The state’s teachers’ union said it plans to call for a vote of no confidence in state Education Department Commissioner John King on the ongoing controversy over new student testing and teacher evaluations.
Richard Iannuzzi, president of the New York State United Teachers union, said he is preparing to ask the union’s Board of Directors to take a vote to membership within the next two weeks. It would be voted on by the union in April, he said.
“The frustration level is overwhelming,” Iannuzzi said on Time Warner Cable’s “Capital Tonight” Thursday. “The time has come. We have to address this now, and what we see is a state Ed Department that’s saying: Let’s see how much time we can buy, maybe this will go away.”
The union has called for a three-year moratorium on teacher evaluations tied to test results. The Common Core program requires tougher school testing, and it started last school year in grades 3-8.
King has faced criticism across the state from parents and teachers over the rushed implementation of the program. But King has stressed that the state is largely following federal guidelines, and he said that the tougher standards are aimed at preparing students for colleges and careers.
In a statement, an Education Department spokesman dismissed NYSUT’s request for a three-year moratorium. King has toured the state to hold 20 public forums on Common Core, and the meetings often got contentious.
“The moratorium NYSUT wants would require a change in state law. But talk of a moratorium is a distraction,” said King spokesman Dennis Tompkins in a statement. “The focus should be on our students. Every year, 140,000 high school students leave high school without the skills they need to succeed in college or a career. The evaluation system and the Common Core together will help our students succeed. NYSUT’s leadership should honor the commitments they’ve repeatedly made to both.”
Some lawmakers and groups have called for King’s resignation, particularly after he initially cancelled a series of forums after he was berated by parents at a meeting in Poughkeepsie in October. He later scheduled the events across the state after the backlash.
NYSUT said it was disappointed that Gov. Andrew Cuomo didn’t address on the turmoil over Common Core in his State of the State address Wednesday. Iannuzzi said it was “an opportunity missed” by Cuomo, who has supported tougher standards for students and teachers but said the implementation is up the Education Department and any changes would be up to the Legislature.
The Legislature may act.
“I think the case has been made, if nothing else, for a delay and a re-evaluation of the implementation of Common Core,” Silver said.
A pro-Common Core group knocked Iannuzzi’s comments.
“NYSUT doesn’t like John King? Of course they don’t. He’s trying to raise standards and they want to lower them,” the group StudentsFirstNY said in a statement. “NYSUT’s board of directors taking a no confidence vote in John King is like a mapmaker saying they don’t like GPS.”