New York State Senator Lee M. Zeldin had a meeting with NYSED Commissioner John King yesterday.
Zeldin said in a press release that the meeting "went well," in that neither he nor King threw anything at each other and they both got to make their respective points about Common Core and the SED reform agenda.
Given how last week's meetings with the public turned into what Capital Confidential called a "public relations nightmare," the merry reformers at NYSED and John King in particular will take any kind of good news they can get right now.
But even after the meeting, Zeldin, a critic of the Common Core implementation, was not convinced by anything King said and stated that he will remain a critic of the Common Core implementation so long as SED continues to get it wrong.
Word came yesterday that King, after five straight days of taking a beating in the press, on the Internet, and from politicians around the state, is now looking to reschedule the Common Core town hall meetings with parents so long as a way can be found to keep them "civil."
That's King's way of saying, keep them under control and messaged the way he wants them messaged - in other words, like the Zeldin meeting.
I don't think this obsessive control SED wants to exert over access to the NYSED Commissioner is going to work the way they want, however.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, once thought to be the frontrunner to replace Michael Bloomberg as mayor of NYC, had her own dedicated cadre of protesters who used to follow her around the city and bombard her with anti-Quinn signs, chants and catcalls.
It got so bad for Quinn that ultimately her campaign had to embargo her public appearance schedule to try and keep the protesters from busting in on her p.r. appearances and mocking her.
I wrote early in the campaign that I found it hard to believe that a true "frontrunner" in the NYC mayoral race was somebody with her own dedicated cadre of protesters who forced her to embargo her schedule for fear they would turn her public appearances to shambles.
It was difficult to see how somebody like this could be elected mayor or, if by some miracle she did get elected, actually govern.
How does somebody who has to make sure every public appearance is controlled and protected think they can actually govern or lead?
In the end, it turned out Quinn couldn't win the race - she suffered a humiliating defeat that saw her lose every neighborhood in the city, including her own, in the primary.
Which brings me back to John King.
King canceled the PTA-sponsored Common Core town hall meetings with parents because he says they devolved into chaos.
A King spokesman says they will hold these Common Core town hall meetings again if they can "finalize venues where constructive dialogue is possible" and to that aim have reached out "to PBS stations statewide in hopes of orchestrating new meetings that
include local media figures as moderator."
In short, they want to over-orchestrate the town hall meetings and make sure nothing untoward happens between King and the public.
The reality is, after imposing the SED reform agenda on NY State students, parents and teachers without bothering to seek input from stakeholders or build consensus around the reforms, King himself (along with his reformer buddies in Albany) has created much of the anger and frustration around the state over Common Core, the testing, the evaluation system and the inBloom data base project.
That King is now looking to reschedule the meetings means he has heard the criticism from the politicians over his Poughkeepsie fisaco and "parents are special interests" press release debacle afterward and knows he has to staunch the bleeding now before his tenure at SED becomes untenable.
That said, that King and SED need to completely control the message and keep the dialogue "constructive" (i.e., friendly to King) is just another sign of how little juice King has left in this state.
Like Christine Quinn and her campaign, King and his handlers are desperate to control access to him to make sure that the anger and frustration parents and teachers are feeling over the Common Core, the tests, the evaluation system and the inBloom project do not get taken out on King himself, that he is not the subject of mockery and derision on video that goes viral.
That they need to do this does not bode well for his continued leadership, tenure at SED or his education reform agenda.