One point to help explain the vocal anger expressed: parents had been required to sit quietly for almost two hours and listen quietly to a lengthy presentation by John King about how the Common Core is absolutely necessary for their kids to be college and career ready. They had be given only 20 minutes at the end of a two hour meeting to express their views, which helps to explain their frustration when he kept interrupting their minimal speaking time.
Moreover, these Westchester [and Dutchess County] parents have elected school boards, and are used to having their voices heard. Their schools are generally well-resourced and run, and more than 90% of their students graduate from high school in four years, go on to college and do quite well there.
Now they feel their children's lives and education being severely disrupted by all the stressful and constricting testing, test prep and scripted modules coming down from the state, and they deeply resent how their children's personal information is being shared with vendors without their consent.
At the same time, their schools have suffered increased class sizes and loss of valuable programs, due to Cuomo's budget cuts and tax cap. To add insult to injury, Commissioner King justifies that all these expensive and time-consuming mandates are necessary to ensure that students will be college- and career-ready, as his one-size-fits-all rationale, when they know that their children were doing just fine before all these policies were imposed from above.
After Thursday night's explosive meeting in Westchester, sponsored by the NYS PTA, the Commissioner cancelled the four remaining PTA meetings around the state, including next Tuesday's town hall that was to take place at Garden City HS on Long Island. The State PTA explained, "While our goal was to provide an opportunity to learn and share, based on review of the initial October 10 meeting, the Commissioner concluded the outcome was not constructive for those taking the time to attend."
These cancellations have provoked even more anger and resentment, with parents saying that while King won't allow their schools or children to opt out of the Common Core, standardized testing or data sharing with vendors, he is opting out of an important dialogue with parents. As of Saturday afternoon, however, there is still a town hall meeting with King scheduled for Oyster Bay HS on Long Island, at 3 PM on Tuesday afternoon, October 15; co-sponsored by Senator Marcellino. More information here.
Thursday's Town Hall followed yet an earlier one that occurred Wednesday night, co-sponsored by Senator Griffo in Oneida County, which also featured an appearance by Commissioner King. This town hall allowed more time for parents, teachers and students to express their views. Without all the yelling and interruptions, this meeting included even more eloquent explanations from these essential stakeholders, explaining how the state's Common Core testing and instructional mandates were wrecking their schools. Take a look.