Education bigwig abandons Common Core townhalls after parents try to have their say

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The state of New York’s education chief was all set to hold five town-hall style meetings across the state so parents could ask questions and find out more about the Common Core.

Commissioner John King barely got through one of them, in Poughkeepsie on Thursday night, and then cancelled the remaining four, reports The Buffalo News.

The reason: many of the parents who attended the Poughkeepsie event asked questions and expressed stridently critical opinions King didn’t want to hear.

The atmosphere was generally raucous—sometimes incredibly raucous. It included a lot of clapping after individual attendees of the meeting voiced their concerns about the Common Core.

Among much else, parents said the Common Core focuses too heavily on mandatory testing, stifles creativity and hampers teachers.

At one point, after a parent alleged that King’s children go to “a private Montessori school,” King said, “We are not going to go on until I speak.”

The crowd was exceedingly displeased and not at all afraid to say so, loudly and collectively.

In a statement obtained by The News, King blamed unidentified “special interests” for sending the wrong kind of parents.

“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 lectured. “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.”

A statement by New York state’s PTA is harder to decipher.

“While our goal was to provide an opportunity to learn and share, based on review of the initial Oct. 10 meeting, the commissioner concluded the outcome was not constructive for those taking the time to attend,” the PTA statement said.

You can see videos of the Poughkeepsie meeting here and here.

This fall, for the first time, 45 states and the District of Columbia have begun implementing the Common Core State Standards Initiative, which attempts to standardize various K-12 curricula around the country.

The Common Core standards demand that students know certain things by certain grade levels, but do little to describe how teachers should impart those skills.

Criticism of the Common Core has risen sharply. Opposition has brought together conservatives who are opposed to a national takeover of public education and leftists who deplore ever-more standardized testing.

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