As a Member of the New York State Allies for Public Education The Port Jefferson Station Teachers Association Calls for the Resignation of NYS Commissioner of Education John King
Billed as an opportunity to “gather information, ask questions and share concerns with NYS Commissioner of Education John King”, the NYS PTA sponsored Town Hall Meeting on the Common Core and privacy issues was anything but. After speaking uninterrupted for 1 hour and 40 minutes, Commissioner King allowed parents 20 minutes to speak. During this time, parents expressed concerns and attempted to share stories regarding the impact that the CC has already had on their children. Commissioner King repeatedly interrupted parents and refused to answer parent questions or address their concerns. Commissioner King subsequently cancelled all future scheduled town hall meetings, called concerned parents “special interests groups” and stated that the forum was “co-opted by special interests whose stated goal is to ‘dominate’ the questions and manipulate the forum,” King went on to state that “Essentially, dialogue has been denied.”
When a public official such as Commissioner King refuses to participate in the democratic process and refuses to hear the concerns of parents while simultaneously carrying out educational policies that affect thousands of children, he is no longer fit to carry out the duties of the NYS Commissioner of Education. Commissioner King, we would argue that it is because of you that “dialogue has been denied.”
According to award-winning Principal Carol Burris of South Side High School in New York, last week’s Town Hall meeting in Poughkeepsie, NY highlighted the fact that “The New York State Education Department has lost its moral authority.” Burris states. “One might imagine that if John King had first been a principal of a New York City public school, or the superintendent of a district, he would have become skilled in dealing with emotional and boisterous groups… Leaders must listen deeply, learn and respond. They must be willing to consider alternative courses, and even in loud crowds, hear truth.”
Anthony Cody, nationally recognized educator, public speaker and writer for Education Week says, “Speaking truth to power, as these parents did, is an intoxicating thing. It delivers to both speaker and witnesses a shiver, an awakening to the fact that we do not need to suffer in silence, or allow our children to suffer without objection. Those in power may cancel future hearings, but these parents’ voices are ringing out, like a bell that cannot be un-rung.”
We would say to Commissioner King that in this age of apathy, you should be proud to represent a state where parents have taken the time to inform themselves about the current education reforms and have taken the time from their busy schedules to engage with public officials such as yourself. Aren’t these parents the kind of critically thinking, involved citizens that our public schools hope to create? We would argue that a competent leader does not run away from concerned parents, or call them a “special interest group.” Commissioner King, you are a disgrace to the field of education. It is not surprising that in NYS, your lack of teaching experience would not allow you to be granted tenure in a public school.
The NYS Commissioner of Education sends his own children to a private school, a school that is not legally bound to carry out the same testing and data sharing mandates that he is subjecting thousands of public school children to. He has stated, “I believe that every parent should have the right to choose the school that is right for their child.” Commissioner King subjects public school students to harmful practices while maintaining that parents do not have the right to refuse these mandates. This certainly does not afford all parents “the right to choose the school that is right for their child.” Commissioner King is guilty of promoting inequitable education policies that essentially create a different set of educational opportunities and experiences available to those with the means to afford private school and those who attend public school. This is an attack on the freedoms and rights that are afforded to every American citizen and on public education itself.
The Port Jefferson Station Teachers Association calls for the immediate resignation of Commissioner of Education John King as he is unfit to carry out the duties of his position competently and he is no longer able to conduct himself in a manner that is consistent with the principles and ideals of the American democracy. The PJSTA urges parents, educators and concerned citizens to:
Spend 10 minutes adding these emails and phone numbers to your contacts. Call, email, and fax Governor Cuomo daily. CC all emails to Senator John Flanagan, Speaker of the House Sheldon Silver, Senator Dean Skelos, Assemblywoman Nolan, and Senator Jeffrey Klein along with the entire Board of Regents. Call your local Regent and let them know that:
- New Yorkers deserve a COMPETENT leader who listens to and engages his or her constituents
- New Yorkers deserve a COMPETENT leader who can handle the concerns and dissenting opinions of educated and involved New York parents.
- John King has let abusive testing and data sharing practices dominate the implementation of the Common Core Learning Standards
- John King runs away from the public.
- John King calls concerned parents “special interest groups.”
- John King is not competent to be the NYS Commissioner of Education