TROY, N.Y. – New York State Education Commissioner Dr. John King paid a visit School 2 in Troy on Tuesday, one day after suspending the remaining community forums intended to educate and deal with issues parents and teachers are having with the new core curriculum.
Dr. King's trip to School 2 was planned as a back-to-school visit, but his stop in Troy focused on the growing controversy after the commissioner announced earlier this week that he would be suspending a number of planned public forums addressing the new Common Core standards.
A meeting was scheduled for Wednesday night at Shenendehowa High School. Additional meetings, set up for the next two weeks, were cancelled after a raucous meeting in Poughkeepsie last week.
The forums were designed to be an open discussion between Dr. King and parents, but Dr. King said the Poughkeepsie meeting turned into "disruptions caused by special interests." A video of the meeting was posted on YouTube. In the video, the audience gets vocal asking Dr. King about Common Core while others had harsh words for the commissioner and the state's new learning standards.
The New York Parent Teacher Association (PTA) was sponsoring the events and has now posted on Facebook that the State Education Commissioner's Office requested suspending the remaining meetings because the commissioner concluded the outcome was not constructive for those attending.
The Core Curriculum has come under fire after teachers and parents say it was implemented too quickly and students are struggling to keep up. King says he will continue to work with the PTA to come up with a better way to conduct a dialogue about the curriculum
"I think what you have here is a group of special interest groups that are opposed to education reform in general, who had a clear strategy to disrupt the meeting," said King. "There was one woman who said 'I would like to hear the discussion' and got yelled down by some of the hecklers, so again this was just not the right way to have a constructive discourse about public policy."
When asked who the "special interest groups" are, King responded that he didn't want to "give legitimacy to these groups" and if we wanted to find them we could "look them up ourselves."
Dr. King was scheduled to meet with teachers and administrators to observe classrooms at School 2. School 2 was the recipient of a $4.2 million school improvement grant which provides for extended learning time, family support services, professional development and classroom technology.