New York’s Commissioner of Education John King should resign.
The job of state commissioner is to support and strengthen education and educators, not to undermine them.
In his short tenure, King has used his position to wreak havoc on the state’s education system.
He has demoralized educators.
He has imposed an evaluation scheme that no one understands, but which he famously described as “building a plane in mid-air.” He doesn’t realize that no one wants to ride on a plane that is being built in mid-air—not students, not teachers, not principals, not parents, not superintendents.
More than one-third of the principals in the state bravely signed a letter warning King of the negative, punitive consequences of his ill-conceived evaluation plan. Typically, he didn’t listen.
But now he has gone too far.
He has hurt children.
In his zeal to inflict punishment on students across the state and prove what a tough guy he is, he imposed testing that was developmentally inappropriate, that did not provide enough time for many students to finish, and that had no curriculum to support it.
Many months ago, he predicted that proficiency rates would plummet across the state by at least 30%, and he engineered the result that he predicted. He made it happen by design.
Students and teachers across the state have been obsessed with testing and test prep in recent years. Now they learn that despite their best efforts, their test scores dropped precipitously.
The students and teachers didn’t fail.
John King failed.
King chose passing marks aligned to NAEP achievement levels, which was wrong. Students who are proficient on NAEP have demonstrated superior academic performance. NAEP proficient is not “grade level,” yet King is using it as a passing mark, dooming the majority of students to “fail” because of King’s inexperience and statistical ignorance.
If we are to judge teachers and principals by the rise or fall of student test scores, as King wishes, then so too should he be judged.
As the state’s highest education official, King is not above accountability. On his watch, he devised and caused a massive test score decline, causing unnecessary anguish and discouragement to students, parents, and teachers in every school in his care.
If he were a business CEO and his actions caused the stock price of his company to fall by 30% overnight, the shareholders would force him out at once.
By his actions, he abdicated his responsibilty to students and to the state’s education system.
He was hired to be the steward of the state’s children, not a mean-spirited boss of the state’s educators and students.
He should resign.
Contact the Néw York State Board of Regents if you agree. Will they have the courage and integrity to defend our state’s children?