Teachers, Parents Demand NY Education Commissioner King’s Resignation

Teacher and parent groups in New York are increasingly standing in opposition to new Common Core Standards, and some have demanded State Education Commissioner John King Jr.’s resignation. Despite their opposition, King and the state Board of Regents said they will move forward with implementing Common Core despite the state’s communication problems.

Criticizing the Common Core, the New York State Allies for Public Education and other organizations of teachers and parents said the new standards require too many tests for students and they have no choice but to call for King’s resignation, writes Michael Gormley of The Associated Press.

“We’ve had a lot of positive support from folks,” said Eric Mhelbergel, spokesman for the New York State Allies for Public Education seeking King’s resignation.

The support included a call by the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) for a three-year moratorium on high-stakes testing, Mhelbergel said, adding that NYSUT is providing some “behind the scenes” advice, but no direct support.

New York State Education Commissioner John King recently canceled an upcoming community meeting on Common Core in Williamsville. His decision to cancel the meeting made parents and teachers angry, as they were looking to voice their concerns about the state’s new curriculum.

The Williamsville meeting was one of four across the state that King canceled after he faced criticism and shouting during the question-and-answer period of a similar meeting in Poughkeepsie. At the Poughkeepsie meeting, the question-and-answer period devolved into angry shouting by some audience members who said King did not allow enough time to pose questions or explain concerns.

The “meeting in Poughkeepsie mirrored his established pattern of ignoring the concerns of parents and educators,” stated the website of the Allies for Public Education. “The cancellation of the future town hall meetings shows a lack of leadership from Commissioner King. … His ability to lead the school districts of New York has been called into serious question.”

On Oct. 18, the New York Education Department said that it will host 16 forums across the state on the newly implemented Common Core standards.

Over the past 20 years, the Regents have faced similar outrage from teachers’ unions and parent-teacher groups at every stage of major educational change in Albany. Regardless of the outcry by organized groups, changes, including the creation of school report cards to compare teachers and schools and an increase in the number of Regents exams and other tests to measure improvement, have continued.

Releasing the preliminary statewide composite ratings for teachers and principals, King said the Common Core Standards did not hurt teacher ratings. Almost 50% of teachers outside New York City were highly effective, about 42% were effective and 4% were rated as developing. 1% were ineffective, King said.

King also said that 26% of principals outside New York City were rated highly effective, nearly 61% were effective and 7% were developing and 2% were ineffective.

The state Education Department “must turn its attention away from its obsession with testing and back to its responsibility for providing the time, tools, resources and professional development needed to achieve the potential of the Common Core,” NYSUT President Richard Iannuzzi said. “The state must listen to parents’ and teachers’ call for a moratorium on high-stakes consequences to allow the time to get it right.”