A number of parent groups statewide are calling for the resignation of state Education Commissioner John King, Jr. after he “suspended” several public forums last week — including one in New Hartford.
“We have been trying to get through to John King about the concerns of parents for well over six months with no success whatsoever,” said Eric Mihelbergel, spokesman for New York State Allies for Public Education, an advocacy group that includes 42 other statewide parent organizations.
Tuesday the group released its action plan asking parents and education stakeholders statewide to call, email, fax and Tweet the state Board of Regents, Governor Andrew Cuomo, senators and assembly members.
King could not be reached for comment Tuesday regarding the resignation requests.
The forums would have allowed the public the opportunity to ask questions and discuss the newly implemented Common Core Curriculum.
“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,” King said in an emailed statement.
King made the decision to cancel the forums, following the first of five scheduled forums sponsored by the New York State PTA last week in Poughkeepsie.
“Unfortunately, the forums … 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. Essentially, dialogue has been denied.”
The remaining dates were scheduled for Garden City, Clifton Park, Williamsville and New Hartford, where a forum had been planned for Wednesday, Oct. 30 at the high school.
King said he will continue to work with the state PTA to find the “appropriate opportunities to engage in a real, productive dialogue with parents about our students and their education.”
When parent Jessica McNair found out the forum was cancelled, she was “really disappointed.”
“It’s my opinion that leader does just that, he leads. I don’t view Commissioner King as a leader right now,” said the 34-year-old New Hartford resident, Parent Teacher Association member and member of the group Opt Out CNY, which informs the public about high-stakes testing.
“It is extremely frustrating. It appears that he doesn’t want to listen to us,” McNair said. “It is his responsibility to hear everyone’s voice. That is how a democracy works, or should I say should work.”
For information on the New York State Allies for Public Education’s plan of action visit www.nysape.org.
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