Teacher’s union to call for vote of no-confidence in education commissioner

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The state’s teachers’ union said it plans to call for a vote of no confidence in state Education Department Commissioner John King on the ongoing controversy over new student testing and teacher evaluations.

Richard Iannuzzi, president of the New York State United Teachers union, said he is preparing to ask the union’s Board of Directors to take a vote to membership within the next two weeks. It would be voted on by the union in April, he said.

iannuzzi“The frustration level is overwhelming,” Iannuzzi said on Time Warner Cable’s “Capital Tonight” Thursday. “The time has come. We have to address this now, and what we see is a state Ed Department that’s saying: Let’s see how much time we can buy, maybe this will go away.”

The union has called for a three-year moratorium on teacher evaluations tied to test results. The Common Core program requires tougher school testing, and it started last school year in grades 3-8.

King has faced criticism across the state from parents and teachers over the rushed implementation of the program. But King has stressed that the state is largely following federal guidelines, and he said that the tougher standards are aimed at preparing students for colleges and careers.

In a statement, an Education Department spokesman dismissed NYSUT’s request for a three-year moratorium. King has toured the state to hold 20 public forums on Common Core, and the meetings often got contentious.

“The moratorium NYSUT wants would require a change in state law. But talk of a moratorium is a distraction,” said King spokesman Dennis Tompkins in a statement. “The focus should be on our students. Every year, 140,000 high school students leave high school without the skills they need to succeed in college or a career. The evaluation system and the Common Core together will help our students succeed. NYSUT’s leadership should honor the commitments they’ve repeatedly made to both.”

Some lawmakers and groups have called for King’s resignation, particularly after he initially cancelled a series of forums after he was berated by parents at a meeting in Poughkeepsie in October. He later scheduled the events across the state after the backlash.

NYSUT said it was disappointed that Gov. Andrew Cuomo didn’t address on the turmoil over Common Core in his State of the State address Wednesday. Iannuzzi said it was “an opportunity missed” by Cuomo, who has supported tougher standards for students and teachers but said the implementation is up the Education Department and any changes would be up to the Legislature.

The Legislature may act.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, told reporters Tuesday that the state should hit the brakes on Common Core.

“I think the case has been made, if nothing else, for a delay and a re-evaluation of the implementation of Common Core,” Silver said.

A pro-Common Core group knocked Iannuzzi’s comments.

“NYSUT doesn’t like John King? Of course they don’t. He’s trying to raise standards and they want to lower them,” the group StudentsFirstNY said in a statement. “NYSUT’s board of directors taking a no confidence vote in John King is like a mapmaker saying they don’t like GPS.”

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  1. I wouldn’t normally agree with the Teacher’s union but King hasn’t done a damn thing about East Ramapo. He is a political hack who needs to go.

  2. I’d like to weigh in on this. I am a normally a very humble person, but for the sake of this content I will not demur. I am damn good teacher. In addition to being a teacher, I have worked and still work, outside of school, for privately-owned businesses. I have since I was 12 years old. The day I began teaching I brought with me the work ethic I that was taught by my parents and the employers who gave me work and taught me their businesses.

    An endemic problem with Common Core and the new teacher evaluation system is this: the people setting these policies are pulling their ideas from educational journals that are written from a limited perspective. They may be good ideas somewhere, but they aren’t good ideas everywhere and for everyone. They are specific to limited samples of people. Further on the point, an enormous problem with regard to who sets policy is that many of these folks have relatively little classroom experience, and even less real-world experience. They are mostly ignorant of logistics and painfully unaware of how unwieldy and onerous their policies are when it comes to the cruel reality of implementing them. Now don’t get me wrong, every system has its problems, but not all systems concern the educational well-being of children.

    On the issue of teacher quality. I am going to be completely honest about this: There are no more bad teachers than there are bad police officers, judges, plumbers, toll collectors, store clerks, truck drivers or anything else. You can believe that. The problem with our profession is that teacher unions protect people from righteous castigation. The unions also protect people from unfair or undue sanctions or firings as well. That should be the intent. But for many years, too many unions have protected too many people who did/do not belong anywhere near a classroom. That’s on us. In my honest opinion, the combined percentage of unqualified or otherwise unfit people currently teaching: 1-3%. Otherwise these are people who work their butts off for kids, despite unqualified overlords who capriciously throw obstacles in the way of common sense and good practice.

    The second problem: the American home. What are people doing out there? Not being good parents, that’s what. It’s sometimes disgraceful. There are students who make the whole thing the most rewarding experience and adult can have. And there are those that make you want to cry for the country. There’s a lot more of them these days than there were 25 years ago. I won’t anger, shock, offend, or sadden you with the details, but HIllary Clinton once said that it takes a village to raise a child. Well, when the parents are missing from the village picture, the village fails in its charge, then their schools fail, then these kids fail in life, then the country fails, then the parents sue the schools. This is education in America.