State Education Commissioner John King said the decision to abruptly “suspend” four public forums on the newly implemented Common Core standards was made because they had been “co-opted by special interests.”
King had agreed to appear at five forums across the state sponsored by the New York State PTA, with the first held Thursday in Poughkeepsie. But King faced a barrage of sometimes loud and angry criticism from those who spoke at the first meeting, and the remaining four dates were canceled Friday.
In a statement, King said the meeting was disrupted by “special interests whose stated goal is to ‘dominate’ the questions and manipulate the forum.” The remaining dates were scheduled near Buffalo, Utica, Albany and on Long Island.
“In light of the clear intention of these special interest groups to continue to manipulate the forum, the PTA-sponsored events scheduled have been suspended,” King said. “My office will continue to work with PTA to find the appropriate opportunities to engage in a real, productive dialogue with parents about our students and their education.”
The Common Core is a set of new, more stringent standards for public education in New York that were installed last school year. The standards have led to frustration among some parents and teachers, who say they place too strong of an emphasis on high-stakes, high-pressure tests.
In a statement posted on its Facebook page, the state PTA said King “concluded the outcome was not constructive for those taking the time to attend.”
“Please know that NYS PTA will continue to work with all education and child advocacy partners to keep our members updated and informed on education, health, safety and welfare issues affecting children and families,” the group wrote.
Here’s King’s full statement:
“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. 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.
“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.
“In light of the clear intention of these special interest groups to continue to manipulate the forum, the PTA-sponsored events scheduled have been suspended. My office will continue to work with PTA to find the appropriate opportunities to engage in a real, productive dialogue with parents about our students and their education.
“Parents don’t deserve to be dominated and manipulated.”