King is optimistic about Common Core


While there may be some adjustments made to the Common Core curriculum and the Annual Professional Performance Review for public school teachers and principals, State Education Commissioner John King said that he has no plans to slow down or delay the implementation of either.

Common Core has introduced higher standards for students in 45 states across the country, including New York.

“I’m committed to listening and to having tough discussions, but not to heckling,” King said. “Democracy is messy, but it shouldn’t be chaos.”

King made the statement earlier today to a room full of school board members from across the state who were in Rochester for an annual conference, which is being held at the Rochester Riverside Convention Center.

“I’m optimistic,” King said, pointing out numerous success stories that he says he has observed visiting districts throughout the state since the beginning of the school year. Some districts have been more aggressive and started implementing the Common Core earlier than others, he said. But implementation is moving forward smoothly, he said.

During a question-and-answer period, school board members raised concerns about a wide variety of issues. For example, one board member questioned why the US is trying to reinvent the wheel. Why not duplicate what Finland is doing — a country that culturally puts a much higher emphasis on education and regards teaching as one of its most important professions?

King said that New York, like many states, is raising the bar for entering the teaching field, and putting a significant emphasis on ongoing teacher development. Universal pre-K and investing in technology in the classroom are also strategies that King is pushing to improve the state’s educational outcomes.

“It’s inconceivable that technology won’t play a larger role as more instruction goes online,” he said. More students will be using iPads than traditional textbooks in the next five years, he said.

But one board member reminded King that board members are elected officials and that they have to listen to the concerns of the parents who elected them. If their concerns about the Common Core are not addressed, he said, they risk alienating their constituents.

King has been greeted with hostility at some recent public appearances over the Common Core, APPR, and other issues. But today’s Convention Center audience in Rochester was respectful and he received several rounds of applause during the question-and-answer period.