The state Education Department will host 16 forums across the state on the newly implemented Common Core standards, Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch told Gannett’s Albany Bureau.
The forums will be formally announced later today, Tisch said in a phone interview.
The state-sponsored meetings will take the place of four meetings organized by the state Parent Teacher Association that were abruptly cancelled after state Education Commissioner John King faced a barrage of angry, shouted criticism at a Poughkeepsie forum last week.
“I’d like to hit the reset button,” she said. “After that Poughkeepsie chat, I think it was clear that we were not going to have a productive conversation unless we modify the template of how those conversations were going to take place.”
Tisch continued: “So shortly we will be releasing a list of 16 forums that we are going to have across the state for the subject of engaging with parents, teachers, superintendents and principals.”
King has been repeatedly knocked by the New York State United Teachers union and parent’s groups for canceling the forums. They had been set to focus on the state’s implementation of the Common Core, a tougher set of standards and testing for students that is being implemented across the nation and was first installed in New York last year.
King’s critics have shown no signs of slowing down; This week, two state lawmakers and a Port Chester-based group opposed to excessive testing called on him to resign.
In the phone interview, Tisch called for cooled-down rhetoric.
“I think that it’s really time to tamp down the rhetoric and really dig in and see exactly what’s going on,” she said. “I think that along the way, any policy—particularly one that implements a lot of change—really makes people nervous. So believe me, I understand people being nervous about change and I take that very seriously.
“On the other token, what I don’t like is when the rhetoric becomes such that we talk past each other and that’s what we have to avoid at all costs.”
I'll have more on this when we get the details about these forums, where they'll be held, who will moderate, etc.
But for now, I want to note that Tisch slapped King across the face by taking the announcement away from him and doing it herself.
As I have written repeatedly, King is damaged goods and not long for power - not when Tisch has to take the lead on the selling of the Common Core/SED agenda, a job that is supposed to be King's.
That said, all this stuff is just p.r. damage control.
The Regents and the SED have no intention of backtracking on any of the reforms - not the Core, not the testing, not the evaluation system, not the data collection.
As I noted earlier, this stuff is all connected and linked - they devised the reform agenda that way and they can not modify it without throwing the whole "accountability mechanism" out of whack.
One other thing I want to note:
Reformers around the country are watching this fight in NY State very, very closely.
As education reformer Tim Daly of the New Teacher Project wrote in an attack piece in which he compares all Common Core critics to Tea Partiers:
Let’s hope they hold course. If Cuomo, Tisch and King are bullied into tabling their work, other states will be next. So far they have done exactly what we say we want from our leaders: they’ve stood their ground on a controversial policy shift because they know it is badly needed. They know it’s hard to change outcomes without changing the way we do our work. The question is whether New York is going to be more vulnerable to Tea Party tactics than Washington, D.C.
Leaving aside the Tea Party smear for another time, let us just note how shrill the rhetoric from the education reformers is getting these days, how that shrill rhetoric points to the desperation the reformers are feeling because the tide is turning against them, and how much they need NY State to hold the line on Common Core so that other states won't waver.
We'll see if Cuomo is so education reformy next year when he's up for re-election and parent groups target him for his support of the Common Core, Endless Testing, teacher evaluations tied to test scores that force this Endless Testing, and the inBloom data project.