October 22, 2013
Commissioner John King has a busy day scheduled in New York City tomorrow.
First, King and Chancellor Merryl Tisch are meeting up in Harlem where they’ll visit schools in the district of Assemblyman Keith Wright, a senior legislative member with influential positions in the state’s Democratic Party. Wright will take them to P.S. 180 and Wadleigh Secondary School for the Performing & Visual Arts, an embattled middle and high school that nearly closed last year and posted some of the lowest test scores in the state.
In the afternoon, King will travel to midtown Manhattan for what could be a more tense encounter: a panel conversation with American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, one of his fiercest critics. The panel is hosted by Teaching Matters at The Harvard Club starting at 12 p.m.
For months, Weingarten and local union leaders called on King to hold off on tying high stakes to teacher evaluations until after schools fully adopted new Common Core learning standards, which students were tested on in April. Test scores plummeted and critics reprised calls for a moratorium in recent weeks. On Tuesday, the state teachers union said today that the evaluation data did not sway their concerns.
“The state’s rushed implementation of Common Core and last April’s testing debacle call into question the use of these scores in any high-stakes decisions affecting individual teachers or students,” said New York State United Teachers President Dick Iannuzzi.
Such a change would require a change to state law, which would require support from legislators like Wright. In an interview today, Wright said he recognized that the issue was a “hot topic” but said such a change wasn’t a priority among his parent constituents.
“They just want to make sure their kids get an education,” said Wright. “They want to make sure they graduate and they want to make sure that they go to college and are prepared for a career in the 21st century.”
Wright, co-chair of the New York State Democratic Committee, has close ties to Wadleigh. Last year, he fought successfully to keep the school open.
Just three percent of middle school students at Wadleigh passed the state English tests and none passed the math test. Wright said the school is struggling with challenges that other schools face, though we was not specific.
King has made it a habit of joining lawmakers on his school visits in New York City. He’s visited with Karim Camara in Brooklyn earlier this year, as well as lawmakers while visiting school in Staten Island.
The events won’t include a meeting with parents, some of whom are demanding to meet with him after New York City was not included in a series of 16 parent forums that he’s scheduling to address their concerns with the Common Core learning standards. Change The Stakes, an anti-testing parent group on Tuesday called for King and the Board of Regents to schedule a public forum in each of the five boroughs.