-down) how to implement the Common Core, if at all.” Of course talk is cheap without action behind it. I thank both of these gentleman for taking the time out of their busy schedules to answer my concerns regarding public education. One thing is for certain. If the winner of this election goes on to make their support of public education a priority throughout their first year in office, they will receive significant support from the PJSTA as they seek re-election next fall.
If you want to find out what assembly district you live in click here.