Commissioner John King made the mistake of treating parents with disrespect. He doesn’t listen. He cannot lead. He was hired to serve the public. He can’t and he won’t.
A statement just released by parent groups in New York:
New York State Allies for Public Education 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.
New York State Allies for Public Education 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. NYSAPE urges parents, educators and concerned citizens to:
Spend 10 minutes adding the attached 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 and the entire Board of Regents
Call your local Regent
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
Western New Yorkers for Public Education statement on canceled town hall.
Western New Yorkers for Public Education expresses its disappointment in the cancellation of a
series of town hall forums on the Common Core sponsored by the New York State PTA. Locally a
meeting was scheduled for October 24 at Williamsville North High School. Families, the ultimate
stakeholder in public education, deserve to have to their voices heard by state education officials.
“NYSED Commissioner Dr. John B. King, Jr. blamed ‘special interests’ for dominating a recent forum in
Poughkeepsie, when it was the commissioner who controlled the first hour and a half of the meeting.
When parents began to make critical statements about the impact of state education policy on their
children, Dr. King tried to interrupt the limited time allotted to the speakers,” stated Chris Cerrone,
Springville parent and Hamburg teacher.
Molly Dana, a West Seneca parent, reacted to Commissioner King’s comments “The only special
interests in the town hall meeting held in Poughkeepsie, were parents! So who is denying dialogue?
Commissioner King has canceled the rest of his town hall appearances because he doesn’t like what he
is hearing from parents. Commissioner King, every time you attempt to silence parents, our voices
only grow louder.”
Eric Mihelbergel, a KenTon parent, replied, “If John King thinks parents everywhere in the state are a
special interest group, then we are likely the largest special interest group in the history of the
“It’s disturbing to see that an official with so much power over the day to day lives of our students
and teachers will refuse to meet with concerned parents in a public setting. Commissioner King’s
tone deaf actions are having the effect of mobilizing thousands of parents to take a more vocal and
active role in advocating for their kids, in spite of NYSED’s lack of leadership and fear of ‘special
interests.’ My children are my special interest,” stated Kara Kane, SpringvilleGriffith Institute Board
of Education member and parent.
Cerrone added, “Commissioner King’s actions during the forum in Poughkeepsie showed a lack of
leadership. The commissioner’s lack of composure is a poor reflection on the New York State
Department of Education and our entire public school system.”
Western New Yorkers for Public Education calls for new leadership at NYSED that will listen to the
families of New York State. WNY4PE will be joining New York State Allies for Public Education on
Tuesday October 15 in a day of action where individuals across New York will be contacting their
elected leaders and Board of Regents members about their lack of confidence in the New York State
For more information visit http://www.wnyforpubliced.com