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Rain or shine, teachers from around the state mobilize for rally

Organizers of a long planned rally in Albany say that they won’t let weather ruin their festivities.

The date for tomorrow’s “One Voice United” rally was scheduled back in March by the New York State United Teachers, as part of its public campaign to pressure State Education Department Commissioner John King to slow down plans to administer this year’s tests, which were tied to tougher Common Core learning standards. They arranged 225 buses and originally expected 10,000 teachers, parents and advocates to convene in the capital to show King the scale of opposition.

The buses will still roll, including three out of New York City sponsored by the United Federation of Teachers. And more than a dozen advocacy groups representing a variety of labor and education issues, including New York City-based Leonie Haimson’s Class Size Matters, are signed on to participate as well.

But the number of people who show up could be slightly smaller if rainy weather brought by Tropical Storm Andrea scares them off. The storm is forecast to continue into tomorrow, though the skies could clear by noon.

“Heavy rains might dampen the crowds but they will not dampen the enthusiasm of those who want to take back public education from the billionaires and bureaucrats,” said NYSUT spokesman Carl Korn.

State union chief Dick Iannuzzi said he wants King to put the brakes on evaluating teachers based on the results from this year’s tests and “until the implementation is handled correctly.” New York State is ahead of pace of other states in tying the Common Core standards to its tests, but its plan to publish  new curriculum to accompany those tests has been delayed.

In a statement this afternoon, King referred to New York’s low college readiness rates among high school graduates who “are already accountable for the Common Core” as a reason to push forward with the state’s reforms.

“It’s time for all of us to be accountable for providing students with the skills they need for college and career success,” King said.

King’s more aggressive defenders have criticized the union as being obstructionist, but Ianuzzi said today that he believed the state would be ready to resume Common Core tests next year.

“I think frankly in New York State there’s significant reason to believe that a one year moratorium is all we need,” Iannuzzi said.

State union chief Dick Iannuzzi said that tomorrow’s rally will also advocate for state DREAM Act legislation and the Truth About Testing Act, which would require King to publish data about assessment costs and how many students are tested. The legislature is in session for another eight days and neither legislation has a good chance of approval.

More than 20 speakers are scheduled to attend, including Haimson, Ianuzzi, and UFT President Michael Mulgrew and American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten.