John King, the state of New York’s education commissioner, still can’t seem to grasp the apparently tricky concept of a town hall-style meeting.
When The Daily Caller last checked on King, he had barely managed to get through an Oct. 10 town-hall forum in Poughkeepsie, designed to allow parents to ask questions and comment about the controversial Common Core.
King bombed miserably at the PTA-sponsored forum. He talked (and talked) for nearly one hour and 40 minutes during the two-hour meeting — leaving just over 20 minutes for the town hall part. Then, he insisted on arguing with parents who expressed critical opinions King didn’t want to hear.
After his very poor Poughkeepsie performance, King canceled the four remaining public town halls that had been scheduled across the state. (RELATED: Education bigwig abandons Common Core townhalls after parents try to have their say)
Now, King has decided to resurrect the Common Core meetings. However, he’s not risking the appearance of the annoying, unwashed hoi polloi who showed up last time.
A New York education department spokesman told Albany NBC affiliate WNYT that King’s next Common Core event will be an intimate, selective affair. Audience members will be required to have invitations.
According to The Journal News, state legislators will moderate the new forums.
While future forums may involve more public participation, the idea, certainly, for the next one is to prevent a repeat of the generally raucous — sometimes incredibly raucous — atmosphere in Poughkeepsie.
When King finally deigned to give parents an opportunity to voice their concerns about the Common Core at that meeting, they vented. Words were stern. There was a lot of clapping after individual attendees spoke.
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 lectured, “We are not going to go on until I speak.”
When King later doubled down on awful public relations by canceling the remaining four town-hall forums, he blamed unidentified “special interests” for sending the wrong kind of parents.
According to Eagnews, state board of education regent Robert Bennett alleged that some attendees uttered racial slurs against King, who is half black and half Puerto Rican. A number of audience members vehemently deny this charge. (A video of the forum lasting one hour and 47 minutes is on YouTube.)
The Journal News notes that some state lawmakers have called on King to resign over his town-hall forum implosion.
“For quite some time, Education Commissioner John King has closed off all meaningful conversation with parents, educators, administrators and elected officials who have highlighted serious deficiencies in state Education Department policies,” said Democratic Assemblyman Tom Abinanti. “He has exhibited a conscious disregard for their concerns.”
This fall, for the first time, 45 states and the District of Columbia have begun implementing the Common Core State Standards Initiative, an attempt to standardize various K-12 curricula around the country.
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.