It happened again last night:
Syracuse, NY -- New York Education Commissioner faced 20 questioners during a 90-minute forum at WCNY-TV headquarters during a live broadcast and webcast tonight.
One spoke up in support of the Common Core academic standards.
Almost all of the others expressed deep concerns about the way the standards, in conjunction with other policies, have been rolled out across the state. Those concerns ranged from high costs to excessive testing to the security of student data being managed by private companies.
One of the most poignant questions of the night came from Santina Scrimale, a senior at Westhill High School, who talked about the anxiety that children are feeling over the high-stakes tests, especially given the low passing rates on last year's new Common Core-aligned tests.
She said she sees her "very intelligent" third-grade sister already stressing out about this year's tests, fearing that she will fail them because she won't have time to finish them.
King responded that testing is part of the education process and helps inform instruction. But he also said he agrees that there has been an increase in local testing in some districts and in "rote test prep." He said the state is looking to help districts to cut the number of tests they give.
There were few audible reactions to the questions or answers from the orderly audience of about 200. A rare round of applause came when Greg McCrea, president of the Westhill District Teachers Association, which has called for King's resignation, asked why schools like Montessori are good and what the state has done to bring some of their ideas to public schools.
The applause was polite, but knowing. King sends his own children to a Montessori school, which is a sore point with his critics. He acknowledged that, and said he likes the way Montessori schools use the Common Core standards, including a heavy focus on writing supported by textual evidence.
More applause came when Keith Newvine, vice president of the West Genesee Teachers Association, told King that the quick implementation of the Common Core and the teacher evaluation process is like "building an airplane in the air."
Newvine got more applause as he continued: "Would you get on that plane? And if so, why would you get on an airplane being built in the air?"
King said the Board of Regents and the Education Department have taken great care in rolling out the standards thoughtfully, using a seven-year timeline ending in 2017. He said some people think the standards are being rolled out too slowly because students need higher standards now if they are going to be prepared for college and the workplace.
King acknowledged after the forum that he had heard most of the concerns before, but said he would bring them back to the department and the Regents and try to address them.
But to McCrea -- who said he still wants the commissioner's resignation -- the answers coming from King and Regent Anthony Bottar, with whom he shared the stage, were a little too pat.
"They were coming up with canned answers," he said. "They were things that we've heard before."
Before the forum started, about a dozen protesters stood outside the studio, holding signs that read "We don't need a King, we need a democracy," and "More than a Score."
20 speakers - 19 were critical of the SED agenda and implementation.
King says he's heard these complaints before.
Translation: He plans to do nothing about them.
The SED agenda will continue on as if Poughkeepsie and these other town hall meetings never happened.
That King thinks he can get away with blaming local districts for overtesting shows you how clueless and arrogant he is.
The people are not fooled by your lies, Commissioner King.
Local districts have had to put all this extra testing in place as part of the state teacher evaluation system, the one you and Regents Chancellor Tisch and Governor Cuomo pushed that links so-called student performance to teacher ratings.
The only way things change is pressure must be put on Governor Cuomo in his re-election year that he must change the teacher evaluation system that forces all of this testing.
Same goes for putting pressure on the legislature.
King and Tisch have no plans to change anything.
The impetus for change will have to come from the politicians above them and that impetus will only come if the public puts that pressure on these politicians.
Start with Cuomo.
He's nervous about his re-election and wants to run up the score next year to set up a 2016 White House run.
Let him know, the education agenda stays the same, no running up the score in 2014.