Common Core champion John King has resigned his post as the New York State education commissioner to take a job as senior adviser to U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan.
“John is an extraordinary leader who has dedicated his life to improving the opportunities of our young people, as a teacher, a school leader, and a leader of school systems,” Duncan said in a press release about King’s new role. “His passion, his fierce intelligence, and his clear understanding of the difficult but vital work of education change will be an enormous benefit to this Department and to the nation.”
According to the release, King will assume his new role early in the new year and “will be delegated the roles and responsibilities of the Deputy Secretary, which includes managing the Department’s operations and overseeing implementation of major initiatives.”
However, on Friday, a Lohud Journal News editorial described King’s demeanor during his tenure as New York State commissioner as “tone-deaf” and his legacy as characterized by “rapid change.”
The editorial notes that King urged the fast implementation of the Common Core standards but gave little, if any, response to parents and teachers who packed forums which focused on the controversial standards:
Speaker after speaker stood up to decry the rapid rollout of the Common Core standards and new state tests. King appeared to listen, but said little and gave no ground. Most importantly, he didn’t show a pinch of interest in connecting with parents, acknowledging their concerns or even making them feel as if they had been heard.
Any criticism of the Common Core standards at these forums, says The Journal News editorial board, was met with King’s claim that they were not committed to children’s education. King even canceled a series of statewide forums after experiencing the strong emotions of frustrated parents and teachers, claiming the meetings had been taken over by “special interests.”
“Parents and educators who find flaws in sweeping curriculum and teacher evaluation changes are portrayed as lazy, excuse-making haters,” says the editorial board. “This attitude should serve him well in Washington, where Education Secretary Duncan is also impervious to critics of reform (like those ‘white suburban moms’ he went after last year).”
The “attitude” of indifference and elitism was underscored further last year when King revealed his own daughters attend private schools that do not use the Common Core standards.
In May, Breitbart News also reported that King used the 60th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision to defend the Common Core standards against critics whom he said were supporting continued segregation and inequality in schools.
Similar to many proponents of the Common Core, King refers to the reform initiative as “higher standards,” even though there have been no independent studies to validate the claim that the standards are, in fact, “higher.”
“What those who resist higher standards are really saying is that some kids just aren’t going to make it and that’s acceptable. It’s not, it’s not acceptable,” King said. “It’s an assault on the values of America. It’s also in the end shortsighted because society bears the cost of a permanent underclass, under-prepared for the 21st century economy.”
In 2013, student test scores in New York State on the assessments aligned with the Common Core standards plummeted to only 31 percent passing the math and English Language Arts (ELA) tests, compared with 55 percent passing in ELA and 65 percent passing in math in 2012. One year later, only slight improvement in test scores was observed, with most students still scoring below the proficiency level in both math and ELA. The percentage of students scoring at the proficiency level in math rose only to 35.8, and that of ELA rose only one-tenth of a percent to 31.4 percent.