“Last night … I was thinking about those moments in fourth, fifth and sixth grade, when my father was so sick and my mom had passed, and I didn’t have hope,” he said. “But hope came in school. Hope came in Shakespeare. Hope came in The New York Times. Hope came in the capitals that we memorized in every country in the world. Hope came in knowing that tomorrow I would go to class, and I would learn something, and it would be engaging and challenging and interesting. You bring your students hope. This community brings me hope. It has been a tremendous honor to work alongside our team at [the State Education Department] and … the Board of Regents and every person in this room. I’m very grateful. I look forward to our work together, and I look forward to closing that gap between what is and what ought to be together.” [PRO] http://bit.ly/1wFi6uc
Given how destructive King has been to the public school system and the children and the teachers in that system, how arrogant he has treated parents and teachers, how much creativity and joy he has sucked out of education, this is the speech he should have given:
I was thinking about all the hope and joy I was given in school when I was a child, all the hope and joy that my children are given in the Montessori school I send them to, and all the hope and joy I took out of the public schools in New York by pushing the rote learning of Common Core, the test-based teacher evaluations of APPR, the soul-sapping redundancy in the EngageNY learning modules. To be frank, my job as NYSED Commissioner was to prove that public schools are failures so that charter schools could flourish. I was hired for that job, that was the job I worked very hard to carry out. I wasn't quite successful at destroying the public schools or the children and teachers in those schools, but I came close. It is my hope that my successor can finish that job so that New York State will be a land of innovation and choice, just like they have in the New Orleans school system.
I went into education because a teacher helped me greatly when I was at one of the lowest points in my life. I had some very grave family issues and, like many children, I was bringing the emotions I had around those issues to school. A teacher at my school noticed this and talked to me about the problems I was facing. He gave me hope, he showed me some one cared.
In the school system I have helped to create here in New York State, I wanted to make sure that no teacher can have that opportunity to help a student in emotional need because there is no time for that kind of help. There is only time for test-based learning, endless professional development, useless focus groups, and all the other mind-numbing, soul-killing corporate drivel we at NYSED have pushed on schools and school staff.
If I were a child today and needed the help that I needed from my teacher, I might not get that help because the teacher would say "I'm sorry, John, I'd like to talk but I have to run off to my daily focus group to talk about my target students. Then I have to keep going on the EngageNY curriculum because every teacher in this school needs to be on the same lesson every day or they risk getting an 'ineffective' on their next Danielson drive-by observation. Good luck, John..."
So much of what King talked about getting from his own teachers - hope, optimism, honor - is the opposite of what King himself brought to the New York State public school system.
Like many reformers, King is a hypocrite, of course.
He makes sure his own kids are given the nurturing they need by sending them to a Montessori school - this way, they don't have to experience the Reign of Error King and his merry men and women in reform have thrust on public school children.
I wasn't expecting him to acknowledge any of this publicly in his "farewell" remarks.
That's why I did it for him.