It has not been a good week for New York State Education Commissioner John King, as parents and education groups continued to call for his resignation and speak out against the state’s implementation of education reforms known as the Common Core Standards.
A new set of education benchmarks that emphasize critical thinking and deep learning, the Common Core Standards have been adopted by 45 states. New York was one of the first to start implementing the new mandates in the classroom. However, parent and education groups around the state are saying the process was rushed and done with a lack of transparency.
On Tuesday, more than 1,500 parents and educators packed a high school auditorium in East Setauket, Long Island, to express their concerns to the commissioner at a forum on the Common Core. According to Newsday, members of the raucous crowd shouted at King when he tried to speak, cheered parents who complained about the standards and at one point began to shout, "What about the kids? What about the kids?"
A YouTube video showing an educator at the forum chastising the commissioner and state Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch has been viewed more than 43,500 times. In the video, the educator asks for King's resignation and says the stress caused by the standards constitutes “child abuse.”
“I’m very happy, Ms. Tisch, that you are here, because I have 50 letters with me, and I have mailed you 300 others asking for Mr. King’s resignation and firing,” says the educator. “I have no problem being judged by anyone. I was judged as highly effective last year. … Obviously, Mr. King, you’re ineffective. Seventy percent of the children in this state failed your test.”
The scene was reportedly calmer at a local forum on Wednesday evening in Mineola, Long Island, although protestors held signs outside the event calling for King's resignation, reports Newsday.
Still, King said he was listening to parents' concerns.
"We have to continue to look for ways to reduce ... testing," the commissioner said after the event, per Newsday. "After each of these forums, we go back and listen to what we've heard to make thoughtful adjustments."
However, Lisa Rudley, co-founder of a network of parent and education groups, told The Huffington Post that she doubts the Commissioner is taking parental complaints into consideration.
“It’s getting much more heated, and they’re still not listening to us,” Rudley told Huff Post over the phone. “While there’s been a lot of visibility with the forums and hearings, it’s very clear to me they are still not addressing what they need to.”
Rudley's group began calling for King's resignation several weeks ago, after the commissioner cancelled a few planned forums around the state. While several politicians initially joined the group's call, they rolled back their critiques after King rescheduled the events.
In the upcoming weeks, King is slated to attend more forums on the Common Core around the state.