Jessica Bakeman: Lawmakers call of education chief’s resignation

By | October 18, 2013

Trouble keeps piling up for NY Ed Commissioner John King since his Common Core Presentation and Public Comment meeting in Poughkeepsie, New York on October 10th.  Jessica Bakeman from Capitol, an online news magazine, has written an article about the mounting anger of parents and teachers over serious policy concerns.  King tried to brush off the criticisms by stating that “special interest” groups were causing all the trouble.  It is unclear which “special interest” groups he was referring to.  Regardless, he now has lawmakers calling for his resignation.

King has faced a firestorm of criticism since announcing he would “suspend” four town-hall meetings planned for public discussion of the new, controversial Common Core curriculum standards. The decision came after irate parents jeered and heckled him at a Poughkeepsie forum last week.

He has argued that the meeting was “co-opted by special interests” in a systematic effort to circumvent constructive dialogue, a claim that New York State United Teachers and parents’ groups call false and insulting.

King’s office said Thursday he was in the process of planning 10 differently structured events around the state, just as NYSUT is planning its own series of public forums.

Assemblyman Thomas Abinanti, a Westchester Democrat, released a statement Thursday insisting that King step down amid harsh criticism that the commissioner has ignored parents’ and teachers’ grievances around the Common Core and related testing.

“For quite some time, Education Commissioner John King has closed off all meaningful conversation with parents, educators, administrators, and elected officials who have highlighted serious deficiencies in State Education Department policies,” Abinanti said. “He has exhibited a conscious disregard for their concerns.”

“He should be listening, educating where criticisms are unfounded, and adopting changes where criticisms are valid,” the lawmaker continued. “His rigidity makes him unsuited for the position of Education Commissioner. Commissioner King should resign immediately.”

King’s office responded Thursday, stressing that he plans to launch a series of 10 meetings in a different format in order to “have a real dialogue about the issues confronting our students,” spokesman Dennis Tompkins said.

“We’re trying to make [meetings] more frequent and smaller in size so we can have a real dialogue,” Tompkins said.

Abinanti’s wasn’t the only call for King to step down. He joins Sen. Jack Martins, a Long Island Republican who on Tuesday said in a statement that King is not meeting New Yorkers’ leadership needs.

“At the moment, New York needs a caring pragmatist willing to address real concerns raised by caring parents and educators who see a system being manipulated from above to the detriment of their children,” he said. “Unfortunately, we have John King.”

“He should immediately reschedule these forums, or he should immediately resign,” Martins finished.

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