ALBANY Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino on Tuesday launched an effort for a new ballot line called "Stop Common Core," aiming to turn anger about the tougher school-testing standards into votes in November.
Astorino will look to get 15,000 petition signatures to get the third-party line on the November ballot. It would give the Westchester County executive three lines on the November ballot, along with the Republican and Conservative parties' lines.
He said the line would help his candidacy, but also give voters an opportunity to protest the testing standards at the ballot box. He has until Aug. 19 to file the petition signatures.
"This is an opportunity for people to either make a statement or to truly vote for me -- either one," Astorino said at a news conference in Albany.
Astorino has sought to capitalize on the concerns of parents, teachers and students over the Common Core testing standards, which were put into place in New York in 2012. He's tried to link his opponent, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, to the troubled exams and announced last spring that his school-aged children would opt out of the exams.
Astorino has labeled the teaching measures as "Cuomo's Common Core."
Astorino said he supports tough school standards, but the current ones were poorly implemented. If he is elected governor, he would halt the state's participation in the national initiative. He said he would unveil his education platform in September.
"To say that if you're against Common Core, you're against high standards is an argument that has no basis in fact, and it's meant to cover up what has been a disaster in Common Core," Astorino said.
For his part, Cuomo and the state Legislature this year criticized the rollout of the Common Core exams, and they agreed during this year's legislative session to delay using the test results to determine students' performance. They also delayed using the test results to evaluate poor-performing teachers.
"I'm sort of where the parent is, standing outside with the sign," Cuomo told reporters Feb. 20 in Rochester. "And by the way, I would hold the same basic sign that the parent is holding. I think the way they have implemented Common Core has failed utterly. There is massive confusion, massive anxiety and massive chaos all through."
Cuomo's campaign spokesman Peter Kauffmann defended the governor's steps on Common Core and blasted Astorino.
"The Common Core has been adopted by 45 states and will serve as the basis for the new SAT. These more rigorous standards will be used to help New York students better prepare for college and career," Kauffmann said in a statement. "Rob Astorino's pathetic pandering will do nothing more than make New York students less competitive than their peers nationally."