Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Saturday, October 12, 2013

In Which I Use The Danielson Rubric To Evaluate John King's Effectiveness

NYSED Commissioner John King has deemed the Danielson rubric the evaluator tool of choice for teacher observations in New York City.

I have deemed the Danielson rubric the evaluator tool of choice for NYSED Commissioner observations in Poughkeepsie.

On Thursday, NYSED Commissioner King came to Spackenkill High School auditorium to preach the Gospel of the Common Core in a state PTA-sponsored event.

Four more Town Hall meetings with the King were scheduled for next week, but after this first one went horribly, horribly wrong for Commissioner King, the other events have been canceled.

As Sean Crowley posts here, King is used to being feted for his "greatness" in front of friendly, reformy audiences, not used to being challenged to his face over his agenda, his policies or his hypocrisy for sending his kids to Montessori school where they can avoid the Common Core bludgeon and test in every subject in every grade every month all the year through schedule that he has forced on every child who attends public school.

King couldn't take the heat when the crowd turned on him and decided to run back to Albany and hide in his NYSED office once more.

Now as I watched this brief snippet of King try and quell a disquieted and angry audience at Spackenkill High School the other night, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to use the Danielson rubric on the man who brought this "tool" to so many of the rest of us around the state.

First, it's time for some low-inference note-taking for a brief, informal drop-in on the Man Who Thinks He's King:

All right, now first, notice this whole thing is commissioner-centered.

This part of the lesson is supposed to be audience-centered - a question and comment session in which the audience, after being forced to listen to Commissioner King lecture to them over the wonders of the Common Core and testing in every subject in every grade all the year through, gets to make statements and ask questions of the commissioner.

But King gets angry when audience members challenge him and fails to let audience members make their points without cutting them off.

Then he starts to eat away the clock by talking slowly about how his kid going to Montessori school is not fair game for critics when he should instead be listening to the audience sharing their concerns over the Common Core, as the lesson plan for this Town Hall called for.

Also note his mismanagement of the audience - when he doesn't get the reaction he wants from his lecture, he threatens to shut the whole session down, take his microphone and lectern and return to Albany mid-Town Hall.

Using the Danielson rubric on Commissioner King, we can see that he is already "ineffective" on Domain 1, Competency b ("Demonstrating Knowledge of Audience Members") because he didn't realize that coming out into public to preach the Gospel of the Common Core, he might just receive some audience feedback he wasn't going to like.

 King is used to friendly, reformy audiences only, where he is applauded for his "greatness" and his "reforminess," but a good NYSED Commissioner would know that not every person in the state is going to be on board with his radical agenda and would have the knowledge and skills to handle those folks.

It is clear from the video that King had neither the knowledge or skills to handle these critics and therefore receives an "ineffective" rating in this competency.

He also receives an "ineffective" rating in both competency 1e ("Designing Coherent Instruction") and 1f ("Designing Audience Assessments"), as it seems his entire strategy for winning over the crowd was to pontificate to them on how wonderful the Common Core and the Common Core tests are and he became frustrated with the audience when the "assessment" showed they had not learned the lesson he had come to impart to them.

Their challenging him over and over and over during the audience-centered part of the lesson and his inability to handle the challenges showed how "ineffective" he had been at both of these competences.

Next up, he clearly was "ineffective" in Domain 2, Competency a ("Creating An Environment Of Respect And Rapport").

It is clear from the video that he has thinly-veiled disdain for the audience, does not care what they think or feel one bit (you might even say "Doesn't give a shit what they think or feel") and they, in turn, have no respect for him and treat him with disdain and hostility.

Effective commissioners treat all stakeholders with respect and dignity, listen to their concerns with an open mind and try and address those concerns as best they can while maintaining poise.

King is incapable of listening to others, incapable of treating his audience with the respect they deserve by hearing - really hearing - what they have to say, and clearly came just to offer some p.r. talking points for the NYSED agenda in what he thought was going to be a friendly environment.

Thus, he is "ineffective" on 2a.

He also is deemed "ineffective" on 2b ("Establishing A Culture For Learning") since it's obvious from the tape nothing was learned by either audience or commissioner except that the commissioner has a thin skin and can't handle criticism.

King is also "ineffective" on 2c ("Classroom Procedures") and 2d ("Managing Student Behavior").

Effective commissioners ensure that Town Hall meetings with the King are smoothly functioning and no time is wasted and taken away from the learning.

But King wasted as much time as he could in his talk with the audience, trying to run out the clock and take questions and comments from as few audience members as possible.

As for student behavior, it's clear from the tape he has no idea how to handle an unruly audience (or an unruly class, for that matter.)

When he threatens to shut down the Town Hall rather than listen to the grumblings of the audience at some his responses, he shows himself to be both an "ineffective commissioner" in the present and an "ineffective teacher" from his past.

According to Danielson, effective commissioners and effective teachers know how to engage their audience and avoid hostility and unruliness at all costs.

It is clear King knows how to do neither.

Now since this was an informal observation, we only looked at a brief part of the lesson and thus cannot address all parts of the Danielson rubric this time around.

We were going to measure King's effectiveness at the next four Town Hall meetings with the King, but King canceled those after the first one didn't go well, so we will not be able to do any further Danielson observations on King in a Town Hall setting.

Because King decided to cancel the future Town Halls rather than deal with the criticism coming his way, he is given an "ineffective commissioner" rating overall and will receive a Commissioner Improvement Plan ("CIP") that will require him to go to therapy for one full year to learn how to be a human being, attend conflict management classes to learn how to handle disagreements with others, and read the works of Alfie Kohn and Diane Ravitch to understand just what is wrong with his corporate education reform agenda.

If King shows no improvement after these measures and receives one more "ineffective commissioner" rating overall, he will be fired from his position and stripped of any opportunity to live off the wingnut welfare or corporate reform largesse other deformers like Rhee and Klein lap up after their time in "public service" ends.


  1. This attempted "heart to heart" which rarely works in a classroom and only comes about when a teacher has lost the class to begin with proves that King is an ineffective commissioner. Whether you use Danielson or the now extinct evaluation for classroom teachers - King is ineffective/unsatisfactory PERIOD! Hope you are well.

    1. I am well, thank you. And you're right - old eval system, new eval system, doesn't matter. The tape doesn't lie. He's an "ineffective" educator under either system.

  2. Exquisite, just exquisite. Awesome how you apply the Danielson-esque language. Bring in a real education leader, like one of the NYC BOARD of Education chancellors from the '80s or '90s to do the job properly. Oh, they would probably first conference with the governor and the president to back away from all this blind obeisance to the Common Core.

    Citizens of New York, arise and sign the petition to terminate John King.
    --New York City Eye

    1. Alas, getting rid of John King will bring about little change. Just as getting rid of Cathie Black brought about little change and in fact, made things worse, since her incompetence was replaced with Walcott's finely oiled skill at screwing with the system. Not that King is incompetent like Black - he's not. But replacing him will not change the deform policies because the powers that be above him want them. You've got to complain to the pols and make it clear they will pay a price at the ballot box if things do not change. Cuomo is the one to aim for.