Wagner knocks Ball for “extremist” Common Core speaker


Ladies and gentlemen, the 2014 election cycle is well underway.

WagnerJustin Wagner, a Croton-on-Hudson Democrat making his second attempt at taking a seat in the state Senate, is taking issue with the feature speaker scheduled for a Common Core forum hosted by Sen. Greg Ball, R-Patterson, Putnam County, tonight, calling her a “fringe ultra-conservative” and a “grandstanding, extremist ideologue.”

The speaker, Peg Luksik, is a former teacher who has been an outspoken critic of the Common Core, a set of tougher education standards being implemented in New York and more than 40 other states. But Luksik, of Pennsylvania, is well known for seeking public office a number of times in Pennsylvania — most recently in a 2010 primary to challenge Sen. Arlen Specter — and her strong positions against abortion and same-sex marriage, which she once likened to incest.

“The problems with Common Core need to be solved with input from professional educators, parents, and common sense — giving a platform to this grandstanding, extremist ideologue from out of state best known for her repugnant views on social issues isn’t helping, and does nothing to make up for the fact that Senator Ball was nowhere on this issue before it hit the front pages,” Wagner (pictured) said in a statement.

Ball’s office fired back, saying Luksik’s appearance at the forum was recommended by a number of groups and Common Core activists, including Democrats and liberals. She gave a presentation at a Common Core forum in Poughkeepsie at a parent-organized forum earlier this month, as well.

“Wagner can focus on abortion, gay marriage and space aliens, we are focused on helping our kids, teachers and parents deal with the horror of Common Core,” said Ball spokesman Joe Bachmeier.

He continued: “Wagner should cut the political partisan crap and come to the forum, where he may by shear luck actually learn something of value.”

Wagner unsuccessfully challenged Ball in 2012 for the district that includes all of Putnam and parts of Dutchess and Westchester counties. Ball hasn’t officially announced his re-election bid this year, and has been flirted with a potential challenge to Putnam County Executive Mary Ellen Odell this fall.

Ball, meanwhile, took to the airwaves Monday to criticize Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to provide college courses to inmates free of charge, a proposal Cuomo says would cost $5,000 per inmate. The plan has received significant criticism from lawmakers — mostly Republicans, but some Democrats as well — including Ball.

“Help a convict or help a kid?” Ball said on public radio’s “The Capitol Pressroom.” “That’s a simple one for me.”


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  1. First, I would like to say that the media bias about common core is self evident in this article. To label the common core initiative as a set of tougher standards without a shred of evidence to support that label is preposterous.It has never been compared to existing standards or piloted anywhere, so to label it this way has no merit.
    I was in attendance at the Poughkeepsie forum that featured Dr. Luksik. Rather than extremist, I found her to be well grounded. She used actual public documents to make her case, and if Mr. Wagner took the time to actually watch the video of her presentation he might learn something. If he doesn’t want to be at Mr’ Ball’s event, he would be welcome to meet the Hudson Vally Concerned Parents in Fishkill the following night, where Dr. Luksik will again be speaking.

  2. Dr. Luksik addresses the dangers of Common Core and her presentation must be seen by all Americans.

  3. Deborah Torres Henning on

    What is repugnant is Common Core! What is repugnant is that Wagner admits in his comments that Common Core is frontpage news, yet chooses not to condemn this fatally flawed corporate and federal takeover of our education system. Our children are the government’s guinea pigs, yet you choose personal attacks over saving our chikdren? Voters heard you loud and clear Mr. Wagner. You are on the wrong side of this issue. Don’t even waste your time with a campaign now….

  4. Mr. Wagner you have made a VERY loud statement; and an ignorant statement at that!!! It is obvious that you do not have any direct knowledge of Common Core and the absolute damage it is causing for our kids and educators – the horrific cost – and it is outright illegal – it is pure political abuse. You should take time out of your political bull-honkey campaign bull and show up at these forums and receive education. There is a reason why Senator Ball kicked your butt — I have no problem with a person who has an educated difference of opinion – but you sir are just IGNORANT. I suggest you keep your opinions in check and spend the time educating yourself on the TRUTH AND FACTS !! You look silly … just silly and have no intention of ever entertaining you as any form of political representative – you are not worth it. I suggest you watch Ms. Luksik’s video — or just show up at her forum on Tuesday !!

  5. CLASSIC Common Core propaganda response. Since you can’t argue the rock solid facts that prove Common Core is a corporate and federal overreach into our children’s education system and that it uses our children as human capital for political and financial ends, you shoot the messenger with unfounded accusations. Dr. Peg Luksik is a 35 year educator and former federal Department of Education employee whose evidence is THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT DOCUMENTS that detail the Common Core and Race to the Top programs. You’re going to have to do better than calling her radical to discredit her. She’s brilliant and she’s right and she has the evidence to prove it. Where is YOUR evidence Mr. Wagner (or anyone trying to support Common Core with rhetoric and no facts) that Common Core is anything other than what Dr. Luksik proves that it is? Let me save you the keystrokes…you have none.

  6. Common Core is a Federal and for-profit takeover of education. As others have stated to call the standards “tougher” is unsupported and in most cases, false.
    CC was born of a Federal bribe out of a manufactured crisis. Are some schools failing? Sure. Do some HS graduates show up at community college and need remedial course? Yes. But the vast majority of schools and students are doing well.
    Oh, those comparative rankings that have us what, 26th in math? It’s a false comparison. Most countries move their lower performing students towards vocational training whereas all of our students are tested.
    Speaking of tests – it is a fact that standardized tests (such as the SAT and ACT) are poor predictors of college readiness, the stated goal of Common Core and the associated tests, than the grades a student earns from their teachers. So why give MORE tests at a cost of $30/student (in the State of NY)? Because Pearson Education needs to get paid.
    Oh, and those countries we are “so far behind” – Finland (#1) gives no standardized tests. China? Last August the Chinese Ministry of Education issued Ten Regulations to Lessen the Academic Burden for Primary School Students. Why? China wants to be more like the US! China wants to develop entrepreneurial qualities such as risk-taking, empathy, confidence, alertness to opportunity – soft skills that rigorous Math and non-fiction reading do not encourage. Google Yong Zhao.
    Follow NY Principal of the Year for 2013 @carolburris and Education blogger for the Washington Post @valariestrauss if you want what’s really going on with Common Core.

  7. If Justin Wagner was smart he would take shoots at Greg Ball for voting for giving money for the SAFE ACT in his budget and voting against his own PRIVACY PERMIT BILL that would prevented the Journal News from publishing legal gun owners name in the paper. Seems like a phony conseravative to me?

    Of course Justin Wagner will not because he too far to the left and is no moderate.

    This race is a race between to horrible candidates that will hurt the 40th State Senate district and the State of New York.

    Hopefully, Bob Castelli gets into the race and beats Ball and Wagner and expose these imposters.

  8. I’m in my 42nd year as an educator, having spent a decade or more each teaching at middle school, high school, undergraduate and graduate levels. Having studied the Common Core standards carefully since they were first proposed, and having built curriculum around them since they have been adopted in New York state, I know them to be excellent guides to the skills our students should attain. Why wouldn’t we want our students to be able to identify key elements of an argument, support their own statements with legitimate evidence (not to mention, to be able to recognize what constitutes legitimate evidence) to be able to read with understanding of the text and the subtext. These and the other literacy standards are vital in a democratic society and in a capitalist system where developing judgement is paramount.
    That said, there are numerous problems with the way the standards are being implemented and explained. Unfortunately, people like Ms. Luksik are not interested in saving what is good in the standards (their clarity, their focus on valuable skills, their value as a guide for teachers as they plan curriculum) and instead make it seem like they are responsible for the terrible things that surround them–the selling of student information to businesses; the control of education by publishing houses who make the exams, then make the materials, texts, lesson plans, training materials etc. to prepare for the exams and rake in money while actual educators have little say in what happens in their classrooms; the foolish attempts to judge individual teacher effectiveness by the results of test scores; the political claptrap that ranges from outright lies (the Common Core is a Federal Government take-over attempt) to partisan banality (he doesn’t like it so I will/ she likes it so I won’t). These are the problems. Leave the standards in the hands of the teachers and they will make something great of them. Listen to those who give half truths and have axes to grind and you’ll make an even greater mess.