Democratic Sen. Tim Kennedy of Buffalo is blasting Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino for his recent criticism of the Common Core education standards.

Astorino, in a radio interview this week, knocked the roll out and implementation of the standards by the state as “an awful mistake” and called for a reboot.

State legislative leaders on Tuesday called for a two-year delay of Common Core, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office said such a moratorium would be premature until a package of legislative fixes can be proposed by a new education panel.

Despite the sustained criticism of the program, Kennedy in a letter released Thursday by his office said Astorino’s comments “reveals an ignorance” about state government.

Though Kennedy acknowledges problems with Common Core, he praised Cuomo’s handling of education issues in his 2014-15 budget proposal.

“Before you take the next step and officially launch your campaign, I urge you to consider the role of the executive in influencing this issue,” Kennedy said. “Our schools are in desperate need of additional resources and funding, which is why Governor Cuomo included the Smarter Schools Initiative in his 2014-15 Executive Budget. He’s shown leadership and determination in his work to strengthen educational opportunities.”

Kennedy is the second Senate Democrat to criticize Astorino this week. Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins was critical of the county executive making a joke on Capital Tonight about Medicaid recipients eating soup.

Kennedy’s letter comes also has he faces a Democratic primary challenge later this year that is being supported by the Independent Democratic Conference.

The full letter is after the jump.

Robert P. Astorino
Westchester County Executive
900 Michaelian Building
148 Martine Ave.
White Plains, NY 10601

Mr. Astorino,

I read your recent attack on Governor Cuomo where you said, “Cuomo’s Common Core has been an awful mistake in this state.”

This comment, coming right before you formed an exploratory committee to formalize your run for Governor, reveals an ignorance on your part about the basic facts of the state government you seek to manage.

There have been major issues with the implementation of Common Core in New York, and that’s why Governor Cuomo is launching a review of the State Education Department’s flawed rollout of Common Core. The Governor is doing something about the challenges facing our education system, while you’re traveling about the state spewing rhetoric and trying to slow down progress.

You should know that Common Core standards are managed by the State Education Department. This department is not controlled in any way by the Governor, but entirely by the Board of Regents, a board with no appointees from the executive chamber. Further, the Common Core curriculum was adopted without any state legislative action. In fact, the Governor had nothing whatsoever to do with the adoption of the standards.

Education issues are among the most important in the state. Before you take the next step and officially launch your campaign, I urge you to consider the role of the executive in influencing this issue. Our schools are in desperate need of additional resources and funding, which is why Governor Cuomo included the Smarter Schools Initiative in his 2014-15 Executive Budget. He’s shown leadership and determination in his work to strengthen educational opportunities.

You seem determined to set off to run a gubernatorial campaign that puts cheap rhetoric first and makes improving our schools a distant concern. As you explore a run for Governor, you may want to enroll in a State Government 101 class to help you get your priorities straight.

Sincerely,

Timothy M. Kennedy
New York State Senator, 63rd District