Sunday, October 13, 2013

King's claim that parents are being "manipulated" by special interests; does he deserve to stay in office?

Commissioner King announced he was pulling out of already-scheduled PTA forums, after parents and teachers had freely vented their frustrations with the Common Core and testing during town hall meetings in Whitesboro and Poughkeepsie last week.  More on the blog about these events from yesterday’s blog here.
In the statement released to reporters yesterday, King claimed he was cancelling his participation in future PTA forums because parents were being dominated and manipulated by “special interests.” Though Dennis Tompkins, NYSED spokesman, refused to identify to reporters who was meant by this term, King was clearly referring to the teachers union. 
Here and below is the full video of the Poughkeepsie forum, revealing that parents became increasingly frustrated at having to wait one hour and 23 minutes before being allowed to speak, and were angered when the 30 minutes they had been promised were continually interrupted by King; and in the end, their time was cut short at 20 minutes. 
The video also includes revealing responses from King, showing how he answered questions read from cards about his insistence on sharing personal student data with inBloom (the first question that met with applause from the audience, at 41 minutes in) and why he won’t allow students to opt out of the state exams (at 1 hour 4 minutes in).
Here are stories from the Buffalo News (read the comments especially); and Poughkeepsie Journal, which quotes parents:
“I believe that Commissioner King is running away. He doesn’t want to be challenged by the parents or anybody else,” said Lisa DiStefano, 38, a mother of three from Pleasant Valley, who attended the meeting Thursday.
DiStefano said if parents no longer have a say in their children’s education, that the state Education Department is “acting as an authoritarian, telling us we don’t want to listen because you no longer have any rights.”
Anna Shah, 41, a parent in the Spackenkill district, said the PTA’s flier for the event advertised it as an opportunity to gather information, ask questions and share concerns with King and other education department representatives.
“Those of us who were at the meeting saw firsthand that Dr. King must have missed the memo,” she said via email. “The meeting ended abruptly after five speakers presented, leaving at least 75 who were denied the chance to speak.”
The Newsday article includes comments from a Long Island school board member:
Port Jefferson resident Ali Gordon, 41, a trustee on the Comsewogue Board of Education, criticized King, saying he was ducking a town hall she and "many, many others" planned to attend. 
"It's very disappointing to see the leader of our state Education Department essentially hide from parents and teachers who are so directly affected by the decisions that he makes and the rushed implementation of the Common Core in New York State," she said.
Here is the full statement from Commissioner John B. King, Jr.:

"I was looking forward to engaging in a dialogue with parents across the state.  I was eagerly anticipating answering questions from parents about the Common Core and other reforms we're moving ahead with in New York State.  Unfortunately, the forums sponsored by the New York State PTA have been co-opted by special interests whose stated goal is to "dominate" the questions and manipulate the forum.

"The disruptions caused by the special interests have deprived parents of the opportunity to listen, ask questions and offer comments.  Essentially, dialogue has been denied.

"In light of the clear intention of these special interest groups to continue to manipulate the forum, the PTA-sponsored events scheduled have been suspended.  My office will continue to work with PTA to find the appropriate opportunities to engage in a real, productive dialogue with parents about our students and their education.

"Parents don't deserve to be dominated and manipulated."
King’s insistence that parents are pawns of the union is not only utterly false – it is denigrates their intelligence and autonomy. 
The reality is that parents, researchers, early childhood experts, school board members, district administrators and principals have all criticized the Common Core standards, the way they have been implemented in New York state, the curriculum and modules NYSED has offered, the poor quality and the invalid scoring of the state exams, the huge expense and amount of time taking up in standardized testing, test prep and scoring, the stress this puts on students, the unreliable and damaging teacher evaluation system tied to test scores, and King’s determination to share the most private student data with vendors without parental consent – all issues that go far beyond the critique put forward by the teacher’s union, which has so far only argued for a moratorium on the consequences of these exams.  Indeed, it is he who is refusing to engage in a real dialogue on these issues.
What do you think?  Does King deserve to head the NY State Education Department, unless he acknowledges and addresses the legitimate concerns expressed by parents and community members from throughout the state?


Students Last said...

As NYSEdCom King gets his panties in a twist, female speaker warns "we don't want to see [other town halls] cancelled" What did she know and when did she know it? 1:09:00 - 1:10:08

Jeff Nichols said...

King's statement reads as though he wasn't present at the meeting. The parents who spoke were obviously completely independent-minded and being manipulated by no one. King is angry with them because they refused to be manipulated by him. He should resign.

GeoKaro said...

By attacking the legitimacy of parents or unions having a voice a public hearings he is attacking a bedrock concept in a representative democracy. Yet, this article has the correct title: the public did not concern themselves in large part with union interests at this hearing, as much as children's interest. He really did not want to hear statements on children's behalf.

Not only does he have limited educator experience, he has an incomplete appreciation of representative government.

He has betrayed the public's trust, utterly.

Citizens of New York, arise and sign the petition to terminate John King.

Joel said...

Our elected officials and their appointments care about the charter interests, the test companies and the conservative media. They care little about the opinion of the parents, children and teachers in our public schools. Just look at their track record to prove this point.