Posts Tagged ‘John King’

King To Replace Duncan in DC Insuring that the Campaign to Privatize Public Schools Will Continue Unabated

October 2, 2015

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Today it was announced that US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, he who has used the awesome power of the federal Government to wreak layered and relentless havoc on the entire public school system, will resign in December.

Duncan said he was resigning to spend more time with his family and stated, in what appeared to be complete seriousness, that he expected to find work “expanding opportunity for children.”

Duncan was the longest serving education secretary in U.S. history and easily the most appalling.

Even as candidate Obama campaigned with Linda Darling-Hammond, in a bait and switch maneuver that can now be seen as characteristic of his presidency,
President–elect Obama named non-educator Duncan Secretary of Education. The appointment, made at the insistence of Democrats for Education Reform (DFER), a group made up almost entirely of hedge fund managers, signaled that under Duncan the Department of Education would serve in essence as a conduit to the whims and wishes of private foundations, most prominently and disastrously, the Gates Foundation. These private interests,it must be said, Duncan has served with complete fidelity.

Tragically, Duncan will be replaced by former New York State Commissioner John King, whose obsequiousness in the face of wealth and power is equal to Duncan’s, likewise their shocking arrogance if not outright disdain for the public they nominally serve. Having taught three years in a classroom, two in a charter school, King has infinitely more teaching experience than Duncan who has zero. Not that this will make an iota of difference.

In essence, in terms of policy, Duncan will be replaced by Duncan or perhaps Duncan on steroids.

King was last seen on tour in New York condescending or dissembling to parents on stages in Poughkeepsie and New York City in a failed attempt to sell them the miserable and increasingly loathed Common Core. I caught his act in Manhattan where even shills from Students First and Educators For Excellence could not rescue King from his well-earned pathos.

Soon thereafter King resigned as Commissioner in New York only to emerge as an extremely well paid something-or-other in Duncan’s Department of Education where he has hung out ever since.
King’s appointment insures that the Obama administration’s signature education policies of high stakes testing linked to insane and immoral teacher evaluations, mandated charter schools, union busting and ultimate privatization of the public school system will continue until Obama leaves office. And that,in turn, insures not merely massive teacher shortages as teachers flee the profession, but student misery and parental outrage; above all it means billions of dollars in public money to testing companies and millions more to a multitude of other “education reform” parasites. Lastly, it also insures Barack Obama’s standing as the worst education president in the history of the public school system, far more effective in the destruction of public schools than Reagan, Clinton, and both George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush combined.

John King’s End of the Year Message to New Yorkers: I Serve Another

December 31, 2013

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Through the fall and early winter of 2013, New York State Education Commissioner John King held twenty “forums” in various parts of the state to discuss and explain both the mysteries and the miraculous qualities of the Common Core States Standards. With two exceptions, in each and every “forum” King was met with fury and disgust from an outraged citizenry that included both parents and teachers. These encounters with actual people affected by the Common Core were, in fact, so universally negative and hostile that King initially attempted to cancel the entire project — essentially a public relations campaign designed to alternately sweet talk or buffalo the rubes into acquiescence — and skedaddle back to the safety of his cosy office in Albany where untested experiments on other people’s children are far better received. King’s reaction to the anger at the imposition of the Common Core only served to reveal how far removed he is from the policies he imposes. After one such event in Poughkeepsie where the crowd grew raucous after King’s interminable lecture on the Common Core, the commissioner made the astounding statement that the rebellion had been orchestrated by “special interests”, presumably parents.

The two exceptions to unmitigated hostility and rejection were the “forums” that were held in Brooklyn and lower Manhattan respectively, the former was allowed to be commandeered by Michelle Rhees’ StudentsFirstNewYork.org, who were let in early and signed up for 44 of the 45 speaking slots; the latter was attended by many of the same paid advocates of SFNY, allied with the Gates-funded Educators 4 Excellence. Both groups did their best to turn the events into creepy cult like love fests for the Common Core and who, for good measure, at times equated the experimental idea with nothing less than a civil right. In short, these two “forums” were a cynical farce bearing no relation whatsoever to the people’s reaction to the Common Core imposition and all that goes with it.

So what did King learn from his eighteen encounters with a furious public whom he ostensibly works for and who pays his considerable salary?
Judging from his December 30 epistle, after “reflecting and evaluating,” what King has learned is a whole lot of nothing at all. Not from us, in any case if, arguably a great deal from his fans in SFNY and E4E.
As has been the practice of its devotees from before the Common Core was even completed, King, employing the pronoun “we”, continues to speak of the untested experiment as if mountains of evidence supported its miraculous powers and the only bump in the road to a “college and career ready” army of youngsters is a faulty implementation, due in part to limited resources.
“We understand, writes King, ” that implementation of the Common Core and teacher/principal evaluation in a time of limited resources has come with significant challenges.”

As if speaking of the incontrovertible flatness of the earth or the inevitability of death, King pronounces with utter certainty the “ essential” importance of the CC only to go on mixing
corporate speak (“moving forward”) with the outright, if often repeated, lie that the CCSS is the work of teachers and education experts, and not education entrepreneurs such as David Coleman and testing companies backed by and propagated by the Gates Foundation. ( For information on who really is responsible for the Common Core see the excellent work of Mercedes Schneider. )

Declares the King : “We know that moving forward with the Common Core is essential: study after study shows that our students lag behind in the knowledge and skills required for their future. The Common Core standards, designed by teachers and education experts from across the country – and shaped by many New York State educators – will help us do better.”

The humble King does concede that the Core (as we like to affectionately call it ) “didn’t invent good teaching, ” only to then boast that the “ CC is the first set of learning standards back-mapped grade by grade from what students need to know and be able to do in college and the workforce,” weaseling past the fact that, as Carol Burris has noted, kids don’t learn backwards, and as others have noted, other than menial jobs, we have no idea what the “workforce” of the future requires or will even look like.

But “we” know, somehow, that said workforce needs the Common Core.

King goes on and on and on about said need using the usual language about “rigor” and challenge, ” his way to saying, let the public be damned, “we” are doing what we will. One might conclude from King’s letter following his recent experience that John King, a highly educated and intelligent man, is incapable of learning. But to reach that conclusion one would first have to believe that John King was appointed to his position so that, against all evidence, he might serve the people of New York State; that King as commissioner would genuinely listen to and humanely react to the pained complaints of millions of parents and thousands of teachers so harshly affected by the policies he, himself, has championed. Like many others, I have reached a different conclusion: that the powers that put King in the position he now holds have no intention whatsoever of changing anything at all about the Common Core and King will serve them, not us, until he can do so no more.
Let the heavens fall but they will get their way.
And that is the real meaning of King’s end of the year message.
We need to prepare ourselves.
This struggle has yet to even begin.

Students First NY InJect Racial Politics Into Battle over Common Core

December 11, 2013

It was with deep and increasing sadness that I read the steady stream of emails coming in real time from my colleagues attending New York State Commissioner of Education’s John King’s Common Core “listening tour” which set up base in Brooklyn last night. The sadness did not stem from the fact that my colleagues were essentially silenced by a calculated maneuver by Michelle Rhee’s Student First NY organization to ensure no voice but theirs was heard by bussing people in early in order to gobble up all of the speaking slots, even as they reportedly repeated the same lines over and over again.
I expect such anti democratic machinations from all corporate education reform front groups, that much the more from anything associated with a ruthless monster like Rhee. What saddened me was the conscious injection of race into what us is ostensibly meant to be an airing of pedagogical policy. The line of thinking I read about again and again and again was that if you opposed the Common Core Standards – presented somehow as a matter not of pedagogy but of civil rights — it was because you are a racist and you did not want children of color to succeed in school.

That’s it.

This is very, very ugly and purposely divisive stuff. Indeed, it could scarcely get uglier or more divisive.

But in a way it makes sense: an ugly, brutal and suicidal sense but sense anyway. It is a kind of toxic combination of cynicism and desperate hope, one in which you have the city systemically starving schools in impoverished and minority neighborhoods and the predatory cunning of the corporate education reformers of which Common Core is a crown jewel preying off of that poverty.

For when you ram into existence, by some of the most insidious and antidemocratic processes possible, a billionaire backed experiment on the children of an entire nation; an experiment created by some of the most arrogant and ruthless souls on earth (Bill Gates, David Coleman); an experiment based on nothing but endlessly repeated rhetoric and slogans (“making kids college and career ready”) and one that that has been greeted by parents and teachers alike with incomprehension and disgust, you would do well to have evidence of the amazing success you claim such an experiment brings.

But since the creators of the Common Core — in an act of unprecedented and unconscionable hubris — did not even bother to field-test the thing, there is no evidence to be had of anything anywhere.
So what do you do when people start asking questions? How can you defend the indefensible? How do you support something with no evidence to support it with?

You can’t.

But you can try to change the argument. Ergo: the problem with the Common Core is not with the Common Core (which is perfect at conception) but with anyone and everyone who opposes it for any reason, no matter how sound. According to the New York Times, people oppose the Common Core is because they are Tea Party nut jobs or left wing conspiracy nut jobs. Or because they want teachers to coddle their kids. According to Arne Duncan opposition stems from the fact that suburban moms just can’t handle the reality that their kids are dumb and their schools sucks as badly as they really do.

All of this is ugly but it also silly. To introduce the element of race into this discussion in a nation where racism has been its most disgusting and perhaps most permanent reality is anything but silly.

Such a move is meant not to promote dialogue but to end it. No decent person wants to be called a racist or to be accused of promoting racist policies, which is what many at last night’s “forum “ apparently claimed opponents of the Common Core are doing. This line of thinking has no more credibility that those of Arne Duncan or Joe Bruni or Bill Keller and it should be given no more credibility. What is credible and what must be heard is the very real anguish and near despair that produced such thinking. It did not come out of nowhere.
In a few hours John King will hold another “forum” in downtown Manhattan.
I have no idea if Students First NY or some other billionaire backed front group will attempt to pull a similar stunt but this time around I will be in attendance, as will many of my friends and colleagues and I hope to speak to the issue at hand and not be drowned out by confusion and ugly corporate sponsored obfuscation.

Danielson Condemns Using Test Scores to Assess Teachers: A Potential Chip in the Reformer Armor

August 26, 2013

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Diane Ravitch posted a blog this morning stating that Charlotte Danielson, creator of the infamous Daniel Framework for teacher effectiveness that has been implemented into practice and written into law in New York, publicly condemned using standardized test scores to assess teachers in the strongest term possible. “Using standardized test scores to assess teachers is indefensible, ” said Danielson. This is not the first time I’ve heard Danielson make such a declaration – there is a clip of her saying something of the kind floating around You Tube – but it is the most forceful and unambiguous.
As such, it is also something that all teachers effected by Danielson’s system should know and make sure as many parents of school children as possible know. We would do well, too, to contact Danielson, thank her for her courageous statement and urge her to repeat it as publicly and widely as possible. Her statement is potentially a serious chip in the reformer armor but will only be if we make it so. If not it will die on the vine. Moreover, we need to bring Danielson’s statement to the attention of Andrew Cuomo, Commissioner John King, Meryl Tisch, Dennis Walcott, Michael Mulgrew, and ask them, in light of Danielson’s statement to defend the system they have all agreed upon. This need be public knowledge. Above all the parents must know. You can be sure the reformers are attempting damage control and to muzzle Danielson as I write. The importance of such action on our part cannot be overstated. The evaluation system as it stands is a monument to reckless and cavilier thinking and, in effects, is rolling dice with the livelihoods, reputations and lives of teachers. It is unconscionable. As written it will unquestionably lead to the unjust termination of countless fine teachers. The politicians do not care and have hid behind Danielson’s reputation. Her statement can be used as a spotlight and should be. The public, by and large, does not know and this is an opportunity to inform them.

There is contact information for Charlotte Danielson at her website at http://www.danielsongroup.org/article.aspx?page=contactus

Following is Dr. Ravitch’s entire post.

Charlotte Danielson speak about how to use her rubric: “At the
NJAFPA Conference on May 29, Charlotte Danielson (creator of the
Danielson Frameworks for Teaching evaluation system that so many
states and districts have adopted) said in her keynote: “Very
strong words, considering her audience included members of the
NJDOE. Danielson went on to say: “What counts as evidence? How will
we use it? People are calling me for information on this; I don’t
know; NO ONE KNOWS! Rather than standardized tests, we need to look
at classroom/teacher’s learning evidence.”

Awaiting the Word of the Corporate King

May 30, 2013

I have known the facts for weeks now but nonetheless there remains in my brain some voice that keeps telling me, this can’t really be true, my union, the once mighty United Federation of Teachers did not really sign off on an agreement allowing the cynically selected corporate crusader, New York State Education Commissioner John King, final say over the new teacher evaluation plan for all of New York City. Surely my union would never entrust this precious fan of Educators 4 Excellence (and other billionaire funded union busting lowlife organizations,) who taught a total of three years (one in a public school) and was just last week seen pathetically cheering on the corporate CEO’s he lined up to shill for Bill Gate’s Common Core. (‘cause, really, who knows more about education than CEO’s? ) to have the final say on the most radical change in teacher’s professional lives in decades.
Surely, this was some kind of bad dream or evil hallucination or elaborate cosmic joke that I’d, in time, awaken from, snap out of or catch on to.

John King who taught for three entire years.

John King who taught for three entire years.

But no. Like their signing on to Race to the Top, easily the most corrosive and insidious attack on American public education in its history ( of which Bill Gate’s Common Core and Commissioner King’s evaluation plan are part and parcel) the UFT, indeed, did sign on to this slow motion train wreck. Worse, my union wants me and my union brothers and sisters to believe that this is a moment for celebration, a victory of some kind.
Reading UFT President Michael Mulgrew’s letter on the matter made me cringe. (See below.) Several times. Then it did something worse. It lit in me the sensation I have known in certain dark hours in my life when I comforted myself with the thought, “it cannot get worse than this” until, a short time later, it was worse than that.

I suspect many teachers from coast to coast have felt something akin to that sickly sensation over the last decade of ceaseless attacks. I am tired of it. And more than tired of it. The corporate disease has over taken all including the only forces capable of withstanding it, namely unions and political parties. The choices of working people, never rosy, are now starker than they have been in a century and there seems there is nothing but darkness in the tunnel. We either find some way, as yet unimagined, to rebel against our own immiseration and degradation or we wind up with lives that are scarcely worthy of the word.

Herein Mulgrew’s letter.

Dear colleagues,
Late on Saturday, June 1, State Education Commissioner John King is expected to release an evaluation plan for K-12 teachers in New York City. It will be done through a binding arbitration process and take effect in September.
The mayor and the DOE will no doubt try to spin Commissioner King’s decision to their advantage. The UFT staff will be working through Sunday to get accurate information about the new system out to you by Monday morning in a form that is both clear and concise.
The process to create a new evaluation system has been long and contentious. The final decision came to rest with the commissioner because the city Department of Education proved incapable of negotiating in good faith with us.
The UFT and the DOE each submitted lengthy proposals to the State Education Department on May 8. Arbitration hearings are taking place in Albany today and tomorrow. Commissioner King will consider the proposals and decide on the final evaluation system on June 1.
We have the opportunity to use our collective-bargaining rights to modify aspects of the evaluation plan during future contract negotiations. Practically speaking, since we are in fact-finding now, if any changes were negotiated, they would not take effect until the 2014-15 school year.
Because the commissioner’s plan must be in accordance with the 2010 state law on teacher evaluation that this union supported and helped shape, we expect it to be fair, professional and focused on teacher development to the benefit of our students. The new evaluation system as set out in state law is designed first and foremost to help teachers improve their skills throughout their careers. Teachers who are struggling will get support tailored to their individual needs.
We have our work cut out for us in September, given this DOE’s terrible track record of translating policy to practice compounded with the fact that they will probably be gone come Jan. 1. We have started working on a professional development plan and we will use our rights to make sure that the new system is implemented fairly. It is a big help that we already have an appeals process for New York City teachers nailed down that will give our members stronger due process rights than they have ever had.
I hope this email clarifies where we are and what we can expect. Working together, we will make this transition. You can count on your union to continue to fight to get you the support you deserve. Thank you for all that you do for our city’s schoolchildren.
Sincerely,

Michael Mulgrew