In New York, the debate surrounding the Common Core State Standards is still raging.
It's been more than three years since the state first adopted the standards -- and more than a year since some districts began implementing them -- but critics are still calling for the benchmarks to be rolled back and for leaders at the forefront of the standards to bow out.
The Common Core, a set of new education learning standards that emphasize deep learning and critical thinking, have been adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia. New York is one of the first states to start testing on the benchmarks.
In the latest controversy, parent groups are calling for New York state Commissioner of Education Dr. John King to resign. Many were enraged last week after King canceled a tour of Common Core town hall meetings -- scheduled take place across the state -- after only attending one in Poughkeepsie on Oct. 10.
Videos show the town hall became boisterous, with crowds shouting at and heckling King from the audience.
One parent shouted from the audience that her child was being taught curriculum “like a little Nazi” while King’s children were “prospering in the freedom of a private Montessori school.” When the town hall was cut short, audience members shouted “Where’s our hour?” and “Where’s your representation for parents?”
The next day, the New York State PTA Facebook Page announced that King’s office decided to cancel the remaining four town hall meetings.
“While our goal was to provide an opportunity to learn and share, based on review of the initial October 10 meeting, the Commissioner concluded the outcome was not constructive for those taking the time to attend,” the post read.
On Monday, King said he would work with the Parent Teacher Association to try and plan other forums for parents. However, he said “special interest” groups at the Poughkeepsie meeting made it impossible for a constructive dialogue to take place, according to Capital New York.
Now, parent groups aligned with New York State Allies For Public Education are calling for King’s resignation, saying he “refuses to participate in the democratic process and refuses to hear the concerns of parents.” They've also taken issue with his insinuation that parents constitute as “special interests,” according to a press release.
The groups have called on parents, educators and concerned citizens to call and write state politicians to express their lack of confidence in the leader.
“We would argue that a competent leader does not run away from concerned parents, or call them a ‘special interest group,’” the press release states. “Commissioner King, you are a disgrace to the field of education.”
By Wednesday, it appeared a number of politicians were responding to disgruntled parents' concerns, calling on King to reschedule the meetings immediately.
"Hiding from accountability is not the answer," Assemblyman Sean M. Ryan (D-Buffalo) wrote in a publicly released letter to the commissioner, according to The Buffalo News. "Canceling these forums shows a complete lack of leadership, and I am disappointed that you chose to end the dialogue on a topic that is of great concern to many teachers and parents."
One state senator went so far as to call for King’s resignation, given the town halls were not rescheduled.
“At the moment New York needs a caring pragmatist willing to address real concerns raised by caring parents and educators who see a system being manipulated from above to the detriment of their children," Jack M. Martins (R-Mineola) wrote in a press release Tuesday. "Unfortunately, we have John King. He should immediately reschedule these forums or he should immediately resign.”
King was scheduled to attend a town hall in Garden City, Long Island, on Tuesday. Instead, according to CBS New York, he met with parents at an invitation-only forum at Oyster Bay High School, also on Long Island.