A new series of common core education forums kicks off on Thursday. As YNN's Geoff Redick reports, many believe Commissioner John King must use the event to show he can handle the harsh criticism.
ALBANY, N.Y. - New York State Education Commissioner John King says he plans to concentrate on listening to the parents, teachers and students who attend Thursday's Common Core Education Initiative forum at Albany's Myers Middle School.
The forum is first in a series of newly-scheduled common core meetings. It comes just two weeks after King was vilified and chastised at a similar meeting held at Spackenkill High School in Poughkeepsie. The meeting went so poorly, King canceled four other scheduled meetings like it.
"Obviously the format of the event we tried to do, did not work. We tweaked the format," King said. "The focus will really be listening, trying to make sure that we hear the concerns that folks have."
At the meeting in Poughkeepsie, King spoke for about one hour and 40 minutes. Officials working to orchestrate Thursday's event say King will speak briefly this time.
But whether that helps calm tensions over the controversial common core education strategy is anyone's guess.
"We have no guarantees," says New York State Parent-Teacher Association executive Richard Longhurst.
Longhurst and the state PTA had an integral role in the Poughkeepsie meeting, but after that went so poorly, the PTA is now taking a hands-off approach to further dialogue.
"The commissioner has scheduled 12 of these meetings around the state. We will not participate in those 12 meetings," says Longhurst. "We are exploring the possibility of participating in four other meetings. The four would be public broadcasting-type formats (filmed by and aired on public broadcasting stations across the state, with a closed-studio audience). We will determine our level of participation based on the way the format is ultimately proposed to us."
Longhurst applauded the commissioner's decision to "speak less, listen more."
"I think if the commissioner wants parents to be his strongest supporters, he also has to be open to them being his harshest critics," says Longhurst.
Albany's Myers Middle School is set to host the event in its auditorium, with more space set aside for expected overflow attendance. District spokesman Ron Lesko said he expects a civil and respectful dialogue, though the school is enlisting the help of the Albany Police Department to handle parking concerns.
"We just want to have a conversation with our community about what Common Core looks like, feels like...and what the vision is to make things better for all our students."