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Astorino offers plan to address problems of parenting, education

ALBANY – Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino says New York State’s inner cities continue to decay, and he has some solutions: Get fathers more involved in parenting, offer options for parents with children in failing schools and mandate that public assistance be tied to school attendance to ensure that children stay in school until at least the legal state mandate of 16 years old.

“Future generations will judge our greatness not by the wealth we amass or the monuments we build, but by how we treat the least among us,” Astorino said of his plan, which he unveiled Tuesday outside a hospital in the Bronx.

Astorino called his Empowerment & Opportunity Plan for New York an effort to tackle education, job and family issues that, for instance, contribute to most children in Buffalo living in poverty.

The proposals include a re-emphasis on the role of fathers, including requiring that the name of biological fathers be put on birth certificates and asking religious and community leaders to launch a campaign “that celebrates the role of the father in strong families” and insists that fathers “be a full participant in raising their child and encourages marrying the mother of their child.”

Astorino also would bring back fingerprinting of food stamp recipients, a program ended by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, to reduce what he says is fraud in the program.

Funds would be set aside under the Astorino plan for additional extracurricular activities and more money for camps that offer educational programs. He would expand teaching of household budgeting and financial planning for people on public assistance.

An opponent of most components of the SAFE Act gun-control law, Astorino on Tuesday also called for additional prison sentences for crimes committed with a gun and offer first-time nonviolent juvenile offenders community service and required high school or GED completion.

Astorino, the Westchester County executive, said he also would permit parents to send their children to other schools – including private institutions “as a last resort” – if their children are enrolled in persistent failing schools.

The Republican also proposed a number of job and entrepreneurial efforts, including by expanding partnerships between community colleges and local social services agencies for career opportunities.