Assemblyman John Ceretto, R-C-I-Lewiston, voted Tuesday against all incumbent members of the Board of Regents as a rebuke for their handling of the rollout of Common Core. Instead, Ceretto voted for Niagara County native Dr. Walter Polka, a professor at Niagara University who taught Ceretto while he was in college. Polka was nominated by Ceretto and seconded by State Sen. George Maziarz, R-C-I-Newfane, for an at-large seat on the board.
"After the disastrous rollout of Common Core, none of the current Regents deserved to be re-elected. My vote against all the incumbents is a strong denunciation of their handling of Common Core and the direction in which our education system is heading," Ceretto said. "Walter Polka, on the other hand, has decades of experience and is the right man to fix what has been broken. He has been a great influence on my career and I am proud to call him a friend and a mentor."
The state Board of Regents, which steers New York's education system, is chosen every year by majority vote in a joint session of the Assembly and State Senate. There are 17 members of the Board of Regents, with 13 from each of the state's judicial districts and four at-large seats.
Polka is a professor of professional programs and Ph.D. program coordinator at Niagara University. Formerly, Polka served as superintendent of schools and also assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction at the Lewiston-Porter Central School District. He was K-12 social studies and science curriculum coordinator for the Williamsville Central School District, and teacher at Lewiston-Porter.
Polka's candidacy was defeated.
"Walter Polka was the most qualified candidate for the Board of Regents, having a lifetime of experience in the service of our children. His opponent, however, had no experience dealing with education in New York," Ceretto said. "Those who voted for incumbents voted against our children and for Common Core and the status quo. They have abandoned parents, teachers and students yet again. I will continue to work for what is best for our children."