State Education Commissioner John King on Saturday canceled appearances at four upcoming PTA-sponsored community meetings, following a barrage of criticism from raucous parents and teachers Thursday in Poughkeepsie.
The state tour was intended to promote the newly implemented Common Core standards, and had included a stop at Williamsville North High School on Oct. 24.
King, in a statement, blamed “special interests” for disrupting the first scheduled meeting, which he said led him to cancel the other town hall-style meetings.
“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,” King wrote.
“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.”
Common Core standards are an attempt to bring state curricula into alignment. But they have also met opposition from parents and teachers who, during the Poughkeepskie forum, argued they place too much focus on compulsory testing, overemphasize rote learning and uniformity at the expense of creativity, and restrict teachers.
The state PTA, in a statement, signaled its disappointment.
“While our goal was to provide an opportunity to learn and share, based on review of the initial Oct. 10 meeting, the commissioner concluded the outcome was not constructive for those taking the time to attend.”