Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Who Made The NYSED Commissioner King?

As I posted yesterday, NYSED Commissioner John King told members of the New York State Senate Education Committee that the Legislature does not have the power to pull the state out of the Common Core.

The exchange showed up in a Capital NY piece by Jessica Bakeman:

Some legislators have suggested ditching the Common Core standards altogether. King defended their educational value, describing that they push students to improve in writing, comprehensive reading and mathematical problem solving.

But, ultimately, it wasn't the Legislature's decision to adopt the Common Core, and it won't be in their power to scrap it, King said.

“To the extent that we're talking about the standards and teaching and learning, that's obviously in the purview of the Board of Regents and the State Education Department,” he said.

This really is an amazing piece of hubris by King wherein he essentially says he is unaccountable to the elected representatives of the people of the State of New York.

Now it is true that King as SED Commissioner is appointed by the Board of Regents, not the Legislature itself.

And it is true too that the Legislature may not be directly making education policy decisions about standards, teaching and learning.

As King told them, that's in the "purview" of the Board of Regents and, by extension, the SED.

He left one thing out, though - this is true so long as the education policies pursued by the Regents are in compliance with state law.

The law regarding the power of the Board of Regents says this:

Subject and in conformity to the constitution and laws of the state, the regents shall exercise legislative functions concerning the educational system of the state, determine its educational policies, and, except, as to the judicial functions of the commissioner of education, establish rules for carrying into effect the laws and policies of the state, relating to education, and the functions, powers, duties and trusts conferred or charged upon the university and the education department.

I put Subject and in conformity to the constitution and laws of the state into italics myself to point out that the Legislature still makes the laws, no matter what NYSED Commissioner King thinks and if the Legislature decides to pass a bill saying the Common Core State Standards are no longer the state standards of New York State and Governor Cuomo decides to sign that bill into law, King cannot continue to impose his CCSS agenda onto the public schools of New York just because he thinks he knows better.

Now the key thing there is if the Legislature passes such a bill and if Governor Cuomo signs it.

Those are pretty big if's right now, especially that second one.

Cuomo has been oily around CCSS, supporting it with words and deeds for a while, then growing silent with the words while still supporting it with the deeds, now saying he supports the idea of CCSS but not the roll-out of the standards and putting together yet another Cuomo Commission to look into the matter.

The truth is, the hedge fundies and education reformers putting hundreds of thousands of dollars into his campaign coffers want CCSS to remain the state standards for New York and unless maintaining CCSS as the state standards becomes completely politically untenable, Cuomo is going to hold out and try and keep them in place.

The same goes for his APPR teacher evaluation system that mandates so much of the testing that has so many students, parents, and educators up in arms around the state.

So King knows that even as the Legislature makes noise about clipping the CCSS and the ancillary reforms built around them, he's got an ally in the governor.

It's true that the governor doesn't appoint the SED Commissioner or the Regents, but the governor does have quite a say in what happens in education policy through his budget.

As we have seen with the recent budget, Cuomo continues to back up CCSS by providing money for CCSS PD and the like.

King also knows that the funders behind Cuomo want CCSS to remain and so, even as the politics around the policy get tough, Cuomo will stick it out so long as he can to make his DFER buddies happy.

In the end, to answer who made the SED Commissioner King...

The answer is the moneyed interests who have bought and paid for the education policy of this state, the one's who put "Regent Fellows" in prominent positions at the SED, the one's who put hundreds of thousands of dollars into Cuomo's campaign coffers, the one's who put lots of money into the coffers of the Legislators as well.

It will not be until the groundswell around the CCSS and the ancillary reforms that come with it, like APPR and inBloom, becomes so thunderous that Cuomo and the Legislature can longer jive the people with Education Commissions and other meaningless acts of "change" that the King/Tisch education reform agenda will finally die.

King can be disabused of his arrogant belief that he is the "King of NY Education" - but we've got a way to go in the melodrama before we get to that point.

In the end we will get there - the opposition to CCSS and the ancillary reforms is growing to a crescendo.

In fact, it may not be that long.

But we're not there just yet and King's arrogant performance before the State Senate Education Committee showed exactly that.


  1. The man is like a horrifying slow-motion train wreck

    1. Hope you are right but fear that if politicians don't fear for their jobs, not much will change.

    2. Yes - if there is no fear from the pols, nothing will change. I'm hearing fear, at least from the Legislature. And Cuomo is showing fear too, by putting the CCSS panel together to make it look like he's doing something other the criticism. The question is, is there enough fear for these pols to bring about meaningful change. I don't think we're at that threshold yet.

  2. Common Core was a requirement of the RTTT application. No CCSS, NO $$$$

    1. Not true. RttT required so-called college and career readiness standards - did not have to be CCSS. No state wanted to expend the money or energy to develop their own standards, but RttT did not require CCSS. Deformers have been quite careful to say CCSS was voluntary - even for RttT winner. We know in reality, it was required, but deformers wanted plausible deniability to defend themselves against the federal curricula criticism.