60th Senate candidates discuss Common Core

Posted at 6:01 PM, Sep 13, 2016

The 60th State Senate district includes parts of the City of Buffalo, the City of Tonawanda as well the towns of Grand Island, Tonawanda, Hamburg, Orchard Park, Evans and Brant. It is being vacated by Marc Panepinto who announced earlier this year he would not seek re-election.

On the G.O.P. side, Erie County Clerk Chris Jacobs and attorney, Kevin Stocker are vying for the seat. While the democratic primary is between political strategist, Alfred Coppola and community activist, Amber Small. Small's stance on Common Core is clear. "It doesn't work. We're seeing so many of our parents who are opting out. We're seeing kids struggling in schools. What we need to do is not teach to the test."

She said we should reevaluate how schools are funded so vital programs like art and music aren't at risk of being cut. 

Coppola couldn't be reached for comment. 

Jacobs’ solution lies with the state. He said it should give school districts more input on the curriculum they teach. “You have to allow districts the ability to tailor it appropriately so they can actually achieve those standards That's the difference and that's where the autonomy needs to take place.”

A 2015 report released by the Common Core Task Force-- which is a group of educators, parents, administrators, and state representatives-- called for a complete overhaul of the system. Jacobs said he supports its findings. If elected, he'll implement a series of education advisory councils to keep an open dialogue with educators and parents in his district. “Common Core has succeeded in other parts of the country because they had more of a dialogue back and forth, adjusting it to local needs.”

When asked to comment on whether he supports Common Core, Stocker said his priority wouldn’t be in the classroom. “Corruption is the number one issue. And they (voters) want a fighter to take on the corrupt Albany political machine.”

Still, the father of two recognized Common Core is a flawed system that needs to be fixed. “When you get your child's homework and as a parent who’s gone through many years of education says I don't even understand the question. Why are we teaching our kids this?” he said.