State Education Commissioner John B. King Jr. canceled an upcoming visit to the Shenendehowa Central School District just as a video of him being skewered by parents and educators over the state’s Common Core standards went viral.
Following a town hall meeting Thursday at a Poughkeepsie high school, where King faced a hostile audience, the state Education Department announced it was suspending the remaining four meetings, which were sponsored by the New York State PTA. The sessions were designed to answer questions about the recently implemented and controversial Common Core standards .
A video from Thursday’s event shows a capacity crowd repeatedly shouting and booing King during the public comment period. A handful of parents and teachers spoke during the public comment period and received loud ovations. It appeared an emotional crowd was expected, as a speaker at the start of the event asked everyone to show respect.
The video, posted Friday on YouTube, was viewed more than 10,000 times by Saturday afternoon.
According to a statement from the state PTA, the town halls were conceived as an opportunity to “learn and share” about the Common Core.
King said he was looking forward to talking with parents around the state about the Common Core and other reforms. “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,” he said.
“The disruptions caused by the special interests have deprived parents of the opportunity to listen, ask questions and offer comments,” King said. “Essentially, dialogue has been denied.”
He said there will be future efforts to collaborate with the state PTA on activities that allow for engagement with the public.
The 2012-13 school year was the first to include testing under the new Common Core curriculum in English and math that was applied across the state. The curriculum is supposed to identify knowledge students should have by the time they graduate and make them ready for college or employment.
News of the cancellation generated more than 340 comments, almost all critical of the Common Core, on the state PTA’s Facebook page. Shenendehowa has no plans to host its own event Wednesday, despite some posts on the district’s Facebook page encouraging the district to host its own forum.
King is scheduled to appear at a Troy elementary school Tuesday in an event unrelated to the Common Core series.