State education commissioner says Common Core here to stay

Oct 18, 2013

New York Education Commissioner John King visited a Long Island elementary school earlier this week, where he met privately with educators to talk about the state’s new, more rigorous education standards called Common Core. 

The meeting came after King canceled several public events following a raucous PTA meeting in Poughkeepsie last week. At that meeting, parents lashed out at King using insults and curse words.

After the private Long Island meeting, King said he would not participate in meetings with disruption or the yelling of epithets. He said he understood parent frustration and said it was similar to backlash he saw while working in Massachusetts.

“People said the standards were too high, that the tests were too hard, and what you saw was Massachusetts remained resolute," King said. "Today Massachusetts is the highest performing state, they are a state that is competitive.”

Many, including the state’s largest teacher’s union, are calling for a moratorium to Common Core. King said that will not happen and considered the suggestion a distraction. Officials invited to the Long Island meeting said King listened patiently to concerns from teachers, administrators, and school board members. 

Common Core is a set of national education standards that emphasizes more critical thinking. Adopting them was a condition for receiving federal Race to the Top money. After they were implemented last spring, test scores plummeted, fueling teacher and parent outrage.

King heard concerns the new standards are being implemented too fast, that they cost too much money and that they don’t evaluate teachers fairly. Local officials said the state’s top educator did not try to persuade detractors and that the meeting was calm and professional.