The state Education Department will host 16 forums across the state on the newly implemented Common Core standards, Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch told Gannett’s Albany Bureau.
The forums will be formally announced later today, Tisch said in a phone interview.
The state-sponsored meetings will take the place of four meetings organized by the state Parent Teacher Association that were abruptly cancelled after state Education Commissioner John King faced a barrage of angry, shouted criticism at a Poughkeepsie forum last week.
“I’d like to hit the reset button,” she said. “After that Poughkeepsie chat, I think it was clear that we were not going to have a productive conversation unless we modify the template of how those conversations were going to take place.”
Tisch continued: “So shortly we will be releasing a list of 16 forums that we are going to have across the state for the subject of engaging with parents, teachers, superintendents and principals.”
King has been repeatedly knocked by the New York State United Teachers union and parent’s groups for canceling the forums. They had been set to focus on the state’s implementation of the Common Core, a tougher set of standards and testing for students that is being implemented across the nation and was first installed in New York last year.
King’s critics have shown no signs of slowing down; This week, two state lawmakers and a Port Chester-based group opposed to excessive testing called on him to resign.
In the phone interview, Tisch called for cooled-down rhetoric.
“I think that it’s really time to tamp down the rhetoric and really dig in and see exactly what’s going on,” she said. “I think that along the way, any policy — particularly one that implements a lot of change — really makes people nervous. So believe me, I understand people being nervous about change and I take that very seriously.
“On the other token, what I don’t like is when the rhetoric becomes such that we talk past each other and that’s what we have to avoid at all costs.”