Dear Commons Community,
John King Jr. announced earlier today that he is resigning at the end of this year as New York State’s Commissioner of Education. The New York Times reported that he would step down to take the second-highest-ranking job at the United States Education Department, as senior adviser to Secretary Arne Duncan.
During his tenure, King pushed a neoliberal agenda calling for more testing, charter schools, more testing, tougher teaching evaluations, more testing, the Common Core, and more testing. He followed Arne Duncan’s script carefully and never veered from it. Teachers and parents have rebelled against most of his initiatives. I believe his greatest failure was the rushed implementation of the Common Core. Curriculum materials were not revise or developed, teachers were not trained, and parents were not properly informed, all of which resulted in mass failures by school children on state tests. Teachers and parents called for his resignation last year in response to the Common Core implementation and also because of his support for establishing a statewide student database managed by a private company.
In sum, Commissioner King took the heat for the Race to the Top funding deal that Governor Mario Cuomo and Chancellor Merryl Tisch agreed to with Arne Duncan and the U.S. Department of Education. Essentially the quid pro quo was $800 million in federal funding in exchange for New York implementing the Common Core curriculum, establishing teacher evaluation systems based on standardized test scores, and contributing to a national student database.
New York’s school children deserved better.