His children are his special interests
To the Editor:
Last Friday afternoon, State Commissioner of Education John B. King, Jr. canceled all upcoming scheduled town hall meetings organized by the State Parent Teachers Association. King stated that he suspended the meetings because special-interest groups had hijacked the dialogue.
My special interests are my children. His decision to cancel these important forums has prevented me from openly expressing how upset I am that the quality of my children’s public school experience has been hijacked by the big-money special interests of Bill Gates, Eli Broad, the Walton Family, David Coleman, Pearson and the American Legislative Exchange Council.
The only way to compete with their financial resources and lobby power is by letting our opinions be heard en mass. Last Saturday, I wrote a letter and sent it to my assemblyman, senator and our governor. If others have similar concerns regarding state policies surrounding testing and its uses, I hope they will consider joining me in expressing their frustrations and concerns.
The letter read, in part, that I was looking forward to asking Governor Cuomo what evidence he had that it was educationally beneficial or a valid measure of learning to include reading passages on the third-grade ELA exam that the average third grader would only understand 50 percent of, according to our understanding of Lexile levels. I implored him to immediately decrease the duration and frequency of testing, to ensure that the tests be returned to the schools and families so they can be used to make sound educational decisions that impact learning, and to eliminate student test scores from teacher evaluations, since Value-Added Modeling has been judged to be too unstable by the same people who developed it.
Many Long Island parents, like myself, moved to this area or chose to remain here because of the quality schools that have existed for decades. Commissioner King’s policies are threatening our children’s learning experiences. The canceling of these important meetings is further evidence of his arrogance. Though he is not an elected official, he is appointed by people who are — and I am requesting that my elected officials listen and respond to our concerns.