A member of the state Education Department’s Board of Regents said Commissioner John King has made mistakes in his handling of a contentious public forum and its aftermath, but said the board has no plans to replace him.
In a phone interview with Gannett’s Albany Bureau, Harry Phillips, a Regent from Hartsdale, Westchester County, offered an assessment of King’s handling of the cancellation of four forums hosted by the state Parent Teacher Association, which was spurred by a forum in Poughkeepsie last week that quickly became contentious during a brief public-comment period.
But despite increasing pressure from the state teacher’s union and advocacy groups and two lawmakers calling for King’s ouster, Phillips said a change in leadership is not in the cards.
“The commissioner made a few mistakes and he understands it. The board understands it,” Phillips said. “He’s a good, smart guy, and the Regents are not going to get rid of John King.”
Phillips said King made errors in his handling of the Poughkeepsie forum—particularly when it came to the length of his presentation and response to pre-written questions, which lasted for more than an hour and left little time for public comment. He also said King misused the phrase “special interests” when he said the Poughkeepsie forum was “co-opted.”
“One, (King) should not have spoken so long. He should have left more time for public comments. He shouldn’t have been so sensitive. He misused the word special interest when he meant people from all over the state who came merely just to heckle. Not everyone was there just to heckle, but some people were and I think he got carried away with that.”
Philips left an additional comment after the story:
Sorry you didn’t have room to include my views on common core and our errors in implementation, including cut scores that were too high. We introduced CCLS too soon and were not sensitive to how teachers, parents and students would take so many failing grades.We were trying get the same % that passed Regents ELA and Math college and career ready: 75 on ELA and 80 on math.
For what it's worth, even the Regents seem to realize the Shock Doctrine they employed with the Common Core tests this past year has done more damage to the education reform agenda they're trying to impose than anything else.
Does this mean they plan any mid-course correction on that agenda?
It does not.
NYSED Commissioner King said this week there would be no mid-course corrections.
The APPR teacher evaluation system would continue to be tied to Common Core tests.
The Common Core standards will continue to be rolled out.
NYSED will seek to have the Engage NY Common Core lessons taught to as many children in the state as possible.
The Common Core tests will continue to be given in NY State.
From the comment Phillips added after the story, it seems that at least one member of the Regents realizes the tactical mistakes they made in their reform roll-out but doesn't think they need to change anything about the agenda to solve the public furor over it.
The way I read the Philips comments, they're going to work on the propaganda and the messaging, they're going to back John King up but surround him with adults who will rein in his petulance and arrogance, and just hope they can fool the public into buying their agenda.
Let's see how that works for them